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Player attempting to score

Goalkeeping session: defend the space

Lee Brown, FA coach development officer, shares a football coaching session to help develop goalkeepers.

 Want to try this with your team? Download the session plan and give it a go.  


This practice is played in an overloaded 4v5 format, plus goalkeepers. You can adapt this to suit your numbers.  

To set it up, create a pitch suitable for your players’ age and stage of development with a goal at either end. Then, mark a channel the width of the penalty area that runs down the centre of the pitch.  

Once you’ve done that, create a smaller zone in the middle of the channel and place a mini goal at either end.  

The aim of the game is for the blue team to score in the mini-goals and for the yellow team to score in the bigger goals at either end of the pitch.  

Both teams start the game in the middle zone. The blue team, with five players, starts with the ball and attacks one of the mini-goals.  

If they score, they start again and attack the mini-goal in the other direction.  

The yellow team, with four players, want to defend the mini-goals and win possession.  

When they win the ball, their aim is to break out of the middle zone and attack the bigger goal in the opposite direction. 

This brings the goalkeeper into play. They need to stop the yellows from scoring.  

The markings on the middle zone can work as offside lines for the yellows. This encourages them to play longer through passes, so the goalkeeper must decide how to defend the space outside their penalty area.  

If the goalkeeper makes a save or regains possession, they can work with the blue team to get the ball back into the middle zone and attack one of the mini-goals.



If your players master your activity – or find it too hard – try adapting it to meet their needs.   

One idea could be to change the shape of the middle channel. If the channel funnels towards the goals at either end it will increase repetition for the goalkeepers. It will also encourage them to defend their area (as well as the space outside it).   

Whatever you do, remember that learning takes time. So don’t alter your activity too quickly – or too much. Try using the STEP framework (Youth Sports Trust, 2002). This helps keep things fun, engaging and appropriate.

Extra resources

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Once you've put this session into practice, share your experience on the England Football Community