I’m sure you know it:
Goal kicks can be VERY dangerous…
…for your own team (especially at the younger age groups).
Except they don’t have to be!
If you learn the right soccer goal kick strategy tactics, you can avoid getting into trouble and even take danger to your opponent’s goal.
In this post here, I’ll show you what those tactics are and how you can make the best use of them.
Goal Kicks Are of Huge Importance
The goal kick is one of the most basic elements of the game of soccer and, as such, has a ton of importance placed upon it.
In professional soccer, the goal kick has seen a number of changes down the years in how teams approach it. We are now beginning to see this creep into teams at younger age levels.
One of the key things that make a goal kick unique is that it can just as easily lead to a goal for your team as it can lead to a goal for the opposition!
Today, we will look at some strategies to prevent that and then for ways to help you score more goals!
NOTE: If you want to learn the basics behind goal kicking specifically, check our dedicated article here.
What Is a Goal Kick In Soccer?
First and foremost, I think it’s important to define what a goal kick is in soccer.
A goal kick is simply one way to restart a soccer match.
You’re awarded a goal kick for your team when the opposing team touches the ball beyond the end line in your half of the pitch (the line with your goal on it), also known as the goal line.
Your team will then take a kick from inside its small box (the 6-yard box or goal area).
The soccer ball, contrary to most people’s assumptions, does not have to be on the line (that delimits the goal area); as long as it is inside the box, it’s okay to go.
The only other rule that surrounds the goal kick is that no other player (besides the one that is taking the goal kick) may touch the football until it is outside of the box.
NOTE: Goal kicks do NOT have to be taken by the goalkeeper; any player on your team can do it.
As such, if your goalie is experiencing some difficulty, you can pick a player that has a bigger foot to be responsible for taking your goal kicks.
Why Can Goal Kicks Be So Dangerous?
As a youth level coach, I have often found that goal kicks are much more dangerous than the other team’s corner kicks.
The reason why is because the average youth players have a hard time getting the soccer ball to go long distances and with any heights.
Because the ball is so close to your own goal already, it makes it a place for the opposition to be able to win it back and then score.
Because of this, your team needs to have a clear, well-thought strategy to combat this pressing tactic, which is exactly what we’ll be addressing in the next section.
Best Soccer Goal Kick Strategy Tactics
As I’ve just said, in order to avoid trouble, you need to take a look at the best soccer goal kick strategies.
You can, at the same time, make use of a few of them to create danger for the other side.
Let’s see which strategies I’m talking about!
The most elementary way to avoid trouble is the oldest trick in the book:
Playing the ball long.
This is what everyone did in the old days, but fewer and fewer sides are doing nowadays.
It may be looked upon as a viable tactic, if you are leading the match, prefer to play it conservatively or need to create some breathing room for your players.
Undoubtedly, the football will fly a long way, but chances are it will become tougher to hold on to making it hard for your team to attack.
Besides, it might backfire on you as you’ll be giving possession to your adversary allowing them to counterattack.
(There is a much better, upgraded version of this type of goal kick strategy below.)
Short & Quick Pass
Going short is one of the most foolish things you can do if you have the other team lined up right on top of you. However, if you go quickly and carefully, you can get around this.
A good team will send their center backs out wide, so have the goalkeeper put the ball down inside the goal box and pass it out to them.
From there, your defender can make a simple pass or dribble up the field, advancing the ball and keeping it in your team’s possession.
This is a much better tactic than kicking it long. Nevertheless, your defender (or any player receiving the pass from the goal kick) needs to be a very skilled player with advanced ball controlling skills.
This is the perfect medium and it is the way many teams, especially professional ones, are tackling the game.
The reason the diagonal goal kick has become so en vogue is due to teams pressing and not allowing the short, quick pass.
To combat against this, the best goalkeepers in the World (like former Barcelona’s keeper Víctor Valdés used to do in his time) will play the soccer ball on a precise diagonal.
It’s not nearly as much of a long ball so you are more likely to keep possession.
And it’s not to the middle of the field, making it much easier for your defenders to squeeze the other team out if they do happen to take the football.
For this reason, it can be an effective play, but it does take a more skilled player to master this.
Strong & Accurate Kick
This is the upgraded version of the Long Kick tactic as it mixes the “playing it long” part of it and the “precise pass” from the Diagonal Play above.
The objective here is to kick the football as long as possible — over all midfield players to very close (or even inside) the opposing side’s penalty area — and accurate enough so that your team’s forward players can get it.
Accuracy and precision are very important here, as your attacking man needs to be able to receive the football, control it and immediately try to score.
There are no offsides if your attacking players receive a pass originated from a goal kick (or any other kind of pass coming from behind the halfway line, for that matter).
Taking that into account:
If you have a very skilled goalkeeper (or other kind of footballer) that’s able to execute very accurate long passes (out of goal kicks, in this case) you can catch opposing defenders off guard and score some goals.
A good example is what happened when Ederson Moraes (playing for S.L. Benfica at the time) perfomed the Strong & Accurate Kick.
Ederson did a long pass (76.5 yards / 70 meters) to Raúl Jimenez who controlled the ball and was able to score against Vitória Sport Clube in a match that ended 5 – 0 for the Lisbon Eagles.
When to Use Each of These Tactics
Although my favorite soccer goal kick strategy is the second option (Short & Quick), there are times when it is simply not available. Maybe the play isn’t easily accessible or a sub has been made to delay the kick.
In moments like that, your team and your kicker — preferably, but not always your goalkeeper — need to know how to think on their feet.
If there is a short pass option, they should take it.
If there is not, they need to look for option three (Diagonal Play), option four (Strong & Accurate Kick) and then option one (Long Kick) if there is no other choice.
Ways to Avoid Getting In Trouble When Taking a Goal Kick
Goal kicks can become very, very dangerous due to allowing the other team a chance to score goals, but they do not have to be nearly as much of an issue as many teams make them out to be.
There are all kinds of other things you can do to help your team out in this area of the game including:
- Having your players get very narrow so as to ensure the other team cannot simply go through the middle.
- Putting an extra player or two inside the goal — they can’t use their hands, if they aren’t the goalkeeper — just in case the kick is not very good.
- If you plan to go with the Strong & Accurate Kick strategy, have a tall player that can head the ball as the target and a quick player near to chase after the flick on.
- If all else fails, you can always put the football out for a throw-in for the other team at a safe distance.
After today’s look at some soccer goal kick strategies, my hope is that you have a better understanding of how to use goal kicks to your team’s advantage.
There are so many players and coaches that dread this; however, it simply does not have to be that way.
Use the pieces you have as a team and then make decisions based on those players.
If you have players that are very good at kicking long, then that is acceptable.
If you do not, but have other kind of skilled players, going short, strong and accurate or wide may be much better options for you.
The key is knowing that power is not always the answer and that precision will be much better than that 90% of the time!