The foundation for the attack is good distribution by the goalkeeper. A poorly placed throw or kick can be disastrous for a team, turning a promising transition from defense to offense into a scramble to keep the ball from the net.

Three key elements of distribution by the goalkeeper are:  Accuracy, Distance, and Speed. How far do you (GK) want it to go, how fast can you get it there to begin the attack, and how accurate is that distribution? Other decisions a GK must make are throw or kick? When is the proper time for either? Where should the throw or kick be placed? If thrown, what type is best for the situation (based on field conditions, player position, attack potential). The same is true for kicking – when should a kick be used, what type of kick, where should the kick be placed. It’s not as simple at just picking the ball up and kicking it all the time. I have watched hundreds of hours of youth matches and too many youth keepers make a save and without even surveying the field, punt the ball. For too many coaches punting is the only option, when in fact a variety of distribution methods should be used to keep the opposing team off-balance. At Just4keepers training we talk about the whens and whys of the different methods of distribution, when is the right time to use certain ones and why that is as well as working on the technical aspects of each method.

This week  we’re working on distribution by hand -rolling and throwing. When rolling the ball is should be used for short distance distribution and bowled out to the back/midfielder in as smooth a manner as possible by stepping toward the target and dropping the trailing knee low to the ground, releasing the ball low to the grass. The higher the ball is released, the more bounce it will have, making it more difficult for the field player to control and survey the field. A ball should not be rolled to a player so they are required to turn their back on the field, but instead, the GK should lead them slightly so the field players first touch can be positive and they are able to see their next passing option. With a field player having to turn back and receive a distributed ball from the goalkeeper, they are not able to see what passing lanes are available until they are able to turn and face the field.


A thrown ball is better for longer distances, and can be thrown in baseball style or in a traditional GK overhand throw. A baseball throw is just as a baseball is thrown, stepping toward the target released from the ear. It will have some natural backspin on the throw but the GK still needs to drop the trailing knee low to the ground, essentially skipping the ball into its intended path.

The overhand throw involves a locked elbow, cupping the ball between the fingers and the forearm and the arm is swept past the ear and back again keeping the elbow locked. The GK again, steps into the throw pointing with the opposite hand where they want it to go and drops the trailing knee down. By bringing the body down and releasing the throw low it will have more pace that releasing it high. The taller the GK stands the higher the ball is released and the more it floats into the intended target.

Field and weather conditions play a large part in determining what type of distribution to use as well as recognizing numbers of players available in the attack, and whether to slow the game down or speed it up….

These are all important things to consider by a goalkeeper when building from the back and with J4K of NoVA players are provided with insight and training exercises to get a “handle” on good distribution habits.