Close range blocking for keepers


Up to 30x18 yards


Balls, bibs, cones, mannequins, 4 mini target goals, 2 small goals, 2 full size goals

No. of players

Up to 7 players + 4 goalkeepers

Session time

Starting practice: 15mins, Progression practice: 20mins, Final progression: 20mins

This session puts the goalkeepers in a training environment where they can develop the speed of their reactions to make saves from close range. They will do this by using different techniques to secure, block, parry or deflect the ball.

We use a number of goalkeepers for this session, together with selected outfield players, in order to create an enjoyable but highly competitive environment. 

If performed at a competitive tempo, this session will create numerous opportunities for keepers to practice the varied techniques of defending their goal from close range. It also encourages keepers to make quick decisions in pressured situations. 

The organisation of the session creates a realistic match tempo for the outfield players, challenging them to make the most of goal scoring opportunities and take on 1v1 duels with the keeper.

What do I get the players to do?

Starting practice

We set up an area of 10×6 yards. We position two mini target goals on each of the longer sides of the area, spaced four yards apart.

We’re using four goalkeepers, two servers and two attackers. The four goalkeepers must defend the target goals.

One of the servers starts play by passing into the central area, where the two attackers combine and try to score in a target goal with a one-touch finish, as shown [1]. Play in blocks of 10 balls with five from each server, alternating sides after the ball goes dead. 

Goalkeepers should defend their goals with blocks, deflections and saves. To keep the tempo high, rotate in fresh outfield players or get the servers to swap positions with the attackers.


1. Servers on either side play 10 balls into the central area, alternating the side of delivery
2. Two attackers combine and try to score with a one-touch finish
3. The keepers must protect their goals, blocking or deflecting shots from close range

How do I progress the session?

Progression practice

Next we set up an area of 16×12 yards, with a small goal on each of the two longer sides. Boxes are marked out with cones in the four corners of the playing area. We’re using two goalkeepers, six outfield players and a server. Four of the players are locked into the corner boxes, with one in each box. The remaining pair are attackers and they start in the main area. 

Play begins with the server passing in to the attacking pair, who must combine in the centre to attack one of the goals. However, they can only take a shot at goal after the ball has been passed to one of the corner players, as shown [2]. Play is one touch at all times.

The two goalkeepers should try to defend the goals, adjusting their position in keeping with the movement of the ball.

Play this activity in blocks of 10 balls before rotating the outfield players so everyone gets a turn as an attacker.


1. A server starts play each time by passing into the attacking pair. Play is one-touch at all times
2. The two attackers must combine to score but they can only shoot when they have passed to one of the corner players
3. The corner players are locked in their boxes
4. The keepers must defend their goals and adjust their position with the changes in passing direction of the ball

Final progression

For the final practice, we set up in a penalty area that has been coned off to a width of 30 yards. 

A full size goal is at each end of the area and three mannequins are positioned between the goals to represent defenders. We’re using two goalkeepers, two attacking players and two servers.

A server starts play by making an angled pass to the attackers, who try to control the ball between (or past) the mannequins to create shooting opportunities in either goal. They can do this by combining or by shooting directly, as shown [3]. The attackers can take up to two touches and the keepers must try to save, block or deflect the shots. Play in blocks of 10 balls, with servers alternating the side of delivery.


1. A server plays an angled pass to an attacker in the area
2. Attacking players are two-touch. They aim to control the ball between or past the mannequins to create shooting opportunities in either goal
3. The keeper should position himself to block or stop the shot

What are the key things to look out for?

To achieve a productive outcome for the goalkeepers, we want to see the outfield players maintaining both a high tempo and their levels of sharpness throughout the session. 

This will keep the goalkeepers on their toes and result in them being able to make the kind of saves they would encounter on a match day. 

What are the typical mistakes that players might make, and how do I avoid them?

If players are given too much time in small playing areas, you may see their decision-making becoming unrealistic.

We make sure we rotate both the outfield players and the goalkeepers so that everyone receives adequate rest periods to maintain the high levels of performance required for the success of the session.

Adrian Tucker can be contacted via his website. He has a video recording of the session that he is happy to share with any readers who want more info.
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  • Ball movementBall movement
  • Player movementPlayer movement
  • DribbleDribble
  • Optional movementOptional movement