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Can You Change Goalies For A Shootout In Soccer?

Can You Change Goalies For A Shootout In Soccer?

Soccer is a very emotional game. It is even more emotional when two teams that match in strength and tactics meet because the game often stretches beyond 120 minutes—that is 90 minutes regular time and 30 minutes extra time.

In most soccer games, you will see the technical crew taking out one player and replacing them with another (a substitute). However, it is rare to see a team substituting their goalkeeper—except maybe he or she becomes injured during the game.

Another reason why a team may decide to change their goalkeeper during a game is if they have conceded two to three goals which they believe the goalkeeper should have stopped.

Besides these, goalkeepers are rarely substituted because they don’t get tired as other players on the pitch because they are mostly confined to the 18-yard box. Even the most active goalkeeper will rarely get as tired as the least active player on the pitch.

However, we know that some goalkeepers are better in penalties while others just keep diving the wrong way. So, what happens in a team where they have one very good goalkeeper and another who is not very good but more confident at penalties?

The goalkeeper is preparing for the penalty

Can the team use the really good goalkeeper during the game and then change to the other that is good at penalties when it is time for a shootout? What is the position of the law in the different forms of soccer?

If you have been thinking about this scenario and wondering why team managers have never thought of it, we have all the answers you need. Read on to find out if you can change goalies for the shootout in soccer.

Can you change goalies for a shootout in soccer?

In soccer, a team can change the goalkeeper for a penalty shootout. However, this has to happen before the final whistle is blown. Also, this will only be possible if the team still has an unused substitute slot.

One memorable event where this happened was at the quarterfinal game between Netherlands and Costa Rica at the 2014 World Cup.

The Netherlands coach, Louis Van Gaal substituted Jasper Cillessen (the starting keeper) with Tim Krul who was a better shot-stopper with one minute to the end of the game. The Netherlands went on to win the penalty shootout.

In other words, once the referee has ended the game and signaled the commencement of the penalty shootout, neither of the teams will be allowed to change their goalie. Like every other rule, there is an exception to this in association football.

A team can still change their goalkeeper if the goalkeeper gets injured during the penalty shootout. However, for any team to enjoy this exception to the rule, they must have an unused substitute slot.

If a team has used up all their substitution slots and the goalkeeper gets injured during the shootout, one of that team’s players will have to take the bold step of standing in for the goalkeeper.

Another instance where a goalkeeper can be substituted within a match is if he or she is involved in an infringement that leads to a red card. In that case, the technical crew will have the option of substituting another player and bringing in a second goalkeeper.

When it comes to changing a goalkeeper for a penalty shootout, there are some conditions that must be fulfilled.

1. The substation has to happen before the final whistle

Under normal circumstances, making substitutions during penalty shootouts is not allowed. Every substitution must happen before the referee blows the final whistle to bring the game to an end.

In competitions where 30 minutes of extra time is played before the penalty shootout, the team manager can still make the change within the extra time.

2. The player must be substituted with the permission of the referee during a stoppage of play

One of the standard rules in all soccer games (whether indoor, beach soccer, or futsal) is that all substitutions must happen during a stoppage of play.

The name of the substitute goalkeeper must have been given to the referee prior to the start of the match. If the goalkeeper is not among the list of substitutes, he or she will not be allowed to take part in the match.

Before the substitute goalkeeper can step onto the pitch, the referee must be informed and this swap will only happen if the referee stops the game for any reason.

3. The team must have remaining substitutions slots

For a team to be able to substitute a goalkeeper before the end of the match duration, they must have substitution slots remaining. In 2021, a team can make a maximum of five substitutions according to the Law of the Game.

If a team has exhausted the number of their allowed substitutes, they will not be allowed to change their goalie for a shootout.

Can an outfield player become the goalie for a shootout?

While this question may sound weird, it is actually a possible way that a team can change goalie for a shootout.

Since a team is not allowed to change goalkeeper once the final whistle is blown, a defender or midfielder (who is very skilled in goalkeeping) can decide to swap with the goalkeeper just before the start of the penalty shootout—but there is a caveat.

Firstly, the referee must be informed about this switch. Secondly, once the player has swapped with the goalkeeper and has stood in goal for the first kick, he or she must continue in that capacity for the rest of the shootout.

There are two scenarios that can necessitate the making of an outfield player a goalkeeper for a shootout besides the voluntary switch.

1. Goalkeeper is unable to continue

If the goalkeeper of a team is unable to continue the shootout because they are injured and the team has no more substitutes, the only option would be for an outfield player to step into their shoes.

There are many instances that can make a goalie unable to complete a penalty shootout. For example, they may hit their head on the vertical bar while diving to catch one of the penalties or land awkwardly and dislocate their arm.

2. Goalkeeper is sent off

While it is rare to see a referee dishing out cards during a penalty shootout, it is interesting to know that the referee still has control of the game until he or she leaves the pitch.

If a goalkeeper was already on a yellow card caution and during the shootout refused to follow the orders of the referee, he or she can still be sent off.

Since substitutions are not allowed during shootouts, the only option for the team would be for one of the outfield players to take up the role of a goalkeeper.

When Outfield Players Go In Goal | Premier League Edition

Can you change goalies for a shootout in all other forms of soccer?

Just like in association football, you can only change goalkeeper in futsal, beach soccer, or indoor soccer before the referee blows the final whistle. Once the final whistle goes, the goalkeeper on the field or court will have to go to the shootout.

Since some of the soccer variations have a limitless number of in-game substitutions, it is rare to see a player standing in for a goalkeeper.


Changing a goalie for a shootout is a smart strategy in soccer that we see almost every time. In a UEFA Super Cup encounter between Chelsea and Villarreal in August 2021, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel carried out a last-minute substitution of Edouard Mendy for Kepa Arrizabalaga who had superior penalty statistics.

Tuchel’s tactic was justified as Arrizabalaga saved two penalties to hand Chelsea a hard-fought victory. While we have seen this technique work a number of times, it is not an express