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Do Soccer Goalies Have To Be Tall? 3 Types of Soccer

Do Soccer Goalies Have To Be Tall? 3 Types of Soccer

All sports generally have statistics for the average height of their players. While some have more stringent rules on height, others leave it open to be determined by the roles or positions the player would eventually be allowed to play.

A good example is what is obtainable in basketball. Players, because of the nature of the game, have to tower above six feet. Therefore, to be any smaller will put such a player at a disadvantage.

Soccer may not necessarily be height dependent, especially because the pitch and goal are ground-level. Still, a player’s playing position may require them to have a certain height to give a better advantage.

This article focuses on the goalie and whether height gives the goalkeeper a significant advantage. It also discusses the factors that make height crucial for soccer goalies.

Do Soccer Goalies Have To Be Tall?

According to the Laws of the Game, there are no specifications or requirements regarding the minimum or maximum height of a soccer goalkeeper. However, if the history of the sport is anything to go by, it’s obvious the game has seen it’s a fair share of “short” goalkeepers who have done tremendously well.

Before we advance any further on this topic, it’s best to understand what is regarded as tall or short for a soccer goalie. Loosely using the term “tall” shouldn’t in any way be interpreted in the height range of basketballers. Neither should we assume “short” in a medical context.

To best understand the significance or the entire fuss about goalie’s height in soccer as a whole, let’s look individually at how it affects each variant of soccer.

1. Association football

If you’re not familiar with this term, association football refers to the standard 11v11 styles of play. In other words, each team has 11 players on each side with distinct roles/positions.

The size of the pitch

According to the Laws of the Game, a soccer pitch has a standard dimension range of 90m to 120m in length and a width of 45m to 90m. The goalkeeper is positioned in the goal area located at both field’s ends.

What does this have to do with a goalie’s possible height? Well, with this amount of open space, a goalie can see and watch how the game progresses to help him make necessary adjustments to a threatening attacking shot.

Being tall enables you to see farther into the pitch and anticipate gameplays. Of course, it is not a guarantee for success, but the advantage starts to build up when you can see when and how a shot is played towards your goal post.

soccer pitch association football

The size of the goal post

A standard soccer goal post is 7.32 meters wide with a height of 2.44 meters (8 feet). As a goalie, your job is to prevent the ball from crossing the goal line into the net.

This full size of the goal post is what you’re expected to cover. The real question is, how do you measure up?

With this understanding, it no longer becomes a matter of the player’s height but in his ability to fully protect the entire goal post.

7.32m is a whole lot of width to cover. In addition, taller goalies characteristically have longer legs and hands, not counting the size of their palms to catch and deflect balls.

The same goes for attempting to cover the 2.44m height of the goal post. Again, taller goalies have the needed advantage to make this possible.

man kicks a ball into the goal

Attributes of a goalkeeper

There are certain necessary attributes expected from professional soccer goalkeepers. Considering the factors already discussed, a goalkeeper is expected to have these four main attributes.

  • Psychological skills – mobility and flexibility, speed, fitness, and coordination
  • Cognitive skills – timing, decision-making, anticipation, scanning, and being intuitive
  • Emotional skills – motivation and will, confidence, and concentration
  • Social skills – excellent communicator

Some of the world’s best goalkeepers to have graced the sport possess all of these attributes. Moreover, they do this irrespective of their height.

The average height of goalkeepers

Using three of the most prominent leagues in 2010 as notable examples — Premier League, MLS, and La Liga — the average height of goalies is put at around 1.89m. Considering the above stated goal post dimensions, it’s easy to compare what a reasonable goalie’s height should be.

goalkeeper dives to catch a ball

To put things in better perspective, the shortest recorded goalkeeper to ever play professional soccer was Paraguayan goalie Pedro Benítez in the 1930 FIFA World Cup. He had a height of 1.66m.

In more recent times, an excellent example of a short goalkeeper is Chilean international Claudio Bravo. He has a height of 1.82m.

Other notable examples of “short” goalies are Spanish international Jordi Matip with a height of 1.8m, World-renowned Spanish international, Iker Casillas with a height of 1.82m, and Columbian international David Ospina at 1.83m.

The tallestrecorded professional soccer goalkeeper was Danish international Simon Bloch Jørgensen. He stood at a towering height of 2.10m.

In more recent soccer stars, Belgian international Thibaut Courtois stands tall at the height of 2m. Other tall goalies are Senegalese goalie Edouard Mendy with a height of 1.97m, Spanish goalie David de Gea with a height of 1.92m, and Swedish goalie Oscar Linnér standing tall at 1.99m.

2. Indoor soccer

As a popular variant of soccer, indoor soccer is played on a hardcourt with 5 to 7 players on each side. It has the same positions as what is found in association football.

Goalies also play an essential role in safeguarding the goal area and preventing balls from crossing the goal line into the net.

Going by the factors used above, we shall try to explain the relevance of a goalie’s height to the game.

The size of the pitch

Indoor soccer fields either have an oblong or rectangular shape. They have a dimension similar to a hockey rink in America. Since field shape may differ, the size of a standard Indoor soccer field is about 61m long with a width of 26m.

For a goalie, this field size means soccer balls come towards the goal area more frequently than what is obtainable in association football. Height can also play a valuable role in helping you predict and see incoming plays and shots.

a ball at the corner of the pitch indoor soccer

The size of the goal post

The standard requirement of the goal post in indoor soccer is 3m in width and 2m in height. Measurement is taken from the insides of the poles.

It has an almost similar height as the goal post in association football but less than half the width. This means lesser space to guard as a goalie.

So while the smaller pitch size may cause frequent bombardment of shots for the goalkeeper, he has less goal area to fend off the ball from crossing the line.

Height would undoubtedly be an advantage here since longer legs and hands would mean easy access to both ends of the goalposts.

indoor soccer goal

Attributes of a goalkeeper

Having all four major attributes — psychological, cognitive, emotional, and social skills — is vital in indoor soccer. In addition, with the reduction in the size of the pitch, indoor soccer goalies would need to focus on improving some of their skills.

Since balls come in quicker, goalies need to improve their reflexes. Eye-hand coordination should be at a very high competency level.

Decision-making and execution skills are needed to know who and when to pass the ball. In addition, good communication is vital as a goalie to help shout out instructions to players.

The average height of goalkeepers

Although no laws prohibit or limit goalies’ height, goalies are not necessarily tall in indoor soccer. Most of the gameplay occurs on the ground level. This is because of the nature of the game and the size of the net.

In other words, height is not a necessity in indoor soccer. Instead, the speed and quickness of the gameplay mean goalies defend the goalposts by bending the knees. This is done to cover much of the ground area between the goalposts.

a goalkeeper of indoor soccer

3. Beach soccer

Although this type of soccer follows the general style of soccer, it is governed by a different set of rules. For instance, players are not required to wear cleats and match official carries three different card colors — yellow, blue, and red cards.

The game is played on a sandy surface. Each team has five players, inclusive of the goalie.

Do beach soccer goalies have to be tall? Let’s examine the factors once more.

The size of the pitch

It has a standard rectangular shape with a length of 35m to 37m. It has a width of 26m to 28m. From this, not only is the pitch size smaller than the indoor soccer pitch, it pales in comparison to that of association football.

Just as with indoor soccer, expect gameplays to be quick and energetic. Tall goalies can undoubtedly have the advantage of getting better views of the players when the play is outside his penalty area.

Besides that advantage, being a tall goalie doesn’t offer much to the game.

beach soccer pitch

The size of the goal post

With the size of the pitch, it makes sense that the goal post size would be smaller to fit the pitch dimension. The goalposts measure 2.2m in height and 5.5m in width.

Taller goalies can spread themselves to cover the goalposts. Since much of the gameplays occur close to the ground, tallness can be a limitation if the necessary skill is not naturally present.

beach soccer goal

Attributes of a goalkeeper

The game is split into three periods of 12 minutes each. Gameplays are super quick and fast. Therefore, a goalie has to have a combination of these qualities.

  • Fantastic ball distribution with both hands and feet
  • Diving
  • Must be greatly athletic
  • Preventing high impact shots from entering the net

The average height of goalkeepers

Height does not play a vital role for goalkeepers in beach soccer. However, with an average height of 1.83, goalies can easily protect the goal post height and width.

There are also no restrictions on goalie’s height in beach soccer. However, taller goalies are gifted with longer hands and legs that should help them reach areas that may be considered off-limit for average goalies.

Can Soccer Goalies Be Short?

As long as they have the necessary skills to make up for their shortcomings. To reiterate, the Laws of the Game for association football does not state a minimum or maximum height range for goalies.

The game’s history has shown that players who can be regarded as short compared to the height of taller goalies have successfully made fantastic goalkeepers. They focused on developing and improving other skills that made them a valuable asset in front of the goal.

Being a short soccer goalkeeper can also have its advantages. Although, shorter goalies would have to work twice as hard, their size gives them better agility. Shorter goalies can move a lot quicker than their taller counterparts.

Undoubtedly, short goalies may have trouble reaching the corners of the top crossbar, but how often would the opposition place shots that far out?

Furthermore, since short goalies are closer to the ground and have better agility, they can be counted on to retrieve and prevent mid and ground-level balls quickly.

To make a meaningful impact as a short goalkeeper, here are some significant attributes you would have to overcompensate for.

a kid catching a ball

Perfecting the vertical jump

Since short goalies don’t have the natural height to tower closer to the crossbar, they have to make up for it with the vertical jump. Targeted training practice can help short goalies master the vertical jump.

The higher they can jump, the better chance they stand when it comes to tipping incoming shots over the crossbar.

Remarkable reaction speed

Having a quick reaction speed can help compensate for lack of height. However, a good reaction speed would not only help protect the goal area better, but it also confuses the opponent striker on the next shooting action to take.


Imagine a ball headed towards the far right corner of the goal post. A tall goalkeeper positioned slightly left from the center of the goal post has the advantage of stretching to touch or deflect the ball off the goal.

Short goalies would have to get better positioning to intercept hard-to-reach areas. Going by that example, a short goalie closer to the left of the goal post would have the same reach as a tall goalie.


In soccer, goalies are not required to be tall. Being a tall goalie certainly has advantages, but that doesn’t mean shorter goalies haven’t proven their worth in the game.

The focus should be on developing and improving the necessary skills to excel as a goalkeeper in soccer.