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How Far Can a Soccer Goalie Go?

How Far Can a Soccer Goalie Go?

The aim of soccer is for teams to attempt to secure a win by advancing towards their opponent’s goal and scoring a goal—by pushing the ball over the goal line into the net.

Defenders and midfielders try to stop the opposition players from scoring a goal. However, the sole responsible for preventing the opposition from scoring falls on the goalie.

For this reason, goalies are the only players allowed to use their hands to touch the soccer ball but only within the 18-yard box (penalty box). Primarily, goalies stay within this box area to effectively carry out their role.

But, are goalies only restricted to this 18-yard box? This article thoroughly discusses how far a soccer goalie can move during gameplay.

Soccer goalines try to shoot the ball away from the goal

How far can a soccer goalie go?

A soccer goalkeeper can move anywhere on the field. Yes, the Laws of the Game do not give any restrictions on how far into the pitch a soccer goalie can advance.

However, the goalie must ensure he is always in a position that will not expose his team’s goal area to a successful attack from the opposing team.

To better understand the allowable distance goalies are allowed to cover, let us divide the soccer pitch into two distinctive areas: the 18-yard box and areas outside the 18-yard box.

Note: the distinction is made along this line because the rules that govern a goalie’s ability to use his hands come into play here.

Movement within the 18-yard box

A goalie can go as far as the entire length (44 yards extending into the field of play) and width (18 yards) of the penalty box.

The 18-yard box is also generally referred to as the penalty box. For clarification purposes, it is that big rectangular marking on each end of the pitch. Within this penalty box is a smaller rectangular box called the goal area.

The goal area has a measurement of 6 yards in width and 20 yards in length. A goalie stays positioned within this goal area in the greater part of the game’s 90 minutes and added time.

The goalie advances outside the goal area to clear off balls as a defensive move or make a quick counterattack play into the opposition’s half.

When gameplay is deep into the opposition’s half, goalies sometimes move into the larger penalty area. This can be counterproductive, especially when a quick counterattack play is made by the opposition.

Soccer players like Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo have scored goals from close to the center of the field simply because the goalie left the 18-yard box and advanced deeper into the pitch

Soccer goalines

Movement outside the 18-yards box

As earlier stated, these will be areas in the field of play beyond the 18-yard box. Going by the official Laws of the Game, there are no restrictions or sanctions for goalies when they advance beyond the 18-yard box.

As a quick counter-attacking tactic, goalies can stay outside the goal area but still within the penalty area to fend off loose balls. For more daring goalies like Manuel Neuer, when his team is pressing high deep in the opponent’s half, the goalie can step outside the 18-yard box to help return stray balls to his teammates.

However, the goalie loses the privilege of touching the ball with his hands. This makes him like every other player on the pitch.

For this reason, soccer goalies can be involved in freekick, penalty, and corner kick plays. This, however, makes his defensive lines vulnerable to a counterattack.

Below is an excellent example of goalies advancing outside the 18-yard box to take freekicks.

Top 10 FREE KICKS by Goalkeepers

Goalies can also leave the comfort of their penalty box to take penalties during regular gameplays. Again it’s essential to state that this can have devastating consequences if not correctly executed.

Here’s an example of a goalie taking a penalty.

Top 10 Penalty Goals By Goalkeepers

A common sight in soccer games is when goalies participate in corner kicks. This is usually done at the end of the game when all hands are needed to secure a win.

A notable example is Allison Becker’s header to secure a win for Liverpool against West Brom in the 95th minute of the game.

Highlights: West Brom 1-2 Liverpool | ALISSON heads the winner in injury time!

Another notable example is:

Benevento Goalkeeper scores in the 95th minute vs AS Milan


A goalie’s natural position on the field of play is at the goal area. However, situations and circumstances may sometimes cause him to come out of his 18-yard box.

A goalie can move within the 18-yard box. He can also touch the ball with his hands while also within this space.

Goalies are also allowed to run the entire length and breadth of the pitch, as long as it does not intentionally put his team’s goal area at risk of an attack.

Without any restriction of movement, goalies can effectively play counterattack by moving within and outside the 18-yard box.