In all variants of soccer (excluding freestyle soccer), the game’s purpose is to secure a win by scoring more goals than the opponent. Therefore, all game action of any team seeks to move the ball from its defensive third into the final third in the opponent’s goal area.
Although the build-up play is essential to the eventual goal scoring, if it fails to achieve its desired end (to score a goal), then such style of play is not deemed productive.
For a team to continuously have the advantage, their focus is divided into both attacking and defensive play. Part of the duties of the defensive midfielders and defenders is to ensure the ball doesn’t make its way into the goal area.
When the ball gets within the goal area, emphasis is placed on blocking the goal to prevent the ball from crossing the goal line into the net.
There are several ways to block a goal in soccer. Still, the primary focus of this article is to discuss the effective ways to achieve this without it resulting in a foul.
- How to block a goal in soccer?
How to block a goal in soccer?
With the goalpost located within the goal area, all enclosed in the penalty box, care has to be taken when handling the ball. Any careless, reckless, or deliberate action on the ball or an opponent player can result in a penalty.
When the ball is within the goal area, it becomes the responsibility of all players within that area to block or prevent the ball from gaining access into the net.
Since the use of external objects to interfere or intercept ball movement during gameplay is prohibited in soccer, the focus will be on using different tactics to block the ball. To keep things within the Laws of the Game, we’ll examine how to block a goal in soccer using different parts of the body.
Using the hands to block a goal
To better understand what is being classified as hands, it relates to all areas of the forearm, arm, hand, and palms.
Going by the Laws of the Game, the only player allowed to have hand contact with the ball is the goalkeeper. So, please this method does not apply to other outfield players.
For a goalie, the most effective way to block a goal in soccer will be using the hands. This can be achieved by either catching the ball, parrying or punching it.
Catching the ball
To effectively catch a ball as a goalkeeper, you need to have heightened eye-hand coordination. In addition, ensure you have a clear view of the ball’s trajectory and possible speed.
Although soccer gloves are heavily padded to cushion ball shots, balls traveling at speeds higher than the average shot speed of 70 mph may be harder to catch. As a goalie, it’s in your best interest to quickly determine when it is appropriate to catch a ball or party it.
Brace yourself for the ball’s impact by standing with your feet slightly apart. This is an effective technique for fast-moving balls.
With the knees gently pushed forward to slightly lower your center of gravity, spread out your palms with both thumbs in close contact with one another.
Firmly hold the ball when it makes contact. To safely secure it, you can decide to cup it firmly with your hands on your chest.
Parrying the ball
Not all shot balls are ideal for parrying. A ball should be parried when all possible attempts to catch it fail. Goalies will usually parry balls heading for the top or corners of the post especially when they are not close enough to catch it.
This is because, more often than not, parried balls result in either a corner kick, throw-in, or worse, they can again fall on the feet of an opponent player.
To effectively parry a ball, start by estimating the ball’s speed and its intended direction. Since your body’s balance is crucial to the direction the ball will be parried, ensure you have proper body balance when the ball touches your palms.
Your spatial awareness must be at its best to ensure the ball is not parried into your net or onto an opponent player. For example, shots with higher trajectories should be parried above the crossbar. In comparison, a middle to a lower trajectory can be safely parried outside the vertical bars.
Spread your palms as wide as they can go. Only tilt the palms backward when you’re certain the path is above or outside the crossbar and vertical poles, respectively.
Punching the ball
Of all three ways to block a goal with the hands, punching is seldom used. This is because it is most effective for crosses than for actual high-velocity shots. It can be done with both hands or just a single hand.
It is also a go-to method for soccer goalies whenever they are in doubt of how to clear their goal line. Unlike in a parry, punching a ball can significantly change its direction.
Where do I want the ball to go? This is the split-second question a skillful goalie must answer before attempting to block a goal by punching the ball.
This is because the natural positioning of the knuckles when punching the ball is placed in front of the body. There’s a high probability you’ll be punching the ball right back into the field of play.
Who is at the receiving end? To successfully block a goal, all actions must remove the ball from the goalmouth and prevent an intending rebound.
To punch a ball, you may decide to jump to reach further into the traveling ball’s path or wait until the ball comes to you. Whatever the chosen action, ensure your body posture and balance are not compromised to allow quick body recovery to protect the goal line further.
For more punch effect, push out your elbows while pulling your arm slightly back to prepare it for the punch. Punch the ball as hard as possible to get it far away from the goal area.
Using the body to block a goal
According to the Laws of the Game, all of the areas referred to as body can be used during gameplay as long as it isn’t used carelessly, recklessly, or intentionally to impede the opponent’s movement or cause harm.
The methods to be discussed will be the use of the back and backside, chest and shoulders, and lying down on the ground.
Back and backside
Players turn their backs defensively to protect their face and groin area from thundering shots. This gesture is an effective way to block a goal.
The human back has the same layer of skin thickness as any part of the body. This means a direct hit on the back would most likely be painful—just like any hit on any other body skin area.
However, since the body’s sensitive organs are more accessible from the frontal part of the body, blocking a goal with the back will significantly reduce the possibility of causing damage to these organs.
You also have to position your back in such a way that it doesn’t cause an unintended deflection into the net.
Other times when the back is used, it’s mostly done as a reflex action. For this reason, care should be taken to avoid aiding a goal instead of blocking it
Also, the backside has a substantial layer of fat that can act as a cushion to absorb the shot. Just like with a goalie’s glove, players occasionally stick out their backside to stop a traveling ball.
Intentionally and defensively, players use their backs and backside when standing in a wall during direct freekicks. The aim is to reduce shooting angles by attempting to block a goal.
A good way to use your back in a direct freekick is to stand with your back towards the taker. You can either place your hand in front of your groin area to help keep it close to your body or lock hands with the defending players beside you.
Since it’ll be unwise for all players on the wall to turn their backs at the kicker, lock hands with a player facing the kicker to help position you in the shot’s path and signal for a jump.
Furthermore, when the kick is being taken, defending players can run towards the kicker, immediately turning their backs, to block the shot.
Chest and shoulders
Since outfield players are not allowed to touch the ball with their hands, they often use their chest and shoulders to block the ball.
Using the chest and shoulders to block a goal can only be achieved when the ball has a slower traveling speed. It can be done intentionally or as a last-minute action to avoid touching the ball with the hands.
Dislocation, fractures, and injuries can occur if these body parts are used to block a fast-moving ball. Such a thunderous impact on either of these body areas may possibly cause a stoppage of play.
Unless the player has good control of the ball, these body parts can block a goal but can also lead to an unintended deflection of the ball into the waiting feet of an opponent.
To use the chest and shoulders as an outfield player, ensure your hands are safely tucked behind your body or close to the sides. To have better control of the blocked ball, slightly bend backward to create a curved landing area with both shoulders and chest.
This allows the ball to drop and rest firmly on your chest while deciding the best way to make the clearance.
Lying down on the pitch
This is an unusual way to block a goal, but it is legal in the sport. As long as the move does not impede the movement of an opponent player or a handball offense is committed, soccer referees allow it during a direct freekick.
Yes, a soccer player can only legally be allowed to lie down on the pitch when a direct freekick is to be taken. Any other time, you may be given a cautionary card for attempts to delay gameplay.
Direct freekicks close to the penalty area is a threatening attacking play when skilled players like David Beckham, Ronaldinho, Okocha, Cristiano Ronaldo, Coutinho, and Messi are taking the kick. In the past, the defending team hoped the defensive wall and goalkeeper would be enough to prevent the kick from ending as a goal.
However, teams had to think of ways to prevent a goal when skillful freekick takers lay the shot underneath the jumping defensive wall.
With the defensive wall in place, a player goes behind the wall and lies down below to cover the entire width of the wall. This is done to block any low shot when the wall jumps up.
To avoid causing a foul, lie with your back to the wall (this means you’re facing your goalkeeper) and keep your arms crossed over your chest.
This puts your hands close to your body as naturally possible as they can be in that position. With your hands in this position, the referee cannot call out a foul if the ball mistakenly touches your hand.
However, ensure you quickly stand up to prevent tripping an opponent player as he or she makes a run towards the goal area.
The dangers of this method of blocking a goal can occur when you get hit directly in the face. To beat the goalkeeper, shots from free-kick travel fast and can break your nose or cut your lips if it makes contact with your face.
Here’s an example of Douglas Costa adjusting to the right position to avoid causing a foul by turning his back to the wall.
Using the legs to block a goal
This is the easiest, go-to method to block a goal for outfield players. Since a great proportion of their gameplay is done with the feet, soccer players have devised effective ways to block a goal with the foot.
Kicking the ball
This method is used defensively to clear the goal area and take pressure off from the defenders. It can be effective for both slow and medium traveling balls.
It would not be realistic to say the player should always have a defined direction for clearance. Still, for this method to achieve maximum results, it’s best to kick the ball away from the goal area farther into their pitch.
As the ball approaches, plant your other foot firmly to the ground to act as a support/pivot for your body. Before the ball reaches your dominant foot, swing the dominant foot as far back as the pivot foot can allow.
You can decide to strike the ball with the side of the foot or with the front. The ball will go farther if hit with the tip of the cleat.
Return your dominant foot to the ground to balance out the other support leg before attempting to move.
Sliding on the ground
This is an effective technique for blocking a ground traveling shot towards the goal. It can be used by both the goalkeeper and outfield players.
When a ball is approaching the goal, the goalkeeper immediately moves towards the ball’s direction. One of the ways to block the ball is by sliding on the ground in front of it.
With the ball safely blocked with his legs, the goalie proceeds to pick it up with his or her hands. Goalkeepers do this a lot in one-on-one situations to pressure the player into making a wrong decision.
Using the feet to block a goal should be done when it is impossible to use the hands as a goalie. This is because, at that close range to the goal line, any resulting deflection of the ball can result in a goal.
For outfield players, just like the feet are used for sliding tackles, it can block a goal. It’s all about the timing and positioning of the feet.
The downside to this method is the possibility of it resulting in a foul, which will be called out as a penalty if it occurs within the penalty area. Also, an unexpected deflection can deceive the goalkeeper about the ball’s trajectory or push the ball onto the feet of the opponent.
Foot and thigh trap
What is trapping the ball in soccer? It is any action done intentionally to reduce the speed of a traveling ball and bring it to a stop. It can be done with different body parts, but the focus here is the thighs and feet.
Although it’s a guaranteed way to block a goal by stopping the ball’s speed, it can only be done when the ball’s speed is not too fast. Fast-moving balls impacting the thighs can cause soreness to the muscles and a fracture/dislocation of the knees.
However, the feet, because the cleats protect them, can withstand higher shot power than the thighs. This does not downplay the possibility of injuries when trying to stop a ball moving above 100 mph—the ankles and knees can be gravely affected.
For a thigh trap, raise your legs into the path of the traveling ball. Then, attempt to use your thighs to block and stop the ball.
Ensure your other foot has a firm grip on the ground to make the move effective. It’s important you regain control of the ball to avoid losing possession.
A downside to using the thighs is that it could cause a bounce-off or deflection away from your body. An uncontrolled ball has a high probability of falling within the possession of the opponent.
A foot trap is used the same way as a thigh trap. First, stand firmly on both feet, then slightly turn your dominant foot to its inner side to act as a cushion to stop and block the ball.
Just like with the thigh trap, a deflection can occur if not properly controlled.
A foot trap can also be done, at slower ball speed, by using the cleat’s stud underneath the cleat.
Keeping your body and feet firmly planted to the ground, raise your dominant foot to the height of the traveling ball. The idea is to step on the ball with your cleat’s studs to bring the speeding ball to a halt.
Using the head to block a goal
The head plays a vital role in soccer’s gameplay. It is used as both a defensive and attacking action to score a goal or defend the goal area.
The head can be used defensively to block a goal. However, this method is not free from injuries as a player can either collide with another player or hit his head on the goal post.
To safely block a goal with the head, ensure the ball’s speed is not too high. If it’s a speed you’re comfortable to impact your face, then you can go at it with the head.
However, blocking a goal with the head should only be done if the ball’s trajectory is higher than your upper body area. You can choose to jump towards the approaching ball or wait for it to come closer to your head before making a move.
Irrespective of the approach chosen, gently tilt your head backward in anticipation of the ball contact to minimize any form of injury. Then, just before making contact, tighten your neck muscles and push your head forcibly to initiate the header.
Knowing how to block a goal is an important aspect of soccer. Defensively, it can affect the outcome of the game. As the primary custodian of the goal area, goalkeepers can use their hands to block a goal at any time during the game.
However, outfield players can help block a goal by using all other parts of their body other than the hands. These methods include using the head, upper body, back, and legs.
Different defensive situations call for the use of different methods. As a professional soccer player, it’s in your team’s best interest to know the method to use.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!