2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Smart Pass-Backs to the Goalie

I am all for involving the goalie as much as possible. In fact based on my previous post (Role of the Goalie) many say I involve the goalie too much. Given the extremes a goalie has to endure, from utter boredom to continuous onslaughts, and the unique pressure they face, goalies do a team a great service so they should be rewarded with more involvement.

I also believe that passing the ball back to the goalie is an important strategy. It is a great way to \’switch the field\’ and sometimes a defender has no other choice but to pass it back to the goalie or risk losing the ball. What I\’m not a fan of is passing the ball back only to have the goalie kick the ball up-field with no purpose or plan. Yet many coaches promote this exact strategy.

However, since there are occasions when a passback is advisable and coaches are going to continue to employ this strategy, at least it should be done correctly. When passing the ball back to the goalie, direction and speed are critical.


Unless it is absolutely necessary, a ball should never be passed back that could potentially go into the goal. You never know what can happen. The goalie may slip, the goalie may not be expecting the pass, or the ball may take an awkward bounce. If any of these 3 scenarios should occur a passback will result in a goal (see red-shared area below).

The ideal passback should always be passed away from the goal (see the green, dashed lines below). In these cases, a pass will never directly result in a goal for the opposing team.


A goalie can help her own cause by pointing and commanding where the ball should be passed. Besides receiving the ball in a good location, this communication confirms that everyone is on the same page. If the goalie does not initiate this communication, the defender making the passback definitely should.



Speed is also important. A ball that is passed too hard, especially on goal, is more likely to be misplayed and result in a goal. At the very least, it will result in a corner. However, a ball that is passed too softly is likely to be just as disastrous. An attacking player could reach the ball first leaving only an out-of-position goalie to beat.

By all means, involve the goalie as much as possible. Just make sure it is done correctly.


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