What to do when your keeper's sent off and you need someone to play in goal

The position of goalkeeper is unlike any other and requires very specific skills. How can you take on this role and stop your team having a total car-crash of a match?  Here are some of the keys to success.

Goalkeeper

You're into the 58th minute of your Sunday-morning match and your keeper has just been sent off. There's just less than half of the match still to play, so somebody will need to stand in for him. And for some reason, all eyes fall on you.

Your coach and team-mates are no doubt thinking about all that time you spend in goal at the end of training sessions. And let's be honest, it's a position you'd have loved to play if things had turned out differently.

What to do when your keeper's sent off and you need someone to play in goal.

Don't take one for the team

If you're going to stand in as goalkeeper, you need to want to go in goal. That's the basic rule. Generally, players who step up to the plate have already given goalkeeping a go during training.

Think like a keeper

When you're standing in goal, you need to think like a goalkeeper, not like an outfield player. Granted, it'll put you under a certain amount of pressure, but that's no excuse for mistakes. You'll have to weigh up each move you make, because in goal, any error can prove costly. You need to switch off from your normal role and put yourself fully in the goalkeeper's shoes.

What to do when your keeper's sent off and you need someone to play in goal.
What to do when your keeper's sent off and you need someone to play in goal.

Know the rules

It's essential that you know the rules for goalkeepers inside out. For example, you're not allowed to pick up the ball after a backwards pass from one of your team-mates. The benefit you have as a player, which will serve you well in goal, is that you know how to play with your feet, so don't be afraid to use them! Another rule to remember is that, once you've picked up the ball, you can only hold onto it for 7 seconds. Otherwise, your opponents get an indirect free kick.

Get your bearings

The goalkeeper needs to know where to stand in goal: they should always be able to keep an eye on the posts and on the penalty spot. As goalkeeper, you have a good view of the whole pitch, with the players coming towards you, even though you're used to the opposite.

What to do when your keeper's sent off and you need someone to play in goal.
What to do when your keeper's sent off and you need someone to play in goal.

Anticipate!

It's well known that goalkeepers are constantly making decisions. You shouldn't be afraid to tell your team-mates where to go, particularly your defenders. Goalkeepers should never hesitate (the famous “I'm going... no I'm not” can prove disastrous!), and above all don't be scared of a bit of contact! You need to anticipate what's coming to limit the risk of injury.

Don't take risks

Humility and realism are two essential qualities for being a good goalkeeper. It's better not to take risks and clear goals with your foot than it is to put yourself in difficulty. The advantage is that nobody will judge you, which can only be a positive. So enjoy yourself, have fun with your opponents, particularly the strikers, and try to surprise them.

What to do when your keeper's sent off and you need someone to play in goal.
FIX

This article was co-written with:
François-Xavier Swiniarski

Footballs, protective gear and goalkeeping kit product manager at KIPSTA:

I've always proudly worn red and gold! I learned my trade at RC Lens, playing there up to junior national level, before playing in the top regional division then Division 3 for 4 years. I still play every week with former RC Lens players.

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