Goalkeeper Training Drills for Under 12

Is your child a goalkeeper? Would you like to help them improve through fun and valuable drills that only last ten minutes? This article explores 10 essential goalkeeper training drills explicitly designed for under 12 players. These drills aim to build solid foundations and enhance focus, diving ability, coordination, and distribution skills. You’ll see noticeable improvements in your child’s goalkeeping abilities by consistently practicing these drills.

Key Takeaways

  • Goalkeeping drills are crucial for developing essential skills in young players.
  • Short, focused drills can significantly improve abilities like coordination and diving.
  • Consistent practice is key to noticeable improvement and confidence building.
  • Training should cover various aspects, including handling, footwork, and shot-stopping.
  • Goalkeepers must also develop skills with their feet to play effectively from the back.

1. Three-Cone Drill

The Three-Cone Drill is all about enhancing a goalkeeper’s agility and footwork. Here’s how you can set it up:

  1. Place three cones a few feet behind the goal box in a triangle formation.
  2. The goalkeeper starts in the center of the goal while a partner stands at the penalty spot, ready to feed balls.
  3. The partner calls out a cone and the goalkeeper must sprint to the designated cone, return to the center, assume a ready stance, and catch the ball.

This drill is perfect for simulating movement around players to get into the correct position for a save. It’s a fun way to improve quick foot movements and agility—key skills for any budding goalkeeper!

2. Pass It On Drill

The Pass It On Drill is all about quick thinking and movement, making it perfect for under 12 goalkeepers to enhance their ball control and coordination. This drill requires the goalkeeper to work with a partner, which also helps in building teamwork.


  1. The goalkeeper starts at the goal line with a partner positioned at various points around the penalty area.
  2. The partner throws the ball towards the goalkeeper who must catch it and quickly pass it back.
  3. This is repeated with the partner moving to different positions each time to vary the throws.

This drill not only improves the goalkeeper’s reaction time but also their ability to handle the ball under pressure. It’s a fun way to keep the training engaging and challenging, ensuring that the young goalkeepers are always on their toes and ready for action.

3. Agility Hands

The ‘Agility Hands’ drill is all about enhancing a goalkeeper’s hand-eye coordination and overall agility. In this drill, goalkeepers are challenged to catch and release balls thrown at them from various angles, which improves their ability to handle shots from any direction. This exercise is crucial for developing quick reflexes and reliable handwork, which are essential for any young goalkeeper aiming to up their game.

Key Components of the Drill:

  • Multiple angles: Goalkeepers face balls coming from different directions, mimicking game-like scenarios.
  • Consistency: Regular practice of this drill ensures goalkeepers can consistently handle unexpected shots.
  • Repetition: Performing this drill repeatedly enhances muscle memory and reaction times.

Remember, the key to mastering this drill is consistency and repetition. The more you practice, the better you become at anticipating and reacting to shots.

4. Move With The Ball

In this drill, the focus is on enhancing the goalkeeper’s ability to handle the ball while on the move. Start by having each player with a ball ready to maneuver around a marked area. The initial task is to move the ball around their knees, midriff, and upper body without letting it touch their body parts. This exercise helps develop control and precision.

As the players improve, challenge them by having them move the ball in a figure 8 around their legs while moving. This not only tests their agility but also their ability to maintain control under dynamic conditions. Keep the drill lively and fun with plenty of encouragement. If a player drops the ball, turn it into a quick chase game to keep the energy high and the practice engaging.

Another great technique is the ‘Ball Between the Legs’ where keepers stand with legs shoulder-width apart, bend at the waist, and pass the ball back and forth between their legs. Start with the ball rolling on the ground and gradually progress to passing it off the ground. This drill is excellent for improving quick hand movements and coordination under pressure.

5. Warm Up Your Goalkeeper on Match Day

Warming up your goalkeeper is not just about taking a few shots to test their reflexes. It’s about preparing them physically, technically, and tactically based on your match plan. Keep it consistent and tailor the warm-up to your expectations in the game. Here’s a simple yet effective routine to get your goalie match-ready:

  1. Dynamic stretching to loosen up muscles and joints.
  2. Footwork drills to enhance agility and coordination.
  3. Handling drills like ‘Bounce and Catch’ to sharpen reactions.
  4. Position-specific tactics to align with the day’s game strategy.

Remember, the goalkeeper might only touch the ball a few times during a match, but their performance can be crucial. Ensuring a thorough warm-up can significantly impact their game readiness and confidence.

6. Goalkeepers Learn to Play Out

In modern soccer, goalkeepers are not just the last line of defense but also the first step in building an attack. Teaching your young goalkeepers to play out from the back is crucial. They should see themselves as an extra player who can receive, control, and distribute the ball effectively.

Players are encouraged to be patient in the build-up and to use the goalkeeper as an extra player to pass to. This not only helps in maintaining possession but also in setting up attacks from deeper positions.

The Keeper Keeps It

Teach your goalkeeper to play the ball out with their feet and start attacks from the back. This involves not just kicking the ball away but controlling it, looking up, and making smart passes. It’s about confidence with the ball at their feet and understanding when to release it.

How to Develop a Sweeper Keeper

The concept of a sweeper keeper is integral in modern football. This role involves the goalkeeper acting more like a field player, handling the ball, and joining in on appropriate plays. Training drills should focus on improving their footwork, decision-making, and spatial awareness.

Encourage your goalkeepers to practice with field players as much as possible to enhance their comfort with the ball and improve their playmaking decisions.

7. Goalkeeper Back to Basics

Get your goalkeepers back into the swing with this pre-season training workout that tests their handling and distribution. It’s crucial to focus on the fundamentals, especially after a break. Start with simple handling exercises, ensuring that your goalkeepers are comfortable with catching and securing the ball from various angles. Progress to more complex drills that challenge their ability to distribute the ball accurately to teammates under pressure.

Key Drills

  • Handling Drills: Focus on catching and holding the ball securely. Use a variety of throws and shots to simulate game situations.
  • Distribution Drills: Practice throwing and kicking the ball to specific areas or teammates. Emphasize accuracy and speed.

This basic yet essential training will not only sharpen their skills but also boost their confidence on the field. Remember, a well-trained goalkeeper can be the difference between a good team and a great one.

8. Return to Play: Goalkeeper

As your young goalkeepers return to the field, it’s crucial to ease them back into the groove with drills that emphasize both confidence and skill. Start with exercises that focus on reacting to balls played close to the keeper, encouraging them to take ownership of the ball. This not only sharpens their reflexes but also boosts their confidence in handling the ball under pressure.

Ensure all activities comply with the latest sport and social distancing guidelines in your area.

Incorporate drills that test their handling and distribution skills, gradually increasing the complexity as they regain their pre-break form. Remember, the goal is to make the transition as smooth and stress-free as possible, allowing them to focus on their development and enjoyment of the game.

9. Dropping A Ball

Dropping the ball isn’t just a mistake—it’s a learning opportunity! Every time a player drops the ball, they should ‘pounce’ on it immediately. This drill teaches quick recovery and control. Players should get close to the ball, drop to the floor, and secure it with both hands. This basic move is crucial for beginners to master early on.

Steps to Execute the Drill:

  1. Start by having the players stand in a large circle around the coach.
  2. The coach throws the ball gently to each player.
  3. If a player catches the ball, they throw it back. If they drop it, they follow a sequence:
    • First drop: go down on one knee.
    • Second drop: go down on both knees.
    • Third drop: sit down to catch the ball.
    • Fourth drop: Depending on age, the player may be out of the game.

This drill not only improves the reflexes and agility of the players but also instills a sense of urgency and precision when handling the ball. It’s a fun and engaging way to enhance their skills while keeping the atmosphere light and competitive.

Goalkeeper Training Drills for Under 12
Foto de Baylee Gramling na Unsplash

10. Coaching Your Goalkeeper

Coaching young goalkeepers can be a challenging yet rewarding task. At the under-12 level, it’s crucial to focus on building confidence, technique, and understanding of the game. Ensure your training sessions are engaging and incorporate plenty of real-game scenarios to keep them interested and improving.

Goalkeepers should be involved in the team’s overall training to understand better their role and how they fit into the team’s strategy. This integration helps them feel more a part of the team and improves their decision-making during games.

Remember, the goal is not just to stop shots but to build a goalkeeper who is confident, capable, and enjoys their role in the team.

Here are a few tips to enhance your coaching sessions:

  1. Use drills that simulate real game pressure.
  2. Encourage them to communicate loudly and clearly with teammates.
  3. Focus on their positioning and footwork.
  4. Regularly rotate them in different playing positions during practice to improve their understanding of the game.

Wrapping It Up

That’s a wrap on our journey through 10 essential goalkeeper training drills for under 12 players! Remember, consistent practice is key to mastering these skills. Whether it’s improving hand-eye coordination, agility, or shot-stopping abilities, each drill is designed to build a solid foundation for your young goalkeeper. Keep the sessions fun and engaging, and you’ll see your child’s confidence and skills grow game by game. Here’s to raising the next great goalkeeper!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of goalkeeper training drills?

Goalkeeper training drills aim to enhance a goalkeeper’s skills in agility, precision, and coordination, ensuring they are well-prepared for any challenges during a match.

How often should a young goalkeeper practice these drills?

It is crucial for young goalkeepers to practice these drills consistently to improve their performance and consistency on the field.

What age group are these drills suitable for?

These drills are specifically designed for under-12 players, catering to the U10 to U12 age groups.

Can these drills be performed at home?

Yes, many of these drills can be adapted for home practice, allowing for flexibility in training.

What skills do the ‘Agility Hands’ and ‘Move With The Ball’ drills focus on?

The ‘Agility Hands’ drill focuses on hand-eye coordination and agility, while the ‘Move With The Ball’ drill trains goalkeepers on movement and positioning relative to the ball.

What is the ‘Three-Cone Drill’ about?

The ‘Three-Cone Drill’ enhances a goalkeeper’s footwork and agility by navigating around three cones in various patterns.

What should be the focus during a match day warm-up for goalkeepers?

The match-day warm-up for goalkeepers should be consistent and based on the match plan, focusing on physical, technical, and tactical preparation.

How does the ‘Pass It On Drill’ benefit young goalkeepers?

The ‘Pass It On Drill’ helps young goalkeepers improve their footwork and ability to play the ball out from the back under pressure, enhancing their overall gameplay.



As a soccer coach and graduate in Physical Education, I bring a wealth of expertise to the field. My coaching philosophy combines technical precision with a passion for player well-being. With a commitment to fostering both skill and sportsmanship, I aim to empower athletes, nurturing their growth not only as players but as individuals on the journey to success.


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