Skip to main content

Every player has a different set position, and every coach teaches it differently. Yes, set positions are custom to each goalkeeper, however there are some key principles that stay consistent throughout them all – or at least should be consistent. 

The Goalkeeper’s set position will vary based on the depth and position of the play and the threat of the ball. 

PS – Please note that the  set position is different from positioning. In this article we are talking about the body shape to adopt when getting set, we are not explaining where to stand – that is positioning, we will discuss positioning in a different article.

Set position changes based on the game situation. 

The standard Goalkeeper set position

  • Leg and knees apart at shoulder width.
  • Knees slightly bent for readiness
  • Hands above waist level out at 90 – 120 degrees..Palms facing each other or slightly angled toward the ball.
  • Weight of the body is on the soles of feet (toes but not all the way on the toes). 
  • Keep your chest over your knees to keep weight forwards.

Goalkeeper set position

This is the standard set. This set is used for shots from distance or from the edge of the box 

Each goalkeeper can adjust some details based on what he/she feels more comfortable with – position of the hands, higher or lower body posture, bigger or smaller gap between legs.

Low and Super-Low Set

When the shot is coming from close range the Goalkeeper will adjust to a lower set.

This is because the reaction time is shorter so the Goalkeeper needs to be quick with the movement. Also, if the ball is on the ground, the shortest distance to the goal is a low shot, the lower our body the faster we can be to the lower points. If the ball is in the air, cross, volley, header, our set can be higher since the closer distance to the goal is above the ground. 

When the play is inside the box, you need to stay lower.

When closing down the striker in 1vs1 situation the Goalkeeper will stay even lower, with his/her hands close to the ground as he/she gets really close . Given the close distance to the striker, the Goalkeeper makes sure he/she is keeping his/her legs closer together compared to a regular set, to avoid a shot between the legs.  This is a super low set with open palms to the ball in order to optimize our body size with respect to the frame.Gianluigi Buffon Is Unstoppable at 44 years | Best Saves 2022 super-low set @ min 1:32sec ; low set @ min 1:40sec

Higher Set

Sometimes the Goalkeeper needs to get into a higher set, sometimes when the ball is in the air for a header or – given the specifics of the situation – it is unlikely for the shot to be aimed anywhere but to the higher portion of the net. The higher the set, the closer we are to ariel balls moving towards the net – but knees should always be slightly bent as this standard athletic position is best for our body to react. 

Gianluigi Buffon Is Unstoppable at 44 years | Best Saves 2022 example of higher set @ 1:56min

How to work on it: 

  1. Getting set correctly has to do with footwork, mobility and timing.  To practice correct set position, incorporate a movement or difficulty factor to start the drill then have the GK reposition and get set to face action.
  2. Work on different game situations, one GK in goal,  three players on the outside passing the ball and then shooting after taking a leading touch. The goalkeeper needs to get across the goal and get set when the outside player is getting ready to shoot. 
  3. Some cones, set, then a volley, drop-kick, or strike from the ground to hands.