When Should a Goalkeeper Attack?

Hugo Lloris knows when to charge! - (Photo: Commons.wikimedia.org)

In the famous North London derby this past weekend between English Premier League clubs Arsenal and Tottenham, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris played a vital role.  Although he was beaten for the game’s lone goal that gave Arsenal a 1-0 victory, Lloris made several brilliant moves that kept Tottenham in the game and nearly gave them a chance to win.

At one point Arsenal speedster Theo Walcott received a pass just outside of the 18-yard box and looked a sure bet to score.  However, Lloris had leapt out from his goal, past the penalty box, and made a brilliant sliding tackle to kick the ball away from Walcott.  Such a spring to action likely prevented another goal for the Gunners and displayed exactly when goalies need to attack the ball:

However, this was a goalkeeper rushing to action at the right moment.  Every time a goalie rushes out like this to a challenge, they run the risk of getting stranded away from the goal, and a simple deflection or errant pass could lead to a wide open goal-scoring opportunity for an opposing forward.  So how should a goalie determine whether or not to attack?

You need to assess the situation quickly and act wholeheartedly.  Usually, the proper time for a goalie to make a move is when they are the last man in defense.  If the forward is free in on the goal, it is up to you to rush out and throw them off.  When rushing, always be alert.  The ball could be struck at any moment, and you will have little time to react, so make sure that you are ready to dive or leap for the ball at any moment.

Another vital aspect of playing goalie is making sure that you block the ball and avoid fouling the forward.  If you foul the forward, not only is there likely to be a penalty awarded, but you may get sent off with a red card for fouling a player with a scoring chance.  Therefore, always keep your focus on the ball and try to get it away.  Hugo Lloris got very lucky in that challenge on Theo Walcott and could have been in a great deal of trouble had his sliding challenge missed the ball.

Another thing that a goalie must judge in the split second they have to rush the forward is whether or not they can reach the ball in time.  This is of absolute importance!  You must judge not only the speed of the ball and the forward, but also your own speed and whether you can reach the ball in time.  The best time to rush is right as the forward makes a touch.  If you’re lucky, the forward’s touch will be a bit strong (due to the high speed), and you can beat them in a race to the ball.  Like stated before, be careful and know your limits.  Learning the tricks of the goalkeeper trade takes years to master.  Only experience can really help you get a feel for these types of moments, so practice, play hard, and always be ready to make that desperate keeper charge!


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