Knowing When To Pursue The Ball: A Goalie’s Dilemma

stay or go

The joys of sitting in goal are many, including (but not limited to): watching how your team mates keep looking back at you and making head movements to suggest you pedal around, celebrating goals like you actually had something to do with it, and (in the case of Lancaster United), talking to whoever is pissing nearby.

Ah, it’s a simple life.

But every once in a while you actually need to participate in the game, and that’s when the question of when to say or when to go comes up. Let me give you an example:

You have an opponent bearing down on you with a fellow team mate pursuing. The opponent shoots and the ball goes careening off of your front wheel and towards the wall.

You can: 

  • Stay in goal and call out where the ball went
  • Stay in goal and mock the person who shot
  • Pursue the ball
  • Pursue the ball and call that you are leaving the goal

Depending on what kind of player you are, this answer may seem obvious – but it is not so obvious, friends. Take into consideration if your team mate is able to get into goal quickly, if there is another opponent who might be able to dish or shoot the ball to a scoring position, and if the wall the ball is heading towards is in front or behind you. These are factors that one must calculate (and quickly) in order to determine whether to pursue or not.

goaliemattI have had my own problems with this in the past (I would just hang out in goal for-ev-er, and at times still do), but now I’ve started being a touch more¬†adventurous during pickup. And pickup is kinda the best place ever to make stupid mistakes. In my own assessment, I am alright at getting control of the ball and have a little bit of speed behind me – enough to shoot out of goal and at least block off the ball in order for a teammate to get into defensive positions. It was trial and error for me to begin understanding when the best time was for me to stay in goal and abandon it for the ball.

I predict it’s a game of trial and error for you too, dear reader.

So I suggest this: if you traditionally play a defensive/goalie position, practice rolling out of goal when the opportunity to gain control of the ball presents itself. Sure, you might leave the goal wide open and your team mates might make fun of you, but they are doing that anyway, so why not learn something in the process?

As Bidde (who can bench press two Philly girls without using his hands) so aptly put it to me, a perma-goalie is not a terribly useful thing.

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  1. Horse says:

    speed and trust.
    Sprint, not roll out of goal after a ball on your end, and trust that your teammates will have goal covered like they should. If you’re the only one facing the ball you have an advantage, imo.
    having teammates that understand that if you come out, someone needs to be ready to go in is key.

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