When a breakaway unfolds, the goalkeeper is put in a stressful situation. Learn how to best manage a one-on-one and come away without giving up a goal.

A breakaway is defined as when the goalkeeper is the last defender between the attacker and the goal. The goalkeeper must realize three important choices in these situation, and by understanding them, they can start to better read the game:

  • Win the ball before the shot if you can
  • Smother the shot as it is taken if you can win it clearly
  • Play the shot or dribble if the attacking player clearly has possession.

Most keepers are aggressive by nature, but sometimes patience is the correct tactic to use in a breakaway, especially when the striker has possession of the ball. Here are a couple of exercises you can do with your team or even in your backyard with your friends to work on when to come off your line.

Breakaway Tag

It really isn't a tag game, but it may look like one. The keeper is in goal and about 20-30 yards away is a striker with the ball at his or her feet. One yard behind the striker is a defender. Once the striker touches the ball at the goal, the defender can sprint in to get in front of the striker.  By creating this pressure, you make the game more realistic. The goalkeeper must evaluate each touch from the striker, if the ball is over-dribbled, then the keeper may be able to come out and win the ball before the shot. If it's a good dribble by the attacker, the goalkeeper can come out a little, stay under control and wait for the next touch, which can be a dribble or a shot, and react to that touch.

Note: Repeat and have fun with this. Remember, strikers must always avoid contact with the goalkeepers to keep from creating an injury situation.

Situation Breakaway

In this exercise, one friend has the ball 20-30 yards from goal. A second friend (striker) is facing away from the goal and near the ball. The player with the ball passes it into the area around the goal and the striker turns and runs to play it. The goalkeeper must decide whether he or she can win the ball before the striker gets to it, or come off the line a little and wait for the next touch or shot to make the save.

By creating little fun games like this, the decision on when to come, how far and fast to come will become easier to read for the goalie and that's an important skill to have when dealing with breakaways in game-time situations.