setposition headersetposition 1

In simple terms 'the set position' is taking up a stance in preparation for what action you may need to take next, catch, dive etc. In this position you will be ready for most circumstances that you will encounter as a goalkeeper. During a game you will move and position yourself, then 'set' on many occasions, Failing to set or setting incorrectly could result in a slower reaction, being unbalanced or wrongly positioned.


The 'set position' is the first technique a goalkeeper needs to understand and master. You will see several types of styles adapted by goalkeepers. While the key to a successful and solid 'set' can depend on what is comfortable and works for you; if your biomechanics are wrong this will cause weaknesses and reduce your overall performance and ability to make more saves. See picture as example of a 'set position'. Note the knee bend with shoulders directly above the knees.


As a goalkeeper if you catch most shots via the correct methods, then you have more than likely moved correctly and followed most if not all the steps listed below. The 'set position' you are adopting may therefore be correct for you; in which case continue practising and increasing the speed to which you 'set', this should now become part of your coaching exercises. Do check the areas covered below to see if you already 'set' using them; if not add them to your sessions to see if they improve performance.


If you are just starting out as a goalkeeper or see this as an area of weakness then you are advised to work and adapt your position as follows.


  • You should be on the ball of your feet maintaining a balanced stance.
    Do not over extend as your balance is a key factor to this situation.
  • Feet should be shoulder width apart.
    A wider stance will lose the quickness and speed of movement. To close will cause a loss of balance.
  • Knees slightly flexed and ready to coil.
    setposition 2Again balance must be maintained.
  • Shoulders open and relaxed and squared to the ball.
  • Head over the body.
    You should now feel that you are comfortable and ready to react, if not, review that you are following all areas above.
  • Hands relaxed and in front of the body.
    This position of hands covers most areas were you will need to set; their position will change for
    crosses or one V one situations.
  • Set correctly and you should now have your toes / knees & shoulders in a vertical line with your head slightly in front. If still unbalanced this may be due to your head position being too far forward. Try that first before altering other positions.


The above 'set position' is currently perceived to be the most technically correct.


For those that have sessions with a coach, they will be able to spot the strengths and weaknesses of your adopted 'set position' and advise on corrections. Any faults will become more apparent during pressurised exercises. Once you have learnt this position proceed to 'catching methods & zones' starting with The W.