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Coaching: Distribution – Over Arm Throw

Part 3 – Over Arm Throw

So we previously looked at the two most commonly used distribution techniques which are based around kicking (Dead ball kicking and Kicking from hands However for distribution over shorter distances than with kicking a Goalkeeper may sometimes need to thorw the ball.

There are various types of technique to throw out the ball, each used to throw out to varying distances, such as the Javelin throw and the discuss throw. Although for young student keepers these can be hard to master and may be something to progress to in the future. For this blog though and for our young keepers we shall look at the easier technique, the Over Arm Throw.

So what is the right technique:

Figure 1 : Basic Technique

Again the basic technique is as easy as 1-2-3, that like Dead Ball Kicking or Kicking from Hands it is all in one smooth movement. Notice though from Figure 1 that it’s the arms doing all the work. However to ensure that throws are straighter, the arm throwing the ball will be the opposite arm to the leg placed forward (i.e. Right Arm Throw, Left leg forward). This is an easier technique though to master than kicking.

The steps then are as follows:

  • Figure 1 – Step 1 : The throwing arm will hold the ball behind their body, whilst the non-throwing arm points at the target (get them to point at where they need to throw);
  • Figure 1 – Step 2 : Not moving the non-throwing arm, move the throwing arm up and over the head;
  • Figure 1 – Step 3 : Again not moving the non-throwing arm, when the throwing arm moves through to the highest point release the ball from the hand. However even though ball is now released still continue moving the arm through the motion to also then point with this arm/finger at your target (pointing is only really for guidance when they are learning but still may be encouraged if a more experienced keeper is having trouble and needs to re-focus).

That is it – very simple. Although to progress things there are some useful exercises that can be used:

  • Again like previously mentioned in the previous two distribution posts, use the ‘Cross-Bar Challenge’, to encourage height, distance and accuracy – Challenging them to throw and hit the cross-bar from varying (appropriate) distances (penalty spot, 18 yard box, half way line); and
  • May be add targets to the cross-bar to hit; or
  • Put balls mounted on cones out at appropriate distances, so you can then encourage variety in the throwing. That instead of throwing at the highest point the release now needs to be later to be able to throw out lower (i.e in a match to throw out to your players feet rather than to throw over the top); or
  • Again for that game scenario (and to encourage accuracy) get them to throw out to a target area – Setting out a box with marker cones on different parts of the field at appropriate distances. Having a coach/keeper/player in that box to collect the ball with hands/feet. If using another keeper they could work together throwing the ball to each other in boxes/target areas whilst you as a coach look on/or assist; and
  • Mix it up a bit, so they throw short and long, left and right… creating some movement from the keeper, maybe have more than one option for them on different parts of the field. Getting them to look for who to throw to before they throw out the ball or even get some communication going between Goalkeeper and outfield.

This is an easier distribution method than kicking, however it will still need some practice for effective throwing technique and accuracy.

Giving your young Goalkeepers training on different distribution techniques though, will give them more options to deliver a ball. You are also starting to introduce them to decision-making (Psychological), where sometimes they can decide that they may need a different technique to get the ball to their player… by throwing out the ball rather than to kick all the time, especially if the ball doesn’t need to go as far.


Coaching: Distribution – Dead ball kick

This is a big topic, that I have already alluded to in a previous post,, which highlighted that for a goalkeeper a large proportion of the match (approx 80%) concentrates on distribution. So it is indeed a subject worth covering…

There are 4 main types of distribution* for a young goalkeeper to master:
Goalkicks (‘Dead ball kicking’);
Volley (‘Kicking from hands’);
Over arm throw-out; and
Under arm roll-out.

{*Other distribution techniques to learn later will be the half volley and dribble & drive}

I shall then over the next few blog postings look at each one of these, showing basic technique and giving an idea of a training exercise (which can be expanded on).

To start with then lets look at the most difficult of distribution techniques: Dead ball kicking.

First the technique:

To save repeating myself please go to:

  • which discussed the use of Imagery scripts in use at the Academy and how my daughter used it to help her improve her dead ball kicking; and
  • which showed an example of an imagery script for a dead ball from one of our Student Goalkeepers and how it could be improved.

You as a coach could teach the basics of kicking a dead ball, using the examples from and then get your Students to write their own imagery script. Then, once written you could get them to demonstrate their technique in line with their script. This is a good bench mark for you and the keeper as you can see what they think is the right technique and then you can improve on each part of it as needs be, whether that be the number of steps to run up (2, 4 or 6),capered of run, part of the foot to kick with, follow through, looking at the ball etc…

Some useful exercises:

  • To aid them with getting height with the ball and encourage them to get their foot under the ball, you may wish to put an obstacle in the way to challenge them to kick the ball over the object;
  • One from the Soccer AM archives… you could do the ‘Cross-Bar Challenge’, to encourage height, distance and accuracy – Give them the cross-bar to aim from varying (appropriate) distances (penalty spot, 18 yard box, half way line); and
  • For game scenario accuracy, kicking the dead ball to a target area – Set out a box with marker cones on different parts of the field at appropriate long/short distances to the left/center/right of the field. place a coach/keeper/player in that box to collect the ball with hands/feet. If using another keeper they could work together kicking the ball to each other in boxes/target areas whilst you as a coach look on/or assist.

Finally don’t be scared of going back to basics with the Goalkeepers, that includes new staters and those more experienced keepers having a few difficulties. That you could get them to kick/chip the ball from a standing start (no steps) with foot in position next to the ball ready to chip the ball. This can help focus on the right part of the foot to kick with. When they have kicked the ball like this a few times and gaining confidence, then get them to take 2 steps back… then 4 (even number of steps). However if they do then have trouble at 4 or 2 steps take it back to no steps to gain their confidence.

Perfecting Dead Balls is about practice, routine… and a lot of patience. If at first you don’t succeed… Eventually you will! 😉

Keeping it Real: Planning for a distribution of knowledge

After 2 weeks of being involved in a different capacity (parents presentations and assessment marking) at the Academy, this week was time to get my hands dirty (…well as dirty as they can on 3G astro!). My turn to develop a session plan for a group of young Goalkeepers with a mixture of skills and abilities.

So I put my thinking cap on. I wanted to ensure that I covered the basics but in line with my ethos, to keep it real, in that it would allow the keeper to understand the techniques but in way that they could relate to in a game. Whilst also being a fun exercise, as this would aid the learning process.

I therefore sat down one evening last week and drafted out my plan. The theme was distribution, but as weeks 5 and 6 were kicking from hands and from the ground (dead ball), I chose to focus on throwing and roll outs. As this would give the keepers a variety of options when distributing a ball.

The plan needed to be for a 25 minute coaching session, however I always plan a lot more in my plans. I always start at the basics and then plan many different progressions to something that is more technically challenging. This is because on the day of training as a coach you need to have a lot more in your locker. You may need to adapt or change the session to keep it moving, fun or indeed specific to the levels of ability within the group. This would ensure that it presents enough of a challenge to all involved.

As pointed out I drafted out a plan, because as I was working with other coaches in this exercise, I wanted to involve them in this session plan process. This included sitting down with them before putting the final plan into action and more importantly even before this, to gain feedback from the more senior coach before finalising the plan.

“Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan” – Margaret Thatcher.

So after feedback and adding even further progressions from the senior coach, it was now D-day and time to put the plan into action. We started at the basics and where needed changed the training for each member of the group taking them up a level at a time. We ‘kept it real’, having servers (acting as outfield players) or by encouraging the Goalkeeper to look round before rolling or throwing the ball out, as if they were picking out their pass (as they would in a real game) and where needed we gave 1 on 1 training to each Goalkeeper to hone in their technique. We spent a lot of time honing these skills and OK we never got to the later progressions (we can use these another day!), but actually from working like this, this group did show noticeable improvements.

I am an advocate for quality planning. This shows that if you plan extensively, thinking of many plans and situations (keeping it fun and realistic), as well as not being afraid to gain input from others, when you actually come to putting your plans into action, there is every chance they shall succeed. However, in the unlikely event (after such planning) that things don’t go to plan that you understand what went wrong, taking in as much feedback as possible so that you learn from it to make your plans even better next time.

“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win” – Zig Ziglar

As a coach, I am still learning every week and understand that I may make a mistake, but I try not to by quality planning. So my quote should be therefore: “I shall always plan to do better” 😉

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