The goalkeeper often called the goalie, is the last defense for a soccer team to keep the ball from making a goal. The goalie has a special set of rules and is supposed to catch the ball or create a barrier between the ball and the goal. A tall person may have an advantage in this position, but does the soccer goalie have to be tall to have a successful game?
A soccer goalie does not have to be tall. While tall players have more of an advantage as goalies, short, yet skilled players make excellent goalies. There are no rules that specify a particular height for the goalie position, so anyone of any height can be a goalie and lead a successful game.
Continue reading to find out more about what skills it takes to be a successful goalie, and learn more about the average heights for soccer goalies.
Does height really matter in soccer?
While there are some advantages to being tall when playing really any sport, there’s no rule in soccer that states you have to be a certain height, even if you play the goalie position. Generally, the goalie is the tallest player on the field, but plenty of players on the shorter end of the spectrum have proven to be great goalies.
Just as a short person playing basketball may need to develop other areas of their physique and other skills that many tall players take for granted, a soccer player who is short and wants to play goalie will need to develop a set of skills a little bit more than the average tall player. There are too many people who love soccer or dream of playing in the big leagues, but let their height discourage them from reaching their soccer goals or from even playing in the first place.
So long as you develop all the skills necessary to be a successful goalkeeper, and work on the areas in which you’re disadvantaged (such as jumping skills to ensure you can catch the ball that would otherwise fly above your head), you can prove to your coach that you’ll be not only a great asset to the team but also an excellent goalie. Plus, your coach is going to appreciate all that extra effort you put into being a skilled goalie.
What is the average height of a soccer goalie?
Generally, the average height of a soccer goalie is over 6 feet, with the most common height being 6 foot 2 inches. They are also generally the tallest player on the field, and even those who are just 6 foot 0 inches tall are often selected to be a goalie because they surpass the rest of their team in height. They’re often selected to be a goalie because they can cover more space when creating a barrier between the ball and the goal, but height isn’t the only thing considered when selecting a goalie.
Some of the tallest players are not skilled enough to be the goalie and a good asset for their team, and instead play better on the field. Having great hand-eye coordination is a huge deal when it comes to playing goalie, as some players are simply more coordinated with their feet and therefore play better on the field.
This among several other skills and qualities that make a great goalkeeper has nothing to do with height and anyone can be naturally born with these qualities or develop them over time regardless of how tall or short they are.
Ideal goalie skills for a successful game
To play a successful game as a goalie, there’s a set of skills you should attempt to master during practice if you don’t already have those qualities naturally. With the help of these skills and qualities (plus a little bit of luck, just as any player would need), you can become just as successful, if not more successful, than a goalie who is 6 or more inches taller than you. Of course, you’ll need to be athletic, and probably the most athletic person on the team.
This means keeping up on your fitness not only with soccer practice but at the gym. You’ll also need to be a quick thinker with good reflexes and great hand-eye coordination. Being a goalie also requires great resilience.
During practice and the big game, you’ll hit the ground a few times and the ball will hit you multiple times throughout the game, which is just part of being the goalie. You’ll need to be able to keep playing even after getting hit by the ball unless you’ve been seriously injured or become too strained to keep playing.
With your good hand-eye coordination skills, you’ll also need to be able to catch a ball coming from all different heights and directions. This means that if a ball is flying towards you and is aimed overhead, you’ll need to think quickly and jump to catch the ball with your hand. Then you’ll need to deflect the ball toward a player on your team.
As a goalie, you’ll also need to get skilled at positioning, or making sure you’re in the correct position before the ball is able to fly or roll past you. A good goalie is quick and always makes sure his or her body is constantly between the position the ball is coming from and the goal, to keep the opposing team from making a goal. This will cut down the number of angles that the opposing team will need to shoot the ball into the goal.
Lastly, the goalie should be a good leader. This means having confidence, forgetting about any goals made by the opposing team, communicating with teammates, warning defenders when an opposing player is approaching them, and taking charge of the direction of the game. Goalies that have and develop these skills will become great assets for the team, whether they are short or tall.
Some of the most successful goalies are shorter than 6′
In the history of soccer, there have been several goalies under 6 feet that didn’t let their height get in the way of reaching their goal. Pedro Manuel Benitez Arpolda is the shortest professional soccer goalie in history, who was only 5 feet 5 inches tall. He played in the 1930 FIFA World Cup for his Paraguayan team, as well as nine different soccer matches in the Club Atletico Atlanta in the Argentinean First League.
Another successful soccer goalie was Tarmizi Johari, who was also 5 feet 5 inches and played for the national Brunei soccer team. Other successful goalies include Julien Darui, Francesco Quintini, Angelo Martino Colombo, and Jorge Campos, all of whom were 5 feet 6 inches. These players made up for their lack of height with the advantage of having excellent speed, leaping ability, and athleticism.