Why Do Goalkeepers Stand Still

4 Reasons Why A Goalkeeper May Stand Still

Last updated on March 16th, 2022

Goalkeepers play a vital role in a football team, as they are considered to be the last line of defence.

However, there may be times when a shot is coming on target, but the goalkeeper is seen standing still and doing nothing!

Why do goalkeepers do this? Here’s what you need to know:

Why do goalkeepers stand still?

Here are 4 reasons why a goalkeeper may stand still when a ball is being shot towards his goal:

  1. The ball moved too fast for the goalkeeper to react
  2. The ball is deflected and the goalkeeper is unable to react in time
  3. The goalkeeper is blocked by his teammates and is unable to see the ball
  4. Poor positioning

The ball moved too fast for the goalkeeper to react

There are times when the ball is shot by the opposition player at such a speed that the goalkeeper does not have any time to react.

This usually occurs during a free kick, where the free kick taker has the time to place his shot, and have enough time to generate the power required for a fast shot.

One example is Cristiano Ronaldo’s famous free kick goal against Portsmouth, where he left goalkeeper David James stranded.

Another famous free kick was Roberto Carlos‘ free kick against France, which left goalkeeper Fabian Barthez stranded.

Alternatively, the free kick taker may drive a low shot under the freekick wall, which catches the goalkeeper off guard.

This is why some players may lie behind the free kick wall to prevent such shots from going in!

The ball is deflected and the goalkeeper is unable to react in time

Another way that a goalkeeper may not be able to react in time for a shot is when the original shot deflects off one of his defenders.

When a ball is deflected by another player, the direction of the ball changes and the goalkeeper may not be able to predict where the ball is going.

Goalkeepers usually dive in anticipation of where the ball is going, as they do not have enough time to react when the ball is being shot. This is why they may dive the wrong way in a penalty.

When the goalkeeper anticipates a shot going in a certain direction, the deflection off his defender may change the ball’s direction and catch him off-guard.

This may result in him standing still as he attempts to reposition himself after the deflection.

One example is Shaun Maloney’s goal against the Republic of Ireland, where the ball deflected off a defender, which changed the direction of the ball.

This resulted in the goalkeeper having to change his position midway, which made him look like he was standing still.

In this other match, Sevilla actually scored 2 deflected goals, where both times the goalkeeper did not have time to react, and he was caught standing still.

A deflected goal is rather contentious, as there may be times where it is awarded as an own goal, while other times it will be awarded to the shooter. You can check out my guide here on the differences between a deflection and an own goal.

The goalkeeper is blocked by his teammates and is unable to see the ball

In certain situations, the goalkeeper may be blocked by his teammates, such that he is unable to see the ball clearly.

Mostly, this will occur when all the defenders (including centre backs and full-backs) are in the penalty box, making it overcrowded.

During these scenarios, he may not be able to react in time when the ball is shot by the attacker. As a result, he will stand still as the ball crosses the line.

One such example is in this Champions League Semi-Final between Ajax and Tottenham, where Lucas Moura scored this goal.

With his quick dribbling skills, Lucas was able to dribble past the defender and trick goalkeeper Andre Onana before sending the ball into the net.

This was a memorable match as Tottenham completed an unlikely comeback against Ajax to progress to the Champions League finals.

However, it is possible that the goalkeeper may be blocked by an attacking player. If that player is in an offside position, the player may be ruled offside even though he did not touch the ball at all!

Poor positioning

Another reason why a goalkeeper may be caught off guard from a shot will be his poor positioning in his own penalty box.

In such situations, he may be unable to cover enough ground to block the shot from the defender.

Good positioning is a skill that develops over time, which could be the reason why goalkeepers retire later too.


A goalkeeper’s job is really tough as he needs to anticipate where the ball is going, and react accordingly.

However, there are still times when he can’t react in time, which may make it seem like he’s just standing still!

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