There are many different positions in soccer, and knowing the one that is best for a slow player can be challenging. I have played in every soccer position over the years and have a good idea of the best position for a slow player.
The best soccer position for a slow player is the position of goalkeeper. The goalkeeper spends most of a soccer game in one area of the field, meaning they don’t have to move fast or far to get to where they need to be.
Although the position of goalie isn’t the only position a coach may place a slow player, I believe it is the best option for four specific reasons. Keep reading, and I’ll explain why.
Why Goalkeeper Is the Best Position for a Slow Player
Although it’s never been my strongest position, I have played goalkeeper multiple times during a soccer game. It is an essential role for any team, and a goalie has a significant impact on any game.
But I will admit that in some games with friends, I would sometimes swap positions with the goalie for a short time when I was getting tired.
I knew that in this position, I could get a break from having to run around so fast. (What I really should have done is focus on getting fitter using the 30-day Soccer Fitness Program!)
I swapped positions with the goalie because I knew from experience that playing goalkeeper was a chance to slow down from the pace of the game in other positions.
Playing goalie is an excellent position for a slower-paced game and would be great for any slow player.
Let me share with you the four reasons I believe the position of goalkeeper is perfect for slow players.
1. The goalkeeper runs less than another soccer position
The player that runs the least on a soccer team is the goalkeeper. [source]
If you’ve spent any time watching or playing soccer, you’ll probably have noticed how the ball travels to the goalie more often than the goalie has to move towards the ball.
Whether it’s a player passing the ball back to their goalie or a shot taken at goal by the other team, the goalie doesn’t have to move much to be in contact with the ball.
This is a significant difference from any other soccer position.
Throughout a game, every outfield player is expected to keep moving around the field to stay in space and be available to take possession of the ball whenever possible. This naturally involves a lot of running.
The goalie on a team doesn’t have this same responsibility. In fact, the position of goalkeeper is far more static than any other position in the team.
This is because the goalie’s team wants the goalie to always stay close to their goal. If the goalie is close to the goal, they have a much better chance of stopping the ball from entering the goal.
And we all know that conceding fewer goals gives a team a better chance of winning a game.
It is better for the goalkeeper to stay close to their goal rather than running much. This makes it the perfect position for a slow player.
2. The lack of distance a goalkeeper covers
The second reason the goalkeeper’s position is great for a slow player is that a goalie on a soccer team is required to cover far less ground than any other soccer position.
There is no getting around this fact.
The only area a goalkeeper is expected to cover is their own penalty area: a relatively small rectangular box situated at either end of a soccer field.
Just imagine a goalkeeper in their penalty area for a moment.
For most of a game, the goalie will stay within this area, ready to defend the goal whenever an opposition player or the ball comes near them. Leaving this space at any time dramatically increases the chances that the opposition will score in the undefended goal.
The consequence of this is that goalkeepers don’t move around too much, meaning that it’s the perfect position for a slow-moving player.
3. Great positioning can make up for lack of speed
The great thing about having a slow player in goal is that it doesn’t demand speed from the player. A player can be slow and still be an effective goalkeeper.
This is because the position of goalkeeper relies more on positioning than it does on speed.
The number one priority of a goalie on a soccer field is to stop the ball from reaching the goal. The best way to achieve this aim is for the goalie to position their body between the ball and the goal.
They can use any part of their body – their hand, foot, or even their head. Whatever part of their body they choose to use stops the ball’s movement towards the goal. If they do this then this, then they will have done their job.
Doing this effectively requires good positioning in front of the goal more than it requires speed.
Now, the truth is that good positioning and speed is a preferable combination. But if you are forced to choose between the two, then I would say a slow player with a strong positional sense can still be an effective goalkeeper.
4. Other skills are more important than speed
The last reason why goalkeeper is the best soccer position for slow players is that there are many other attributes more important for a goalie than speed.
Although we have just talked about positioning, which is probably the most essential skill for a goalkeeper, there are other beneficial attributes for a goalie. And each of these is arguably more important than how fast a player is.
To find out what position is best for a fast player, have a look at this article I wrote.
Ability with hands
Firstly, the goalkeeper’s ability with their hands counts for more than how fast they are. If a slow player can handle a soccer ball well, they have the potential to be an effective goalie.
Distribution of the ball
Secondly, a slow player can significantly influence a soccer game if they can effectively distribute the ball around the field.
Every time the goalie has the ball in their possession, they have the opportunity to play the ball to another player on their team that is in a better position than them.
They may choose to kick or throw the ball to that player, but they will be a massive asset to the team if they can do this accurately and consistently.
Another critical skill of any good goalkeeper is their ability to communicate effectively.
The goalkeeper has the advantage of being at the back of the team, allowing them an overview of everything happening on the soccer field.
They can then use this insight to communicate with the other players on their team what they should be doing and where they should be.
It can hugely benefit a team if the goalkeeper can communicate this clearly.
A player’s physique
Another attribute that is more important in a goalkeeper than speed is their physique.
Although there are a few smaller goalkeepers around, the majority of goalkeepers are tall, imposing figures. When you are trying to stop something, such as a soccer ball, going past you, this is advantageous.
The bigger or taller a player is, the greater the chance is that they will get in the way of a moving ball.
A larger physique is also more imposing to an opposition player. And this can reduce the chances of them being as effective in front of the goal.
Things to Be Aware of When Using a Slow Player as a Goalkeeper
Although there are several reasons it can work to have a slow player in goal, there are some things you should consider before moving ahead with this.
Just because you can get away with having a slow player as goalkeeper doesn’t mean that it’s ideal.
In an ideal world, you would want a fast player in every position. There are significant advantages to having players that can quickly move around the soccer field.
But sometimes you just have to work with what you have, and some players are slower than others.
So, if you do have a slow player in goal, there are three ways you will need to adapt your team’s tactics to prepare for the lack of speed.
1. Keep the team’s defensive line close to the goal
Having a slow goalkeeper means they won’t get to the ball as quickly as a faster player.
To mitigate this risk, it can be an advantage to keep the defensive line closer to the goal than you usually would, as this reduces the area a goalkeeper has to cover.
2. Pass the ball to the goalie’s feet.
In a normal situation, when passing the ball to the goalkeeper, it’s sensible to play the ball in front of the goalie for them to run up to. But with a slower goalie, it’s best not to take that risk.
Pass the ball directly to their feet and remember to put enough pace on the ball so it gets to the goalie quickly. (Just remember not to play it to their hands, as that’s not permitted in the rules of soccer. I explain why here if you want to know more.)
3. After the goalie has blocked a shot, take possession of the ball quickly
After a goalie stops an oppositions shot at goal, they often jump up and gather the ball straight away. With a slow goalie, this might not happen as quickly.
Because of this, it’s best to prepare your team’s defenders to run in after every shot on goal. This way, there will be one of your own team players available to gather up the ball before the goalkeeper, or a player from the other team, gets there.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Using a slow player as a goalkeeper is probably the best solution to the question of where to position a slow player. It can work well but remember it’s not the ideal situation. You will have to adapt your team’s playing style to accommodate the slower player.
For more info on soccer positions have a look at one of my other articles on this topic: