Tall soccer players can be some of the most effective on a soccer team. Knowing where the best position is for them to play can give a team an advantage they would not otherwise have. Having played in every soccer position over the years, I can tell you exactly which position is best for a tall player.
The best soccer position for tall players is the position of goalkeeper. Playing a tall player in this position is an advantage because they can beat other players to the ball in the air, taller players have a greater physical presence in front of goal, and they can reach further than other players.
Goalkeepers are the tallest soccer players across all the major professional soccer leagues. The advantages of being tall in this position outweigh the benefits of being tall in other positions.
In some ways, this answer may seem obvious to you. Still, there are a number of significant reasons why having a tall goalkeeper can make all the difference for your team.
Keep reading to find out why.
Reasons Why Goalkeeper Is the Best Position for Tall Players
Playing in the position of goalkeeper for a soccer team carries with it a lot of responsibility. But the primary responsibility of any goalie is to stop the ball from entering the goal they are defending.
It’s this responsibility that makes being tall an advantage as a goalkeeper.
There are three reasons why goalkeeper is the best position for a tall soccer player.
- Goalkeepers are required to have a long reach
- Height is an advantage when the ball is in the air
- Taller players have a greater physical presence
Let’s look at each of these points individually.
1. Goalies Are Required to Have a Long Reach
As I just mentioned, stopping the ball from entering the goal behind them is the primary responsibility of every goalkeeper.
There are numerous ways that a goalie may do this, and to do this effectively, they need to be prepared to use every part of their body.
But every time the ball comes near them, they will have an advantage if they are tall because it means they can reach further.
Have a look at this video below to see some examples of this.
You’ll notice that in many of these examples, the goalkeeper is at full stretch when making contact with the ball.
Although the goalie’s starting position when reaching for the ball does make a difference to their ability to reach the ball, there are still multiple examples of times when the goalie would not have reached the ball had they been just a few inches shorter.
A soccer goal is a large area for a goalkeeper to cover.
The size of a regulation soccer goal is 24′ (7.32 m) x 8′ (2.44 m). This is the distance between the inside of the posts and the distance from the crossbar’s lower edge to the ground.
This is a significant area for one person to defend.
Being tall gives a goalie the ability to reach further than a shorter player would be able to. This extra reach makes them capable of stopping shots from the opposition that a shorter player would have been unable to stop.
2. Extra Height Is an Advantage When the Ball Is in the Air
Similar to the last point, being tall gives a goalkeeper the ability to reach further than a shorter player would be able to reach.
But this point is about a goalie’s ability to reach into the air and catch the ball rather than just blocking the ball from getting past them.
I’m sure you’ve noticed whenever you watch a soccer game that the ball is often in the air around the penalty area.
This may be from an incoming cross, a corner kick, a free-kick, or even a deflection of a defender that has sent the ball into the air.
When the ball is in the air around the penalty area, the goalkeeper already has a significant advantage. They can use their hands to catch the ball when the other players around them cannot.
(To find out exactly where and when a soccer goalie can use their hands, check this article I wrote.)
If they can position themselves below the descending ball, they should be able to out jump another player around them.
Although the goalie already has an advantage here, being tall gives the ultimate advantage.
For instance, a short player may only be able to jump as high as a tall player beside them. But a tall player is capable of outjumping even a tall player competing for the same ball.
When the ball is the location of your team’s goal, you want your goalie to have every advantage to help them reach the ball before anyone else.
3. It’s Physically Intimidating to Be Up Against a Tall Player
The third reason why goalkeeper is the best position for a tall player is that it’s more physically intimidating to be up against a tall player.
Just imagine for a second that you are running at the goal with the ball, and the only thing between you and scoring a goal is the goalkeeper. Do you think you would feel more confident against a short player or a tall player in this situation?
Of course, it would be more intimidating to be up against a taller player! You know that a taller player has a much higher chance of stopping you or the ball because they can block a larger part of your route to the goal.
Psychology plays a huge role in soccer. [source]
What you believe about your ability at a certain moment will significantly impact what you can achieve at that moment.
And if a tall goalkeeper is standing in your way and their height gives you even a split second of doubt, then their height has given them an advantage.
Does Height Matter in Soccer?
Ok, so hopefully, I’ve managed to convince you why the best position for a tall player in soccer is a goalkeeper. Now you may be wondering how important a player’s height is.
Does it make much difference?
Are tall players inherently better?
The reality is that soccer players can be a range of different heights and still be great players.
Height doesn’t matter in soccer. The ability to perform well on the soccer field is more important. The list of the best players to ever play the game includes some players that could be considered short and some players that would be considered tall.
No one would consider players such as Maradona (at 5’5″) or Messi (at 5’7″) to be tall. But on the other hand, players such as Ronaldo (at 6’1″) or Virgil van Dijk (at 6’4″) are arguably as good a soccer player and can comfortably be referred to as tall.
In fact, Ronaldo and van Dijk are in good company.
Soccer players, on average, are tall. According to the Professional Football Players Observatory, an organization that collates data on soccer players, the average height of a soccer player is 181.96cm, or 5’11”. This height is considered tall as it is taller than 76.7% of men and 99.9% of women in the USA. [source]
This also raises the question of what the best height is for a soccer player.
What the best height for a soccer player is, depends on what position they play for their team. Usually, goalkeepers and defensive players are tall, creative players in the center of the field are short, and strikers can be either short or tall.
Being tall is usually considered an advantage for a soccer player. It gives them a greater ability to reach the ball in both offensive and defensive positions of the field.
(However, it is possible to succeed as a short goalkeeper as you can see in my article – Do Soccer Goalies Have to Be Tall? How Short Goalies Can Succeed.)
This is why the position of goalkeeper is perfect for a tall player as a goalie has multiple opportunities to reach for the ball ahead of any other players around them.
Hopefully, you now feel you understand why the position of goalkeeper is the best fit for a tall player.
This article is one in a series of articles looking at what positions are best for various players. If this article has been helpful, check out one of the following related articles.