Do Soccer Goalies Have to Be Tall? How Short Goalies Can Succeed

Soccer goalies must jump and dive between 8 feet high and 24-foot long goalposts. There is no doubt that a goalie must tower over the ordinary player to have an advantage when making a save. However, some goalkeepers are often relatively short, so do goalkeepers have to be tall?

Soccer goalies don’t have to be tall. There is no rule requiring a player to be a specific height to play in the position of goalkeeper in soccer. The success of short goalkeepers like Iker Casillas and David Ospina is enough proof that being tall isn’t a universal goalkeeping trait. 

In this article, you’ll learn about the upsides and disadvantages of being a tall soccer goalie. I’ll also show you how to succeed as a short goalie and some drills that will set you on the way. 

As long as you’re willing to work hard and improve in certain areas, short goalies can do just fine.

Do Soccer Goalies Have to Be Tall? post title over image of goalie

How Much Does Height Matter as a Soccer Goalie?

In some sports, height has always been an essential factor when it comes to the ability to perform effectively. It can even determine your chances of getting into certain sports.

For example, if you want to play basketball, you need to be at least 6ft 2in to get on the court. Thankfully, the rules for soccer goalies don’t discount anyone.

If you want to play soccer, there is no specific requirement on being tall to play. Short players can play as goalies. If you’re good enough, you’re tall enough.

That being said, being tall might still help you gain some advantage in games as a goalkeeper. The reason for this is that a large part of a goalie’s role in the team is to be able to reach the ball in situations where other players could not. 

However, you don’t have to be 6 feet tall to be a successful goalie; you may just have to work harder and improve in areas that taller goalkeepers take for granted.

A competent goalie must cover as much of the goal area as possible. 

Being tall helps make this easier, but other qualities can help compensate for height deficits.

These qualities include excellent vertical dives, agility, and in-air ball handling. (We’ll look at these in more detail in a moment).

What Are the Advantages of Being a Tall Goalie?

The fact is that being a tall goalkeeper does have advantages and is why, in a previous article, I listed goalie as the best position for tall players.

For example, taller goalkeepers can easily cover more extensive sections of the goal area in less time.

In addition, having a big player in the goal makes it seem like the net is smaller due to their size alone. This makes it more difficult for opposing strikers to score.

Tall goalkeepers find it easier developing their in-air ball-handling skills, as their height makes catching high-flying balls easier. 

When a tall goalie defends the goal, it becomes harder for the attacker to score headers. This is because the goalkeeper can easily reach and stop the ball before the striker has a chance to act.

goalie stopping ball on the floor

What Are The Disadvantages of Being a Tall Goalie?

Although most goalies are tall, there are some disadvantages to this height.

For the most part, taller athletes lack the agility of their shorter counterparts. 

Although many tall athletes have above-average skills for their size, short players are typically more agile. In addition, since a tall goalie’s center of gravity is substantially higher, their equilibrium is much more unstable.

While soccer is a high-skilled sport that requires constant mobility, goalies don’t move as much as most other players do. Therefore, goalkeepers may not necessarily need as much agility and stamina as other players.

When they need to use agility and mobility, however, some goalies may wish they were shorter. Nevertheless, these show that being a short goalkeeper isn’t always disadvantageous. 

Can I Be Under 6 Feet Tall and Still Be a Professional Goalkeeper?

It is possible to be under 6 feet tall and still be a professional goalkeeper. If you can prove to the coach that you are good enough for the role, then they will select you for the position of goalie.

Short goalkeepers can outperform tall goalkeepers in terms of performance. For example, Iker Casillas and Victor Valdez are not particularly tall, yet they excel at their jobs.

If a goalie is short, they’ll need to compensate for it by improving their agility and vertical diving skills. 

There’s no arguing that a goalkeeper’s height is an asset. 

Most successful goalkeepers are tall, with two of the best goalies, Manuel Neuer and Thibaut Courtois, easily over 6 feet tall. But, on the other hand, height isn’t the only criterion that determines the success or quality of a goalie.

youth soccer goalie

How to Succeed as a Short Goalkeeper

As the bulk of this article has explained already, height is an advantageous quality in soccer, but it’s by no way indispensable.

However, some qualities can make you succeed as a goalkeeper, even when you’re not tall.

The redeeming quality for short goalies is the vertical jump. If you’re not tall enough to reach as high as you want, you should be able to jump high enough to compensate for that.

In addition to having an extraordinary vertical jump, short soccer goalkeepers must also improve in other relevant areas.

Skills like reaction speed, in-air ball handling, and correct positioning are must-have skills for a relatively short goalie.

While the importance of vertical jump is already apparent, correct positioning is also essential because you can only move so much in a given period.

If your height doesn’t allow you to dive quickly between long distances, you can attempt to be there already.

Handling the ball is an option unique to a goalie in soccer. High-quality in-air ball-handling is essential because you’ll have to be catching the ball in the air pretty frequently.

For example, in a duel where a tall goalie will handle the ball effortlessly, you may need to show you can jump high enough and take it in-air as a short goalie.

Fortunately, most of these skills are learnable by trial and error. Since competitive matches don’t allow for mistakes, you should perfect the drills in training to become a better goalie overall.

Let me give you some drills to improve all the necessary skills for short soccer goalies.

Best Training Drills for Short Goalies

As a goalkeeper on the shorter end of the spectrum, you can continue training as usual, but you must pay special attention to specific parts of your existing training.

Most of the drills for short goalies are what you do at training regularly, but not as frequently as you should.

Diving drills are an excellent way to start.

However, while vertical diving is said to be the most important for short goalkeepers, you’ll only be making perfectly vertical dives a few times per game. Therefore, it’s more important to perfect the art of diving in the general sense.

You’ll need a partner for most driving drills. Your partner should throw balls high up and in different directions for you to jump and fetch. Doing this continuously and consistently will eventually compensate for your height.

Check out this video below of some diving drills you can try as a short goalie.

Soccer goalie diving drills

This drill will also help improve your in-air ball handling, and depending on the rules you set; your reaction speed can also see a boost.

Positioning is a lot more complicated to get right because it’s hard to simulate a match environment during training. 

Have a look at this drill in the video below and try it out yourself.

Goalkeeper Training: Positioning and Angles Tutorial
Soccer goalie positioning drill

Getting tips from experienced coaches and watching lots of YouTube advice will help you position better as a short goalie, helping you stop more shots.

For more helpful drills, check out my article on 10 Best Soccer Coaching Drills or the 10 Soccer Ball Control and Footwork Drills (For All Ages) for more ideas.

Ben Clayfield

Hi! My name's Ben. I've played, watched, read about, and enjoyed soccer throughout my life. I really enjoy finding out more about the game I love and sharing it with you all. Find out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

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