Negative Step. Is it Negative for Goalkeepers?

Negative Step, for those that follow me @gkmanual and those who are coached by me, is a bit of a pet hate of mine, so I thought with the World Cup upon us and the eyes of the world on it and the mistakes that goalkeepers make, I would write a blog about it to explain my reasons why.

I expect this may upset a few exponents of the Negative Step and that this is just my opinion backed up by some examples and facts. If you disagree please comment with the same and be constructive.

What is a Goalkeeping Negative Step?

Let’s do a little explanation and experiment.

Put a ball down on floor say 4 steps from your body.

Now let me explain a “power step”

1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart.

2. Now step with one foot away from your body towards the ball and slightly in front.

3. That is called the power step.

A Power Step allows to you to generate lateral power from one step which will get you to the ball

Now what is “negative step”

1. Stand in a wide position with your feet. This is called A Frame Stance.

2. Look down at your feet position.

3. Now move one of your feet inwards so it is Shoulder Width apart

3. That basically is a negative step, inwards to your body.

Now which stance is closer to the ball?

Well Shoulder Width is! There is no argument on this.

Now coming from a gym background there is another major benefit to the Power Step "Balance"

With the Power Step, you are more stable and can use the power in the quad on your leading foot to generate the spring and power to get to the ball.

With the Negative step you are unbalanced and already falling over. From the response on twitter goalkeepers use the inward movement from A Frame to Negative step to generate the power and spring, which it does a little BUT when a goalkeeper misses the ball by a balls length or actually manages to get a touch on it, logic tells us the reason why?

So why do we see the majority of top line goalkeepers now use the A Frame technique which leads to negative step on some dives.

Well I can’t answer this question accurately without interviewing all the coaches, but I will give an opinion based on my knowledge of goalkeeping.

To me a lot of it can be attributed to goalkeeper training they receive plus the influx, especially in the league I watch most the EPL, of foreign GK coaches

The problem for me being the emphasis on way too much 'foot movement'

Here is an example of what I mean and what you may see online.

1. Have goalkeepers jumping over hurdles, ropes etc to make saves?

2. The Drill is predictable in terms of the goalkeeper knowing which direction ball is going

3. The Drill is so fast paced their is no time for the goalkeeper to set. Only fine if this is a reaction drill

4. It is about how many reps the GK does, rather than the save is technically correct.

5. They do drills and not actual Game related Practice.

Now there are circumstances that negative step and A Frame stance is used effectively, like with a shot that is close to the body but for say shots outside the box or shots that come back across you and are in the corners, top or bottom, the facts are goalkeepers with this style do not get to the ball very well.

I’m using 2 examples from 2018 World Cup as base of my argument.

Firstly Jordan Pickford with the penalty he conceded against Tunisia. Read the conversation about it on my Twitter page but here is a slo motion video to demonstrate the fact he used negative step to try and save it.

The 2nd one is Robin Olsen the Sweden goalkeeper conceding from the Kroos free kick.

Look at these stills

As you can see he starts in A Frame into a negative step and just misses the ball. Yes he wasn’t square to the ball but negative step had just as much to do with him conceding. If he was in Shoulder width set and took a small power step he would have saved the shot.

There is a reason that shoulder width set position & power step is taught when doing your coaching badges in Australia and I’m pretty sure the UK aswell. The benefits are clear for me and logical. I wrote a blog on What has happened to Goalkeepers Set give it a read to see what I'm talking about.

In a recent interview with Jordan Pickford he explained that Martin Margetson (England GK Coach) keeps telling him to be narrow (Shoulder Width) but it is clear from footage that he still isn’t in some circumstances. A work in progress shall we say!

So what explanation do coaches or goalkeepers have for use of neg step constantly by top goalkeepers in shot stopping?

I would be very interested to hear those thoughts backed up by the evidence that they actually work better than the Power Step method so we can ALL learn more about the art of goalkeeping?

About Nine One Football

Nine One Football are the ‘Expert's’ when it comes to Striker & Goalkeeper Soccer Training. We have developed the revolutionary Nine One Football Program which is conducted by specialist qualified coaches and has Elite Academies, Group & Private Training. We have also developed the small sided game 3v3+GK which has more touches, more goals, more saves. Head Coach of Nine One Football is Paul Harvey who is FFA Level 1 Qualified Coach who specialises in coaching Goalkeepers and Strikers.

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