The triangle technique is one of the most common techniques a goalkeeper uses to catch the ball. It is usually talked about as the method of catching shots that are kicked at head height – but it is also used when handling crosses and making diving saves.
This method is called the “Triangle Technique” because the goalkeeper’s hands make the shape of a triangle when he catches the ball. To do this, the goalkeeper spreads his fingers and brings his two thumbs together, as shown in the image below.
In this position, the thumbs are firmly behind the ball and the fingers wrap around the perimeter of the ball (which is why this is also called a contour catch) to ensure that there is as much latex on the ball as possible.
Young goalkeepers may need (as they build strength) to place more of their hands behind the ball to ensure that the shot force does not push through their hands, but this will come at the expense of better handling.
It is important that, whenever possible, the goalkeeper’s hands are wrapped around the top half of the ball rather than the bottom. This allows the goalkeeper to control the shot and bring it more easily to his chest, and most importantly, if the ball is not caught, it will fall in front of him so he can recover the ball instead of going over his head into the goal.
So, we have our hands in a good triangle position and we are going to do our best to make sure we catch the top half or 2/3rds of the ball. What else do we need to consider?
For a shot that is kicked with a lot of force, we need to use our bodies as shock absorbers and we will use different tools to do this!
The first thing we will use are our hands, we will keep our fingers open and with some tension in the shape of the ball let it come to us instead of pushing it away with tight straight fingers, but we will also need to have strong wrists so that the ball does not push our hands out of the way.
Next we use our arms, in particular we make sure that our elbows are close to our body and we bend them so that the ball pushes our hands back a little bit and absorbs much of the power of the shot into our arms.
To facilitate this, we should try to catch the ball about 30cm from our face/body so that there is room for the goalkeeper to slow the ball down before it hits him in the face.
When to use
As mentioned at the beginning, this technique is used a lot! Basically, any ball that is at chest height or higher should be caught with this triangle technique – including crosses and most diving saves where the ball is not on the ground.
Problems to watch out for