What is a Parry in Soccer?

In the high-paced and competitive world of soccer, goalkeepers utilize a variety of techniques to defend their goal and prevent the opposing team from scoring. One such technique is the parry, which plays a crucial role in a goalkeeper’s arsenal of skills.

A parry in soccer refers to the act of deflecting the ball away from the goal using the goalkeeper’s hands or body. This defensive move requires a combination of quick reflexes, precise timing, and spatial awareness.

When executed correctly, a parry can not only prevent a goal but also redirect the ball towards a safer area, minimizing the risk of subsequent scoring attempts from the opposition.

Although it may seem straightforward, mastering the art of parrying takes consistent practice and dedication. Goalkeepers need to develop a keen understanding of ball trajectories, player tendencies, and situational awareness to react effectively to incoming shots. Learning to parry successfully can make all the difference in a goalkeeper’s ability to protect their goal and contribute to their team’s overall success.

Understanding the Parry in Soccer

In soccer, mastering various defensive techniques is crucial for goalkeepers to protect their goal. One of these practices is parrying the ball. In this section, we will delve into the definition and purpose of a parry in soccer.


A parry in soccer refers to the act of a goalkeeper deflecting the ball away from the goal using their hands. This effectively prevents the ball from entering the net and posing a scoring threat. To execute a successful parry, the goalkeeper must exhibit excellent hand-eye coordination, quick reflexes, and decisive decision-making.

There are different ways to perform a parry, such as:

  • Single-handed parry: The goalkeeper uses only one hand to deflect the ball away.
  • Two-handed parry: Both hands are used in a pushing or punching motion to guide the ball away from the goal.
  • Overhead parry: An overhead motion is used to deflect the ball upwards and over the crossbar, typically in response to a high shot.


Parrying is an essential skill for goalkeepers because it enables them to deny the opposition from scoring. A well-executed parry can frustrate opponents and boost a team’s defensive confidence. Moreover, parrying also grants goalkeepers the opportunity to control the trajectory of the deflected ball, potentially steering it towards a teammate or out of the field of play to reduce further threats.

Different game scenarios may require different parrying techniques:

ScenarioParrying Technique
Powerful, close-range shotTwo-handed parry
High, looping shotOverhead parry
Fast, low shotSingle-handed parry

Ultimately, the type of parry employed by a goalkeeper will depend on the specific situation and their individual anticipation and reaction skills.

Types of Parries

In the game of soccer, a parry is a defensive move used by goalkeepers to deflect or block incoming shots on goal. There are different techniques that goalkeepers can utilize depending on the situation. This section will discuss two common types of parries: Open Hand and Punch.

Open Hand

The Open Hand parry is when the goalkeeper uses the palm of their hand to deflect the ball away from the goal. This technique is effective for balls that are coming at a moderate speed and within reach of the goalkeeper. The main goal of an Open Hand parry is to redirect the ball away from dangerous areas, preventing opponents from capitalizing on rebounds.

Some key points to consider when executing an Open Hand parry are:

  • Maintain a steady and balanced stance.
  • Extend the arm and keep the palm open, facing the incoming ball.
  • Apply force to the ball by pushing it away from the goal and dangerous areas.


The Punch parry is a technique used by goalkeepers to clear high, powerful shots with more force. Instead of using their open palm, the goalkeeper clenches their fist and strikes the ball to send it away from the goal. This method is typically employed when the ball is moving too fast or is too high for an Open Hand parry to be effective.

Some key points to consider when executing a Punch parry are:

  • Maintain a solid stance with knees slightly bent and feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Swing the arm from the elbow, with a clenched fist, to strike the ball with force.
  • Ensure proper follow-through after the punch to promote accuracy in the ball’s trajectory.

Goalkeeper Techniques

In soccer, a goalkeeper plays a pivotal role in preventing the opposition from scoring goals. To excel in this position, goalkeepers must master several techniques, two of which are discussed in detail in this section: footwork and hand positioning.


Quick, precise footwork is crucial for goalkeepers as it enables them to respond swiftly and effectively to incoming shots. To improve footwork, goalkeepers should focus on the following aspects:

  • Set position: Keep feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent, staying on the balls of the feet for quick movements.
  • Shuffling: Move laterally by shuffling feet and maintaining a low center of gravity, without crossing the feet over each other.
  • Explosive steps: Utilize short, explosive steps when diving or moving forward to close down an attacker, ensuring better balance and control.

Hand Positioning

Proper hand positioning is essential for catching, deflecting, or parrying soccer balls effectively. When working on hand positioning, goalkeepers should consider the following aspects:

W-ShapeForming a W-shape with the thumbs and index fingers helps create a secure pocket when catching high balls, reducing the chance of conceding goals.
Low-to-Ground ShotsFor balls rolling or bouncing low to the ground, use both hands to scoop under the ball, palms facing upward, and trap it against the chest to secure possession.
ParryingWhen parrying, use an open palm to deflect the ball away from the goal, generating more distance and control by directing the ball to unoccupied areas of the field.

By mastering these footwork and hand positioning techniques, goalkeepers can significantly increase their chances of making successful saves and contributing to their team’s defensive effort.

Parry Drills and Training

To effectively master the art of parrying in soccer, goalkeepers should engage in various drills and training routines. The following subsections discuss two essential types of parry drills: repetition drills and reaction drills.

Repetition Drills

Repetition drills help goalkeepers develop their parrying technique through repeating specific motions. By consistently practicing these movements, goalkeepers can hone their muscle memory, thus improving their overall parrying ability. Some useful repetition drills include:

  • Two-hand parry: The goalie practices parrying the ball using both hands, ensuring that their palms face the incoming ball and that they push the ball away from the goal.
  • One-hand parry: Similar to the two-hand parry, the goalkeeper uses only one hand to deflect the ball. This drill allows them to practice using either their dominant or non-dominant hand for different situations.
  • Low parry drill: This drill focuses on improving the goalkeeper’s ability to parry low shots, with the keeper swiftly dropping to their knees and redirecting the ball using both hands.

Reaction Drills

Reaction drills are designed to help goalkeepers develop quicker reflexes and improve their ability to adapt to unpredictable situations during a game. These drills often involve random ball trajectories, forcing keepers to adjust their positioning and parry technique accordingly. Recommended reaction drills are:

  • Quick-fire shots: A coach or teammate fires multiple shots in rapid succession, with the goalkeeper tasked with parrying each one.
  • Deflection drills: Shots are taken towards the goal, with an assistant placing a target or obstacle between the ball and the goal. The keeper must react appropriately to the deflected ball and parry it away from the net.
  • Multiple rebound drill: In this drill, the goalkeeper faces multiple shots that rebound off a wall or other surface. The keeper must quickly adjust their positioning and parry each unexpected shot.

Effective training requires consistent practice in both repetition and reaction drills, ensuring that the goalkeeper is well-prepared for various in-game situations and capable of executing precise, well-timed parries.

Famous Goalkeeper Parries

In the history of soccer, there have been numerous instances of astonishing parries by goalkeepers. The following are a few memorable examples of these game-changing saves.

The 1970 FIFA World Cup featured an iconic parry by England’s goalkeeper, Gordon Banks, against Brazil. Pele delivered a powerful downward header, which seemed destined to hit the target. However, Banks pulled off an incredible save by diving to his right, managing to parry the ball away from the goal line, subsequently denying Pele a seemingly insurmountable goal.

Another memorable parry took place during the 1997 UEFA Champions League final when Juventus faced Borussia Dortmund. Juventus goalkeeper, Angelo Peruzzi, managed to save a header from Dortmund’s Karl-Heinz Riedle with his right foot, deflecting the ball out of the dangerous area, maintaining a clean sheet for the moment. This acrobatic save by Peruzzi serves as an inspiration for aspiring goalkeepers.

During the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the United States faced Germany in the quarterfinals. German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn showcased his skills by parrying a powerful shot from Landon Donovan at close range. This remarkable save was pivotal to Germany’s win and their eventual run to the final that year.

Besides these famous examples, there are countless other instances of exceptional parries across various leagues and tournaments. A good parry not only showcases the athleticism and instinct of a goalkeeper but can also be the defining moment that changes the outcome of a match.