Cross – Over Steps Vs. Shuffle Steps
Many keepers have asked when to use a cross-step and when to use a shuffle step. The short answer is that it depends on how far you will need to travel and how soon you might need to dive. A cross-step is quicker, but you can’t dive after the first step, so it has some limitations. Here are some guidelines:
1. If you need to travel longer distances—such as moving from post to post when a ball gets passed across the goal mouth, a cross step can be ideal.
2. If you are making a save on a long distance shot when you are on your goal line—a cross step will generally be slightly quicker than shuffling and the added distance will give you some extra time before you have to dive.
3. On cross-steps, as a general rule, be sure not to use “carioca” steps (see the earlier post on that topic) and do not TURN the body too much on the cross step.
4. Finally, make sure the step after the cross ends up slightly forward—and that you could dive out of that step if needed (don’t turn the foot too much otherwise you will end up diving on your stomach).
Now, the danger in using the cross-over, though, is that you can only “dive” off every other step. So, on closer range shots, a cross step is not feasible and a shuffle (or maybe even just one step) is needed:
If you are a few steps off your line and the shooter is striking from the 15 to 22 yard range (age depending – as older players will create more power from greater distance) a shuffle will be essential so that you can get into a dive more quickly. Just as with the cross-step, though, do not turn the shoulders and keep the weight / shoulders / hands slightly forward (as you would in the ready position) even while shuffling.
Overall, practice both kinds of footwork in the goal and visualize the types of saves that you might have to make. Again, the further you get off your line, the more likely you are to need just one step or a shuffle step before a dive will be initiated. In any case, you want to be sure that you can "push" off your last step and get into a dive -- whehter that dive occurs after one step, two shuffles, or a cross-step. Practicing "set, step, jump" and its different variations can be very helpful.
In a future article, I will discuss the rare situation where going post to post can lead to a cross-step that then transitions into a shuffle, depending on where the other team’s runner might be located.