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It's a pretty common sight to see keepers save a shot that is outside the box or from a distance with their other hand ie. if the ball is heading towards the right hand side of the goal(from the perspective of the keeper) they try to parry/save it with their left hand.

Is there any particular reason for this?

Some points that I've heard is that it allows them to push the ball out of play much more efficiently and it increases their aerial reach. Is this true,or do they do so out of instinct? (As keepers are seen to concede a large number of near-range shots by doing so)

  • Try lying on your left side. Which can you get closer to the roof, your left hand or your right? – Nij Jul 10 at 4:04
  • @Nij Aggreed,but that also decreases your reaction time and makes it much more tougher to save if the ball is swerving. – Alan Whitteaker Jul 10 at 4:31
  • How does it decrease the reaction time? You have less mobility and less reach with the lower arm - the ball swerving either way only makes the upper arm more useful, not less. – Nij Jul 10 at 4:42
  • It's simply a question of the position and movement of body and ball (and the laws of physics). You'll always want to use the arm closer to the ball. – dly Jul 10 at 7:25
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First rule of goalkeeping: get two hands on the ball. Only if you can't do that do you go with one hand - and if you are going with one hand, then you're already to some extent into "desperation" stage where you'll be happy with any result which doesn't result in the ball immediately ending up in the back of the net.

When it comes to one-handed saves, a goalkeeper generally won't be looking to gather the ball as a result of the save, but instead to put the ball in the safest location possible, which will often be out for a corner rather than allowing a rebound. If you're jumping/diving sideways for a ball close to the top of the goal, it's much easier to push it up and over the bar for a corner if you do that with the trailing arm, as that naturally comes up as you reach your highest point; if you're trying to push the ball round the post, that's something you'll do with your leading arm.

Picking up on some of your comments:

  • I disagree going with the trailing arm reduces your reaction time, or at least that this is significant. It's a question of which arm you can get to the ball at all.
  • Yes, if the ball is swerving and/or dipping it's hard. On long range shots, it's up to you as a goalkeeper to read the spin on the ball and react accordingly.
  • Close-range shots are completely different - in those cases, you don't really have a chance to react at all and are just trying to make your body as big as possible and get something on the ball.
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