How do you play the ball back to the keeper since they can't pick it up? Here's how: Watch this clever back pass to the keeper by Newcastle's Steven Taylor. Don't see that too often or perhaps ever, especially in the English Premier League.
Since the goalkeeper can't pick up the ball with his hands unless the player chests or heads the ball back to him, Taylor gets down on the ground and heads the ball back to the keeper before the attacker closes him down. Risky but it worked out. Way to use your head Taylor!
It's funny to think they not too long ago players could simply kick the ball back to the keeper from anywhere on the soccer field and the keeper could pick it up or catch it. Under pressure, all a defender had to do was pass the ball back to the keeper and they'd grab it and they'd be free to boot the ball down the field and start the play over. It killed the game of soccer in many ways, slowed it down, as it was too easy of a outlet - a get out of pressure free card.
It was very smart for game of soccer to change this rule, as it makes the game much more exciting and brings the keeper into the game much more like a field player or keeper sweeper. Now you have teams like Barcelona, Manchester City, Manchester United and Bayern Munich, who have keepers with just as much touch and skill on the ball as any field player.
The back pass rule was changed after the 1990 World Cup and implemented in 1992. Really, not that long ago and seems crazy that the back pass the keeper was ever part of the game in the first place.
Now, in many youth soccer leagues, the keeper can't even boot or punt the ball down field, only throw it or play it on the ground. Another good rule to get players to learn how to keep possession of the ball and use their skills to get out of pressure.