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One of the many outdated theories in American soccer culture is to place the tallest player on the team in the goal. This thinking pervaded soccer fields in decades past, but as soccer exploded in this country and more and more athletes joined the game the tallest athlete is no longer the only goalie traversing the eighteen-yard box. Today’s keepers come in all shapes and sizes, but what elite level keepers have in common is a tremendous athletic ability. No matter how tall an individual may be what will set them apart in the goal are their agility, explosiveness, and strength. Any goalie will tell you that it is not the high shot that is the hardest to save but the knee high blast to a corner, where quickness and explosiveness really come into play. It is these qualities, quickness, explosiveness and strength that coaches are looking for out in their keepers.
To reach this top level, training and conditioning must be stressed. While keepers do not do a large amount of running on the field, they are the player that has to be the most conditioned and focused. When fitness is lacking, physical and mental mistakes occur. During a game keepers have to be constantly involved, positioning themselves and their defense and instantly ready to make a save when the opposition is in their end of the field. This requires a goalie to be in top shape and as explosive as possible. In the 90th minute of a game a keeper must have enough endurance to stay mentally focused to come up with the game winning save.
The time to condition and make gains in speed, power, and strength is during the off-season and pre-season. For many soccer players this is a hard time to distinguish due to the year round schedules many play. Usually the off season falls over the winter when there are fewer games and practices, and the preseason comes a couple months before a main competitive season begins. Taking steps to condition during these times will help prepare a goalie for the rigors of an upcoming season and help to prevent injuries. Strength, agility, and plyometric (Jump) training should take place two to three times a week during these periods. Throughout a player’s main competitive season, depending on the demands of their schedule, it is a good idea to condition one day a week to maintain strength and power. It is always recommended to work with a trainer or at a strength and conditioning facility to make sure that exercises are done with proper technique, especially strength and plyometric training. If you can’t find any way to get to a trainer, don’t be put off if. There are ways to effectively train on your own. Below is a sample work out that focuses on agility, power, and strength that can be done on your own and will help any goalkeeper increase their conditioning and explosiveness. Alternate between the two days to keep workouts fresh and to cover all areas of fitness.
(This article and the training techniques are suggestions. Always consult a doctor to find out whether this type of physical activity is appropriate for you. )
x x x x x x x x
x = cones or any kind of marker about 2ft apart (Don’t have cones use pieces of tape. Nothing that you can land on and roll an ankle)
*Go through each exercise twice before moving to the next in the sequence
Plyometrics (Control yourself in the landing by being light on your feet)
Same Sequence 1 Foot Right and Left
Warm – Up 20 yards with jog back
High Knee Run
x x x x x
x x x x
Backpedal to Sprint
Sprint to Backpedal
Body Weight Squat x 20
Vertical Jump x 12
Push – Ups x 15
Burpees x 12
Lung Walk x 20 yards
Sit-ups x 25
Single Leg Lateral Bounds 20 yards x 3
Russian Twists x 20 each side
*Increase Sets and Reps to progress through the work out and make it more challenging.
Meredith Stewart, MS, CSCS
Competitive Athlete Training Zone Performance Coach
Northeastern Women’s Soccer Asst Coach
NSCAA Advanced Regional License
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