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Through the years I have been constantly asked by parents, players, etc. that they are searching for “advanced goalkeeper training.” Their previous training has taught them the basics and now they are ready for something else. They have learned how to catch the ball, move their feet, dive, deal with crosses, etc. Now their question is what is the next progression of my training?? The truly unfortunate thing, advanced training does not exist! There is no such thing as “advanced goalkeeper training” where you will progress to these big, grand training exercises that are extremely complex in nature. In fact, the higher level that you play at, the training gets even more simplified.
Goalkeeping is a very simple position. To be successful at this position though you need to be very technically sound. Meaning, you are comfortable with your body and you have the ability to move and catch balls cleanly…all the time! All it takes is ONE mistake, and we lose in our position. Field players do not have this pressure on them at all, if they make a mistake, they just lose possession. Big deal! This is not a punishment as they still have the opportunity to win the ball back before conceding a goal. But, when the goalkeeper makes a mistake, it almost always leads to a certain goal.
So, what does this mean? Goalkeepers, whether you are a U12 player or the full professional, you will always train the same sort of things. The difference? The professional will deal with more pace on the ball, will be forced to be quicker, stronger, etc. in their movements. This is what “advanced training” is all about. But, the core training exercises will not change and that is where people get confused or led in the wrong direction. You will not reach a point where all of a sudden you say, WOW, these exercises are so complex, look at how advanced this training session is today. If you are proficient and clean with your training, to make it more “advanced” all you need to do is increase the speed/pace of the incoming service or shot, force yourself to get set quicker, etc. But the exercises do not need to change…just the elements within the exercise like service, angles, etc.
As a former professional goalkeeper I can honestly say that goalkeeper training is extremely boring! Why? It is boring because of the nature of our training being SO repetitious. We see repetition after repetition in training. But we need to have this boredom from repetitions because of the things I mentioned above about making mistakes. All it takes is one mistake and we lose. So our training must work on our technique on a daily basis to limit these mistakes and stay sharp and confident. Training will revolve around repetition after repetition of simple things. It is about conditioning our body and our muscle memory so we do things efficiently and clean…thus no mistakes and less goals conceded. But like anything in life, the more you do things over and over, the more it becomes boring. I always ask the question though, how boring is it on a Saturday when you just kept a clean sheet against the top team in the league? Now that repetition after repetition in training all week long does not seem so bad because you were sharp and confident going into the match.
A few years ago at one of our residential goalkeeper schools we had a great dose of reality to a lot of our players. We are constantly discussing muscle memory in our sessions and the purpose behind all of our very simple exercises. Our motto is “Train Like a Professional” and we emphasize that professionals train the exact sessions and exercises that we are doing on a daily basis. Most new players to our sessions think we are crazy and that the pros train much more difficult exercises, it is not just move your feet and catch over and over again…Well, as luck would have it that week, the Chicago Fire were training on the same fields we were holding our sessions. After our session we allowed our goalkeepers to sit and watch the Fire goalkeepers train for about forty-five minutes. About 10 minutes into the training session our staff began noticing all of our players whispering to each other and pointing at the Fire goalkeepers. We called them all in to ask them what was going on…They quickly said, they are doing “exactly” the same exercises that we just did this morning. All the exercises consisted of were moving your feet and catch…quickly move to get your feet set and deal with a simple shot. It was at that moment they all truly saw for the first time that what we were saying was correct. The pros do train the simple things!
The position of a goalkeeper is not a rocket science! You will get out what you put into it and if you are consistently working to fine tune your technique so when you react you are reacting perfectly, you are on the right path to be a big-time goalkeeper!
ONE on ONE Soccer Goalkeeper School (National) - www.ONEonONEsoccer.com, National Director - Todd Hoffard The Goalkeeper School is by far the most technical environment you can find in the nation. We are the only staff that is made up entirely by Division I college coaches, regional/national team coaches and or professional goalkeepers. Also, we monitor our goalkeepers for the entire year to follow their development.