World renowned goalkeeper coach and founder of Star Goalkeeper Academy shares dynamic warm up activities with a ball to a group of SGA campers. The warm up activities can be used in part or whole as a pre game or pre training ritual.
Key Technical Points
Catch with the entire body. Catch with the hands forming the letter W, and support with the palms. Keep a steady head, with square shoulders and hips. Have the body be supple like soccer net and not stiff like a wall. When diving, goalkeepers use three hands to catch the ball; one hand is on top of the ball, the other is behind the ball and the last hand is the ground. Be sure to use the ball to break your fall.
Never land on you stomach, back or on bones.
Eyes focused on the ball. Eyes never leave the ball.
Keep your head behind your fore arms and your knee at the mid section when diving low. These good techniques reduce injuries.
Elbows are like shock absorbers. As the hands receive the ball, the elbows bend to absorb the impact. This takes the pace off the ball. Always bring the ball into the body.
The body and mind must be prepared to react. The body cannot be rooted to the ground, it needs to be in constant balance. Dynamic stability and balance are crucial. You are better off being out of position but in balance than being in position and off balance. The feet should be shoulder width apart, with the weight on the balls of the feet. The center of gravity is in a position of mobility. The palms of the hands are facing down, showing 90 degrees of flexion at the elbow joint. The head is steady, with shoulders square to the ball. The body is in motion, to overcome the effects of inertia. This allows for a pre-stretch movement just prior to the shot. Concentration and total preparation are essential.
Three Point Stance
Goalkeeper’s must not only make the difficult save, they must also develop the skill to restand in order to make the second or third save when needed. The movement to restand is initiated by forceful knee (counter balance leg) extension of the top leg. At the same time the weight of the chest and the trunk of the body is pulled and the pushed over the lower knee and the upper foot. The pulling comes from the abdominal muscles. The pushing action comes from the downward forearm and hand. The balanced position of weight is one knee up and one foot at a ¾ position. From this position the keeper has established a base from which the restand can be completed. From the ¾ position it is possible for the goalkeeper to move in all positions. At the ¾ restand position the hands are also free to make a save and are not involved with any weight bearing part of the body.
Once the keeper has established good body position, projection of one’s self, dynamic stability, balance and equal distribution of weight, it’s time to start talking about angle play. Angle play is three dimensional. Keeper must be concerned with their left and right sides, the near post and far post. They also must be concerned with balls kicked above their heads. So positioning is three dimensional, left, right and above the head. Factors that influence how far the goalkeeper should come off the goal-line include the following: their physical dimensions, the speed that the attacker is coming toward the goal, the likely speed of the shot, the likely direction of the ball, the likely flight path of the ball, driven, rising, falling, or looping, and the condition of the field. First priority is to protect the near post. The ball has a shorter distance to travel and its speed will be greater. Remember, two hands to the near post, one hand to the far post. Experience will help them constantly evaluate all the factors mentioned above. Have the keeper create an imaginary line from the belly button to the ball. This is known as the ball line. When the ball is in motion, the goalkeeper is in motion. When the ball is stationary, the goalkeeper is stationary. The motion of the goalkeeper should be harmonious and in synch with the movements of the ball. The further the ball is from the goal, the further the keeper is from the goal-line. The closer the ball is to the goal, the closer the keeper is to his/her line. One of the best aids in helping the keeper visualize correct angle play is a rope. Tie each end of the rope to the posts and then stretch it out to the point where the ball lies. You move the ball and the rope and evaluate the keeper’s movements. The goal is, of course stationary and fixed in its dimensions. However, simply as a result of a goalkeepers accurate positioning, the goal can be made to appear to a shooter to be much smaller. It’s magical! When goalkeepers are in the right place at the right time, it’s not luck. It’s because they have mastered angle play.
Individual Goalkeeper Activities
Labada Time: Dance with the ball by circulating the ball around your body as the keeper is in motion.
Tag: Bounce the ball and squeeze your body underneath the ball. Count how many times you successfully slide under the ball after each bounce. Test yourself! This encourages quick feet.
Hammer: Hold the ball in your left hand and with the right hand slam the ball down to the ground and catch by having you hands above the ball. Change directions and hands. Perform various movements such as side shuffling, skipping, jogging backwards etc.
Statue of Liberty: Hold the ball in one hand, raise the ball above your head and keep your eyes glued to the ball. Drop the ball, twist the upper body to the opposite direction and catch the ball after the first bounce.
Same as above, now roll the ball between your legs and save low ball.
Bend the upper body down, spread the legs wide, knees locked and roll the ball back between the legs and hold position for 10 seconds. Roll the ball forward as far as you can, raise your upper body, spread your arms, push hips forward and as you come down place both hands on top of the ball to catch your body.
Partner Goalkeeper Activities
GK #1 holds the ball and goes to the left as far as they can, and then repeat to the right, meanwhile GK #2 punches the ball. GK #1 must absorb the impact.
GK #1 performs sit-ups while GK #2 strikes the ball. GK #2 should strike the ball with left and right foot.
GK #1 is holding two soccer balls. One in each hand. GK #2 is in a ready position. GK #1 drops one ball and as GK #2 saves the first ball and gives it back to the server, GK #2 drops the second ball. It is important the serving goalkeeper is also moving so the saving GK must follow.
GK #1 has three different starting positions with their hands, by the side of the body, behind the back and behind the neck. GK #1 changes the hand position after each service. GK #2 calls out 1 or 2 or 3. GK #1 will clap their hands according the number that GK #1 calls out before catching the ball. This encourages explosive hands.
GK #1 lies on their back with their arms spread wide. GK # 2 stands over GK #1 and tosses the ball down. GK #1 must catch the ball before the ball can hit the face.
Two soccer balls 4 to 6 feet apart. GK #1 stands behind the two balls. GK #2 calls left or right, or points to one of the balls. GK #1 dives low to that ball and restands quickly.
Four soccer balls, 8 yards apart. GK #1 stands in the center of the four balls. GK #2 calls out a number; GK #1 saves the number of balls that GK #1 called.
Same as above, this time assign a number to each ball, 1, 2, 3, and 4. GK #2 calls out that number and the keeper saves that ball.
The Ball Stops Here!
The goalkeeper the most important player on the soccer field at all times, and most of the time it is the position that is not properly warmed up during pre-match activities. Why? Because, neither the coaches or the player or both, know how to do it properly…it is that simple. How many times do you see youth soccer pre-game warm-ups that consist of two lines that dribble in and shoot at the goalkeeper? Who is this warming up? The goalkeeper? Well, if you think it is “helping” the goalkeeper, you are gravely mistaken.
The internal makeup of a goalkeeper is very unique. Not only does a quality goalkeeper need a strong technical side, but more importantly they need to have a very strong mind. Goalkeepers are either the “hero or the goat” and nothing else. It takes a very unique individual to be able to handle this. “Practice DOES NOT make perfect, PERFECT practice makes perfect.” You make a mistake as a goalkeeper and more than likely you concede a goal, which can mean a potential loss.
So, a proper warm-up is critical for his/her success in the match. Goalkeepers need to prepare their technical side, which will increase their confidence going into the match. Go back to the scenario where players dribble in and shoot on goal over and over again. What if most of the shots don’t even hit the target? OR, what if most of the shots go in the goal? Both of these questions can be answered the same…the goalkeeper is destined for disaster! If the goalkeeper does not get quality service during warm-up, he/she is not properly prepared which leads to potential mistakes, and mistakes lead to conceding goals! If all the shots go in during this activity? What do you think this does to the mentality of the goalkeeper that is only minutes away from the opening whistle? Confidence and perfection are key attributes for a goalkeeper and this type of activity doesn’t help their mentality…
To properly warm-up for a match, the pre-game preparation actually begins days before. First we must eat properly leading up to a match. The night before it is always wise to use mental imagery to visualize the match before it is actually played. Imagine yourself playing the game and performing PERFECTLY! Everything that you do is correct and confident…this mental approach stimulates our muscle memory to perform with perfection, just like the way we do in training.
Once we get to the field, we need to begin slowly with a nice jog and stretch. As we begin to get a stretch we can begin to toss the ball around with a coach or other goalkeeper. This begins to get our upper body ready to move. Simple basic catching of the ball with “PERFECT” technique (with diamond and fingertips on top of ball….NO “W” catch!!) is the easiest place to start. By adding a little footwork we can begin to further get our legs and upper body working together. As we progress, we need to prepare our body to hit the ground. Starting out with some simple, collapsed diving for low and mid level balls should do this. Service for this type of activity should be from out of a partner/coaches hands before ever progressing to someone striking a ball. Again, footwork can then be added into this type of collapsed diving as the goalkeeper begins to break a sweat. It is also wise to do these exercises at different angles in the goal to get the goalkeeper “feeling” his goalmouth…
Catching of high balls is essential as well. Service that is tossed up to catch can be done prior to balls crossed from the flanks by a field player or coach. Somewhere during the warm-up the goalkeeper also needs to kick a couple balls from the ground (goal kicks) and also out of their hands (punts/drop kicks) too. (YES, goalkeepers should take ALL goal kicks!!) By now the goalkeeper should have a nice sweat on them and be feeling quite good and confident. Now and only now, can a goalkeeper begin to face some shots! Now, the important thing is to have a couple forwards begin to shoot on target…again, ON TARGET! They begin by not trying to score. We want the goalkeeper to begin seeing “live” shots from players running onto the ball. These players should not be hitting still balls; they should be striking moving balls. Players try to hit the goalkeeper for two reasons 1) continue to give the goalkeeper confidence 2) works on the forwards accuracy and warming up of their leg to hit the target.
After this is done for a couple reps, the players can begin to make the goalkeeper work to make saves while still hitting the ball on target. Players should now begin to play some give and go’s or beat a player before getting off a shot…now being only minutes away from the match the goalkeeper needs to begin to see more “live” and “realistic” situations. Once the goalkeeper feels completely warm and is CONFIDENT, then and only then are they ready for the game.
In short, the goalkeeper needs to warm up every aspect of goalkeeping during his/her warm-up: throwing, basic catching, footwork, kicking, collapsed diving, crosses, shots, etc. If you potentially might see it in a match, you need to have done it in your warm-up. But, the key is simply this…CONFIDENCE in your warm-up activity. Gradually prepare your body and mind for the match by taking your time and doing this PERFECTLY…
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.