When creating a training program for goalkeepers we must keep in mind that they are different from the rest of the team, so the strategy to follow must be specific to the type of physical activity they will perform during the matches.
The role of the goalkeeper is one of the most important within a football team, since, in many occasions, he is the ultimate responsible for giving us the victory or the defeat. For this reason, we are going to analyze the exercises that both technical staff and physical trainers recommend for a complete training.
Usually, goalkeepers have a specific type of training that they do alone, so, although at certain times they will train with the rest of the team, they have a personalized training different from the rest.
The aim is to strengthen and enhance the player, on a mental and physical level.
We will now detail some exercises for professionals in the sector, but let’s not forget that it’s important, but also is the previous planning and review of the training plan.
One way to achieve this is with an app for football coaches that allows to create exercises, calendars, training, plays, and see repetitions, among other essential tasks.
Training gear for goalkeepers
It is critical to have the proper equipment for the activity before beginning training.
In the case of the goalkeeper, we should point out the following:
- Padded and grippy gloves
- Shin guards
- Knee pads
- Elbow protection
- Rebounding, defensive, and free throw barriers
- Tackle bag
- Boundary strip
- Agility ladders, cones, barriers, etc.
The warm-up exercises for football should always be done in a specific way, depending on the area of the body on which we are going to focus the session.
Initially, the whole body will be worked, stretching the upper and lower body and all joint areas, then we will focus on the specific areas we are going to be working on that day.
It should always be structured with exercises that go from lower to higher intensity levels to increase muscle temperature dynamically and avoid staying still for a long time.
The idea is to start with movement, coordination, and flexibility exercises such as front and side runs with the ball or passing it from one hand to the other.
Jogging, throwing the ball in the air and catching it, and the classic kick-offs with foot and hand jumps and falls (with and without displacement) are some of the exercises that should not be missed.
Warming up the hands and fingers is one of the main components of the warm-up since they are very important for the goalkeeper to be able to do a proper job.
A good hand and finger warm-up should be composed of finger and wrist rotations, dorsiflexions and volarflexions, and finger stretching.
Once we manage to warm up the muscles, we can introduce a series of exercises such as ball sit-ups, where the goalkeeper will have to do a sit-up and then go up and retrieve the ball that will be thrown from different angles.
Lateral movements involving the ball are also very popular. In this case, the goalkeeper will position himself on one of the sides, and when the coach gives the signal, he’ll try to block the ball from entering the goal in the opposite corner and quickly return to the starting position.
One of the key points when planning a training session for goalkeepers is to improve their ball control, both for shooting and rebounding.
It is very important to plan the training focusing on the goals to be improved, such as speed, accuracy, and effectiveness of the plays.
In the training sessions, we work on some throwing drills and long and medium-distance passing.
For practicing hand throws, there are many exercises that can be done, but we are going to focus on a simple and effective one that will improve the precision and speed of the goalkeeper.
Two rows of cones will be placed at equal distances for the goalkeeper to pass the ball through. Once the coach receives the ball, the goalkeeper must zigzag quickly between the cones and stop the shot that the trainer will make.
Another great training drill is to place two or three goals in the midfield area at the level of the sidelines. The coach will throw the ball to the goalkeeper, and the goalkeeper will have to block it and throw it back.
It is recommended to combine these exercises with the rest of the team with a series of shooting drills.
Now let’s focus on one of the most complex tasks and the one that has the most visible results on the field: the saves.
To carry out this practice, it is very important to do a game simulation. To make it easier, it is recommended to use tactical apps to visualize how the play was performed, create test strategies, and review everything once the training session is over.
A very common exercise used by coaches is to position the strikers in different parts of the field (box line, midfield, penalty area, outside the box, etc.) and have them shoot at goal quickly. The goalkeeper has to prevent the ball from going in and run the ball back to the next player. This is a quick round of shots.
You can try either static or running. To vary the actions, it’s also recommended to add more members of the team to join the drill.
To perfect lateral passes, reflexes, and saves from the penalty box, we will perform a three-way play.
The goalkeeper starts by passing the ball to a player on one of the sides, who then passes it to his teammate, who will be positioned on the penalty spot to shoot directly at the goal.
If we want to adapt the training session for two goalkeepers, we’ll set up two goals, the standard one and another one on the side in the middle of the field, and there will have to be four players on the field.
The play will start when two of them start passing the ball to each other until they shoot at the first goal (half of the field). If this goalkeeper manages to make the rejection, the third player has to take possession of the ball, move quickly towards the area, and give a pass to the fourth player, who will be in charge of shooting at goal. then the second goalkeeper comes into play; he has to foresee where the third and fourth players will go.
One on One
One-on-one plays are some of the tensest for the goalkeeper due to the level of pressure involved in facing another player without support from the rest of the team.
Before starting to prepare the specific training for goalkeepers, it is necessary to emphasize aspects such as body position and distance from the attacking player, the ball, and the goal.
To work on the low center of gravity, shots should be taken, and the shooter should be as close as possible to the goalkeeper. The faster the move is executed, the higher the level of difficulty.
It’s also common to do a series of exercises where the goalkeeper, positioned in the goal, passes the ball to another player located at the edge of the penalty box. The latter receives it and starts the one-on-one.
Another example: the goalkeeper makes a lateral pass outside the box to a player, who throws it to another teammate, and together they advance into the box to press and cause uncertainty. Finally, one of them shoots the ball at the goalkeeper.
The same can be done by placing several players in the penalty area, simulating a real play with the whole team on the field and generating distractions. This exercise is very helpful to focus the training, not only in one-on-one but also in concentration, decision-making, and awareness.
In the case of training with two goalkeepers, you can carry out a one-on-one drill where each of them will be able to defend their own goal when the other one attacks.
Focusing on anticipating what is going to happen in the next play is one of the most important goals for a goalkeeper.
The goalkeeper must be prepared for any change of pace, position, or speed by the opponents.
To develop this skill, it is recommended to practice, individually, shooting the ball toward rebounders located at different points of the field. The goalkeeper will have to pick up the ball that’s moving in unpredictable directions. This exercise will help the goalkeeper receive unexpected shots and improve his concentration and reflexes.
It can also be done by involving other players by positioning the goalkeeper in the middle of the field between two cones that simulate the goal. Two players, in front and behind the goalkeeper, will throw balls as soon as the goalkeeper clears the first one, creating a round of quick shots from the four corners.
Another option is to place the keeper inside the goal, looking towards the stands. The trainer, inside the area, will throw the ball in any way he wants, and when the whistle blows, the goalkeeper has to turn and block it. Once this is done, he turns around again, and we start all over again. The shots must be taken from different angles, speeds, and positions.
When planning training sessions, it is important to keep in mind that this type of reaction time exercise requires a high level of concentration from the goalkeeper, so it is advisable to schedule them only a couple of times a week.
It’s very important not only to work on the physical aspects but also on the mental ones because the goalkeeper has control over the outcome of the match on many occasions and handles high levels of pressure.
Considering that the goalkeeper is the only player who sees the whole team, he cannot switch off at any time, as he, along with the captain, will be the leading voices on the field.