In training an often overlooked element of successful goalkeeping is balance. Balance is a critical component of a good starting position, setting the goalkeeper up for the best chance of completing a save – simple or complex. Coordination is obviously basic to good goalkeeping but how often do we appraise younger keepers as lacking good coordination when it’s more a deficiency in proper balance?
Proper balance begins with the goalkeepers feet and moves all the way up through to their head. By maintaining good balance a goalkeeper is able to better control their center of gravity which in turn improves chances for a good save. Concentrating on good balance in the set position and the prep to a save helps muscle coordination and movement. How many times in training and intense game situations do keepers allow saveable balls due to improper balance?
To improve a keepers balance you start with balance exercises that are stationary and don’t involve a ball. One legged exercises like the squat and lunge. After working these, you can add a ball and a partner for playing catch on one leg and doing one and two touch combinations.
During training with J4K of NoVA these elements are reinforced and highlighted with our weekly training classes. We place our goalkeepers in training situations that require them to focus on the fundamental elements of good goalkeeping to help improve their skill set. And since our classes are weekly, unlike many of the 6-8 week clinic programs, we have the ability to reinforce over a longer period of time to see the results your keeper wants and needs. My keepers are likely tired of hearing me call “SET” or “BALANCE” to remind them of these key elements.
When a goalkeeper moves side-to-side, constantly adjusting their angle to the shooter he/she should also be maintaining good balance. If you watch the highest level keepers complete successful saves they are always adjusting, repositioning, rebalancing. Almost all of their best reaction saves start with good solid balance. So the next time you give up a goal you shouldn’t have, ask yourself if you were balanced. It may surprise you!