When people ask me what I do for a living, I usually reply that “I play catch, mixed in with some rolling, jumping, kicking, diving, and crawling!”

This is the easiest way to emote the activities that a goalkeeper will cover in a Just4Keepers of Central Virginia goalkeeper training session, but the reality goes far beyond these simple terms.

The game of soccer continues to evolve, and goalkeeper training has evolved out of necessity, moving from standard shooting, angle play, and dealing with crosses into a plethora of dynamic plyometric movements that involve jumping, recovery to feet, sharp lateral movements, and combination exercises that involve patterns and mental focus (read the blog on the importance of getting mentally switched on here).

A goalkeeper must have a peak level of conditioning, and the “I don’t want to run so I’ll go in goal” mentality is no longer valid, as many field players would not be able to complete a full goalkeeper training session!! So, what types of training activities enable a goalkeeper to move quickly and effortlessly, to recover to their feet in time to make a crucial second save, and to stay mentally connected to a game in which their team is dominating?

At Just4Keepers of Central Virginia, we pride ourselves on preparing the goalkeeper to manage all situations that they will encounter in a game. Conditioning plays a major role in the J4K sessions, from cardio and strength, to speed, coordination, and balance. While a weight training program is a beneficial component of a conditioning program, it should not be THE conditioning program! As a coach, you often hear the excuse that “I didn’t have time to go to the gym”, “I don’t have the equipment necessary”, or “I didn’t have a training partner to help spot me”. As a coach, I promote bodyweight exercises above any weight training, as a goalkeeper needs to be able to move their own bodyweight around the penalty area as effortlessly as possible, with the speed to reach a through ball first on a breakaway, the power to stop a ball destined for the top corner, and the strength to recover to their feet to make a crucial second save. Most importantly, there can’t be any excuses about not having the right equipment, as it goes with you everywhere!

But pushups and wall sits just get boring…

I am a true believer in being a multi-sport athlete, but not just in the playing of any sport. The training activities that cross all sports are so varied, but not necessarily sport specific. In our Just4Keepers training sessions, you will see activities found in karate and other mixed martial arts, handball, futsal, tennis, field hockey, basketball, ice hockey, to name a few. I always look at training techniques from other sports through the lens of a goalkeeper coach, thinking “how can this be made relevant to the goalkeeping position?” There is much to be gained by using the strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, movement, and dynamic training activities that you see in sports outside of soccer. A classic plyometric activity is the “speed skater” drill, bounding laterally for explosiveness, strength, and power, so if this activity is relevant to all sports, surely other drills and activities will be also?

Here are a few examples of “cross-training” drills, activities that are found in other sports, that have been made appropriate for our goalkeeper training sessions in Central Virginia:

Classic ice hockey/field hockey double stack save:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mb9er2i1Bkw

A strength and flexibility exercise based on MMA movements:

Block save futsal technique using body and hands:

Another plyometric movement rooted in MMA and crossfit activities:

And finally, here’s a fun way to incorporate a judo roll and a kick save into a warm-up!

Goalkeeping, and goalkeeping training and conditioning, doesn’t need to be boring and repetitive! At Just4Keepers, we ensure that the learning environment is instructional, developmental, challenging, but most of all, you will enjoy each session and look forward to each one!

Keep on ‘Keeping!!