Soccer Skills:

Goal Keeper Fit vs. Field Player Fit

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Soccer Goalie Fitness

How Fit are Your Goalies? (Photo: TheMarmot)

Fitness training is one of the most important aspects of preparing your team for a game. When a team’s fitness struggles, most other aspects of their game suffer too. It’s important to integrate fitness into each training session in order to keep your team sharp.  When planning a fitness session, some coaches fail to see and accommodate the different types of fitness each position requires. As a goalkeeper, I was always subject to whatever fitness training my team was doing that day, whether it was 110 yd turnovers, figure eights or suicides, goalkeepers were expected to join in. I had no problem with this mentality, we were part of the team so it makes sense to be required to participate in the team fitness training. But why was I still feeling fatigued during my goal keeper drills? From my experience as a successful college goalkeeper, I came to this conclusion:

Goal keeper fitness and field player fitness types are different.

Here are the important aspects you need to consider when training your goalkeepers:

  • Anaerobic Fitness, Muscle Strength - Many moves goalkeepers make during a game are of an up and down motion.  Goalkeepers are constantly “setting” for a shot, getting down low for a ball and getting up very quickly to track the rebound.  This type fitness which requires muscle strength and anaerobic fitness cannot be learned by sprinting or running.  Suggestion: A goalkeeper drill for this type of fitness, “Rossi’s Challenge“. The rapid rate of shots will force the goal keeper to get up and down as quickly as possible.
  • Explosiveness – A goalkeeper is required to make continuous explosive movements throughout the course of a game. An example of explosive movements  are jumping in the air to defend a high shot, stretching their range in an extension dive across the goal or sprinting to meet an oncoming striker to prevent a shot.  Goalkeepers should be excellent at explosive fitness and the fastest in a short sprint.  Running longer sprints while great for overall fitness does not necessarily deem themselves pertinent for a goalkeeper fitness.  Suggestion: Train  for explosiveness with an agility ladder or hurdles. Focus on getting speed and height out of each drill the goal keeper does.
  • Thinking While You are Tired – The biggest asset a goalkeeper has is their brain.  A key component to getting in to great goalkeeper shape is being able to keep the mind sharp when you are tired.  Goalkeepers are the leaders on the field, when their voice goes silent on the field, confusion often follows. If your goalkeeper is tired often times you will hear them go quiet. Always test your goalkeeper’s mind while doing any fitness drill. Suggestion: Modify any drill by adding a ‘brain component’.  My trainer would do core work with me and say a state, and I was to respond with the capital.  This can also be used as a studying technique, if using a relevant topic. For example when I was studying for a music theory test,  for a week my trainer had  me recite chord structures and key signatures.  You can even use soccer trivia! Make it fun, it will pay off!

By keeping these unique aspects in mind about goalkeeping, you will develop goalies that are fit – not just player fit, but goalie fit!

What other aspects do you work on with your goalies?

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About the Author

Megan has called soccer her passion all her life. She played four years at Shippensburg University for the Lady Raiders, taking the team to their third playoff appearance in school history this past fall. Megan currently coaches for Brandywine United, and likes to focus on player development and team building. A major supporter of Manchester United, Megan is in constant awe of the brilliance of Sir Alex Ferguson, and can't wait until they win their 20th league title!

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