When it comes to football, people often think that goalkeepers do not need to be in as great a shape as the other players on the pitch. Whilst it is true that goalkeepers are not anywhere near as mobile or active as their teammates if you wish to be the best keeper you can be, your physical fitness is something that should be taken very seriously indeed.
Whilst Sutton goalkeeper Wayne Shaw grabbed the headlines due to his, shall we say, rather large physique (not to mention his pie/pasty eating escapades on camera) generally speaking, most goalkeepers keep themselves in peak physical condition all year round. What a lot of people fail to realise, however, is that your fitness training can actually have a positive effect on your performance as a keeper. Here’s a look at a few fitness tips to help you improve your goalkeeping skills and abilities.
Stretch and warm up
Whether you’re training or getting ready for a big match, it’s essential that you take the time to stretch your muscles and warm up properly. When you stretch and warm up, you are helping to increase your core body temperature, get your blood flowing, and reduce the likelihood of injury. You see, when you warm up, you help to increase muscle elasticity. This is important because the more elastic the muscle fibres, the less likely they are to become torn or injured.
If you imagine these fibres as pieces of string, if the string was pulled tight, it would be much easier to rip and tear than if it was loose. There are plenty of stretches and movements you can perform to help warm up, so make sure you’re thorough and that you don’t cut corners.
Training for endurance
As a goalkeeper, although you won’t cover anywhere near as much distance on the pitch as the other players, it is still important that you ensure your stamina and endurance is up to scratch. You see, during a game, you will need to be fast on your feet, and you may need to quickly move from left to right. A lot of these movements will recruit fast twitch muscle fibres, due to the fact that they’re explosive, so this should be reflected in your endurance training.
Interval sprints and short bursts of speed are perfect for recruiting these muscle fibres required for explosive training, so make sure you incorporate them. HIIT workouts work very well here. You should also focus on your stamina and endurance, because you may need to be active for a long time, plus in order to be at your best, when you hit the ground, you may need to quickly get back up and recover so that you can catch your breath. Plenty of cardio should be included in your training, as long as you mix things up.
When it comes to goalkeeping training you should never underestimate the importance of weight and resistance training. Goalkeepers need to be strong, both in the air and in a stationary position, for a number of reasons. To begin with, when dealing with corners and set pieces, you will have members of the opposing team jostling with you, trying to overpower you so that they can win the ball. Your job is to hold them off, which is where your strength will factor into the picture.
Not only that, but you also need to be able to generate power from your legs and arms, when you hoof the ball upfield from a goal kick or from a throw. Because of this, you must ensure you incorporate plenty of strength and resistance work into your training regime. Try to focus on compound Olympic lifts such as cleans, squats, and presses. These again recruit fast-twitch muscle fibres required for explosive power, plus they also help to engage your core stabilizer muscles. In terms of functional strength, a strong core is essential, which is another reason why compound lifts, rather than isolation lifts, will be more effective. Make sure you include exercises that work your upper body, your lower body, and your core.