EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

6 ways to get your keeper sharp in pre-season

Newcastle United head goalkeeping coach Simon Smith told Dave Clarke how to re-establish your goalkeeper’s sharpness during pre-season training.

01 KEEP TRAINING SHORT

There is not the need for your goalkeepers to do the kind of long-distance running that your outfield players might have to do during pre-season. You should always keep your training exercises for goalkeepers short and sharp – repetition is the key for keepers getting their reactions back to their best. Running exercises that are over 60 metres in distance simply aren’t required for them.

Goalkeeper training

02 BALL TIME ON DAY ONE

Outfield players might train for a few weeks without a football during pre-season, but that’s a no-no for your goalkeepers. You should have them training with the ball from day one of pre-season, as for a goalkeeper, that’s the most effective way of getting ready for the new season. You are looking to increase alertness and familiarity with the football throughout pre-season.

03 WORK ON KEY AREAS

There are obvious areas you should be working on with your keepers in pre-season: their footwork, handling, diving and jumping. Direct shots into the keepers’ reach will help them improve their handling. You or your strikers could place ball into the corners of the goals to perfect their dive, while sending high crosses into the penalty area and six-yard box are great for jumping and footwork.

04 THEY MUST USE FEET

The modern keeper needs to be increasingly good at controlling the ball with their chest, head and feet especially. A good way to improve this during pre-season training is to get them to join in with outfield players when they practising passing. They can also join in with sprinting exercises, to prepare for the amount of time in a match they are required to run to collect and clear the ball.

05 FITNESS MATTERS

Modern goalkeepers are increasingly fit and agile and at a pro club will do gym work on average for three or four times a week during pre-season. Certainly you should look to have your goalkeepers working on their upper body strength in the gym and as there are increasingly brought into the game with their feet now, short sprints and runs around cones are good for balance and endurance.

06 FACTOR IN WEATHER

During pre-season, you might want to train your goalkeepers at cooler times of the day, rather than in scorching sun. If it’s extremely hot, reduce the number of repetitions and also get them training with a cap on. This is also useful practice if they ever require a cap in a game. It’s also good to train on a wet pitch if possible, to prepare for all conditions the season will have in store for them.

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