Bring the strength onto the pitch!


An Introduction


This article and its other elements are aimed at goalkeepers from late teens to adult only.


Somewhat of a different approach in this article! I am breaking away from the normal coaching of game skills or techniques specific to goalkeepers and instead will concentrate on the development of body strength and muscle build.


Of course we can all develop some strength in our training sessions but what if you develop this separately so that you can maximise your training because you will already be prepared and your muscles strong enough to easily cope with the demands of that session. The more serious and ambitious you are about your position as a goalkeeper the more you are going to have to do in improving your abilities to become the best. Hopefully the following information will add another dimension to your training schedule. For those not so serious then you might wish to consider the many other benefits that are discussed that assist in maintaining fitness and a healthy balance in your life.


If we look at the key muscles that any goalkeeper uses the most, or needs to develop the greater strength in, these primarily will be in the areas of the Shoulders, Chest, Arms, Back, Abdomen, Legs and the Core. Those are the areas I am going to suggest you work on initially. Build these up and you will see a major difference to your overall play and abilities.


Goalkeepers will go through many routines and exercises during their training to obtain the fitness and skills needed for match day. During these training sessions your body will be asked to perform movements requiring strength, agility and endurance that enable you to complete the tasks that are set. This is all good; but all too often it is the only exhaustive exercise many will perform once or twice a week. That limited time of excess workout could of course have its own impact on the body if you are not properly prepared. Switching on for an hour or so once or twice a week is asking a great deal from your body, especially if some of the muscle areas that are used are not as strong as others. It might even be that you have a certain weakness in your game which you put down to a lack of skill when in fact it might be the lack of strength to perform it.


Goalkeepers at the top flight of football don’t just attend field training sessions; they will have a weekly programme of exercise that includes activities off the pitch. One of
those key activities is in strength training as this now plays a major role in football and for a goalkeeper the balance of explosive power, speed and agility is increasingly important. Of course professionals have the expertise of Sport Science Coaches to help their development and fitness; but don’t just wish you could be as fit as them when in reality there are methods and facilities that you could use that can maximise your own capabilities.


So where can these activities take place that even weather conditions or the lack of any team-mates will not stop you from working out. Yes! It’s the gym. Now before you start thinking that’s to do with bodybuilding only; then you have either never been to one or never considered what exactly you can obtain from regularly working out in such an environment. Of course it might also be that no one has ever explained the benefits!


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I will primarily talk of the goalkeeping benefits and suggest on what you can do to increase performance. You might want to add your own reasons such as helping to maintain your weight balance and maybe even to improve your appearance and esteem. Of course much can be done outside the gym like running, swimming cycling etc but these types of exercise may not offer the same results or produce the same body strength and muscle build that can be achieved using dedicated equipment. Also we are looking to work in certain areas of the body at specific times so that a controlled development takes place with the muscle areas mentioned.


You’ve now thinking I can do this for all the good reasons, in which case lets just lay down a few rules and some understandings so that you don’t go at it wrong, or worse; give up quickly. The gym work should not be about ‘hitting’ it hard or working out for too long a period but should be done on a regular and controlled basis. It’s about planning what sets you will work on and only doing it to your limitations, never beyond. With these types of exercises consideration to muscle recuperation has to be recognised so that you do not over-extend or create injuries. You need to enjoy it and because you do it correctly you start to see the increase in strength, agility and of course overall fitness and looks. It is dedication and consistency – not a bad trait for a goalkeeper.


02All gyms today have an excellent range of equipment, some you will need tuition on. I personally use the Virgin Active gyms as not only are they extremely well equipped but I find the instructors more than helpful and willing to pass on their knowledge and expertise in exercise control and development. I would suggest that any gym you either attend now or plan to enrol with needs to be suitably equipped and supervised so that you get the most from your visits. This is important if you have not experienced using much or any of the types of apparatus that will be used in your new programme.


Most gyms will require an induction course to monitor your ability, they might even advise what ‘rate’ of workout you should begin with. In most cases you will be asked various medical questions and might even have a general ‘heart rate’ test. Do not be put off by this; in fact it should be something you carry forward while exercising. They will tell you or you can use the example available in this series of articles (How to Determine & Monitor your Heart Rate) so you can constantly check that you do not exceed the limits; make it a habit as by doing so you will also know when you can safely increase your workouts.


The programme I suggest will be specific to body areas that are primarily used in goalkeeping but I would recommend if you plan to continue over a long period that you look to other muscles as you progress so that you balance the body build and your strength overall.



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