Before a match it’s vital to have touches of the ball, to assess the weather conditions and raise your heart rate so that you’re pumped and ready. But instead many keepers spend the lead up to their matches helplessly retrieving balls from the back of the net…
Remember that you’re a specialist player with specific needs. You, as a goalkeeper, can drastically influence the outcome of the game. So if your team — or even manager — fails to prepare you then may need to take things into your own hands. Which is ideal, because you’re good with your hands!
Take the initiative to improve your pre-game routine. Here’s some suggestions.
The “Warmup Routine” You Should Avoid…
Many Keepers — particularly those at lower levels — will experience this classic pregame “warmup routine”:
- Multiple footballs roll out from the net bag.
- You stand in the goal-mouth hoping for a good workout.
- Your 10+ excited team mates suddenly all become “strikers”, and start pelting shots at the unobstructed goal. Chaos ensues.
At this point it becomes clear why most of your team mates aren’t actually strikers — because the majority of their shots completely miss the target.
Here’s the problem…
You’re stone cold, and have barely touched a ball before kick-off; you aren’t in “game-mode”. How could you be? There’s no match situation everyone pelts balls at you, is there?
Yet I’ve been there so many times. It’s by far the worst type of pre-game warmup for a goalkeeper.
Here’s three alternative (more proactive) goalkeeper match warmup routines that you should be doing instead of standing between the sticks hoping for saveable shots to come your way.
1. Work Yourself
One option is to spend five minutes working yourself. Put one of those footballs to good use!
Here’s a warmup video which focuses on drills that you can do without the input of your teammates.
Working yourself is great for raising your heart rate and getting a feel for the ball — but you need to push yourself. Do quick bursts, keep focus, and don’t be lazy.
2. Work Within a Small Group
Work with 1-4 other players. Groups of this size usually provide the service you need — without all the excitement of the match totally engulfing your preparations.
If you don’t have a dedicated coach to serve you, then I recommend taking aside one or two of your closest mates, the substitutes, or reserve goalkeeper (if you have one). Use them to your benefit. Tell them you need warming up properly. Organise simple drills that ensure you get as many touches of the ball as possible.
Take a look at what the professionals do. Joe Hart’s warmup drills are an example of what you can do within a small group in order to get yourself match ready.
Note that in these drills the pro goalkeepers don’t just have word-class shots pelted at them.
3. In-Goal Drills
Pregame, it’s important to get a feel of your surroundings: the stickiness of the mud around the goal mouth, bobbles around the box, the wind conditions, the brightness of the sunlight, how the ball slides and kicks-up off the surface, and so on.
With that in mind, it’s a good idea to get some match-like action in-goal once you’ve warmed up and bit.
Again, I’d recommend working with a smaller group to keep it civilised. You want to experience a mixture of low, high, full-stretch, and at-body saves so that it feels like a continuation of the warmup when you’re in the game. Ask the servers to work you as opposed to picking off the corners of the goal every time. The aim here is to sharpen you up so that you can strive to pull-off those ‘impossible’ saves during the match.
To keep the frequency high, you can focus on close-range drills such as these.
Take Control of Your Matchday Preparations
Leadership, assertiveness, single-mindedness, commanding respect — the very things that make you a great goalkeeper — often start before kick-off by directing warmup routines to serve you.
If you’ve been starting games unprepared, then take control of your matchday routine. Refrain from chasing balls around the park during the traditional “get in goal keeper!” scenario. Do proper drills, get warm, get yourself in the zone. Focus on your own requirements.
After all, you need to be fully-prepared before entering a game because you’re the team’s biggest asset, right?