Mar 6, 2019 in Health

Strengthening Program within Soccer: Goalkeeper

Soccer is a game mostly played by between 7 and 11 players. A complete team must have 11 members on the field at any given time although there are cases where the team is allowed to play with a minimum of 7 players. Whether the team is at its best or worst, a goalkeeper is very essential to the team considering what they are expected or required to do. The goalkeeper is solely in charge of the team’s goal post, meaning that he is among other things, expected to save the team from the goals being kicked in by the opponents. In order to live up to this expectation, the goalkeeper has to undergo unique training and fitness regimes that set them apart from the other players. The main requirements of the goalkeeper thus include strength and explosiveness, seeing, as they will not be running around the field with the rest of the players. This paper starts by discussing the skills and activities of the goalkeeper in order to establish the fitness requirements. The available literature on strengthening programs will also be considered, along with the secondary effects of the program on the athlete and its impacts on injury and performance. The objective here is to understand the functions of the goalkeeper and how they are able to meet the team’s expectations in terms of fitness and activities. Therefore, the paper focuses on the training and specific fitness requirements needed for a goalkeeper. 

Required Skills and Activities for the Goalkeeper

Unlike the other team players, the goalkeeper plays a different role on the field and thus requires a different regimen in terms of skills training. Jewell has argued that while most coaches can be spotted sending their goalkeepers on routine fitness training with the rest of the team like long laps around the pitch, they need a very specific kind of training that does not involve long laps. The goalkeeper’s required skills and activities are as discussed below. 

According to experts the first major skill that the goalkeeper needs is acceleration. They are likely to run between 5 and 20 yards thus implying that rather than the long laps around the field, they need to be able to run very fast for very short distances. Goalkeepers generally need to be very fast on their feet considering that they are often racing against the ball, which is much lighter and probably kicked at high velocity. As such, the goalkeeper needs to be able to run accelerate over short distances, decelerate, change direction and stop promptly where necessary. In order to accomplish this, they would have to understand the concept of acceleration and deceleration as the basis of their activities on the field. 

Another major skill would be agility. Agility can be defined as the ability to move quickly and smoothly, change directions easily and overcome resistance. It also implies having a great eye hand coordination to catch the ball effectively . A goalkeeper needs agility in order for them to be relevant in the team, seeing, as they have to be as fast as the ball itself in terms of changing direction and moving into or around the goal post. Powerful lateral movements are also a great part of the goalkeeper’s required skills considering that they are responsible over the entire goal post . The rest of the team needs to be able to run around the field but the goalkeeper’s main task is to run across the goalpost as fast as dictated by the ball’s movements. This implies that the goalkeeper may need to run, but not long laps around the field like the rest of the players. They need to be able to take on powerful and very quick lateral movements that would enable them to cover the whole goalpost. The idea here is to be fast and responsive without having to run ahead, but rather across the goal post in anticipation for the ball. The last important skill that must be considered when training a goalkeeper is the explosive single and double leg jump. The goalkeeper needs to be able to jump, as fast and as high as required. This means that they need effective training in explosive movement techniques that will enable them to jump with single and double leg explosive movements . 

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Fitness Requirements

Basic Cardio Training

This is the most basic exercise regimen for the full function of the body systems with the use of oxygen. It involves simple things like jogging, swimming, cycling and even walking or going up a flight of stairs. Cardio is also known as aerobic exercise given that it relies on the aerobic energy generating process, implying that the ability of the body to generate enough oxygen to meet its own demands during the exercise is quite important . The goalkeeper must thus have a healthy circulatory and respiratory system in order to maintain good body functionality during this training. It is often assumed that since they get to exercise intensely for long periods of time, they do not need cardio training. This is not true, seeing as most of the other training programs are very specific to their game’s requirements and they often use anaerobic energy as opposed to the aerobic energy in cardio training. 

Torso Training

This is more of strength training, and is considered fundamental for all exemplary athletes. The torso muscles are useful in three major different ways namely stabilization, rotation and lateral flexion. Stabilization implies being able to stay in any position firmly, considering that there would be a lot of turning and twisting on the field as the goalkeeper monitors the ball from his position. In order to be fully fit as a goalkeeper, it is important to train these muscles to carry out all their functions to the fullest. The advantage here is that most of the other positions within the team require well trained torso muscles as well and thus this regimen can be a team exercise. The usual exercises in this category are side holds, setups, arm sit-ups, crunchies, hard crunchies, hip raise, back stretch, hip lifts, chinnies and back holds. All these exercises are mainly aimed at improving the body’s core stability and this is quite significant for the overall athlete. The goalkeeper specifically needs to be very stable, and able to beat resistance in his movements on the field and this implies that torso training is unavoidable. 

Special Endurance Training

This section of the goalkeeper’s fitness requirement takes on all the specialized training that the position requires, and under most circumstances this kind of training is meant only for the goalkeeper. The goalkeeper should be able to withstand high intensity efforts consistently and with maximal effort in terms of their alertness, speed and agility. In order to ensure this, experts established that the goalkeeper must be taken through the goalkeeping tactics intensely and with the kind of frequency that matches their proficiency . The idea here is to get them in sync with their maximal performance under high intensity efforts from the opponents. In addition, while the rest of the team would be taken through long distance running exercises, the goalkeeper needs this endurance training more and must thus be allowed to spend more time extending their abilities with regards to holding out for longer periods of time without loosening up on the intensity and agility. The main exercise here is catching the ball, from different angles and different strengths 

The Strengthening Program

This program will have two components, on and off the field. The off the field component would mainly be the torso training which under most circumstances is done with the help of weights. This case is an exception, and the athlete will not have to lift weights at all. They will only perform one minute of side holds, sit ups, arm sit ups, crunchies, hard crunchies, hip raise, 30 seconds of back stretch, hip lifts, chinnies and back holds, increasing their time and sets as they get used to the routines. The more they perform these exercises, the higher they will be able to go in terms of the time and the number of sets depending on the category. 

The program should begin with a warm up and stretching sessions that may add on to the cardio training presumed to have taken place earlier during the day. As an athlete, it is important to also to have some moderate training daily, a different routine from the specialized training in order to boost the cardio. The warm ups that are required as starters for this specialized training however include feet drills, abdominal workouts, push-ups, ball stretches, twists and side to side diving. 

Once this is done, the athlete needs to start with the plyometric workouts that include forward, backward and side jumping, a set with one foot and another with both feet together. After this, they need to perform 10 minutes of various types of alternate crossbar touches, 10 minutes of varying highballs from standing and then seated positions, varying goalkeeper cone sprints, 10 minutes of post to post shuffles and post to post low diving, and 10 minutes of scoops, first under pressure and then with the forward dive. This is the special endurance component of the goalkeeper training as prescribed by the standard coaching guides.

All the training regimens are basic and pivotal to the goalkeeper’s health and performance. This means that they need to be consistent in their routines, ensuring that they do not over indulge for the sake of their fitness and to avoid fatigue. The frequency of exercising thus depends on the time, where the athlete needs to exercise more at the beginning of the season and when taking a break. The torso and cardio training are however consistent regardless of the time in the season.  

Literature Review on the Chosen Strengthening Program

The importance of cardio training is by far the most discussed subject in the coaching circles owing to the assumption that the players get enough training on the field with the warm ups and laps around the field.Kirkendall  notes that t the more physically fit the athlete is the easier it will be for them to complete the special endurance and plyometric training regimens. This implies that an athlete with a strict cardio training program is better placed to undergo the other training programs successfully . They have a better basic strength and conditioning that enables them to take on both aerobic and anaerobic conditions with relative ease compared to their non cardio trained counterparts. Taking specified training programs for a given sport does not strengthen one’s cardio muscles effectively, and the need for cardio training cannot be replaced with vigorous training regimens that are required for the sport specific torso training or special endurance training. 

The need for special endurance training is significantly emphasized upon by Brown . In this book, the main argument is that goalkeepers need to undergo specific exercise programs and not the general drills that include long laps around the field with the rest of the players. The long laps may be relevant to the other players who spend most of the time during the game running around the field but the goalkeeper needs to be able to undertake more complex maneuvers like lateral movements, head throws and side dives among others. All these require vigorous training in terms of acceleration, short lateral sprints, changing direction and catching the ball from various positions among other things and getting the goalkeeper to run around the field is not at all helping their skill sets and competencies in the field.  A relaxed jog around the field in the morning as part of the cardio training is however, not such a bad idea given that it is not overdone and it contributes to the overall body strength and fitness of the athlete. 

Torso training has been agreed upon as one of the most basic aspects of training an exemplary athlete. Every athlete must have great core stability and for the goalkeeper, this need is important for how he or she stop abruptly, change direction, overcome resistance, catch and even throw the ball while squatting or overhead.  Generally, there are many situations within goalkeeping that require great core stability and strength and according toGifford, it is very important to ensure that the torso training is incorporated sparingly and strategically. 

Secondary Effects of the Program on the Athlete

This program is likely to affect the athlete in a number of ways. The cardio training may have no impact on the athlete’s body mass but it is likely to increase their velocity and ability to endure the other exercising regimens.  Being seasoned athletes, they are not likely to feel any significant impact of the cardio training on their biomechanical aspects. For the torso training however, the first expected outcome is a tight chest and back area due to an increase in muscle content. While the biceps may not be significantly affected, the abs and abdominal as well as shoulder muscles will be undergoing a lot of training and thus they are likely to increase in mass. This, on the negative side implies that they could easily pull a muscle in the process. The special endurance will increase the athlete’s pulse rate but eventually it will enable them to be relaxed even under high intensity efforts.  

Psychologically, the athlete may feel exhausted in the early stages of this training program but they are expected to get used to it. Their role as a goalkeeper is exerting already and the need to train vigorously is only natural. This means that the psychological impact won’t be as drastic as it could have been if the same exercises were being imposed on other team players.  

Impacts of the Program on Injury and Performance

With respect to injury, there are a lot of situations within which the athlete could get injured during the torso and special endurance training regimens . The key objective in the training is to increase the athlete’s ability to perform complex and yet vital maneuvers under high intensity thus necessitating that they be pushed further and further gradually . With the right amount of modesty, it is possible to help them grow to their full potential but when the pressure becomes too much they are likely to get serious injuries. Care must thus be taken at all times, and the times taken as well as the size of the sets need to be increased only gradually depending on the athlete’s growing ability. 

This training program is likely to improve the athlete’s performance by increasing their torso strength and core stability as well as special endurance required in goalkeeping. The aim of the program is to build the athlete’s capacity as an exemplary athlete first and then as a goalkeeper and thus they are better placed to perform very well. The cardio is also instrumental in regulating the functionality of the body organs thus providing sustainability to their personal health. 

Conclusion

The goalkeeper is by far the most neglected player in the soccer team in as far as training is concerned. Most coaches only consider the special torso training routines when training their goalkeepers but cardio and special endurance trainings are both very significant to the performance and survival of the athlete in this position. It is thus very important to follow a training program that incorporates cardio, torso and special endurance training in the athlete’s exercise regimen on and off the field depending on the time and need.

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