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CoachesNet Insider: Training Fitness and Athleticism at the Goalkeeper Position - Part IV


CoachesNet Insider examines training, tactics, game management, and player development with coaches from around the country. CoachesNet is devoted to educating its members on U.S. National Team coaching tactics by breaking down games at the highest level, analyzing training sessions and tactics, and delving into the keys to preparation.

(Part 4 of a 4-part series)


The anaerobic endurance requirements of the goalkeeper may be defined in two manners. The first is to develop resistance to fatigue during individual high-intensity efforts during the course of the match. For instance when sustained pressure on the keeper occurs, such as when a keeper has made a save for a corner and must cope with the sustained pressure. The second is to ensure the keeper’s ability to maintain high-intensity repeated efforts, essentially so that when called upon in the 90th minute to make the same save as they did in the first, the keeper is not hindered by fatigue. Anaerobic endurance training for the keeper may be seen as consisting of a multi-lateral component and a goalkeeping specific component.

Multi-Lateral Anaerobic Endurance:

  • Training phase: As a component of the building phase of training of pre- and early-season training, focus is on increasing the goalkeeper’s ability to withstand repeated high-intensity efforts without a decrease in movement speed.
  • Goalkeeper oriented: The work and movements should be goalkeeper oriented, in that the movements should mimic those taken up by the goalkeeper, but do not, and necessarily should not, be goalkeeping specific.
  • Work intervals: Work should be 20-40s in duration, with the keeper never pressed beyond the duration where they are capable of maintaining maximal effort.
  • Rest intervals: Rest should be long enough to ensure that the keeper has recovered sufficiently to repeat the next effort at maximal intensity. Work to rest ratio is typically 1:4, decreasing as fitness level increases.
  • The total number of bouts should be 6-12 dependent on the keeper, as well as the complexity and demands of the movement.

Goalkeeper Specific Anaerobic Endurance:

  • Training phase: As a component of the maintenance phase of training during the season, focus is on maintaining the goalkeeper’s ability to recover quickly from repeated high intensity bouts while ensuring that the keeper is able to perform maximally on match day.
  • Goalkeeper specific: The work and movements should be specific to the actions which comprise the match and stress the goalkeeper specifically for the game.
  • Work intervals: Work should be 7-20s in duration, with the duration largely dependent on the amount of time prior to the next match; as the training day moves closer to the match work duration must decrease.
  • Rest intervals: Rest should begin to decrease and press the goalkeeper’s ability to recover quickly and maintain maximal effort bouts. Work to rest ratio is typically 1:2, working towards 1:1 as fitness level increases.
  • The total number of bouts should be 10-15 dependent on the keeper, as well as the demands of the movements, and saves being executed.

The prioritization of both fitness and athleticism for the goalkeeper is dependent on the individual keeper’s physical attributes as well as their level of play. The integration of training for fitness and athleticism must be determined by the goalkeeper coach over consistent observation of the keeper during both matches and training. The integration of fitness and athletic components in training allows for the maximization of the goalkeeper’s training experience, athletic development, injury resistance and resiliency, and ultimately performance.

Part I (read now) , Part II (read now) and Part III (read now) are available at CoachesNet.ussoccer.com.

(John Cone is a U.S. Soccer National Staff Instructor and current PhD student in Sports Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. John can be reached at jcone@conefitnesstraining.com).

Questions and comments can be directed to coachesnet@ussoccer.org.


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