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

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 3 of a 4-part series)

Agility is a combination of a number of different components of athleticism: coordination, balance, power, flexibility, and core strength. A loose definition of agility is the ability to change direction and/or body position quickly and efficiently in one direction and accelerate in the direction desired. Agility may be divided into three general types dependent on the magnitude and direction of displacement of the body’s center of gravity:

Linear Agility

  • Linear agility may be seen as movement in a forward direction requiring subtle changes, or shifts in movement laterally.
  • Movement and posture: In training linear agility for goalkeeping, focus should be placed on control of balance while maintaining stability and alignment of the hips, trunk, and head in the direction of movement.

Horizontal Agility

  • Horizontal agility requires large changes in direction that require deceleration in one direction and acceleration in the opposite direction or at acute angles.
  • One of the most common actions in goalkeeping is changing direction and moving explosively in the opposite direction.
  • Movement and posture: Training horizontal agility should focus on the keeper’s ability to lower the body effectively in order to decelerate and change direction, while maintaining balance. Throughout the movement stability of the trunk and head should be maintained, with orientation of both towards the playing field.

Transitional Agility

  • Transitional agility places a high level of demand on the goalkeeper, and may be seen as a combination of vertical and lateral movement. It is comprised of actions such as jumping followed by movement in a lateral direction, or vice versa, a cutting maneuver followed by vertical movement.
  • Vertical to horizontal: Focus should be placed on the goalkeeper simultaneously dissipating the force of landing while initiating movement in the intended direction.
  • Horizontal to vertical: Focus is on the goalkeeper effectively decelerating and transferring momentum from horizontal movement into vertical movement.

Part IV will be available on Tuesday, October 7.

(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