To be effective, soccer goalies have to be able to change direction on a dime and explode with speed and power. Coaches and trainers often run drills hoping to improve lateral explosiveness, but few teach the underlying mechanics. Understanding these mechanics will help goalies improve their lateral speed while reducing the risk of knee injury.
(Fact: Female goalies are about eight times more likely to injure their knees changing direction than their male counterparts.)
Lateral Movement Guidelines
- When you move laterally, your “lead side” is the side of your body facing the direction you want to move in. The side that follows is your “trail side.”
- All movements, including lateral, should be a push, not a step. A push is stronger and creates greater potential for developing speed.
- Hips and shoulders should always be squared with your chest facing the attacking player.
Lateral Step Exercise
- Set your core before going into motion; this facilitates a stronger transfer of energy.
- Keep an athletic platform. Stand on the balls of your feet, with your knees soft/separated and your feet straight.
- Begin movement with a tightening of the glutes and a push into the ground through the trail foot.
- Extend your trail leg and push your body in the desired direction.
- Step your lead leg laterally.
- Trail leg follows lead leg with a step back into an athletic platform.
- Process repeats itself or different movement happens.
Squat Push Lateral Exercise
This exercise strengthens lateral movement by training the trail leg to push off. It also helps engage the strongest lower-body muscles.
- Set your feet hip-width apart and separate your knees. Point your toes straight ahead and press through the ball of your foot.
- Set your core and drop into a squat position.
- Push off and extend your trail leg. Focus the force on the outside edge of your trail foot.
- As your body moves laterally, step with your lead leg and lower it into a lateral lunge position.
- Pause briefly at bottom position with your trail leg straightened.
- Step laterally with your trail leg to the original squat position.
- Repeat the sequence for the required distance.
- Perform 10 yards to the right and 10 yards to the left. Rest 30 seconds and repeat for 3 sets.
- Include this exercise in your workout regimen two to three days a week.
- Keep your core tight and maintain an upright posture.
- Stay low on squats with knees separated and feet straight.
- Make sure to push through and fully extend your trail leg.
- Always step back to athletic platform in squat position, never with your feet close together.
Lying Hip Abductions Exercise
The main muscle that pushes you laterally is the gluteus medius. It protects the knee by giving the leg stability from the hip down.
- Lie on your right side with your arm out to the side and your head resting on your shoulder. You should form a straight line from your neck to your ankles.
- Flex your toes and point your left big toe slightly toward the ground.
- Keeping your head on your shoulder, hips stationary and legs straight, raise your left leg.
- Pause briefly, lower leg back down.
- Repeat for reps, then roll over and train your other side.
- Perform this exercise for 15 to 25 reps, three sets each leg.
- You can do this exercise daily during your warm-ups.
- To increase difficulty, have a teammate put gentle pressure on your leg as you raise it.