During an average match, a goalkeeper can get tested in a variety of ways. Sometimes they're asked to elevate and grab a cross out of the air. Other times they're asked to bravely venture out and intercept a low pass across the box. When a rocket-powered shot is headed toward the goal, it's their job to put their body on the line and make the save. There are countless situations where keepers are asked to make incredible plays. What separates the good keepers from the great ones is the ability to make those great saves when they have their back against the wall and nobody expects them to make the save. These saves can have a massive impact on the outcome of a game and give the keeper's team a huge spark.
How can you make sure you're able to make these amazing saves? You have to prepare your body to be fast, explosive, powerful and agile. This is no easy task, but with the right programming and correct exercises, you'll be able to build a body that's always ready to leap into action. Here are three of my favorite exercises that prepare goalies for greatness.
1. Cossack Squat
The Cossack Squat is a bodyweight variation of the standard Squat which is great for strengthening the hips.
Strong hips create a better, more explosive athlete. This exercise will make your hips more mobile and allow you to quickly drop to a knee and lunge for a save.
To perform the Cossack Squat:
- Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Rotate one foot to the side and bring your toe off the ground.
- Keep your knee straight and begin squatting with the opposite leg.
- Keep your chest up and a tight upper back, and sink down until you reach depth or are unable to go any deeper. Don't allow your heel to come off of the ground or your spine to round.
- Once you hit proper depth, push off the ground to squat back up while rotating your foot back and return to the start position.
- Repeat with the opposite leg.
2. Box Jumps
Box Jumps are one of my favorite plyometric exercises to increase explosiveness.
To reach the upper 90 corner of the goal to make a highlight-reel save, you'll need to be as explosive as possible. Box Jumps are a great way to increase your vertical jump. One key to remember when performing Box Jumps is to land as softly as possible on the box, a technique that will reduce the pounding on your joints and potentially save you from injury.
Once you've mastered the standard Box Jump, you may want to add weight to the movement. The best option to do this is by wearing a weighted vest. The load is strapped to your body, so you can focus on the jump and not have to worry about the safety issues that come with holding weights. You can also use dumbbells, because they're easier to ditch than a barbell. By adding resistance to the normal Box Jump, you'll be able to build more muscle and become a more explosive athlete.
3. Band Bench Press
You just made a huge diving save and deflected the ball out of the goal. Congratulations! Now the ball rebounded right back to the other team and you're still lying on the ground. You need to be as explosive as possible to get back on your feet and into an athletic position. The Band Bench Press is a great way to train this critical goalkeeping movement.
Once you get past the "sticking point" with a standard Bench Press, the rest of the movement isn't much of a challenge. That changes with the Band Bench Press, as the added resistance from the band only increases the farther the bar gets away from your body. This makes it an excellent exercise for building explosive upper-body strength, which is exactly what you need to push yourself off the ground as quickly as possible. If you don't have access to bands, the standard Burpee is another exercise that can help with this movement.
Try throwing these exercises into your training program to increase your odds of making a huge save!
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