How to Run a Pregame Warm-up for a Goalkeeper
In general, the goalkeeper is one of the last positions to be used during pregame warm-ups. Because neither the coach nor the goalkeeper knows how to do it correctly, the goalkeeper is often not adequately warmed up. Players are either in lines or positioned at the random outside of the penalty area dribbling in and attempting a shot on goal during youth team pregame workouts. This may help warm up the field players who are shooting, but it does not affect warming up the keeper. The players are not shooting at the goalkeeper's hands or within inches of him. They're after goals, which they can achieve in plenty. As a result, this doesn't do much to warm up the keeper physically or psychologically. Before the game has even begun, the goalkeeper has already given up 15-20 goals, which may lead to a player's psychological collapse before the match even begins. The goalkeeper may have lost their edge even before the first whistle is blown.
A goalkeeper's makeup is quite different from that of other players. A good goalkeeper not only requires strong technical skills but, more importantly a tremendous mental capacity. A goalie is either the hero or zero in the game of life; there are no shades of gray. It takes a person with a great deal of self-confidence to endure this level of black-and-white pressure.
As a result, goalkeepers must have a thorough warm-up before the game for them to succeed. The first and most important thing the goalkeeper must do is prepare their technical skills. This will boost their confidence as well as attention going into the game. If the goalkeeper does not get enough service during warm-up, they will be unprepared, which might lead to errors that could lead to giving up goals. Errors result in the potential of losing goals. One of the essential qualities for a goalie is self-assurance derived from perfectionism.
The pregame preparation begins days before, with a balanced diet and adequate rest up to the game. To prepare their minds for the next match, I also advocate goalkeepers to utilize mental imagery ahead of time, either the night before a game or the morning of a game. I'll have them recall memorable saves or difficult crosses from previous games. This helps the player get in the mindset to play by putting pleasant thoughts and "feel good" experiences into their head. I also recommend that they imagine themselves playing the game and performing flawlessly. Everything is done correctly and confidently, just as it would be during a game. This mental attitude activates their muscle memory to execute perfectly, much like they do in training.
Goalkeepers and goalie coaches have a variety of methods for preparing correctly before a game. The following are actual warm-ups that I used with my college keepers before a match. My warm-up is well-rounded, incorporating everything to know about the goalkeeper position and game-like situations. And I prepare the starting goalkeeper for that game. The other two goalkeepers work together, with each of us warming up in precisely the same way.
Before the game begins, we go out on the field and let the goalkeepers have a few minutes to themselves to kick around or walk about before getting down to business with our real pregame warm-up. This is an opportunity for players to connect with the moment. Visualize yourself in the environment. Prepare for battle by envisioning your surroundings. It's the first step toward a mental warm-up that will last you all 90 minutes of playtime.
When the pregame warm-up is underway, the keepers will perform an end line to the top of the box dynamic jog. Jogging back and forth while performing a variety of dynamic stretches is what this entails. One keeper is in charge, while the other keepers follow suit to do the same dynamic warm-up. The keepers will get approximately 6 yards apart after 5 minutes and start one-touch passing back and forth. The one-touch passing back and forth over a short distance causes them to focus on their technique and first touch on the ball, which begins the foot warm-up. They spread out about 18 yards apart and start working on two-touch passing after a few minutes. We finish with one-touch passing from 18 yards away. Then we go to the cones that have already been put up to practice their agility and footwork.
They choose their patterns as they go through the cones (4 cones in a row for quick feet and acceleration forward) before ending with a ball delivered firmly to their hands (no diving at this time). The initial sequence through the cones is going straight ahead. The second sequence through the cones is completed laterally, with a turnaround at the end to receive a low ball service during this second sequence. Between sequences, keepers take a few moments for a static stretch.
At this stage, their feet are warm, and their hands have been engaged. The following two warm-up exercises focus, particularly on hand/eye warm-ups. I refer to them as the 10's and 5's. The first activity is the 10's. The working keeper sits on the ground facing the server, who has a ball at her feet, approximately 2 yards in front of her. The ball is firmly struck to the left side of the goalkeeper, where she lays out to receive the ball into her hands. The ball is immediately rolled back to the server, and the keeper slightly sits up until the next ball is played. This activity is done at speed, emphasizing the server's accuracy and the working keeper's hand placement and technique. Ten balls will be given to the left side before ten balls are sent to the right side.
From here, the activity continues into the 5's. Working at a fast pace, this is a sequence of five balls that are delivered to the keeper. The keeper rolls the ball toward the server (about 3-4 yards away) and one-touch passes/shots are hit back to him by the server, allowing for fluidity in execution. Again, good accuracy on the server contributes to activity success (this is why I prefer to warm up starting keepers so they can focus on accuracy, which leads to them getting a decent warm-up).
The service a goalkeeper receives is only as good as the technique from the server. So take pride in offering high-quality service every time you're preparing a keeper for a match. After five balls are served to the keeper's hands, the successive five balls are sent to his right flank, where he must perform a collapse dive/save. The keeper rolls the ball back to the server and gets up quickly to prepare for the second shot on that side, which takes place very quickly off of his back. It's a quick movement, a shot, a recovery, and a rollback. The final ball in this sequence is to be sent high over the goalkeeper's head for him to jump up and punch back downfield.
After 5 balls are sent to the right, the keeper stands up again, and the successive 5 balls are served on the ground to his feet for a scoop save (no forward diving). Following those five deliveries, the keeper will stand up again and catch high balls above their head with his hands. This highly dynamic pregame covers several aspects of keeper's play in just one brief exercise.
From this drill, the starting keeper picks up the goal, and the other two keepers go out to the flanks to practice a variety of services/crosses into the goal box. I'll stand in front of the goalkeeper and apply some pressure while also serving as a minor barrier. Each crossed ball (which is played across alternating sides with each service) must be handled correctly by the keeper (alternating sides with each service). The emphasis is on making quick decisions, followed by a positive reaction to the ball (decent footwork, covering angles for balls called away, working around the correct side of the obstacle for hard-driven balls into the goalmouth). Each side will provide 5-7 crosses.
Next, the starting keeper will remain in the goal with a ball in his hands while I position myself on the 6. The keeper will roll the ball out, and I'll take first-time shots straight to his hands. I move a bit farther away for each shot until I'm just outside of the 18-yard box, at which point I'm striking hard shots directed toward the goalkeeper. After 7-8 strikes, the remaining members of the team are ready to begin their shooting/crossing activity on goal.
The starting goalkeeper has covered all of the fundamentals of the position at this point of the warm-up. Footwork, low and high balls, collapse dives left and right, dealing with crosses, and dealing with shots on goal are all addressed. The starting keeper will stay in goal for 6-8 shots after the rest of the team has taken their shots on goal before retreating to let the other two keepers take care of the remainder. As this point, the starting keeper will work with me on his goal kicks, long throws, and punts. If there is still time, the starting keeper will return to the goal to assist with the team's second activity of crossing and finishing. After that, our pregame warm-up is finished.
You may believe that this amount of activity would take an eternity to finish after reading about the goalkeepers' pregame warm-up. However, the complete warm-up takes around 20-25 minutes when done correctly. And now that the keeper has handled all aspects of the game and performed them successfully, thanks to the accuracy and speed of service, they are physically and mentally prepared to begin play.