Continuing Your Goalkeeper Training After Camp

Every year I get feedback and questions about goalkeeper training. “Where can I get training like this?” “I want to do more goalkeeper training like this, but my coach doesn’t know what to do.”

What should a typical goalkeeper session consist of?

Footwork/Agility
·      The first component of the session should be basic footwork/agility drills. Footwork is an underestimated part of being a goalkeeper. IF you can move around the goal in speed often you will make saves other goalkeepers won’t
       o   Setting up 8 cones in a row and performing several footwork drills is a simple and effective way to quicken your footwork and work on your agility
·      This is also a good time to work on explosiveness. Single leg hurdle hops are a great way to work on the single leg explosiveness that is crucial for goalkeeping. Similar to the cone drill above set out several hurdles in a row and perform jumps forward/facing left/ facing right
 

Passing
·      Once you have completed footwork move onto passing. This is a vital part of being a modern goalkeeper. Coaches will want you to be comfortable with your feet and be able to start play from the back
·       A great exercise is setting out two small goals (2 yards across) roughly 8 yards from a partner. Receive the ball through the cones and then return the ball back to the other player through his mini goal

Handling
·      Next is handling. Appropriate catching technique is a fundamental skill for a goalkeeper. Also, handling is a good way to get your hand eye coordination going before moving to more technically difficult exercises
·      Basic volleys from 6-12 yards, straight at the goalkeeper is all that is needed for this section

Diving
·      After you have worked on handling move to diving. This is again a warm up for what is to come. Therefore, simple side to side collapsing dives is all that is needed for this section

Angle Work
·      Now we are getting into the fun stuff! Angle work should be incorporate next. This is focusing on where you should be getting set in the goal. Furthermore, this portion works on the technical aspect of your game, understanding how to close an angle or how you can make it hard for the opposition to score
·      You want to make a mini goal using the post and a cone with the server roughly 10 yards away at a 45o angle from center of the goal. The goalkeeper starts on the post and then moves into the line of the ball to receive a shot from the server
       o   Look on YouTube for some different ideas. There are plenty out there!!

Shot Stopping
·      This should be the main component of the training. You want to spend the most time on this exercise because it incorporates all the skills you have been warming up for. I would recommend putting a drill together with multiple saves in it. Again, you must make sure you are working on your technique in this section of training
·      An easy drill is to have multiple balls lined up on the edge of the box at different angles and distances. You have to touch a post then get set, make a save, then go back and touch the post before you take another shot

Crossing
·      Similar to footwork this is another important part of goalkeeping that is overlooked. In college, being comfortable dealing with long balls is essential. You should always finish your session with at least 10 crosses from each side. Some from the corner and others from various angles and distances

Distribution
·      Finally, practice a few goal kicks and punts at the end of training. Try and set a target as if you are looking to kick to your striker and then practice hitting that target. You can often do this on your own

Communicating with College Coaches

Social Media
As a potential college player there are certain rules and regulations that have been established by the NCAA surrounding social media. With the huge growth of social media it is important to be wary of how you use social media and the detrimental effect this can have on your college career.

Player perspective
As a college prospect you have to be aware that potential coaches will be able to see many of the things you post online. If you post something derogatory and inappropriate on social media it is likely that the coach you are communicating with will see the post. This can damage your relationship with the coach and in extreme cases the college may see the post and prevent you from enrolling. Therefore, be conscious of posting content online. It may seem funny at the time but it may have a serious effect on your future.

Coaches perspective
There are certain rules that a coach cannot communicate with you through social media. Coaches are NOT allowed to
·      Post on a prospects wall
·      Use twitter @ feature with a prospect
·      Retweet or favorite a comment, story or article in reference to scouting services
·      Send tweets that endorse you or your team

If you receive contact via one of these methods, be aware that this may prevent you receiving NCAA approval.

Coaches are able to:
·      Follow a prospect on a social media platform
·      Send direct messages
·      Tweet about generic recruiting activities (I will be at the Disney Showcase this weekend)

It is important to understand what is an appropriate way to communicate with coaches. Social media is a great way to reach out to coaches and establish connections but you must be careful of the certain NCAA rules to remain eligible.

General Communication
Another component of recruiting to be aware of is the various rules surrounding communication. Please be aware of:
·      The frequency of your communication with the coach
       o   Coaches have a permitted number of hours and contacts they can have with you
·      First permissible date to communicate with you
·      Methods of communication (as stated above)
·      First permissible date to have in-person or off-campus contact

Similar to social media, it is important to be aware of these regulations to remain eligible for competition. Do not be hesitant to speak to the coach in question if you feel any of these are being violated.

 

 

Strength Training for Prospective Student-Athletes

What is strength training?
Strength training is physical exercise that uses resistance. This mainly involves pushing or pulling free weights or resistance machines.

Why is strength training important?
There is a common myth that soccer players shouldn’t lift because they just need to play. People often say that “Lifting is for football, hockey or baseball”. IT’S NOT! Strength training is important in all sports to stay strong and healthy. Soccer is a contact sport therefore strength, particularly core strength, is important for all players at all ages. As a player, you want to be able to hold off opposing players, not be pushed over every time you try to run past an opponent. Likewise, strength training makes you faster and more explosive. Soccer players are beginning to improve physically each year as more and more professionals work on strength training to improve their explosiveness and speed.

More importantly though, strength training keeps muscles and joints strong to prevent injuries. Many soccer teams play on turf fields which place extraordinary amount of pressure on your joints. Many players get to college and the intensity of playing every day wears them down and they get injured. Appropriate strength training is therefore vital to keep your body healthy as you play.

What should I be doing when I go to the gym?
When you go to the gym you should be working on major muscle groups. Great exercises that should be a part of your daily routine are squats or lunges. These are great for quad strength that improves your speed and knee stability. Other exercises such as glute bridges or Romanian Deadlifts (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtWtjViRsKo). These are important for posterior strength that is very important for hip stability and is often forgotten by many people. Moving to the upper body, dumbbell bench press and pull-ups should be the two area of focus. Do not fall into the trap of just doing upper body or just working your arms. Having strong biceps provides no physical benefit for soccer players!

What is strength training like in college?
In college, you will lift frequently all year round. In season, you will lift roughly 1 to 2 times per week. In the off-season, you will lift 4 times per week. The lifts will be primarily compromised of the major muscle groups as described above. Therefore, if you can begin to work on strengthening these areas now, you will have an advantage coming into college.

Top Ten Questions to Ask a College Coach

Q1. How many players have you committed to my recruiting class?  And how many are you hoping to commit?
You need to make sure that the soccer programs you are pursuing are still recruiting prospects for your class. Keep in mind that although a soccer program may be done recruiting scholarship players, there may still be openings on the roster for recruited walk-ons.

Q2. How do my scores (GPA, SAT) weigh up to the general admittance requirements of your college?
You don't want to waste your time talking with a coach if you don't have a chance of being admitted to his/her school.  Some colleges/universities allow athletic programs to admit students with lower scores than the average student while some do not.  Coaches can request (and often do) a pre-admittance read of your transcript/scores to determine if you are likely to be admitted to the school.

Q3. Does the school have the major I want or are there a variety of potential majors?
Some prospects are entertaining schools because of the strength of the athletic program and a chance to play in the professional ranks. The majority of prospects, however, are combining academic pursuits and athletic performance.  Make sure the school offers either the program you require or a degree that facilities your needs.  Keep in mind that nationwide, approximately 50% of college students change majors at least once before college graduation. Make sure the school has a great variety of majors just in case.

Q4. How many of your seniors are graduating this year and what are their positions?  How about juniors?
Knowing this information will help you understand the likelihood of playing in your first two years. For example, if you are a forward and the school is graduating forwards in the next two years, you may have a high likelihood of playing straightaway.  On the other hand, if program is not graduating forwards, you may find yourself on the bench or redshirted?  Check out the program’s roster online and see for yourself.

Q5. What is your program's style of play and how do you see me fitting in?
It's important to know if your abilities fit into the schools style of play.  Prospects should know if you are going to play in a similar role or are the college coaches expecting you to play in a different role or position.  You may want to also ask if the system of play may change in the near future.  Also, you may be able to stream some live games off the athletic program’s website.  Many athletic programs offer live streaming for free.  This is a great way to see firsthand if you could fit into their style of play.

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Q6. Which events will you recruit this season/year?
By knowing the coach's schedule, you can make sure to get all your information (resume, club name & squad number, game times, etc.) to the coaches ahead of time.   You may even be able to influence your club manager or coach to register for a particular event where this coach will be present.

Q7. Would you like me to send you updates to our schedule before and during the events, if you are recruiting the event?
In the weeks leading up to an event, coaches are preparing the recruiting schedule for the event.   That means that prospects have to get the schedules, squad numbers, times of games and field locations to the coach early.  Do not overwhelm the coach, but make sure that you get the information to the coach in a timely fashion.  If you send your information to the coach the last few days before the event, the likelihood that you get onto the recruiting schedule is not good.  You can send a coach update emails from the venue of your games and confirm that you will be playing in the next game.

Q8. What is your graduation rate for your program?
A low graduation rate might reflect a high rate of transfers or a lack of student support services.  Be wary of a program with a high rate of transfers, as this may be an indication that players are unhappy with the program.

Q9. How do you decide if a player is to be redshirted during the course of a season?
Some players are recruited because the coaches see the prospect playing minutes straightaway. Some players show potential and the coaches feel they will offer more in the years to come. Some coaches decide at the start of the year who will redshirt the season, while others wait until the season is under way.  Redshirting is sometimes a good idea as prospects may play more towards the latter end of their playing careers.

Q10. How are financial aid, academic aid and scholarship aid earned and/or distributed among recruits and the team?
Financial aid packages can consist of athletic scholarships, academic scholarships, and/or need-based financial aid.  It is important to understanding how this will come together and whether these numbers may change over the four years.  Some programs will increase soccer scholarships if the player performs well during the four years. 

Nutrition: What to Eat Before and After Exercise

Pre-Workout Fuel:
Why is it important?

  • Provides psychological edge
  • Provides energy to working muscles
  • Minimizes hunger during practice/games
     

Timing
Meals 3-4 hours before practice or games

  • 2/3 of the meal should be Carbohydrates - Breads/bagels/pasta/rice/fruit juices/vegetables/low-fat yogurt
  • 1/3 protein - Lean meats (lean beef)/chicken/eggs/soy products/nuts/peanut butter

Snacks 1-2 hours before practice or games

  • Rely more on liquid calories
  • Sports drinks
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
     

During-Workout Fuel:
General Guidelines: 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour

  • 2-4 cups of Gatorade or other sports drink—especially important during games
  • Small granola bar and water
  • Handful of dried fruit and water

Post-Workout Fuel
Eat within 30 minutes of completing workout

Refueling Snacks

Whole foods (ideal)

o   16oz low-fat chocolate milk

o   Peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread

o   Yogurt and a piece of fruit

o   Crackers and low-fat cheese sticks

Granola Bars—good if you are travelling long distances and need something quickly on the go
 

Nutrition at Competitions/Showcases

  • If >2 hours between competitions, consume carbohydrate + protein
  • If <2 hours between competitions, consume mostly carbohydrate and a little protein
     

Source: Boston University Sargent Choice Nutrition Center: Nutrition Advisers for Boston University Men’s Soccer.