Preparing the preseason: with José Manuel Ochotorena | Mi Portería

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Featured Article

This is how a preseason with José Manuel Ochotorena looks like. Goalkeeping coach of Valencia CF and the Spanish National Team

In our featured article of this issue, we meet with one of most international well-known goalkeeping coaches, José Manuel Ochotorena, the current goalkeeping coach of the Spanish National Team and Valencia CF. This is an interview in which we mainly focus on the preseason training, but it leaves us very interesting thoughts about his training methodology and how he creates different lines of coaching through the competition. The post includes several videos where we can see some of his drills and pre-match warming ups.


Despite José Manuel Ochotorena was born in San Sebastián, he began his career as a goalkeeper at Real Madrid’s youth system; then he made it to Castilla, the reserve team of the White’s, in 1979. It was the beginning of a long sport career. Valencia CF, Real Madrid, Logroñés, Racing de Santander, Tenerife and the Spanish National Team to name but a few among the clubs he defended, winning with Valencia CF the Zamora Trophy for the goalie with most clean sheets during the season (only 25 goals conceded) and helping the team to third place.

In Valencia, Ochotorena became a well-respected and veteran goalkeeper on the field. He was an internationally capped and made his debut with the Spanish National senior on September 20th 1989 against Poland.

In his thirties, he played in other teams like Tenerife, Logroñés and Racing de Santander later retiring at age 36. After retiring, he came back to Valencia to become one of the best-known goalkeeping coaches in the world. Since then, goalkeepers such as Santi Cañizares, Andrés Palop, Iker Casillas, Pepe Reina, Víctor Valdés, de Gea, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Diego Alves, Neto Jaume, Cillessen and more were shaped by his hands, achieving the best performance of them.

For most goalkeeper coaches, preseason is the hardest period of the season to design and organise. Too many targets to aim for, when most times we don’t have the time, space or material needed.


1. How many preseasons have you lived as goalkeeping coach yet? We imagine that they will have been very different… have they?

Honestly, I can’t recall all of them right now, but more than 15, that’s for sure. All the preseasons contributed and taught me something. In all these years, football has evolved at dizzying speed and goalkeeping coaches have had to adapt and be more flexible before all these changes. Football is in constant motion, so learning to adapt to these changes is a key value for a goalkeeper coach.

2. Are they the ones who adapt to your training system, do you adapt to their characteristics or do you look for a balance?

I believe that balance is excellence. I consider myself a coach who likes communicating. It is important to create a space where the goalkeeper has one’s autonomy and decision making. After all, they are the stars. That’s why I believe in listening and empathy both inside and outside the field. Getting a better understanding of the way your goalkeepers see football, how they live their profession, which are their routines… will help us to achieve everything we want to propose now and in the future from the dialogue, understanding and respect.

I like respecting the learning process and the training times despite the fact football rarely offers time. Logically, I have my own way to understand the goal and I try to transfer it through specific drills with the team. But never from the imposition of absolute authority or judgement. It is important to convince from the argument, the word or the analysis of the game situations itself.

3. Which concepts and contents do you feel are more interesting to work in preseason and why?

All concepts and contents are interesting because they are going to define clear guidelines throughout the competition. However, it is true that this preparatory period allows us more time than the competition period to deepen, strengthen, stress and avoid some aspects.

For instance, last season we analysed the most often situations that the opponent generated in the league, Copa del Rey, Champions League and UEFA. When all those competitions finished, Borja Fernández and I sat down to draw conclusions and thoughts that have helped us a lot this preseason.

In the last photo, we can observe the different situations and the zone from which the goal was conceded. Which are the conclusions we draw from this document and many others we made?

  • The situation that usually generates more goals is the short distance shot
  • The only goal threat we have is the back pass to our back line.

When we analysed the short distance shot in depth, for instance, we were struck by the fact that there were three types of withdrawals that were repeated in a high percentage. That was going to help us to create a series of “pilot” drills that:

  • Were as real as possible for the game context
  • In case of detecting a common error in these types of situations, it would let us elaborate a series of pilot drills to reinforce the concept and introduce variations to increase the difficulty.

On the basis of that analysis, we created a series of specific exercises for the short distance shot and other play situations. We always rely on the video material, where we have included a lot of aspects in order to offer as many tools as possible to interpret and position with the best guarantee of success. Analysing and interpreting the competition have helped us a lot to stand by a training style we have been working and we believe in.

I cannot fail to mention an important aspect we haven’t talked about yet, but I think is the key of everything: the body position before the different footwork and final decisions in the goalkeeper intervention.

Agreeing on the physical exercises with the fitness trainer or even with the goalkeepers is important to know what feelings come up after the warming up sessions or the strengthening sessions. Not everyone is able to adapt at the same pace, nor everyone can assimilate this type of work equally…

Before starting these types of sessions, it is important to ask ourselves some questions:

  • Do we want the goalkeeper to respond tactically to the game if he is tired?
  • Do we simply want to build up burden?
  • Have we considered the consequences of that burden and the impact on the play development?

Handle this information and much other will simplify one of the key aspects in every preseason from a conditional point of view: to avoid or reduce the chances of injury for the goalkeeper.

I’ll show you the next microcycle, specifically the week 2 one, so you can see more graphically how we have organized the work contents throughout the preseason.


Here you are the post with a template to organize your microcycles.

4.The evolution we mentioned before, and the new training lines make the goalkeeping coaches have a more active role within the coaching staff, and the coach himself includes the goalkeeper in the drills. However, this latter thing means less time to work with them specifically. How do you think this can impact on the training process or the competitive process of the goalkeeper?

I don’t see it as something negative. In fact, quite the opposite is true! Football is a team sport and I think it’s highly positive that the goalkeeper takes part in as many tasks as possible. After all, we as goalkeeping coaches can’t generate certain play contexts in our specific drills. Possibly, they could face opponents, play with teammates or rehearsal different playing options in those drills, meaning a lot of scenarios like the ones they will face at the weekend. And we, as goalkeeper coaches, have the opportunity to share the journey with them. How? By keeping an eye on them and being very participative when it comes to provide a feedback on that kind of drills.

It is clear to me that the goalkeeper needs that other specific side, and we must find it during the warmup, even at the end of the session with the team. There will be occasions in which the specific work will turn out to be a warmup, but likewise we can find a way to make those drills have a rich content in concepts, intensity and equivalence to what they will work with the team later.



These are some of the drills we have been carrying on in those warmups where we had to join the team rapidly. As you can see, we try to work aspects such as footwork, the body position, the blocking/deflection, but always with a purpose:

  • To mislead the goalkeeper to properly position with footwork (lateral, frontal, withdrawal) and a proper body positioning (balance and order).

5. How or which is the base of your methodological model?

We have to find the way to provide the goalkeeper a space within the training itself for him to decide and interpret using the tools we create as goalkeeping coaches. We must avoid judging and try to generate an ongoing dialog with the goalkeepers.

For instance, our method in Valencia CF is based on the knowledge of the play, on the ability of the goalkeeper to interpret and decide, prioritizing tactics. This way, the goalkeeper will understand the different processes of the game.

We try to train what it may happen during the match, but do not forget the technical and physical work. The goalkeepers embrace this training model very quickly and they see results when they find themselves more comfortable in competition-like situations.

6. As you may know, we have a section in our website called MiporteriaTV where we have posted some pre-match warmups (Juventus, FC Barcelona…). What type of warmup do you think is the most suitable? Do you warm up your goalkeepers differently during the preseason and during the competition? It is said that the pre-match warming up must be leaded by the goalkeeper: what do you think about that? Do you train that too?

Yes, I often visit the website and I have watched those warming ups specifically. Here’s a thought: as goalkeeping coaches and as a general rule, do we adapt the warmup to the type/characteristics of the goalkeeper we have?

Every single one of them has their own personality and their own way to stay focused when facing the competition. There are goalkeepers that need to feel that “power/responsibility” during the warmup and go out to the play field very motivated on a physical level; there are others that do not feel that need. In the end, the aim is that the warmup itself provides the goalkeeper both proper physical and psychological preparation to face the match.

The preseason is the right time to organize a pilot-warming up and work with it during the whole season, depending on the goalkeeper who is playing. But regardless of the time, the day or the type of competition, they have the freedom to discuss any variation they need.

We always make the most of the first preseason matches to discuss and prepare the most suitable line in this matter. Logically, if we believe there is something that feels “unusual”, that’s the time to take action and agree on a point of balance.

In the next video, you can watch the pre-match warmup we carried out last season.


Well Ochoto, thank you so much for your contribution to this project. We are looking forward to seeing you soon again, right?

Thanks to you. I follow your project closely, I like it, it brings me a lot and, moreover, I agree on many of your ideas. Having said that, anytime!

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Mi porteria

Revista web especializada en el entrenamiento del portero de fútbol

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