As goalkeeper coaches, when the season has just finished, we are already thinking about how to plan the first training sessions of the next year. The preseason is the best period to establish all kinds of technical and tactical concepts. The goalkeepers return from their vacation with a clear head and a renewed will to work. Besides this, it is a period with a greater temporary workload in terms of sessions and time. For all these reasons, programming our work becomes essential to seize this period of the season and try to make the most of it. There are so many specific and global technical-tactical components common to all the players that a poor planning can generate dispersed learning and damage the goalkeeper’s progress.
There are as many ways to plan a preseason. However, despite each coach’s methodology, we all coincide in pursuing some common objectives. Generally, we structure the tactical, technical and physical concepts in separate sessions or microcycles. Once the contents have been compiled, we have to combine them in order to generate logical interactions that can be transferred to the reality of the game. This is the ultimate goal of good programming: to logically structure all the information we want the goalkeeper to assimilate, facilitating his learning and growth as much as possible. It is not enough to train every single content; it is also necessary to promote simple learning contexts where combining the concepts gives meaning to the work we implement.
Planning is always a complex task. Every idea the coach has arises from thinking about real situations and trying to find the best way to solve them through important questions to answer. Regardless of the order in which they emerge or the importance we give to each one,
these questions are:
What do we work on?, how do we implement this work?, when do we implement it?,
why do we work this way?, and with which aim do we work on it?Cómo lo trabajo ?
1. What do we work on?
The answer to the first question is clear. We should work on the contents we want to train and develop throughout our preseason training sessions. We usually group the specific contents into technical, tactical and physical. The key here is to study and outline all the elements so that we don’t miss any technical o tactical aspect. There are many ways to do this, from simply listing them all to including them within more complex game situations. Here we can act more freely depending on our context or role. However, in one way or another, we must do an excellent research job to provide the goalkeeper with the tools to deal with real game situations.
2. How do we carry out this work?
This is perhaps the most complex question to answer and the one that holds the most important keys to take into account. First of all, it responds to the need to create training sessions that include the work of all the concepts considered in the previous question. At the same time, it is the question most related to the individual methodology of each coach. Our idea is based on trying to create training sessions adapted to actual game contexts. In goalkeeping academies and youth soccer, the main objective is to acquire skills more or less related to the game itself. We can be more patient, progressively structuring the training sessions to facilitate the learning process. But in professional or semi-professional soccer, the focus changes. Here we must achieve both the skills acquisition and translation into immediate performance in competition. This is why we must ensure that the professional goalkeeper applies the tools we provide him during the training sessions in real game situations too.
3. When do we carry out this work?
This answer is also related to each goalkeeper coach’s point of view and personal context. Even so, there is a certain logical order regardless of the level or demand of our team. For example, starting with lateral diving blocks does not make much sense if we haven’t previously worked on catching techniques from a standing position. Similarly, starting with tasks with different options o defend the goal is not coherent if the goalkeeper is still unfamiliar with his own body, body order, displacements, etc. However, beyond our proposal, it is essential to respect a technical-tactical logic and, simultaneously, adapt the workload demands to the goalkeeper’s physical condition, as it is different during the first two weeks of the preseason than in its final phase.
4. Why and with which aim do we work this way?
The why and what for we train one way or another during our training sessions respond to the need to give meaning to our work. The goalkeeper must perceive the training sessions’ functionality daily and understand its transfer to the game and the competition. Elaborating training sessions is not simply establishing an ordered sequence of entertaining tasks. For each task, no matter how simple or elaborate, we should try to find an argument that enhances the goalkeeper’s conviction about its usefulness. Although this may seem a rather abstract answer, specific training must always go hand in hand with the relationship between the coach and the goalkeeper, fostering dialogue and personal bonding. The keepers’ subjective perception of the benefits of our training for their personal and athletic development will let us earn their confidence in our methods.
As we can see, the correct approach to planning a preseason is far from simple and often gives rise to many doubts. It is challenging but very important to find the keys that will enhance the level of our goalkeepers in order to start the regular season in good shape. In future articles on the platform, we will discuss further on this topic by offering a more detailed structure. The technical, tactical, physical and psychological aspects must interact from the beginning, give meaning to all this initial work, and lay the foundations to facilitate the work during the rest of the season.