How the Best Goalkeepers Prepare

Hope Solo, one of the world's best goalkeepers (AP Photo)

Goalkeepers need to be in great shape and prepared to defend every inch of the net behind them during the course of a long game. That means practices have to be productive to prepare you for game day.

This is a great workout that can really help you improve:

Warmup Jog (10 Minutes)

You should start with an easy jog, to warm your body up before you make any sudden movements that might cause you to pull a muscle.

The first five minutes should be a straight-ahead jog. The next five minutes should include a more active jog in which you should begin shuffling, skipping, touching toes, etc. (all of this should be done without stopping).

Stretching (5 Minutes)

Stretching is something that everyone must do to prepare your muscles for a tough workout. Make sure to stretch all of the major muscle group in a slow controlled stretch.

Handling (10 Minutes)

Note: Another player or coach is needed as a server from here on out during the workout.

Make sure that there is no diving during this part of the handling--you are just trying to work on smoothly receiving shots into your hands.

Start with straight-ahead volleys into your hands (take about 20-30). Then, start to move from post to post as balls are being served to your hands as you reach each post. Next, have the server play balls along the ground as you continue to shuffle from post to post.

Take a minute to rest so you are fresh and ready for you next set.

Next, have the server play balls out of his/her hands up towards the upper corners of the net so you have to jump for the service (make sure service is not too far as we do not want to overextend ourselves at this point in the training). Then, take another rest and stretch some more.

Diving/Rhythm Work (30 Minutes)

While seated, have the server toss or kick balls to both your right and left using proper catching technique. Obviously, catch the ball and return back to the server. Then, switch from side to side and take about 20-30 repetitions.

Next, from a standing position, have the server play balls off the ground at mid-range height to your right side only (take 6-10 reps). Then, perform above drill to your left side. After that, perform the above drill while alternating from side to side.

Finally, perform the previous three drills over but have all balls served on the ground.

Now, place six cones on the ground in a line and about two feet apart from each other. At the end of the cones, put two cones about six yards apart from each other to simulate two goalposts. The goalposts will be located at the end of the cones.

Then, shuffle through the cones. As you get to the end, step into the goal and have the server place balls at mid-range height to your right side. Catch each serve and return it to the server. Then, go back to first cone and start over (take 6-10 reps).

Think it's over yet? You haven't even started. Perform above drill to your left side, then do it while alternating from side to side. After that, perform previous three drills over again, but have all balls served on the ground.

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