I find the pre-game warm up is the single most important way to get the goalkeeper ready for a match.
Many coaches believe in visualization and pre-game speeches to inspire their players. While any preparation is good, the opening minutes of the game is the key to goalkeeping success. I also feel it important to do as much as possible to get the backup ready as well--you never know what is going to happen.
Here is how I warm up the goalkeepers for the USA Women's National Team. The first five stints involve both keepers:
- Ten volleys into hands
- Goalkeeper rolls ball and I hit it back to their hands (10 each)
- Goalkeeper shuffles from post to post; when they reach the post I serve ball to their hands (6 each)
- Balls served into air (from coaches hand) simulating cross ball. (3 to the right, three to the left)
- Balls served on ground, goalkeeper must dive. (4 to the left, 4 to the right)
The rest of the warm up involves only the starter:
- Shots from the 18-yard box. Coach and back-up alternate shooting from different angles, forcing the goalkeeper to use footwork across goal before saving the shot. (6 to 10 from each side)
- Cross balls from each side. (10 from each side)
- Back to shots from the 18-yard line, now shots are an attempt to score, forcing the goalkeeper to make more difficult saves.
- Play one touch with the feet (back-up is now at midfield), on every third pass the goalkeeper kicks a long ball to midfield.
- Goalkeeper works on half volleys and punts.
- Goalkeeper and back-up take shots from the team.
It is important that the coach pulls the starter from the shooting exercise after a big time save, sending the goalkeeper into the game with the utmost confidence.
If you notice, this warm up includes many exercises. It is designed to involve the goalkeeper in as many technical situations they will face in the game as possible.
The total time of the warm up should be no more than 30 minutes, so the exercises are short but effective.
I have used this warm up at every level that I have coached at and it has proved to be effective at getting players physically and mentally ready to play.