Thursday, February 19, 2015

Being The Best - Starts At Training

Being The Best – Starts At Training 

What do all the best athletes have in common? What is it that makes Michael Jordan the best Basket Ball player of all time? How is it no one has come close to breaking Wayne Gretzky’s records in the NHL? Why is Christiano Ronaldo able to do the things he does with a soccer ball?

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1.      Raw Talent
2.      Maintenance of their bodies (rarely injured)
3.      Hunger for Success.
4.      Mental Toughness
5.      They train harder than any other player on the team.

Raw Talent
Raw Talent is a bit of a myth, it goes back to the nature vs nurture debate (are you born with a talent = nature or are you trained and developed into being able to do certain things = nurture) I honestly believe in a bit of both. You are obviously born with a certain body type and with slow or fast twitch muscle fibers (some peoples bodies are born built for endurance and others for Speed)
Michael Jordan being 6 ft 6 obviously helped a little in his ability to be able to dunk a basketball but training his body and his muscles the movements and steps it takes to create space, hold off defenders and dunk the ball only aided his natural born ability.
There are definitely some traits of physical and technical aspects it takes to play a certain position. This can relate to goalkeeping. If you are 3 ft tall probably being a goal keeper isn’t the best idea, but if you are 3 ft tall and can jump the height needed to play the position and extend as well as a 6 footer then you have a chance. So even if you are a “shorter” goalkeeper just make sure you can out jump as high as the 6 ft 4 guys!

Body Maintenance
I will list 10 pretty successful goalkeepers in the past 10 years. Manuel Neuer, Edwin Van Der Saar, Gianluigi Buffon, Iker Casillas, Peter Schmeichel, Jens Lehman, Oliver Kahn, David Seamen, Victor Valdes and Joe Hart.
Out of those 10, all who have been successful in a variety of ways, ask yourself when have they had a period of time when they have been injured? Or a season where they missed a lot of games?
Lucky you might say, or they play on the best teams so they don’t have as much to do! All of the above goalkeepers excluding Neuer, Valdes and Hart who are on the younger side – the other 7 played or are continuing to play into their late 30’s which is amazing! Training everyday throwing their bodies around the way us goalkeepers do is not an easy thing!
Stretching is key- Yoga is often popular amongst the top level goalkeepers, keeping them flexible and their muscles loose. And this is stretching before and after training. The other part of maintenance is what they are putting in their bodies to fuel them. Good diets and constant hydration especially whilst training. If you are dehydrated you are at a higher risk of muscular injuries. Hydration starts from the moment you get up.

Image result for oliver kahn trophyImage result for buffon trophyImage result for casillas trophy
Image result for david seamanImage result for joe hartImage result for van der sar trophyImage result for jens lehmann trophyImage result for victor valdes trophyImage result for neuer trophy
Image result for oliver kahn trophy
Hunger For Success
Why are the best that ever played the game the best? They strived to be the best, they always have their eyes to the future. One championship just makes them hungrier for another.
In training do you compare yourself to the other keeper? Are they making saves you can’t or haven’t been making? Are you consistent with your handling?
Start striving to be better than your piers- work on your weaknesses rather than hiding from them. What do you need to change in order to do what they are doing better? These are Questions the Best would ask themselves.

Mental Toughness
Every Goalkeeper and every player all have made mistakes. The best brush the mistake off, get their head down, finish the game then review it at the end of what they could-a should-a would-a!
Does their one error then turn into 3 or 4 errors, I see it all the time, someone misjudges a cross. That then results in the next 5 crossing decisions and executions being erratic! You are still thinking about the cross that happened 20 minutes ago!  Forget it and move on!
Dealing with pressure is a big aspect and the higher up the level you go the more pressure that is coming your way. Buffon leading up to the last world cup was discussing Penalty Shootout and he said that he expects himself to make at least one save and so does everyone else- he is putting that pressure on himself. Do you want to play in front of 20,000 people screaming at you? Do you want to play on the biggest stage in front of 100,000 people and millions of people watching at home? Daunting right!! But the Best want that pressure and absorb it.
Mental toughness also relates to set backs – How do you deal with losing in the Final? How do you deal with being put on the White Team instead of the red? How do you deal with being told you’re not good enough?
If you are dropped from the red team do you get mum or dad to write an email into coach? Or do you look yourself in the mirror and say OK this is a setback I’m going to work to get better. People are always going to tell you you’re not good enough. PROOVE THEM WRONG, set your goals high and prove all the doubters wrong.

Work Ethic
The best work harder than everyone else! This point is the meat of this blog. When team mates talk about the best players they played with, you often hear them say they were always the last off the training field, they always wanted to do more.
I have been fortunate enough to work with one of the best female goalkeepers in the world over the last 2 years and if you have ever been to see Ashlyn train this point sums her up. She always wants more. Every goal she concedes she wants to know what she could/should have done differently for it to be a different outcome.
In pre-season when she was returning from knee surgery I guarantee she worked harder then every other player to get her back into match speed. And iron out some habits she had in her game. In the team gym sessions, she leads by example. Why? Because she wants to be the best.
If there is an area you are not great at, work at it, become an all rounder! I hate it when you ask a coach what their goalkeeper is like and their answer is “she’s a good shot stopper!” I could put my dog in goal and it would hit him and stay out a few times! A shot stopper is not playing at the higher level! Can you claim a cross? Can you kick with both feet short and long? Can you hold balls when struck at pace? Are you brave? Do you make assertive decisions? BE THE BEST AT EVERY AREA.
The Best always train at the speed they are going to move at game day. When you’re doing a training exercise are you teaching your body certain speeds and footwork to do depending on the situation? Create Muscle memory, so when that ball is on the end line and it gets cut back and you have to move one side of your goal to the other you don’t have to think open my shoulders, eyes on the ball now get into my cross step footwork. If you create this habit and speed in training then it will become natural to just move across your goal and speed and balanced.
Image result for cristiano ronaldo quotes

In conclusion what I want from each goalkeeper in the club is the desire to be the best, desire to succeed and hunger to accomplish individual goals. When we train we do not have a lazy attitude, we train at the speed we are going to move when it comes to making that save when it counts.

Thanks for taking your time to read my thoughts, I would love any feedback-
You can tweet me @GKeepersUnited.

Thanks again Lloyd Yaxley


  1. Great stuff! Agree with it 100%, some good stuff I use to coach now!

  2. Hi fellas,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful article!
    If you want to learn more about soccer sessions I think this is the right place for you!