The age old questions; how do goalkeepers best get fit for their position? Do they need to be fit at all? Short answer, yes. Long answer, it's complicated. Fitness for any athlete is essential to their success but getting fit to play the goalkeeping position is a bit different than fitness for field players. Let's dive into some more detail below!
Being in shape as a field player is a bit different than being fit as a goalkeeper. When you look around many youth and college programs; oftentimes, there are aerobic fitness tests like running 2 miles in 12 minutes. While there is some benefit to aerobic training for goalkeepers, a majority of goalkeeper movement is anaerobic and conditioning work should be targeted towards this type of fitness as well.
What is the difference between aerobic and anaerobic fitness, you ask? This article gives a pretty comprehensive overview of the differences between the two but I will highlight the important points. Think about goalkeeper movements in a game. Typically, at your busiest, goalkeepers are working a maximum of 10 seconds at a time. Most of a goalkeeper's in-game actions are anaerobic because they fall within that 5-15 second range.
On the opposite end, many field players require aerobic fitness because they are constantly working in spurts that are above that 15 second threshold. Field players require more of a mixture of anaerobic and aerobic exercise because their movements shift between sharp bursts and sustained actions. Aerobic exercise has its benefits for goalkeepers in terms of overall general fitness as an athlete but a larger portion of fitness should be aimed at anaerobic. A lot of these exercises come naturally in a goalkeeper training session but doing outside work can be beneficial as well.
Beyond conditioning work, goalkeepers also should incorporate some sort of strength training into their routine. This isn't so goalkeepers can develop a ton of muscles; the main focus should be developing strength that will help you improve as an athlete and goalkeeper. Explosive movements, injury prevention, and range of motion are all focuses that will help improve a goalkeeper's athleticism. Check out our strength training guide to get more details on strength programs.
Being physically fit is definitely important as a goalkeeper. Training can often been rigorous and if you are physically exhausted then it makes it harder to take the strides necessary to continuously develop. Exhaustion can also lead to a lot of injury problems if you aren't careful. Another form of fitness that should be discussed in mental fitness. The goalkeeping position is as much about your mental fortitude as it is your physical physique.
Mental fitness refers to an athlete's ability to effectively manage their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in order to perform at their best. It involves having a positive outlook, the ability to focus and concentrate, the ability to handle stress and pressure, and the ability to bounce back from setbacks or failures. It is an important aspect of overall athletic performance, as an athlete's mental state can have a significant impact on their physical performance. Some ways that athletes can work on their mental fitness include practicing visualization and positive self-talk, setting goals and developing a growth mindset, and learning stress management techniques such as deep breathing or mindfulness. We go into more detail in our mental strength guide available for FREE online.
Overall fitness is important for consistent positive performances. Physically feeling confident in your body and your abilities can be a game changer for goalkeepers. The mental side of the position also plays a huge role in performance. So remember this; when someone asks do goalkeepers need to be fit, tell them absolutely! Goalkeepers definitely need to be fit, just sometimes in different ways than other players.