Here is an interesting vid of an England U21 training session from last year. The thing I enjoyed about this is the completeness of what the vid shows – it hits all the marks in terms of aspects of the position that we all need to work on. First, check out the clip below.
Now, let’s break down the different segments that are key parts of training. In the beginning, you see them warming up with a variety of footwork activities. Note that the distance they travel through the cones is representative of how far a keeper would usually travel to make a stop – no need for 15-rung ladder drills if you only ever take 4-5 steps max. At the 24 s mark we see some simple handling warmups that combine cardio and lateral movement, which forces the keeper to focus on the catch just a little bit more. At 30 s we see a rapid-fire collapse dive activity. In a youth session, we might work up to this a bit more slowly, but for a pro-level keeper, this level of pace is more appropriate. Another interesting point is that all the delivery has been soft tosses from the coaches and not services from feet thus far. This highlights for me that this is a TRAINING session – technique is not being COACHED here, this session is meant to get the keepers sharp before the next match. When training technique, services from feet would be more realistic and appropriate.
After this initial warmup, the coaches start delivering the balls from feet and work on contour catches, collapse dives, front smothers, and diving saves with a bit more pace. In some instances, you can see that the pace is challenging to the keepers even for a simple contour catch, as some balls are received pretty close to the body. The catch at 1:19 is a perfect example – the keeper handles the ball quite close (arms are not extended at all) but still gets his head around a bit so the ball is being watched into the gloves.
The segment starting at 2:05 is excellent – a great little distribution activity that gets the keepers focused on receiving the ball and distributing with feet with a focus on accuracy.
At 2:34 the “goggle cam” makes an appearance. Note the line of vision of the keeper as he handles high balls served into the box. I love the bit at 3:15 – the coach drives a cross into the box and you can tell from the goggle cam view that the keeper holds his position and tracks the ball – there is no excess movement that would make it more difficult to follow the ball’s flight.
So, perhaps the only thing missing from all of this are activities involving distribution from hands. Otherwise, they have hit all the marks. For a youth session the focus might be on one of these skills with attention paid to correct technique through a progression of activities. In the video above, you see the product of thousands of hours of technical training, although I am sure that they still need a little coaching now and again, correct?