Reflexes of a goalkeeper

The ability to often perform an incredible, seemingly impossible, reflex is what separates a good goalkeeper from a great goalkeeper. It’s those sharp reflexes that allow goalkeepers to grab points for their team over the course of a season.

Some goalkeepers are born with excellent reflexes and a natural “instinct” to react to hard shots or close shots – others need to work on it. But even though your reactions are relatively slow, you can improve tremendously by practising regularly, doing specialised reflex exercises and by including various alternative methods in your goalkeeper training.

Here’s how you can improve your goalkeeper reactions and reflexes to start making more of those match winning saves.

1. REFLEX EXERCISES

Professional goalkeepers regularly work on their reflexes in training.

Reflex training is designed to simulate match situations where goalkeepers have to act quickly, such as close-range shots, second rebounds or attempts that pass through a crowd of players and where you have to wait and see what the ball might do. The idea is to give goalkeepers sufficient super-fast practice on the training pitch so that they begin to react “naturally” to match situations that require a reflex save.

Almost all reflex exercises we have ever seen and participated in mean that the goalkeeper makes a lot of fast, high-frequency rescues; mostly around the body to maximize manageability. By making a save, quickly followed by another rescue, the goalkeeper is pushed to shorten his reaction times. Call it an instinct of every goalkeeper. Going full steam ahead to try to save that second ball as well.

2. USE OBSTACLES TO CREATE UNPREDICTABILITY

A large part of a reflex is the goalkeeper’s ability to anticipate the movement of the ball that can deviate, a rebound and the bodies in their field of vision.

To help sharpen your ability to react to rapid new events, you can include obstacles in your training sessions The following video begins with some basic exercises (which can be done without equipment), followed by the use of different obstacles to create an element of unpredictability.

3. STUDY AND PRACTICE ON YOUR POSITIONING

Reflex rescues are not just pure happiness. Goalkeepers make their own luck by being in the right place at the right time.

You drastically increase your chances of a quick response by improving your positioning. Be sure to take a look at Manuel Neuer’s rescue and the movement he makes. Through good positioning and anticipation, he is able to carry out this rescue. If he hadn’t adopted this positioning, we certainly wouldn’t be discussing this fragement right now. So it’s not all about agility.

4. VIEW PROFESSIONAL GOALKEEPERS

When looking at some YouTube compilations, you need to play a more active role in learning where to position yourself in a game. We recommend that you go to games where you can study the goalkeepers for the 90 minutes. Unfortunately, on TV the goalkeepers are only in the picture for a short time.

When you follow a goalkeeper, the goalkeeper will see that the goalkeeper is far beyond 16 metres when his/her team is on the attack, ready to act as the last defender for a passing ball Normally, it will return to its goal line when the other team tries to set up an attack (to prevent it from being walked on)

In other circumstances, the goalkeeper will keep his position when they feel their defenders are the beat of the striker. On the other hand, they will take a few steps forward in preparation for a 1v1 attack when they feel that the last defender will be eliminated.

These are just a few examples. There is a series of decisions that goalkeepers make with their positioning throughout the game. So try to watch some games at a good level – even semi-professional. Observe what the goalkeepers are doing, and take these positions to your own games.

5. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Many reflexes are attributed to the alertness of a goalkeeper.

Take, for example, a penalty save. Prior to making their rescue, goalkeepers stand upright, arms out, on their toes, and are ready to make a quick move. If the ball is still in play after the save, the aftermath of the rebound requires as much alertness as the original save itself! The goalkeeper must react very quickly to bring the ball to safety.

But alertness is not easy to learn. So I suggest you at least make some adjustments to your habits before and during matches:

  • Avoid large training sessions the day before a race. It can make you feel pretty slow in races when your legs are tired.

  • Go to sleep on time. Without enough rest, you have to work harder to keep yourself focused during the race. For goalkeepers, fatigue can lead to goals being scored

  • Eat a light meal before the matches. You have to go into the game with some extra energy, without feeling bloated.

  • Do a good warm-up.

  • Stay on your toes throughout the game (especially when the opponent is heading towards your goal and may even shoot at goal unexpectedly). Be ready to act at any time by standing in the right position.

  • Stay warm during the matches. Maintain your heart rate by jumping up and down and moving your arms when you are not involved in the game.

6. OVERLAPPING SPORTS OR EXERCISES

Nowadays there are a lot of other possibilities to work on your reflexes even at home. For example, there are several apps that allow you to train your reaction speed. In the video below, we have already put together some examples with https://www.switchedontrainingapp.com/. Of course there are several other possibilities that can be used to improve these skills.

If you want something different, think about ping pong. Have you already seen them on TV. These players have to be able to react very fast, because that ball is always going very fast. They also need to be well positioned and often go forward and backward to get into the right position to set up the counter-attack. So if you want to get away from soccer sometimes, this is definitely worth a try and still work on your reflexes.

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