They are isolated from their teammates, they train on their own, they follow different rules. There are very few sports that have extraordinary players like goalkeepers.
Being a goalkeeper is not like being any other player. Keepers have the most delicate position in a team. Their errors have huge consequences. In a match they can go from spectator to main character in matter of seconds. They dress different to others. They seem isolated, but they are the players that communicate most with their teammates. Because they have a different point of view. They see clashes from a different perspective. And they train in a different way as well.
“On a physical level, goalkeepers do physical training aimed at muscle hypertrophy”, Rodrigo Revilla explains, physical preparation coach at Fundación Marcet. “It’s important for a goalkeeper to develop muscle mass in order to support stress on their joints caused by falls and hits that they receive”. This is done with shorts intervals of around 5 to 10 seconds each, with longer recuperation times.
For keepers it’s vital to work on their reflexes and reaction speeds. “This is done, for example, with a plyometric workout, it’s a type of training thatfocuses on learning to move from a muscle extension to a contraction in a rapid or explosive manner”, Revilla tells us. If outfield players training is more resistance focused, a keepers training is focused on aerobics, as they don’t have run for 90 minutes. This doesn’t mean that they don’t get tired, they get tired in a different way. They have to withhold a lot of tension and be concentrated throughout a whole match and it pays a price. It’s more of a mental drain than a physical one.
Another difference in comparison to their teammates is that goalkeepers have to put more work and training into their upper body. “Shoulder pain and bursitis that affect joints in the arms are very common injuries for keepers”, says the physical preparation coach at Fundación Marcet. At Marcet’s Goalkeepers Academy the coaches know that physical preparation is an essential part, but it isn’t everything. “We’ve spent over 4 decades investigating and over time we’ve come to understand that professional clubs are searching for intelligent goalies”, assures José Ignacio Marcet, President of the club that bears his name. “Thanks to top quality specialists like Luis LLopis (Real Madrid CF”), Tommy N’kono (RCD Espanyol and Cameroon’s national squad) and Luis Matos (Benfica) we’ve been able to develop a methodology that emphasises on decision making”.
It’s not always just about technique, neither just intelligence. “First of all it’s about values”, Marcet confirms. “Values are the criteria that creates standards in perceptions of everyday things, and therefor is a must in football. Humbleness, honesty and humaneness embrace all other values and should be the pillars to all situations on and off the pitch. For a goalkeeper, for example, it’s vital for them to know their own limitations. Being humble is knowing ones limits, and it’s indispensable when wanting to obtain positive results on the field”.
Some results that have been achieved over time and go by the names of Marcos Ortega Lara and Rubén Paraíso, who have both been signed by Real Madrid CF. Also Edu Frías, who’s already training with RCD Espanyol’s first team. Javier Cendón, goalkeeper at Villarreal CF. Álvaro Fernández, who plays at Málaga CF.
Also Félix Clapin-Girard, who plays for Granada CF after going through Marcet’s Goalkeepers Academy. “I think I started to like the position due to it’s peculiarity. Goalkeepers always have something different in comparison to other players, and that is what attracted me to the position. I love being the last player, the last line of defence in the team”, says the Canadian, highlighting another essential part in the training of a goalkeeper. “At Marcet they’ve taught me how to get the best out of myself making me get out of my comfort zone”. If getting comfortable is a risk for any athlete, it’s even riskier for a goalkeeper, who can only perform if they know how to confront situations where phycological tensions are very high. Relaxing is one of the worst things that can happen. Getting nervous as well.
Being a goalkeeper is exceptional. It’s being isolated from the group, during matches and also whilst training. It’s being an outsider when it comes to individual prizes (only one keeper has managed to win the Ballon d’Or in 57 editions, Lev Yashin in 1963). At the end of the day, being a keeper is being a freak. In very little team sports is there such an extraordinary figure, a rebel, completely different to the rest. Being a goalkeeper is what makes football unique.