GOALIES CIRCLE: Plyometric training helps improve your ability to save the unsavable

Goalkeepers — especially those on elite teams with stout defences — may spend a lot of time waiting for something to happen. But when a challenge occurs, they must literally rise to the occasion with an explosive move to stifle the opponent’s scoring chances. Plyometric workouts can get you ready to launch toward the sky, sideways in a dive or down to the ground for a block just when your team needs you most.

Essentially, plyometric training rapidly stretches a muscle prior to rapidly contracting it. When you stretch a muscle rapidly, there is a reflexive contraction that is hard-wired into your brain. It is a protective mechanism, but if we time it right, this reflexive contraction, plus the recoil of the elastic elements in your muscle, plus your conscious contraction will give you more power production. Goalkeepers need to produce explosive muscular skeletal movements when required. Reaction is one thing but explosive reaction is another. Plyometric training will give you the edge you need.

The below video and associated activity descriptions provide an excellent example plyometric training regime to adapt and implement.

Single-Leg Lateral Box Jumps:
Plyometric Boxes ranging in height from 2.5 – 3 feet are used for this exercise.  Goalkeepers stand motionless on one leg, and explode laterally to the outside, clearing the height of the box and the “sticking” the landing.  2 sets of 4 jumps with each leg are performed, with 2 minutes’ rest in between sets.  This exercise is unique in that it develops explosive, single-leg, lateral jumping power, using the exact same movement pattern as occurs in diving and shot-stopping techniques.

Double-Leg Resisted Jumps:
The Power-Plyos Jump Harness is used for this exercise.  Resistance tubing attached to the ground, and to a harness fixed over the goalkeeper’s waist, provides an extra challenge to the muscles during a double-leg jumping movement.  Goalkeepers perform 2 sets of 8 jumps with resistance, followed immediately by 2 sets of 8 jumps without resistance, with 2 minutes’ rest in between sets.  This training, called “contrast training”, aims to increase vertical jumping power by first applying resistance to the jumping movement, and then removing the resistance.  The muscles, expecting extra resistance, are forced to contract quicker and more powerfully, resulting in a higher speed of muscular contraction, and thus higher rate of upwards acceleration of the body.

Double-Leg Quick Feet Plyometrics:
Goalkeepers stand on the Soccer Fitness Plyometric Platform, and perform specific quick feet plyometric exercises, hitting their feet to the numbered targets on the Platform.  The movements are either in a Linear (forward-back, side-side, or diagonal), triangle, or square jumping pattern.  The jumps must be performed both as accurately and quickly as possible in 20 seconds.  4 sets of 20 second intervals are performed, with 1 minute rest in between sets.  This exercise is used to develop dynamic core stability.  As the athlete’s base of support, or feet, moves at high speeds away from their centre of mass (a point in the middle of the body, just above the hips), the muscles of the core are challenged to contract quickly and powerfully in order to keep the athlete stable and facilitate the movement.

Source: adapted rednationonline.ca

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