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Goalkeeping After 40

Written By Justin on Friday, April 11, 2008 | 11:46:00 PM

I don't often blog about myself - check the archives if you don't believe me - but today I want to talk about my body, and the things goalkeeping after 40 has done to it.

I was always very lucky in terms of injuries. When I stopped playing for money at 28, I'd had almost no injuries of note. Oh, a tweaked hamstring here, a turned ankle there, but that's about it. I never missed a game with any team because of injury. This, no doubt, was down to good luck, and also the benefits of being slim and flexible.

When I started playing again at 40, with essentially the same physique I had at 28, I was pleased to find my reflexes, handling, and judgment were the same as they'd once been. After two games of rustiness, I soon felt like I was playing at the same level I'd once played at. That lasted just a few weeks, though, because I soon learned that something had changed: I was no longer impervious to injury.

It started last March when, against my better judgment, I played on a very bad pitch on Roosevelt Island. The goalmouth was bumpy and rock hard, and just a few minutes into the game, I made a comfortable collapse-dive save to my left. Pain exploded through my left shoulder: torn rotator cuff. It shelved me for a month, still felt uncomfortable another two months after that, and even now, a year later, still bothers me from time to time. As tears go, it was minor, no surgery needed. I rehabbed it at the NYU fitness center, and continue to do rotator cuff exercises for both shoulders twice a week.

I'll quickly move through the injuries that followed: strained right calf, strained left forearm, strained right quad, back spasms, left hip pointer, right shoulder sprain, and general muscle soreness after most games (from taking 20+ goal kicks).

Now, none of these others injuries were very serious, but the thing about them is - I don't really know when or how they occurred. I play (or train), don't get injured, but wake up the next day with something hurting. What it comes down to, obviously, is age.

Despite the bangs and knocks, and the fact that my team is somewhat overmatched in the strong (as amateur footy goes) Gotham Football League, I'm having a hell of a good time in this 'comeback' season. I'm playing with and against guys 10-15-even 20 years younger than I am, and so far, so good. How good? Well, my team voted me Player of the Year last season, and gave me an actual trophy to prove it. So, yeah. I'm just about the greatest thing going.


turnbuckle said...

I know how you feel. I am a week away from 39, and I hurt all of the time. From one co-ed game a week! I play 8v8 with full size goals, so the pace is a bit higher, but still, 1 game a week! Broken fingers, torn rotator cuff, back problems, etc. But it kills me to miss even one game. When the injuries come this fast, you know you have a limited number of games left in you.

Justin said...

You said it Josh. I also only play 1 game a week. Funnily enough, I played my game on Monday night and then felt no pain on Tuesday. Maybe the fact that it's finally getting warmer here in New York helps. Thanks for reading & responding!

pol said...

yes justin, in my youth i was a judo player, never injured - minor things in hands & knees & feet - now at 38 i'm playing keeper (allways a passion) 7x7 once a week (everybody goes crazy about it here in Portugal). the thing is that i get injuries out of nowhere. last is left knee bothering me for two weeks. but how i understand you - i hate to miss a game

pol said...

speaking about gloves, i sacrifice technology for aesthetic. i just bought adidas responsive league

Justin said...

Nice, pol. I'm a Sells and Selsport man myself when it comes to gloves, but love adidas boots and clothing.