The past two decades have seen remarkable advances in specialized goalkeeper training, sport-specific exercise, and sports nutrition. Gone but not lamented are the days when 'goalkeeper training' meant five players lined up at the top of the box, shooting one after the other, followed by the goalkeeper cranking out a few sets of bench presses and then hitting the pub.
Over the next few posts, I'm going to share some of my personal favorite exercises for building and maintaining explosiveness and speed. There are hundreds of such exercises and dozens of specifically tailored routines, but I'll be sharing only those I've found have made a real difference. What works for me may not work for you, and my demands are likely different than most, as I'm approaching my 45th birthday this summer, so injury prevention is as much a part of my training as anything else. I'm not a licensed trainer, but I've had the benefit of working with many great ones, including the staff of Velocity Sports Performance in New York City, so please don't consider this 'advice' but rather insight into what I do to maintain my speed and explosiveness as I get older.
I'll start today with what for me has been an incredibly productive exercise: the glute-ham raise. It is by far the most effective hamstring exercise I've ever come across, and a great deal of goalkeeper movement relies on strong hamstrings. This one is also a real ego check for most people, who aren't nearly as strong in their hamstrings as their quads.
As the video below shows, the glute-ham raise works best when you have access to a bench made specifically for it. Even if you don't, however, you can still do them on the piece of equipment normally used for lower back raises, found in most gyms. First let's check out the video:
What's important to recognize is that this is NOT a lower back raise. You don't bend at the waist at any point. The upper body stays straight and the lift is performed by the hamstrings.
If you've done hamstring curls on a machine, prepare for a shock. Glute-ham raises are WAY more difficult. Some people find they can't do even one at first, but your tolerance and strength will build rapidly. Explosiveness, mobility, foot speed - it all starts with the lower body, and the hamstrings - often neglected in favor of the quads - are a big part of that.