Position-Specific Endurance Training – Part 1: Goalkeeper

In the last few years, Soccer in the U.S. has seen an unprecedented growth. With an increase in popularity came an improvement of the overall game. Soccer became faster, more organized, and players ultimately more skillful. But the game also became more demanding, and the lack of time in team training. Often no more than 2x 90min sessions per week,  which cannot accommodate the individual needs of players. Just think about goalkeeper training.

There Is No “I” in Team – But There Should

Pre-season is about to start, and coaches need to focus on the overall style of play, chemistry between players, and individual requirements. Tactical and stamina needs of each position tend to come short during team practice. While it is true for younger ages that players should be able to play every position to fully understand the game, at a certain age and skill level, players need individual practices based on their positions. In the following series, we will take a closer look at the individual stamina needs of each position. As well as their significance based on the level of play. Part 1 will take a closer look of the backbone of the team – Goalkeepers


Contrary to field players, goalkeepers tend to get position-specific practice early on. Everyone that has ever seen goalkeeper practice knows, that this is less about sprints across the field. Instead a lot of quick forward and backwards movements, as well as lateral steps. 20 years ago, in European first divisions, goalkeepers only moved about 2.5miles on average. This number has almost doubled nowadays, based on the modern interpretation of goalkeepers, like you see i.e. from Manuel Neuer.

Key Movements

  • Most of that amount comes from jogs forward and backwards, longer sprints mainly from clearing balls that are played to the opposing forwards. Here the goalkeeper must leave the 18-yard box more often in modern soccer. Because of that variety of runs / jogs / walks, the basic and specific endurance should be part of goalkeeper training regularly.
  • For goalkeepers, it is crucial to be able to focus after high-intensity situations, as every situation can decide between victory and defeat. Repeating an exercise several times in a row is important to train tempo endurance, but this should not be the only focus in training.
  • A strong core increases stability and it just as important as an athletic body and muscles in other body types, which has a psychological impact on the forwards (imagine running on goal against a 6´4 200lbs keeper vs. 5´8 150lbs).
  • Soccer has become much more dynamic over the years, and the position of the goalkeeper is not the exception. Reflexes need to be trained on a regular base. Strong quads are necessary to execute acyclic movements, such as the sudden need to move from one side to the other.
  • Because goalkeepers need to jump in various situations, in a variety of distances in the air and lateral, jumping should be trained with plyometric exercises.
  • A major factor for goalkeepers is mobility and flexibility. It impacts all aspects of the game, power, endurance, speed and coordination. When putting on muscle mass, it is crucial for goalkeepers to maintain mobility. Stretching (real stretching, not stretching for warm-up) should be an elementary aspect of training. The other point mentioned, coordination, is as important as everything else, but often forgotten and therefore should be incorporated regularly.

Coming Next Week

In the next part, we will break down field players in different groups, based on their similarities on the field. First up: Center Backs and Forwards.