4 super tips for goalkeepers to both recover and maximize performance in the off-season

Have you been there before?

After slugging it out for 11 months of the year, your body is about to break down like a freight train with no coal in the furnace. You may be thinking that you should push on full steam ahead, though nothing can be further from the truth. In fact, possibly the most critical stage in any goalkeepers development is the need to take a step back to move two steps forward, this is why rest is critical to maximizing your goalkeeping performance in the off season.

So, now you can kick your heels up on the couch, pop open your favorite bag of chips, grab the TV guide and your home and hosed?

No, you may end up derailing all your hard work in an instant. Let’s see how any goalkeeper can recover and maximize their performance in the off-season with 5 simple and fun training tips.

Two of the key components why many young footballers fail to progress in their physiological development is that they miss two critical components throughout their training year.

Being aware of a “detrained” state: Detraining is the partial or complete loss of training-induced adaptations, in response to an insufficient training stimulus. Detraining characteristics may be different depending on the duration of training cessation or insufficient training.

Taking time off to recover from the harsh demands of competitive football entails a fragile balance, where timing is everything, and if left unchecked the untrained goalkeeper can pull apart much of the platform for success that was built over a competitive season. Having too much of a break means that the muscles and cardiovascular enhancements created over a year can be lost over a very short period of time. The time taken to rebuild those muscular and cardiovascular responses which are lost in the off season can take considerable time to be re-built, which can lead to a short term road block in competitive performance.

2) Understanding the concept of active rest:

Active recovery refers to engaging in low-intensity exercise after workouts. There are two forms of active recovery. One is during the cool-down phase immediately after a hard effort or workout. The second form of active recovery includes the days following a competition or other intense workout. (Quinn, E. Sports Medicine Guide, December 2, 2007).

The above definition refers to a period after each and every training session, though we can easily apply this to the rest period in a year long periodized plan, over 2-4 weeks (depending on the structure of the competitive season). Active rest is the key component to being able to curb the effects of a detrained state, by reducing activity intensity rather than cutting off activity completely.

So let’s look at 5 super hot tips to help maximize goalkeeping performance and enhance recovery rates from the harsh demands of competitive football:

1) Make Rest a Part of The Bigger Picture: Coaches whom have a periodized plan are more likely to help their team succeed throughout a competitive season than the coach that doesn’t take the time to plan their training sessions throughout the year. Though the off season should also be part of the bigger picture. Having a 2-4 week rest period should entail that the goalkeeper and the rest of the team are active, though not to the same intensities as before and during the season.

2) Do Fun Stuff Other Than Football: One of the great things about growing up in Australia is that Aussies have a great array of different sports and football codes. Playing a different sport outside of the regular football (soccer) season not only helps young players take their mind off the game, but allows them to work different muscle groups and expand their skill set outside of regular training. Get involved in basketball, get a rugby ball and play some touch football with some friends, the list is endless and the key again is differentiation and the ability to recover actively outside of the competitive football field. Goalkeepers can gain invaluable experience in eye-hand coordination by playing other sports in the off season to boot!

3) Get Your Body Back in Alignment:
Everyone knows that the goalkeeper goes through some serious knocks and bumps throughout their season. Holistic therapies are now widely practiced in elite sports, and nothing beats a better recovery than some massage and physiotherapy to knock out any roadblocks to your football development. In fact, massage therapy during the off season will help the mind refocus, and help the muscles recover from the strenuous demands encountered throughout the season. If you have had any niggling injuries during your competitive season, get down to a physiotherapist to help knock them out, so that you are fresh and ready to go when the new season gets under way.

4) Eat Right To Fuel Recovery: Don’t let the Christmas break make you look like Santa when the time comes to get back out onto the pitch! As with the whole season, a focus on solid nutrition should be the norm, even when it is time to take a break from the pitch. What you also need to steer clear of, is going to the extreme with unconventional diets that can hinder rather than help your recovery. Whole breads, cereals, fruit, vegetables, plenty of water and lean meats will contain ALL of the nutrients you require to fuel your recovery and maximize your performance when it comes time to hit it out in your next competitive season. Now no one likes an overweight goalkeeper (that’s why they put us between the sticks in the first place, right?), but having one day during the post season to have a “cheat” food (something you really like but is usually taboo during the season) is ok as well.

Taking the foot off the pedal is both healthy and normal for the competitive goalkeeper to maximize their performance. Resting completely can lead to detraining effects which can really take the edge out of the goalkeepers performance throughout the season. In summary, planning your off season is vitally important to maximize goalkeeping performance, making sure that you take the time to get out and play other sports (outside of football) to help enhance your skill set is also vital. Throughout the season, you are bound to get some knocks that may be prolonged if no rest and recovery is taken during the off-season, having some sports massage is a great way to iron out aches and pains and get the body ready for pre-season. The post-season is no time to be slack about your nutrition either. Make the effort to keep your diet lean and mean, but also leave one day (every now and then) in your post season training schedule to have a little cheat food as well!