The pre-game warmup is one of the most important methods of preparation in a goalkeeper’s arsenal.  From grassroots junior football to the international stage, its importance and influence on the game at hand should not be understated.  So often, though, this highly-specialised role is left to a Dad who ‘used to play a bit’ or the assistant coach.  Whilst their efforts and commitment to the grassroots game should be applauded, following a brief skeleton outline for a goalkeeper warm-up can pay huge dividends:

It’s imperative that the goalkeeper warms-up individually, ideally but not necessarily, from the start of the warm-up – whilst we’ll build up plenty of work with the team during training and the week, the potentiating a goalkeeper needs to go through is very specific and probably best executed separately.
Of course, though, they still need to be back in the changing room in time for all talks/briefings, so we’re going to put together just a 30-minute warm-up skeleton plan here.  Feel free to add your own drills into this, and change it around as you see fit for your goalkeepers.  It is a very general overview:

1) General dynamic stretches and movements (5 minutes)

Beginning with a non-specific warm-up (unlikely to enhance performance but designed to reduce the chance of injury), these should be aware to most goalkeepers.  If needed, you can find information online as to good dynamic stretch routines, but just make sure you’re working on all the major muscle groups and starting to loosen up, too.  Your main aims here are to raise the heart level, activate muscles and potentially start to mobilise your joints as well – feel free to get a ball involved to make this more appealing to younger goalkeepers!

2) Kicking/Distribution work (10 minutes)

The distribution warm-up should be a relaxed yet focused occurrence.  It is imperative to make sure the goalkeeper is fully warmed up (leg swings on posts) but also that their confidence is built through this exercise as opposed to knocked down.  Start by working the ball along the floor, before moving to 50% strength drop kicks and progressing this to a full range of drop/goal kicks.
Balls should be delivered across a variety of different positions, to find receivers in different areas in the pitch and at different heights/trajectories coming in… The goalkeeper will have to deal with all of these in the match so it’s imperative he’s prepared from the start!

3) Basic handling moves (5 minutes)

There are a variety of different handling movements and drills that can be used, but the emphasis for the goalkeeper should be on quality over quantity and replicating match situations as much as possible.  The coach should start particularly lightly with these handling deliveries and collect any wayward/deflected balls (saving the goalkeeper’s energy).  All handling in this respect should be straight at the goalkeeper.  You may want to combine the handling with footwork after 15/20 reps or so.  Remember key points such as serving balls from the floor and not the hands (how will they be delivered in a match?) and also focussing on mimicking the game’s situation as much as possible.

4) Match situation and intensity work (2 x 5 minutes)

As the name suggests, this is more open to the match situation.  You may want to specialise drills dependent on your opposition (are they likely to play the ball high into the box?) but this is also an equally good opportunity for the goalkeeper to really step up the intensity in warm up (without being ‘peppered’ to the point they’re losing confidence!).  Focus on working at 80% pace or so for 5 minutes before taking a couple of minutes off and then going again.  Intensity and quality of delivery (shot, cross or one-on-one) is key here.

So, there you have it.  A very basic and simplified structure for your pre-match warm-up.  The key points to be considered are that the warm-up should be a confidence-building exercise for the goalkeeper from a mental perspective and therefore coaches must adjust the difficulty of their deliveries to challenge but compliment the goalkeepers.

Goalkeepers themselves should stay entirely focused during this session and use visualisation techniques as well as assessment of playing conditions etc. to make sure that they are in the best possible position when the match begins.

From a physical viewpoint, we can follow the RAMP protocol of raising heart rate, activating muscles, mobilising joints and potentiating in preparation for the game at hand.

If you’d like any particular drills for any part of the warm-up, please do not hesitate to drop a comment, email or message and I’ll strive to find some specific and quality-driven drills for you or your goalkeepers!

Yours in goalkeeping,



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