Goalkeepers often only have a split second to react to shots, which means that they have to have great reflexes. Reaction times mean so much more to keepers than they do to other players on the field, so anyone who plays the position has to work on their reflexes often to get the most out of their other skills.
Easy Reflex Training Exercises
Below are four easy drills that will help you develop your reflexes.
- Rotation Drills – This is one of the very best reflex drills in the world for keepers, which is why most of the pros use it. All you have to do is turn towards the goal in the ready position, have a partner tell you when to turn, then quickly turn and stop his or her shot. As soon as you have saved (or missed) the shot, turn back around and start the drill over again. You can do this drill a set amount of times or until your become fatigued.
- Parrying Drills – Ideally, you will want two different partners for this drill, but it can work with just you and one other person. Have one partner pass a quick ball into the other partner, who will quickly shoot in an area around you. Parry the ball off to the side to deny a rebound, and have your partners quickly get another ball going. This drill will force you to think on your feet and is a great way to train your hand reflexes.
- Simple Catch Drill – As the name suggests, this is a very simple reaction drill for goalies. However, you will see the benefits of it if you take it seriously. You and a partner should kneel down four to six feet away from each other. All you are going to do is have your partner throw at you; your job is to catch it and bring it into your body. Make sure you mix it up with both high and low balls so you have to react accordingly.
- Wall Ball – This is a solo drill that only requires you, a tennis ball (or another small ball) and a wall. It also happens to be excellent for improving you reflexes. Start out by standing about eight feet away from the wall, throw the ball, and then either catch it or parry it away. As you get used to doing this drill, throw the ball a bit harder to make your reactions that much quicker.
If you're new to the position, be sure to check out our easy drills for goalkeepers list.
Reading Your Opponents
It is definitely important to work on your reflexes as a goalkeeper, but it is just as important to be a composed soccer player so you can quickly understand what your opponents are about to do. When you get good reads on the players who are attempting to score a goal past you, you will be able to prep yourself to have even quicker reactions.
One of the easiest ways to read a shooter is by what he is doing with his or her eyes. The majority of soccer players look where they are about to shoot. If you see them looking in a certain direction as the play is coming towards you, then your reflexes will be that much faster.
Another way to get an advantage over an opposing shooter is to look at where their plant foot is facing. A trained shooter will point that foot where they want the ball to go, so a quick peak down will allow you to see the direction where the ball is probably going to go.
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