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Keepers Need to Organize Their Training Environment

December 31, 2003 09:00 PM
Goalkeepers that aspire to a high level cannot always count on having a coach available to train them. Obviously, the ideal situation is to have an experienced person available to coach you (even if it is only once a week). The coach can assist you with shortcuts that will help you to get from level A to level B much quicker than a player without one. If you have someone to coach you, they will be able to analyze things that need improvements, then design a training environment for that particular.
However, do not use this as an excuse not to go out and do most of the hard work on your own. There is a time when you must be your own coach.
You just have to drag you best friend out of the house to help you train. It's a bargaining process with a price though. Your partner needs to benefit as well. Ask her to give you all the shots, crosses etc. exactly the way you want them served for a half-hour so you can train your technique. In return, let her blast all the shots she wants for the other half of the session. Pretty soon, what happens is that great competitions start to form. Challenges like: "How many can you score from outside the 18?"... "I challenge you to the MLS Shootout!"
There is no coach watching over your every mistake, and now you have to think and analyze things that are going wrong and take responsibility for making them right again. Organizing your environment means taking a look around you and finding the absolute best possible training environment.
"We've had some wonderful players who have the incredible ability to organize their environment," says Tony DiCicco. "One of the best examples is Mary Harvey. In 1994, Mary was coming off knee surgery and back surgery. She needed to get her game back together or she is not going to play for the United States anymore. So how does she organize her environment? She trains with the men's World Cup team in Mission Viejo, Calif. Most people wouldn't even consider that, but she knew she needed the best possible training environment, so she said, 'Where is it? It's in Mission Viejo.' So she trained with the men's goalkeepers who were preparing to play in the '94 World Cup. I'm sure there were people shaking their heads and rolling their eyes. But she didn't care. She knew how to create her own environment. She needed games, so she went to Germany, got a job and joined a club team.
"Then she went to Sweden. I remember her calling me up from Sweden, and coming back to the U.S. a week early, staying at my house so she could get a week of training in. Of course, we made her baby-sit and everything, but I have a lot of respect for someone like that. It's not easy to go to Bora Milutinovic and say, 'I need to train. I'll try to stay out of the way, but can I train with your team?"
Saskia Webber was on the national team in 1995 and played one game in the '95 World Cup. A knee injury caused her to fall out of the national team picture shortly after that, however. Saskia determined she needed to play in games in order to get her sharpness back.
"After I was cut at a 1995 training camp, I decided to go to Japan," she says. "They were getting ready to pick the residency camp for the '96 Olympics, and I was told I wasn't as sharp as I needed to be. I attributed it to not having enough games. I was out of college, and it's hard for a goalkeeper to get in games. But I wasn't ready to give up. I made some contacts in Japan and signed with Oki. I got thirty-five games a season."
Saskia was added to the 1996 Olympic team as an alternate. "It's out there," she says. "You just have to go find it. I had to exercise every option to make myself a better soccer player. I wanted to do everything in my power. I believe there is a way around every obstacle. You just have to find it."



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