Goalkeeper and Team Warm-Up

Integrating goalkeepers into team sessions is often a challenge for coaches who have experience playing or coaching the position. John Murphy deals with this subject in his excellent book, " Team Training for the Goalkeeper".

Below is an excerpt from this book. It is from the Goalkeeper and Team Warm-Up Chapter.

If the goal is to integrate the goalkeeper more effectively into your training sessions, a good place to start is in the warm-up.  The lack of connection between the goalkeeper and the team in training often begins in the warm-up.  It can stem from a lack of understanding of the position by the coach, compounding an existing cohesion issue.  This gap in training will eventually trickle into a weakened link within the team shape in match situations.

It is an issue that has began less than a generation ago with the advent of goalkeeper coaches.  Before that time, the goalkeepers would just train with the team or worse, on their own.  But despite all the positives a specialist coach can bring, the situation does have its downsides.  At its worst, specialized goalkeeper work taken to an extreme can present goalkeeping almost as its own SPORT rather than a position within the game of soccer.  But even in good training situations, the goalkeepers are often to one end of the pitch working for 30 minutes and then join the team.  While this time alone with the goalkeeper coach has its value, doesn’t it make sense to further develop the connection between the goalkeepers and the rest of the team by training together?

Regardless of your resources, there is a value of including the goalkeeper in the team warm-up on a regular basis:

  • integration into the team dynamic
  • to develop him further as a leader within the group
  • for the individual technical development
  • place the goalkeeper in technically/tactically challenging situations

Exercises such as fast footwork using hurdles and ladders as well as other technical work such as passing exercises are beneficial.  In addition, if you are creative, you can get repetitive shot handling established in the warm-up for both the goalkeepers and the team.  By doing so, you are moving the training session along more economically where you can get into a small-sided game or a functional attacking exercise quicker.  When you have two training sessions a week, this can be time well spent.

Finally, I have a personal preference of using lines and dimensions on the pitch whenever possible, particularly in the warm-up.  So with that in mind, I have provided three exercises using the center circle, two with the 18-yard box and one across the width of the pitch within warm-up routines.

Center Circle Exercise 1:
Organization: 2 goalkeepers in the center circle w/ a ball in their hands
Players move freely in the center circle
Goalkeeper passes to player and gets a return pass to his hands
GK’s and field players move while looking off their shoulders

GK Coaching Points:

  • Alertness / looking to link in w/ teammates
  • Quality of serves to teammates
  • Handling/body shape
  • Composure/speed of play
  • Emphasizes movement and understanding of space with all players


  • Crescent kicks w/ the inside of the foot
  • Instep volley
  • Chest and pass
  • Head
  • All exercises performed twice in succession


  • Field players share 4 balls to pass among themselves and clip into GK’s hands
  • All players have a ball and look to dribble and clip ball into GK’s hands coach can place movement requirements on the players (shuffles/skipping/high knees, etc…)

Center Circle 2:

Use corner flags or cones a 6 yard gate on halfway line
w/ a goalkeeper on each side
Players lined up opposite of each gk 15 yards away
Ball played into the goalkeeper / player moves to the cone to
his right, then joins in opposite line
Goalkeeper plays the ball back into next player

GK Coaching Points:

  • Starting position in the gate
  • Body shape
  • Correct handling surface and technique
  • Quality of pass to teammates


  • Place cone further or closer to circle to change movement requirement of players
  • Add hurdles or ladders on the side of the circle for players to move through
  • Three extra balls at the outside of the circle for players  to run to, dribble a ball out and back before joining next line
  • Work both right and left

This is just a small sample of the warm-up exercises that are included in this chapter. Other chapters include Functional Training, Possession, Small-Sided Games, Phase of Play and 11 v 11 Setting.

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