As a goalkeeper, a majority of injuries happen during collisions or hard falls to the ground. Many of these situations are unavoidable, so are we all doomed? Are we all guaranteed at some point to miss games due to injuries that we could not avoid? I don’t believe so. Let’s look at some ways we can decrease our chance of injury on the field.
PROPER LANDING MECHANICS
Proper landing mechanics are an easily taught, easily learned skill that is often over-looked by coaches and athletes. To land properly is to land very softly while sitting the hips back behind the heels, shoulders over the knees, shins directly in line with the feet, a braced core, and a nice, flat back. Most athletes tend to stomp the ground while their knees drive forward in front of the toes and cave inside the feet.
In 2015, with the prevalence of youth athletics increasing and the injury rate of those athletes increasing right alongside it, we understand the importance of strength training for youth athletes to improve performance and prevent injury.
So how do we get our kids strength training? Just throw little Sally under a bench press and wish her luck? If we want to PREVENT injury, we need to take a very well thought out and detailed approach.
The beauty with young athletes is that they are very moldable. Their brains and body are so young that they are very efficient at learning and storing new information as it pertains to movement. For athletes with no strength training experience, almost all of their training can be done with their own bodyweight. By learning to move and control their own body, things like catching, jumping, and diving become much easier tasks that come more naturally to them. By learning to use their upper and lower bodies together as one unit, instead of separately, saving a soccer ball becomes second nature. By strengthening the “core” and learning to brace properly, they will be better off when absorbing a collision, diving, or going up to make a game winning save.
If our athletes can work to get strong enough to control their own bodyweight and learn to land properly, not only will they be able to generate more power, be more stable when holding the save position, and change direction more efficiently, but we can eliminate many of the injuries that are far too common in goalkeepers. Injuries happen. We will never eliminate all of them, but if we take the steps necessary, we can put the athlete in the best possible position to stay healthy.
Michael Baker, CSCS
Parabolic Performance & Rehab