WITH the ever-rising Coronavirus cases up and down the island of Ireland, the GAA have taken the decision to suspend all club activity indefinitely until the spread of this virus eases. The extent of the testing for positive cases has increased and this has also begun to threaten the inter-county season also at every level.
From a governmental viewpoint there have already been a number of local lockdowns both north and south of the border, some of which are currently ongoing. There is a growing threat that the whole of the British Isles will end up going back to some form of lockdown. It might not be as intense as the previous lockdown, with the possibility of schools and certain businesses staying open, but it will be some form of lockdown nonetheless.
If this were to happen and the country was to go back into lockdown, all goalkeepers should see this for the gift that it is. The gift that you may be receiving is the gift of time. Again, like in March, you are being given the opportunity to take a good look at your goalkeeping game and highlight what areas you need to improve in as well as any new areas that you would like to grow or learn to improve your overall goalkeeping ability.
For the majority of goalkeepers in the country, this will now become their off-season. By renaming this ‘off-season’ as the growth season, it gives a more positive impetus to any goalkeeper in regard to what they would like to achieve during this free time.
Ultimately, the work/growth a goalkeeper makes during this season is what will make the difference come the perform season (on-season). It is for this reason, that any goalkeeper that is serious about making any sort of gains in goalkeeping ability must not sit back on their laurels, be proactive and design a periodised plan for the growth season.
It is important to always take a period of rest/break before returning to any form of training plan but ensure that the break is measured and that you do not over-indulge during this break period. There is nothing more disheartening for any goalkeeping than coming back to training in poor shape. This diverts time and efforts away from being able to better yourself over to getting yourself back into training shape.
After taking your measured break its time to put your periodised plan into action. Within your plan it is important to have reviewed your overall game as a whole to ensure you get a complete summary of your current performance levels.
This appraisal should be completed by both yourself as well as gaining feedback from some external sources like the management team, other goalkeepers, and other players.
It is important for any goalkeeper to know where exactly they currently stand before they can begin to move forward. When completing your self-appraisal have a good criterion to analyse, be honest and know what is expected of you at the level you are currently playing at whether that be underage level or elite senior intercounty. Make sure to take in all aspects of your goalkeeping which will include your on and off-field activities and you should also include your spiritual traits as well (e,g, – discipline, industriousness, courage, resilience, etc).
After you have highlighted what areas you are currently lacking in or wish to improve in, then you will need to look for ways in which to improve these.
If you have on-field abilities that you need to improve then you will need to look for exercises or drills that will improve those areas of your game. It may also mean that you need to acquire a regular goalkeeping coach to help you improve, motivate you and help create your training plans.
For the off-field activities and mental preparation you can look for professional help if it is financially possible or you can do research on past and present goalkeepers and see what they have done/used in the past to help them improve these two sides of their game.
The most important thing to remember before starting is that no goalkeeper will get better without first putting in the effort. If you expect that you will improve by merely doing what it was you had been doing before then you are cheating yourself. Unless you really put the effort into your game you will not make the improvements that you want to make.
Working hard is not confined to the training pitch either. Part of your effort must be put into looking for various new ways that you can improve your game.
Making improvements in goalkeeping is very much trial and error in terms of seeing what works and what does not. If you try a drill and it does work right or feels uncomfortable do not just dismiss it straight away, see if the drill can be adapted to better suit your goalkeeping style.
Your time to perform is all but over, now it is your ‘Time To Grow!’