December 28, 2005
The other week I was talking about my sudden realisation that it had been two months since my ACL surgery. You can read up the previous post here. Yesterday, after much procrastination, was my first trip to the pool for some serious leg work. In the past two weeks, I have decided to start doing some functional fitness to build up my core. The pool work complements the need to create a base initially, before we start any training regime. Following is a list of some of the exercises that I have been doing at home and in the pool:
- Elevated Push-Ups: Basically, this is a modified push-up. I place myself in a regular push-up stance, but I am elevated and have my hands up on the back-end of my couch, and my legs planted against the wall. I proceed to so 3 sets to failure. (Believe me, I hurt for two days after, that’s how unfit I am currently).
- Crunches: Same ol’ drill as any other crunch exercise. Here, I get on the floor and crunch out to failure on a regular crunch, then a reverse crunch and finish it off with some crossover crunches.
At the Pool:
- Running Waist High: This felt absolutely fantastic. Just the feeling of running again was exhilarating, especially after a long hiatus without any full range movement at all. The only downside was that the pool was packed with little kids and their parents (it was 37 degrees in Sydney yesterday). I did as many laps as I could and then hit the spa and massaged my leg a little for circulation.
- Stationary Kicking: Freestyle kicking, without the paddling. Here I let my body float while I latched onto the side of the pool, and kicked the hell out the water, for as long as I could. this really helped with extension.
- Waist High Water Squats: Same position as a usual squat, waist high in the water. I really felt this work my legs somewhat, it was also a good way of getting better flexion.
And that was it for this session. Today will be much of the same. I will keep you all updated as to my progress.
December 26, 2005
Remember the old days when you felt like you were invincible? Sticks and stones could never hurt you. I remember the times where we would play cricket in the park, hide and seek across at the local school, touch football and long sessions at the pool. The good old days. Why do they have to be a thing of the past? It is a matter of fact that we develop our motor skills and coordination at an early age, though as sports people we have the innate ability to diversify these skills throughout our training life. Overall, it means better performance and abilities that we would not necessarily find in one sport alone. Training in other sports in the off season is a good recommendation for all athletes especially the competitive goalkeeper. It keeps you fresh, and allows you to develop other abilities that can complement and enhance your current skills.
Back when I was playing at Marconi in the old Australian National Soccer League, one of the goalkeepers that I trained alongside was Ante Covic. Ante was the third string goalkeeper for the Australian National Team who will be playing in the World Cup next year. Ante is a fantastic goalkeeper who started his soccer career playing in the outfield. I believe this gave Ante a great ability to distribute the ball, and the confidence to play under pressure in a back pass situation. Here are some of the sports that I believe can give you an edge for better goal keeping performance (and some that I participated in whilst growing up):
- Basketball: In year 10, I played ‘B’ grade basketball for the whole year! I played soccer on the weekends and in fact know one ever knew I was a competitive goalkeeper until I was in my final year and I was playing for Sydney United, and selected for the NSW School Boys. Basketball gave me hand-eye coordination, strength and the ability to work on my jump, which is particularly important for goalkeepers.
- Touch Football: In Australia, Footie is a sport that relies on strength and speed, plus excellent ball handling skills. This is a great little sport to throw into a training session to break up the monotony.
- Cricket: Playing a game of cricket with your mates or family down at the park is a great Australian social tradition. Cricket allows you to increase your hand eye co-ordination and catching ability.
Australians are renowned for their sportsmanship and athleticism. One of the key reasons that Australia does so well in the international sporting arena is that we play a variety of different sports which enable us to increase our motor skills at an early age. Utilising a variety of different sports in your off season can really help you increase your goal keeping ability and put some fun into a monotonous training year.
December 18, 2005
Mark over at A passion For Running is recovering from a foot injury. He’s posed the question of what to do? Should he get back into running before the end of the year, or should he just put the brakes on the Nike’s until the new year? I am also getting over my surgery, and I think that Mark is brave. I have been through the whole injury saga before many times. I remember I damaged some ligaments in my knee about 5 years ago. It took three months to get back to a stage where I could run at my peak levels. What I found was that long slow distance running (after consent from my physiotherapist of course) was a great way to keep my cardiovascular conditioning at a good level whilst in the process strengthen my ligaments. For my post ACL surgery, the surgeon believes that I should be on the treadmill at least. I’m still not at the level where Mark is, though I believe that water training should get me back into road running in another few weeks.
December 18, 2005
Great goalkeepers are usually the ones with the most eccentricity to their character. Taking free kicks was Chilavert’s specialty, but it looks like the South American’s have one up on other goalkeepers around the world, with the fact that they are taught to use both feet at a very early age. One goalkeeper from Sao Paulo, namely Rogerio has scored 54 goals, with 15 goals in all competitions last year. Here is what the flamboyant goalkeeper had to say about his free kick taking prowess “I am happy to take risks, to take this responsibility on my back. I am not afraid, because if I fail, I will know in my heart that I tried”. Can’t ask for much more dedication to your passion for goalkeeping than that. The statement resonates with what I believe makes a good goalkeeper great (or any athlete for that matter), the need to take risks. Without great risks what great success can anyone wish to achieve. Hats off to Rogerio.
December 14, 2005
Brazil conjures romantic images of Copacabana sand and beautiful bikini clad women…for me at least. For soccer aficiando’s Brazil is Pele, Zico, Romario, Ronaldo and of course Ronaldinho. Ask a Brazilian about what Brazil means to them, and it will be a very different point of view. Brazilian people will tell you about beauty and extreme poverty, the stark contrast of passionate salsa music and ethic diversity swallowed whole by dark ghettos, drug trafficking and other markers of a struggle that we Westernized countries might fail to see through it’s beauty. Apart from these contrasts, one thing remains constant, a passion for the round ball that unites and liberates. For me the Brazilian game is truly beautiful.
Amidst all the wonders of football in Brazil there seems to be no in-between. Just as there is no grey area within the Brazilian social structure, a recent study by Antonio Muller “Soccer Culture in Brazil” at the University of Texas stated that “Soccer in Brazil is not just a sport. It is an important social cultural expression”, therefore it unites bothrich and poor. What the study also points to is the fact that not much emphasis is placed on soccer as a means to enhance the scholastic life of Brazilian children. If soccer was to illuminate childrens lives it would be best served in school, to instill discipline and work ethic. My better half was at one time a professional salsa dancer, and lived for some time in Brazil. What she saw with her own eyes was a poor people, whom were proud of their culture and loved futebol with a deep passion. What a wonderful boost it would be for young Brazilian soccer players to come through a scholastic system that enhanced their minds as well as their football abilities.
UPDATE: Check this link, this is what I meant by beautiful game!
December 13, 2005
Social norms are constantly changing. In Australia we are seeing an onslaught of racial tension between ethnic groups. Football has always been a great predictor of the ever changing social norms inherent in society. I remember my old man discussing the old days in the old State Soccer League, where rival ethnic groups would come to heads because of racial tensions. Recently a fantastic study by Griggs, G. (2005) titled “Soccer Hooliganism in England Between the Wars” shows that social segregation and the pressure of peer groups have seen a rise in hooliganism during the post World War period. In between both World Wars, reports of hooliganism were few and far between. Any tension reported was a result of segregation of working class and social elite at football games as the sport became more popular. The reason we have tension at football games today can be a direct result of peer group influence especially with young football fans.
Very interesting study, I must admit. The newly formed FFA in Australia have created a good job of closing ties to ethnic based teams. Ethnic tension was a result of hooliganism or ethnic pride and a mixture of political motivations in Australia. During the between war periods in England, it was a matter of social segregation. Upper vs. Lower class. The study by Griggs, shows the differing mind sets between soccer hooligans in different regions. It poses the question of what it takes to curb violence in football overall, and what it takes to instil unity. The study showed that being a part of a club (supporter or player) is a great way to facilitate a common bond regardless of race or social standing. That is the beauty of soccer…or football (whatever your flavour is). But are we stripping away multi-cultural values in sports by taking away an ethnic flavour? And is social segregation on the horizon for the newly formed league in Australia? Good points to discuss.
December 12, 2005
It has suddenly occurred to me that it has almost been two months since my ACL surgery. Actually, the sudden realisation that I could have my knee manipulated by my specialist was a slap in the face. In two months I had not really progressed to the level that my specialist would assume I should be for full recovery from surgery. Thus, my physiotherapist kicked me in the butt over the past two weeks with some “aggressive” therapy. Manipulation would have entailed the surgeon putting me under anaesthetic and cracking my knee into submission. Over the past few weeks I took manipulation into my own hands without going under…and it hurt real bad.
I’ve stated before that nothing comes without hard work, and my aggressive therapy was definitely a marathon of pain which has worked out very well. Today was my check-up with the specialist and my heart was feeling heavy, knowing that I was meeting with the specialist. Over the past week I pushed the physiotherapy to 3 sessions. I did a mixture of excruciating exercises that entailed gaining my flexion and extension back to acceptable levels. The specialists verdict was a thumbs up, and I am elated. I will see him again in February next year, but I have to start doing a lot of water training sessions to regain my strength in the ligaments and muscles. I’ll keep you all posted as to my progression. I want to make this an ongoing series of posts on a weekly basis.
December 9, 2005
What does not kill you only makes you stronger. There will always be someone who has a criticism about the things you do, or the things you may proclaim. What is written here at Keeper Skool is scientific fact. Full stop, no holds barred. The beauty of scientific studies is that they can be criticised. In fact, great scientists such as Newton and Einstein criticised established principles and revolutionised the way we saw not only ourselves but the universe as a whole. Certain comments made at one of my favorite forums recently assumed that I am trying to state that being a heavier or more muscular goalkeeper is the best path to better goalkeeping. What is presented here at Keeper Skool are many individual components of sports specific training, which include strength, power, aerobic training and a whole lot more. What was said did not really effect me, in fact I did not respond. To tell you the truth I am proud of the comment being made, because without questioning scientific principles (or anything in our lives for that matter), how do we get any answers to the most pressing questions in our sporting lives? How do I get stronger? How do I become faster? How do I jump higher? The power of sports science is really beginning to help young athletes grow into great athletes. In fact, new sports performance enhancement studio’s are popping up all over the US.
What many athlete’s are exposed to are intense bouts of training without a proper base. Increasing training intensities without proper foundations can lead to trouble. In fact earlier this year I was thrust into high intensity training and non goalkeeper specific training protocols that lead to several injuries compounded throughout the year. Now I’m writing this post, nursing a post ACL reconstruction not knowing whether I will be able to play in the upcoming soccer season. Sports performance studio’s are a fantastic way of developing the young athlete. Athletes are exposed to sports science principles that focus on core conditioning, balance, speed, power, functional strength and flexibility. Sports performance enhancement studio’s tailor specific programs for individual athletes and also focus on mental development which is of utmost importance for greater competitive performance.
Sports science has a place in pushing athletes (goalkeepers included) to new heights. In fact, goalkeepers can learn to gain a greater edge from sport science principles, and lift their games to new heights. This is the premise behind Keeper Skool and what I wish to achieve for all my goalkeepers out there, better development through sound sports science knowledge.
December 8, 2005
Scorching would not best define the dry heat in Sydney yesterday. Like a convection oven on hyper drive. Knowing that you have options in extreme conditions can be a godsend. Not many teams utilise water, except perhaps professional clubs. In Australia, soccer clubs still have the tendency to take on the summer heat for pre-season training instead of utilising one of the best options in extreme heat…the water. Why is water training so beneficial to any athlete? First we have to look to the physiological responses of training in extreme heat.
- When exercise intensity increases, blood is redirected in the body to areas of greatest need, the skin and working muscles.
- In very heavy exercise, the increased muscular demand for oxygen may lead to a decrease in blood flow to the skin which can increase the body’s core temperature.
- Your hearts stroke volume is decreased during exercise in the heat which leads to a great amount of fluid loss. the greater the fluid loss the greater the increase in heart rate, the harder it is for you to keep up maximum performance
- Maximum cardiac output and maximal aerobic capacity is decreased in hot conditions which leads to a decrease in performance. (Above Sources: Richmond, W. Nutrition & Weight Management, 2001)
Losing water through evaporation can also lead to big decreases in performance. Your body can lose large amounts of sweat which means a reduction of electrolytes and body fluids which can lead to several symptoms such as severe thirst, nausea, decreased mental functioning and decreased motor performance. This is where water training can be really cool…no pun intended. Water training can help keep the body cool during the haze of the summer heat. It can also help increase strength from resistance training. Water training is also a great way of getting the body in shape after overcoming a debilitating injury. What are some exercises you can do in the pool or at the beach for maximum strength and minimal exhaustion from the heat? Here is a few tips:
- Deep Water Interval Running: Get waist high in the water at the pool or beach and do some quick sprints for 10 seconds followed by 10 seconds of slow jogging. Repeat 5 times and work your way up in time each week.
- Weighted Water Running: Want to up the ante? Push your body to the limit with some weighted water running for extra burn and a huge cardio hit.
There are obviously tonnes of other exercises to utilise and you can even join in on some classes at your local pool or gym. The beauty of water training is that you can diversify your current program and get those muscles working under different conditions to continually maximise your training intensity. Water training is also fantastic in keeping your body cool from the summer scorch.
December 6, 2005
Reminiscing on the past year has got me thinking that it takes more than just brawn to get to the next level in your game or sport. It takes tonnes of brains also. At a professional level, it is just as much about how you conduct business than kicking the ball around a soccer field alone. How can a player in their chosen sport get some smarts? There are many ways like studying a short course on human physiology, learn some fundamental sports business principles, become a personal trainer or if your game, give a sports science degree a shot. Here is a list of some cool things to get your head straight which can lead to greater athletic gains and a window of opportunity in the long-term:
- Become A Personal Trainer: Understanding how to train others can give you a profound insight into the human psyche. What makes a person tick? How does their physiology react to certain exercise stimuli? What goals are they setting to achieve their dream figure or athletic form? Do you see the power of becoming a trainer? goal setting, understanding how the body ticks and what motivates a person to succeed are all profound questions that can help your own training reach new levels.
- Learn Sports Business Principles: Want to become a professional? Got what it takes to negotiate the best deal for yourself, and your future? Know the fundamentals of a contract and sports law? I’ve been there before, and let me tell you that without good representation (ie. an agent) you are at best stuck at the grass roots when you could be shooting for the stars. What about starting your own goalkeeper or athletic school? Know how to pull in customers with fundamental marketing or business principles? Today’s sporting wars are waged in the boardroom just as much as they are played out on the field. Proper business etiquette is as much the player or athlete’s responsibility as it is the directors of a club or athletic organisation. Knowing the basics of business can take you a long way in your athletic development and there are many of fundamental courses that will teach you business 101 for next to nothing.
- Higher Learning: Sports science degree or sports business degree tickle your fancy? It is a hard slog, but many colleges and universities pay a scholarship for your studies and your sporting endeavours. Just tonight while I was getting physio on my knee there was a young South American kid who came all the way Down Under to gain a university degree and play in the State’s highest level of soccer. That’s dedication and a desire to succeed both on and off the field.
Always remember that having a strong head on your shoulders, along with good business acumen and an understanding of how you can make your body perform better will pay off in spades for the rest of your life, whether you sign a pro deal or not. Educating your mind can pay large dividends for your future and open doors of opportunity you never knew existed.