I hope many of you are finding your way back into the water in one way or another. I want to briefly reflect on our focus during both this early part of the summer and, on a larger scale, over the entire course of the summer.
While the situation is certainly less than ideal for us as goalies (not to mention the tragic nature of what’s going on in the world), there’s a silver lining here for us. You are in a rare situation: you have a full summer season of training and, yet, no games. This can be used to our advantage for a few reasons:
1. ONE STEP BACKWARD: With no games, weekend tournaments, teams to try out for, starting lineups to make, we have a real opportunity to take a step back and focus on improving our fundamentals and technique. Very often, with constant weekly tournaments, we can’t afford to take the 1 step back needed to tweak our fundamentals in order to eventually make those real improvements: i.e. to take 2 steps forward. Now we have this chance.
2. NO BALLS, NO CONTACT, NO PROBLEM: BETTER, EVEN: Many goalies don’t have teams to train with, or, if they do, most can’t use balls or, at the least, can’t play actual full-contact water polo. Again, this is a rare opportunity to hone our technique. As you know from the Goalie Combines we run throughout the year, we do about 30% of our fundamentals focus without a ball. This way, instead of trying to determine where the shot is coming from, when it’s coming, and where it’s going, we can just focus on our technique, building our RPM’s into our moves, and working only on fundamentals. So, again, see this unique time as an opportunity to do all of this habit-forming fundamentals work without the need for a ball.
3. A NOTE ON CONDITIONING: One reflection on your conditioning: beware of rushing back into your leg work. It may be tempting to do so but, with a huge majority of you being out for 3 months, you need to ease back into your conditioning. Certainly avoid using heavy objects to add to your eggbeater (i.e. water jugs, bricks, heavy balls, etc.)—moderate body-weight (Broncos and Fire Walk!) is more than enough to get back into shape. And while we want those big muscles to hurt (this means you’re getting stronger) make sure you’re not experiencing pain in joints (especially hips) and knee ligaments. Remember, we don’t have games to get into shape for, so really no need to rush the conditioning element of your training.
4. TIMING, REFLEXES, AND HAND-EYE COORDINATION: If you are without balls in training, keep that focus on your fundamentals (as per  above). And if your team is anticipating adding balls at some point, you may want to do some shot blocking on land. The one thing you’ll be missing after 3-4 months of no shots is your timing and ability to track a ball. You can do many of our goalie fundamentals on land, with a parent or sibling shooting the ball. You can see an example of this in the video I recently posted with KAP7, Front Yard Goalie Fundamentals and Fun.
5. A FEW QUICK DRILLS: KAP7 recently started posting 2-minute videos I have made for them and I wanted to share two of the recent ones here. They’re great teaching tools and many include an underwater view to get a real understanding of what the goalie is doing in the water.
a. A new leg drill, good for this time as per (3) above: The Step Drill.
b. Lob walking. The goalies at our Summer Goalie Focus last week all vowed to turn lobs from a weakness to a strength…and we’ve got the whole summer to do it! Here is one component of that process, Lob Walking.
It has been great to be back on the deck working with so many goalies these past 2 weeks. I hope you find these reflections and drills useful and can get back to your goalkeeping focus in whatever capacity is safe and feasible for you.
Many see the goalie’s experience couched in adversity. And from adversity comes great opportunity for growth.