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She Is Ready for the “Power Step”

She Is Ready for the “Power Step”

Question from Reader: My daughter is the goal keeper for a U-12 team. She is very enthusiastic and willing to learn, but my issue is knowledgeable instruction. For most of Megan’s keeper career she has not had formal training. I have learned from online sources and from clinics and camps she has attended but my knowledge is limited. One of the other coaches pitched in for some informal training this year, but it was also limited.

Megan has progressed very well but I have noticed that she is ready to improve on her “power step”. She dives well to her sides and can leap up fairly well, but I know she can do better. I just don’t know specifically how to teach her to do this. Do you have any suggestions? Resources?

This parent brings up two very important areas of improvement for young goalkeepers. One area is the game intelligence that comes both from being challenged in matches as well as listening to input from trainers. Another area for improvement is in the physical dimension- speed, strength, flexibility, body composition and explosiveness.

Specific to power step and explosiveness, a few years back, there was a clinic at the CYSA-North annual meeting about speed training and plyometrics (building explosive strength with jumping). Demonstrating were several girls aged 15-17 from 49er United soccer club as well as the help of four wooden plyometric boxes 15” tall.

A plyometric box should not be more than 1” tall for each year of age and between 14 -18 inches. Younger players should not train from depth jumps, their plyometrics should be hops and jumps on the ground only. The box should have a rough or unfinished top so sneakers do not slip on them. Four boxes is a good number so serial jumps are possible.

Dr. Donald Chu is a Californian and probably the greatest authority on plyometric training. His books are available on his website and on bookseller sites. His website posts good articles that address training young athletes. Highly recommended are his books Jumping into Plyometrics and Plyo-play for Kids.

On the topic of general goalkeeping books, there are a few good ones from the bookseller websites. The first recommendation is a CYSA Goalkeeper Coach course so her coach would have Fundamental Soccer Goalkeeping (Paperback) by Karl Dewazien. Two books for older keepers are Goalkeeper Soccer Training Manual (Paperback) by Tony Dicicco, the former World Champion U.S. Women’s Soccer Team coach, and The Soccer Goalkeeping Handbook (Paperback) by Alex Welsh.

A great website for soccer books, videos and DVD’s is and there are a few goalkeeper specific offerings. Franz Hoek trained Manchester United and Dutch national team captain goalkeeper Edwin van der Saar. Franz Hoek made a series of three keeper training videos (in Dutch) that are great for coaches. In them are an extensive number of exercises demonstrated by young keepers. But, the top video recommendation is the SoccerPlus series of tapes by Tony Dicicco. They may be out of production, but are well worth hunting down.

Probably the best way to become a better goalkeeper is to go to a specific soccer goalkeeper camp in the summer. There, young players learn from top level keepers how they can challenge themselves. SoccerPlus Goalkeeper Schools and Star Goalkeeper Academy both have southern California sites. They have the side benefit of being recruiting plusses to college coaches who know the rigor of the two camps.

As for the power step, a keeper plants the foot in the direction of the save (toes point toward the target), shifts weight to that foot, and then explodes up from that leg toward the ball. The other leg drives knee-up as in a basketball layup. The arms drive upward to the back of the ball for a side contour save. Coaching the landing is the critical technique as the keeper arcs sideways to land with the upper hand on top of the ball and lower hand behind the ball (the ground is the third hand), elbows bend so the ball is in front of the face and the arc transfers force progressively on landing from the outside of the upper body down the side to the back of the hip and gluteals. (With a low dive, the weight transfer is reversed from gluteals to outside of shoulder to ball.)

Camps teach the power step from kneeling to squatting to standing; then from over “low pony”. Ponies are other keepers hugging their knees while on the ground as obstacles- one, two, maybe three.

Don’t try this at home.

Diane Boettcher

Diane Boettcher is a Soccer Bon Vivant, Former Physical Educator in Elementary Grades, High School, College, and University. She is an Olympic Development Program coach with coaching licenses from the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), Holland (KNVB), and the English (FA).