T Nation

College to Professional Soccer


After 4 years of college soccer (goalkeeper) I am considering moving abroad in the summer to try my luck professionally. Between now and then I need to do whatever I can to make the jump from college to pro. as easy as possible.

I will be working technically with my coach, but I think the biggest jump will be athletically. I am a solid college level athlete, but to get to the next level I'll need to be quicker, stronger, more powerful, more agile, etc.

My current stats:

Bench: 200?
Squat: around 250
Clean and jerk: around 200
Vertical: 27" when tested in the spring

Right now in the weightroom (in season) we don't do any squats or deadlifts, but a lot of cleans and cleans and jerks. Obviously the most bang for the buck for me will come in the form of RELATIVE strength gains. Would rather not gain any weight if possible, unless it's completely functional. Here's what I'm thinking.

  1. Dos Remedios's Power Training

I like the look of it, and the 4x weekly training. However, wouldn't olympic lifting 4x weekly be too much? I also like how he covers complex training (not complexes, but complex training with plyos mixed in w/ strength training) and makes it an option.

  1. Designer Athletes

Looks alright, but would like to add olympic lifts. Maybe too high volume/hypertrophy oriented for me.

  1. WS4SB III

Looks very good, but would like to incorporate some complex training. Have also read some reviews saying that it isn't the best thing for a beginner. Would I be considered a beginner? I've been lifting for a couple of years but my relative strength isn't great.

  1. 5x5 or Rippetoes

More frequency and some may say better for me, but no built in plyos or athletic focus. (or oly lifts)

Maybe the answer would be a combination of these periodized in a certain way?



I'd say train Ws4sb.

Have 1 day for max effort upper, 1 day max effort lower, and the other day rep upper, and use dynamic jumps as a warm-up.

And the rest of the time concentrate on playing football, I'm English, we eat,sleep and breathe football, and I don't know any footballers that know anything about weight training.

But what they do know is the game inside out, something that can't be taught, so you're playing catch up to these guys if you're not brought up in an environment like this.


I'm actually English also, so grew up in that environment. I think the lack of knowledge surrounding weightlifting in football in the UK is sad, especially for such a power oriented position as GK. Maybe that is the reason the US consistently produces better GKs?


I wouldn't consider it just the British side of the sport that lacks knowledge in the weight training department. I believe all of soccer is lacking. It isn't only goalkeeping that the problem revolves around either, but even midfield players tend to train too much in the aerobic department.

I can't tell you how many kids I've worked with that came from other programs that typically advocate a jog 90% of the time sprint 10%. The kids are so weak, and incapable of producing the necessary speed to play at a competitive level.

Now as for you question. The speed of play is the biggest difference. You, having played college soccer will have already, experienced the jump, from high school to college. You should've noted a drastic change in the speed of play. College to Professional is much the same. (Reaction training)

I've used WSFSB and experienced fantastic gains. I also tried Olympic lifting only for a while and saw marginal improvement in comparison to Defranco's method and other lifting which incorporates the standard powerlifting exercises.

How many weeks until you hope to play/ train with the pros? Depending on that answer I will have recommendations for you.


Well it really depends on what country I decide to go to. If we assume the UK, then pre season training will start in july, so I have 30+ weeks-- plenty of time. Having just finished our season, however, I would like to take this time to really work on strength/power gain as I won't be doing any actual soccer training for at least 4-6 weeks.



Well I was set on 5x5 to get my squat up to rep 300lb or so in a couple of months (based on my 250-260 max). But then I tested my maxes...

Vertical: 23.3 (down from 27 in the spring)
Squat: 220 (down from 230x3x5)
Clean: 198
OH press: 125

Jesus! During the season all we really do is fitness work, no heavy lifting (except cleans), or much explosive stuff. You can see the results! Anyway, I need to get my numbers up (especially power/vertical), and I think the best way to do so is to get stronger.

Based on this, what program would you all recommend? WS4SB2 or 3? 5x5 intermediate? Rippetoes Starting Strength? Dos Remedios's power training? 5/3/1?



I've played football for many years at semi-pro and now amateur level. With those lifts I think the simpler your program is the better. Something like Westside as recommended earlier or Rippetoe.

Don't be afraid to gain a little weight (maybe 1 or 2 kg, then go on a carb deload for a week to lower your BF, then repeat. IMO this is easier than a strict maintenance diet)


I'll offer a few tips, and reasons for why I support the WS4SB program and why I don't.

First we need to consider the physical aspects of the position in relation to other positions. Goalkeepers are clearly an explosive type athlete, and thus you won't need much aerobic training. (duh) However, you need to consider anerobic endurance as a base for developing speed and agility. I know that at first this seem counter intuitive to your goals, but through personal experience with myself and many other goalkeepers that I train, there seems to be a direct correlation between anerobic base and developing speed later down the road. This is where I believe the WS4SB program falls short for our position. You need to periodize your running SPEED as well. Considering that you have approximatley six months to develop your agility in the position I would dedicate a full month, starting now, to anerobic endurance.

After that month I would use a general preparation phase of developing sprint speed, and jump speed. Spend three months using this method. Break it down into two macrocycles; I'd recommend an early phase of maximal velocity training.(60 yrd, 80 yrd, and 100 yrd dashes) The second phase I would begin to get more position oriented. SO we're looking at the last 1.5 months of the general prep phase. Jumping and bounding exercises, acceleration training, etc... Use Hills and Bands here. Use hills running up AND down. Not in the same workout though. Use bands to create a speed detriment and as a method to experience SUPERmaximal speed. This is a nice way to teach your body to run faster than it's accustomed to. Your nervous system will adjust to the speed demands fairly quickly here.

Up to this point you've used four months of your training cycle. You have two left to follow a specific prep phase, which is plenty. Two months prior to your tryouts work on training that relates goalkeeper stances to acceleration and jumping. Do not use bands or hills in this phase. Your primary focus will be acceleration through the goalkeeping range of motion. Which is one of the shortest in sports, behind things like pitching and batting.

Well, it appears that my class is going to be let out early.(i'm in ethics right now) so I'm going to cut this short. I'll offer more advice for the weight room in a bit.


3 american keepers that come to mind:

Tim Howard = average
Brad Friedel= average
Kasey keller- very average

I wouldn't miake a statement like that "Maybe that is the reason the US consistently produces better GKs."



There are currently 2 American GKs ranked in the top 10 GKs in the premiership (3 if you count Myhill who was born in the US), and 1 English keeper. Considering the Premier League is obviously in England, I don't believe you can argue that the US doesn't consistently produce better GKs.


Awesome stuff man, I appreciate the help. Keep it coming!


I'm not gonna read into that, seen as though if you check the defenders top 10. Gary cahill and steinsson are in it.Even the most hardcore bolton fans will admit they're pretty useless.

Oh ye, as well as robbie keane been in the top 10 forwards! haha

His record and performances this season are disgraceful.

Never mind ay..


Just curious why you are looking internationally instead of looking to the MLS? Looking to travel, or something else? I must admit, I don't follow soccer(or any team sports, really).



If I were to go to some random country then yes it would be to travel. I'm probably going to go to England, though, as it makes the most sense for soccer. Why there instead of here? I have a UK passport, first of all, so I can play over there no problems-- it's very hard for foreigners to get a work permit. I also just feel like there's more opportunity to get seen over there.


There's more clubs- opportunities.

But look at how many young english kids have worked their balls off their whole lives for a chance, and haven't made it.

It's not easy.


I'm under no impression that it's easy, and I don't expect to make my living in the game, but I would like to give it a go before I do something more "sensible."


I'll briefly touch up on a few recommendations for periodizing your strength.

One- If you haven't already done it, you need to consider a transition phase. Since you are a college athlete over here, I'm assuming that your outdoor season ended about 2-3 weeks ago, depending on how well your did in playoffs. You need about 4 weeks of transition here. If you haven't started already then you need to get moving. By transition I mean that you must use the next few weeks to compensate for a long season. Don't abstain from training, but only go to the gym 2 times a week, and use a few other days to play some other sport. I'm not going to make cross-training recommendations here, as I see the most important aspect being, you, enjoying yourself. Don't underestimate the importance of this phase, as it will affect you greatly over the next 6 months.

Two- Anatomical adaptation phase. Use 3 - 4 weeks to prepare the muscles, ligaments, tendons, nervous system, etc... You may wish to use a Upper/ Lower body split for this phase. It is what I've seen the most success with. For this phase you're not going to go over 70% of a one rep max in any exercise. And I would go as low as 40% and only rarely go up to 70%, for any exercise. Use a set x rep scheme of around 2-4 x 8-12. Don't go crazy here just yet, that's coming down the road very soon. Consider a medium rate of performance. Look at this as a sort of primer for the next three months.

Three- Maximum strength development. First considering that as a goalkeeper you're a very power dominate athlete. Power being maximum strength x speed = power. In other words to reach your highest potential power, you'll need to really capitalize on this 3 months of training to develop max strength. I feel that posterior chain should be your biggest point of concern. Obviously I'm not saying to forget the anterior part of the body, that would be ridiculous. But exercises such as Deadlifts, RDLs, Lunges, Cleans, Snatches, Bulgarian Split Squats, Good Mornings, Glute Ham raises, need to be the primary focus. (considering that you don't have any deficiencies) Your set x rep scheme will resemble this: 10-5 x 5-3. Maintain this period for 3 months.

Four- Applying all that strength and speed development into power. This is going to be another 1-2 months depending on when tryouts are. Here you're going to do what is mostly called dynamic effort work. You're going to use this gym time to really train your nervous system to fire at an efficient rate. Mainly you're teaching your body to fire large motor neurons(fast twitch muscle fiber connectors) to fire at an extremely fast rate. You're going to start using things like jump squats, dynamic upper body movements, and Olympic variations, more often during this phase. That is not to say that you won't need to maintain the strength you developed over that last three months, but it is not the primary focus anymore. Training your nervous system to be as quick as possible is. I recommend you look for dynamic effort information from the guys at elitefts, and over at defranco's site.

If you compare the speed plan which I outlined earlier, and the strength development plan here, you'll notice that they coincide. That's for a reason. You should consider using the plans simultaneously.


I'd train for strength 2-3 times a week.

Firstly mark yourself out of 10 on every attribute of goalkeeping.

Kicking,shot-stopping etc..

And when you not what your weakest links are go the field and work on them.