#Good practice

John Achterberg:
Explaining Liverpool FC’s goalkeeper training

FIFA, 19 Oct 2023


In this interview, Liverpool FC first team goalkeeper coach, John Achterberg, explains the training methods used at the club when preparing a team of goalkeepers for a three-game week schedule against a one-game week schedule.

Having spent over a decade at various levels within Liverpool FC’s structure, and prior to that making hundreds of appearances as a goalkeeper with Tranmere Rovers, NAC Breda and FC Eindhoven, Achterberg has developed an incredibly successful methodology that aligns with Liverpool’s footballing model. In this series of videos, he explains how Liverpool FC’s goalkeeping methods work and how he tailors exercises to get the very best out of the club’s talented goalkeepers.

Achterberg’s core areas of focus as a goalkeeper coach include:

  • Preparing specific tactical goalkeeper exercises according to the opposition Liverpool will be facing.

  • Developing exercises that work on the goalkeeper’s speed, reactions and movement.

  • Managing the workload of every goalkeeper and preparing specialised programmes, dependent on the players role within the matchday squad

Watch Interview

Part 1: Training structures and game preparation
Part 2: Mental aspects and involving the younger goalkeepers

Training structures

Training based on opposition
Achterberg describes how he prepares the goalkeeper’s exercises based on the opposition Liverpool will be up against. Because Liverpool’s schedule is determined on a game-to-game basis, Achterberg’s goalkeeping method is to invent and adapt exercises based on the opposition and outcomes rather than working with a bank of predetermined exercises. At Liverpool, the opposition analysis is critical to helping Achterberg and the goalkeeper coaches develop these exercises.

One game week training programme 
Achterberg goes into detail about how a one-game week training schedule works and how it is arranged. Starting with the recovery day and ending with the goalkeeping coaches’ roles on match day. He describes what each goalkeeper will be working on during the week and how they integrate their goalkeeper sessions into the first-team training sessions.

Three game week training programme
Because Liverpool FC regularly compete in European competition, they have to prepare for a three-game week schedule. Achterberg, describes its premise and how it differs from a one-game week schedule. He also goes into detail about how the goalkeeper coaches manage the number 1 goalkeeper’s workload whilst ensuring the other goalkeepers are prepared.

One-game week training

Achterberg’s first approach is based on Liverpool FC not having a midweek game, which gives him and the coaches more time to work with all goalkeepers. The first day of the week is usually a recovery day, which is followed by a ‘Moving Day’ and each day gradually working toward the tactical aspects in preparation for the next opposition.

Training week overview

  • Matchday -4: Speed & moving day

  • Matchday -3: Power, speed & reactions

  • Matchday -2: Game preparation & reactions

  • Matchday -1: Feel-good sessions

Key coaching points

  • Spend the early stages of the training sessions working on the goalkeeper’s footwork and movement.

  • Focus on the goalkeeper’s speed, reactions and power by preparing exercises that feature shots from multiple angles, 1v1s and low crosses.

  • Integrate tactical aspects as the week goes on so that the goalkeeper can prepare for specific outcomes the opposition they are about to face generally creates.

  • Allow goalkeepers to get into a good frame of mind the day before the game by applying a ‘feel-good’ session in which goalkeepers can make good saves.

  • Tailor each goalkeeper’s programme of exercises based on their ranking order.

Three-game week training

Due to regularly competing in Europe, Liverpool FC’s schedule can become hectic, which means that Achterberg needs to approach three-game weeks differently. Less recovery time and less time on the training pitch signifies that goalkeepers will focus more on tactical aspects and maintaining levels as opposed to exercises with intensity.

Training week overview

  • Matchday -3: Recovery day - massage, gym and stretch

  • Matchday -2: Game preparation & reactions

  • Matchday -1: Feel-good sessions, warm-up and reactions

Key coaching points

  • ‘Game model’ becomes much more prevalent and should be worked into most exercises throughout the week.

  • It is important that the goalkeeper’s workload is managed so that they are not overworked but at the same time don’t drop intensity levels too much.

  • Continue placing emphasis on speed, reaction and power exercises so that the goalkeepers maintain top physical condition and reflexes.

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