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Goalkeeper training and Marco Ballotta's story: the Benjamin Button of goalkeepers

Although it does not seem to be a purely active role, a goalkeeper needs considerable muscular work for training.  Above all, the strength of the lower limbs. Moreover, even if there are few interventions in which they are involved, in reality, they require high muscle tensions. Therefore, strength training and the improvement of dedicated parameters is essential for the effectiveness and brilliance of the interventions that goalkeepers are known for.  Among the fundamental aspects of goalkeeper training is the improvement of the athletic condition.
A trained goalkeeper intervenes with agility even at that height
For the execution of the athletic movements typical of the role, these should be trained at best during the week and then be put into practice in the context of the match. So, first of all, one of the jobs of the goalkeeper’s trainer is to obtain relevant information on the physical characteristics of the athlete to better plan their work and not to make mistakes. Planning the training of a goalkeeper basically means understanding the movements they make during the match and the muscle volume required.
The public rejoices over the parade of a goalkeeper

5 characteristics to train to become a football goalkeeper

  • The Sprint:  The goalkeeper, especially during the exits, is forced to rush on the ball out of the goal to prevent the opponent from scoring. According to recent studies, most of the sprints in the game are between 0 and 15 meters, so the goalkeeper is practically always between the poles or within the penalty area. Only in 6.6% of cases, he intervenes outside the area, often in despair.
  • Force is one of the indispensable skills for the goalkeeper's performance. The goalkeeper expresses strength during the game mainly in monopodalic (foot drives out a foot, sprint, step push, step off, step to recover), as well as in bipodalic position, but always with a limb that dominates the thrusts.  The goalkeeper needs general muscle strengthening, because the muscles of the lower limbs and the whole body, must be able to develop strength, especially in explosive form.
  • Explosive force, according to experts, indicates the ability of the neuromuscular system to overcome resistance at a high rate of contraction. It is mainly the power or explosive force of the muscles of the lower limbs the quadriceps and the sural triceps, which allows the centre of gravity of the body to be raised as much as possible from the ground. The musculature, in the detachment, is engaged in a double and different work: in the phase of amortization, during which it is stretched, and in that dynamic of push movement, during which there is the real contraction of the musculature and, therefore, the extension of the limb.
  • Another fundamental aspect for the training of a goalkeeper is the improvement of agility because even if the role of the goalkeeper is static, it still requires a great deal of energy. It's definitely a very important trait. Among the recommended exercises are changes of direction using different types of materials such as cones, bows and tennis balls.
Train arm and neck muscles with Technogym tools
  • Last but not least, it will be essential to work on the athletic condition of the athlete. A possible warm-up could be a gentle pace run, for about 15 minutes and then increase the speed at a high pace for another five minutes. Other muscles that stress when the goalkeepers dive are the abdominals, so it is appropriate to proceed to three sets of fifteen contractions each for both high and low abdominals.
Working in plyometry is essential in the current training of the goalkeeper

The long history of Marco Ballotta

di Gabriele Ferraresi / LUZ

It's a figurine that many people remember well: Marco Balotta, the goalkeeper of the unforgettable Parma of the early '90s was a boy with little hair. It wasn't a time when you shaved yourself to zero, so Marco Ballotta's effect among his teammates was that of a gentleman who was certainly athletic, but who took to the field with children who could have been his children. And him? He was only 27 years old.
Parma in the 90s was one of the strongest Italian teams of the decade.

The professional and athletic history of Ballotta, however, today gives us a parable worthy of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Yes, because ours, born in Casalecchio di Reno, born in 1964, has almost rejuvenated over the years: and is still the record man of longevity in Serie A. The last appearance on the pitch? Day 11 May 2008: he was 44 years old and 38 days old.
Marco Ballotta in action in Lazio during the last years of his career
The sporting story of this "eternal" goalkeeper, however, begins much earlier: and without going back to his early twenties in Bologna, there is already another record. The championship played with Modena in Serie C in the 1989-90 season. Even today, no one has suffered fewer goals in a professional season: only 9 between the round trip.
Faustino Asprilla and Gianfranco Zola celebrate a cup in the golden age of Parma
But the great thing was yet to come: the '90s Parma, coached by Nevio Scala, is a team that entertains and wins in Italy and Europe. Ballotta was there: between 1991 and 1994 he alternated between the posts with the Brazilian Taffarel, accumulating a total of 33 appearances.
With that Parma, the Parma of Zola, Benarrivo, and Apolloni won three trophies: the Coppa Italia, the Coppa Delle Coppe and the UEFA Super Cup. In 1994, Marco Ballotta is 30 years old; he still has 14 more ahead of him as a professional.
First Brescia for a year, then Reggiana for a couple - where he finds Carlo Ancelotti - then Lazio, where in 3 year Ballotta plays little, winning however two Italian Cups, a Cup of Cups and also the legendary Scudetto of 2000. Again: one year as the second goalkeeper at Inter, three years as the first goalkeeper at Modena, and a close round, then his 40 years arrive.

Tired? He doesn’t even mention it.

Forty-year-old Ballotta went to Treviso, where he played as a starter and took the team to Serie A. Unable to stand still, he returned to Lazio in 2005. He started out as a third goalkeeper and slowly climbed up the slope until he returned to his starting position. The years fly by. It's already 2008, the candles on the cake are 44. Time for him to stop? No way.
Because that's when Ballotta's second youth began: after life as a goalkeeper he got the idea of playing as a striker. And he does it: of course, not at the highest levels, he plays in smaller teams, among amateurs, in small provincial teams - Calcara Samoggia - but to see the statistics today: 37 appearances, 24 goals. Goals scored, not conceded. He alternates between attack and goal as needed until 2015, passes from Calcara Samoggia to San Cesario, returns to Calcara, ends an incredible career at Castelvetro: Playing now at 50 years old.

And today? Today Marco Ballotta is 55 years old.

Maybe Marco Ballotta really hung his goalkeeper gloves and shoes to the proverbial nail, so it seems and is responsible for the technical area of Varese. In love with football, we can’t rule out that Ballotta is plotting the umpteenth return to the field.

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