Tim Howard: Command the penalty box

Everton and the USA’s commanding goalkeeper tells FFT how to boss your 18-yard area with maximum authority. Streeettch!

Organise your defence
“Identify the dangermen and let your defenders know where they’re moving. As my players start to drop and are within shouting distance, I’m constantly giving instructions. I’ll talk to the left-back, the centre-half, the other centre-half, then I’ll have a peek over to the right-back, who I might tell to tuck in. Basically, I’m letting these guys know where the opposition runners are. We talk about other things too, but that’s the key.”

Spot the threat and give your orders

Stick to your guns
“The most difficult skill is catching crosses. Petr Cech is very good – he’s confident, long and rangy. It’s influenced by so many factors: conditions, the talent of the players in front of you, the leniency of referees – there’s a lot that goes into it. Of course, the old rule of thumb is that if you decide you are going for a cross, you commit and go all the way. It’s easier said than done, but that’s a rule I still stick to now.”

More after the break

Come for crosses with conviction

Get your feet right
“You have to be balanced with your steps and take-off – the most important thing is your explosion up to the ball. Your footwork up until taking off is crucial if you’re to make contact with the ball at the right moment. You need to be strong, dexterous and flexible. Of course, I do leg workouts and some light weights too. Over time you’ll develop your own rhythm within training, which will give you more confidence when the game comes.”

Use your plates to propel your leap

Leap like Howard
Soar above the traffic and make the ball your own, thanks to these exercises from Premier League performance coach Jamie Reynolds

Leap like Howard exercise

What you need
A resistance band, a football and an anchor point. Simple.

What to do
This exercise is perfect for goalkeepers because they can do it on their own – there’s no relying on your team-mate to deliver 20 inch-perfect crosses into the box. Tie the resistance band around an anchor point in the gym, or if you’re outside you can fasten it to a goalpost. Tie the other end around your waist. Bounce the football into the ground and leap up to catch it, exploding off one leg, bringing your other knee up for protection. Use your arms to propel your leap. Aim for three sets of 12 reps, with a minute’s rest in between sets.

How it helps
Working against resistance helps in two ways: the tension in the band will make it harder for you to get off the ground and then challenge you to land with control. Engage your core once airborne – this will help you stand firm when attackers are crashing into you. Stay strong upon landing to maintain your footing. Timing of the leap is also key – the more you practise, the better you will get.

Get a team-mate to first serve you the ball and then challenge you for it once it’s in the air.

To watch a video of this exercise click here.

Reynolds is the founder of Velocity Training Club. For more information visit velocitytrainingclub.co.uk and follow @jamie_velocity

For more football tips see:
Joe Hart's guide to all-round keeping excellence
Joe Hart: Positioning for direct free-kicks
Joe Hart: Positioning at corners
Victor Valdes' guide to collecting crosses
Victor Valdes' guide to handling
Boss the penalty box

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