Category Archives: Goalkeeper Coaching

Worcester Goalkeeper Academy Coach Profile: Magdalena Kalinowski 

Academy Coach


I started playing football in 2014. First with a Worcester womens team and then with the Worcester allstars disability football team. Whilst training with them every Sunday, I was tried in every position on the pitch, however it was only goalkeeping Was found to be best suited. 

At the start of 2015, as the opportunities at the time were limited, I decided I wanted to help others with my passion and took up coaching instead. So I volunteered as a young leader and now help at different football clubs and organisations: WDFC (now as adult coach), Olbury Park Tigers FC, Footie Bugs and the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy.

In May 2017, I attained the FA Level 1 award for outfield.

As I have been coaching for a while at the Academy , I decided to take the step up and now help lead my own training sessions. I also plan to take the Goalkeeper Level 1 Award in 2018, to further develop my skills as a coach.

Following rule changes for the Worcester All Stars team, as well as coaching, I now also play for the club in the top league. I may be the only girl in the team but enjoy playing for the team as their goalkeeper! What’s more I get to put my coaching into practice!

If you believe you can achieve – Jodie Whiteman, West Bromwich Albion Goalkeeper 

The Worcester Goalkeeper Academy have a history of developing Goalkeepers, often getting great feedback from parents, players and coaches. It’s our passion and to hear that we have helped makes us incredibly proud. 

So to find out that one of our Goalkeepers has gone on to become a World Cup winner made us ecstatic!

Here’s a short piece from one of our former keepers, Jodie Whiteman:

I started playing for Droitwich Spa Ravens Girls, not just in goal but in a mixture of positions. However during that season, I was picked to attend the Worcester PDC, where I started playing in goal permanently. It was there that I met head coach, Julia West, who suggested I also attend the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy.

After 18 months at the Academy, I have gone from grassroots to playing for an RTC, West Brom. In addition after successful county trials in the 2016/17 season, I become the goalkeeper for Worcestershire.

In July 2017, I went with my U15 Worcestershire Team to the biggest world tournament for youth football, The Gothia World Cupin Sweden… and our team won the trophy!

I have achieved so much already and this shows that with determination and hard work you can get where you want. However I wouldn’t be the player I am today without the help of the Academy.

All the coaches at the Academy are nice and helpful. I would especially like to thank Julia (West) and Simon (Deam) for everything for me and my football in the last 18 months.

If you believe you can achieve – Jodie Whiteman, West Bromwich Albion Goalkeeper 

Worcester Goalkeeper Academy Coach Profile: Leanne Gelder

Lead Academy Coach


I have played as a goalkeeper since the age of eight, enjoying all of the aspects which this position encompasses (mental strength, good communication and leadership, football intelligence, physical strength, agility and stamina and quick reflexes). After a knee injury in my late teens, I switched my allegiance to football coaching, earning the FA Outfield Level 1, FA Goalkeeping Level 1, and FA Youth Modules 1 & 2 by the age of 18 and coached children aged 5-14 at a local club.

After completing my psychology degree at University I spent a year coaching at the largest football academy in the South Island of New Zealand, working with similar aged children and internationally qualified coaches, ranging from South American, Australian, South African, Bulgarian and New Zealand. On my return home I decided to focus exclusively on goalkeeping coaching. From this, I completed placements at the Wolverhampton Wanderers Regional Talent Centre and the Queen’s Park Rangers’ Midlands Academy, before joining the Worcester Goalkeeping Academy on a permanent basis, enjoying the community feel and positive, progressive nature of this Academy and the enthusiastic, community and player development focused syllabus and focus.  

During this time I have earned my FA Outfield Level 2, FA Goalkeeping Level 2, UEFA B Goalkeeping Award and FA Talent Identification Awards. I am currently completing the FA Youth Award Level 3 and hope to complete the FA Psychology Level 5, Talent Identification Level 2 and UEFA B Outfield in the next coming years.


Producing quality players is no doubt important and, as coaches, we always look to see improvement on a continual level. However, this development into better players also translates to better individuals, both on and off the field. As such, I look for development across a variety of aspects; technical, physical, tactical, social and psychological. 

I believe that all players should have the opportunity to realise their dreams and aspirations, whether that is on or off the field, and I aim to provide a process for success, rather than the answers to success, as I believe that individuals learn more efficiently in this manner. As every child learns in different ways I aim to incorporate different methods of learning into the sessions, respecting individual differences and providing fun sessions, where players can develop and learn in fun, game realistic sessions and in a friendly, nurturing environment.

The difference in Keeper training – part 4

I recently got involved in a discussion with Twitter follower, @GKTed, with regards to this England Keepers training video on reaction saves:

This shows a great exercise with handling, going into low diving saves one after the other. However again, if we are to use this video to inspire us to coach keepers, we need to ensure the exercise is right for their age and ability. 

Unfortunately at times this video shows the keepers diving, landing with their elbows under their body, which is something at the Academy, we (and Bernie also used to) watch out for, to correct, as keepers landing like this could lead to broken ribs… Which I have seen happen.

As pointed out by @GKTed, these are keepers at the peak of their fitness and with their agility, such injuries would be less. Furthermore, in such circumstances of multiple reactions, you could end up with situations like this, however we must remember to coach the younger keepers always with the best technique in mind, so that they do protect themselves from injury. Better fitness and agility to cope with issues from faster reactions will come with time.

Goalkeeper Warm Up

As part of of session plans, we always ensure that every week at the Academy we have a proper warm up session. However, we find that dynamic stretching exercises seem to work better (particularly with the young keepers) than the static exercises. With this in mind I started looking for inspiration on how we could vary this warm up for different weeks. Then I found this video clip, which helped me design a warm up exercise, in line with the theme for the night, ‘types of catches – back to basics’.

Have a watch and see what exercises you could dream up.

The difference in Keeper training – part 3

Further to part 1 and part 2 in this series, I now want to add to this, by discussing the importance in coaching correctly to the different age groups, two of the most basic categories, catching and set position. 

My great friend, the late Bernatd Day was an inspiration to me, in the needs of and how to coach these different age groups. The following is based on his wise teachings.

Bernie would always push for young keepers to catch the ball. Ok yes in goalkeeping, a goalkeeper will use any part of the body to make a save, after all a save’s a save… However and further to part 2 of this series, we can teach other techniques later in the young keepers development. For now though at the young age, his teaching was correct, in that these young keepers need to be drilled in the requirements to always try and catch the ball. Keeping the ball safe, first and foremost.

His second teaching, one which the FA and also our Head of the Academy, Julia West encourage is getting the set position right. That is with hands out in front of the body and not as I saw one coach, drilling all ages of keepers, with their hands down by the side of the body… Hands down is like you see in adult football. Young keepers do like to copy the likes of Joe Hart, David de Gea, Thibault Courtois, etc. However, even though they want to mimic their idols, this is not the best way to start coaching young keepers. Bernie’s philosophy was to start with your hands up, as it was easier to drop you hands than raise them. Furthermore, with the hands raised, they are closer to catching a fast ball heading for the upper body and more importantly the face… Ok with your hands down, the face may the  block the ball and be considered ‘a save’… Hmm, but blood from a nose bleed or concussion is certainly not the best outcome from a save. So hands up is the safest option.

When they develop as Bernie says, their hands will drop. Besides an older keeper is more agile, with better reaction and therefore the hands could be lower, they would get them up there far quicker than a younger keeper. Still, that said in a faster match sometimes it can be just as good for an older keeper to go back to basics…

The difference in Keeper training – part 2

Every week at the Academy, we always look to have a game of some sort at the end of the session. These games are very goalkeeper specific and often link well with the technical exercises they have been training in before.

Because games are fun, Keepers don’t always realise that these games are actually building on and helping improve their skills. Plus, further to Part 1 of this series, games are also a good way of ensuring the young keepers get that engagement with the ball, without getting bored. So games must be constantly moving, which is why we always ensure the game doesn’t go flat, with Julia and/or myself often encouraging quick service, fast flowing movement and for all to get involved… After all some football matches they will play in, will not always be slow!

So we try to come up with ideas of games to use. Again we need to think about what we are trying to achieve and if it is appropriate to that age group.

I had previously seen Football Tennis in use. Indeed, Andy Elleray suggests in his book, Scientific Approaches to Goalkeeping in Football, that Football Tennis is a great way of building strength in your legs and helps the keeper use their feet. This is correct and also great in teams as an aid for team work. Andy’s book is a great read and there is so much you can learn from it and what we realised is that even though this exercise would be great for the areas Andy suggests, we felt that the older keepers may benefit more. For, the younger keepers we do need to encourage to improve the basics first, before progressing them to these exercises. 

So for the younger keepers, Football Tennis was put on hold, which was bad news for me as I had bought a tennis net! However, the good news is that this could be used for Volleyball… Although again, as Andy identifies using volleyball can promote strength in the hands/wrists, which again would help the older keeper… So I had a net, what could we do to help the younger keepers? The answers came from again looking at Andy’s book and from an exercise we did on high balls… We changed volleyball to a new Goalkeeper style:

  • Volley the ball from the serving line;
  • Opposing team catch the high ball with Ws catch;
  • Team distribute the ball to other members; and 
  • Then over arm distribute the ball back.

This is still work in progress, but it just shows you that there is a lot of information out there to help you coach, it is just up to you to interpret it and make it relevant to your age of keeper. It will also help us develop as a coach and ultimately help our keepers develop further.

I am still developing as a coach and books like Andy’s and those by other recognised Keepers and Goalkeeping Coaches, will inspire me further. Helping me also develop my coaching skills across all ages of keeper. Giving them the coaching they require to be better keepers. Hopefully this blog will inspire you too. 😉

2015 Star Goalkeeper – Matthew Hatton

Further to the previous post on 2015 Most Improved Goalkeeper, we also give an award for Star Goalkeeper. This award recognises the keeper at the Academy for:

  • Attendance
  • Attitude to coaching
  • Commitment and Application of what they have learnt
  • All round ability – including in FA development areas: Technical, Physical, Psychological and Social

One keeper in particular has really impressed the coaches, with their whole attitude to Goalkeeping, someone who throws themselves into any training we give them, always with a smile. That keeper is Matthew.

Even on Friday when playing a load of fun and games (as it was end of the term/season), Matthew still put into practice all he had been taught over the time he has been here. Going for every save, even when the balls were whipped in and speed… Some keepers, even seen at the highest level, just seem to stand there and watch, almost seeming to say “I’ll never get that”… Not Matthew, he still went for them, often getting a finger tip to the ball and sometimes just enough to send it away from goal or on to the post. With such a great attitude and commitment, you can see why he was our unanimous choice for this seasons award, for Star Goalkeeper. 

Congratulations Matthew. Well deserved!


2015 Most Improved Goalkeeper – Luke Deakin

At the end of Friday night’s training we proudly presented all our keepers with a medal, as a thank you for attending the Academy and also as to them all in recognition of how much they have improved. One of these we felt deserved the year’s award for most improved…

Luke has been with us for a long time now and in that time we have seen him develop his Goalkeeping skills. He is a perfectionist and he has strived this season and previous seasons to improve his game.

Luke, like other keepers his age has had his knocks to his confidence, especially so when conceding in a match. However, I think he is starting to now understand, that it is a team game and keeping a clean sheet is not always down to him, it is also down to the team. Besides, with regards to the feedback from his matches, we understand that he is putting into practice what he has learnt, with some great plaudits for what he is doing… That is all we ask of our keepers; to put in the performance and not worry about the score. As for us, it is the performance that matters more at his age.  For that reason and the fact that all the coaches have seen how much he has developed and improved over the years, is why he was the unanimous choice for this award.

Congratulations Luke Deakin. Well deserved! 

Congratulation to Luke, our Most Improved Goalkeeper 2015 – photo copyright 2015 goalkeepingitreal

The difference in Keeper training – part 1

I chatted last night over a pint, with one of my fellow coaches about the different styles of coaching that a Goalkeeper needs and that I feel I have now found my niche in coaching.

I have been helping as a coach at the Academy now for nearly 4 years now. When I started there I was thrown immediately in at the deep end and given a group of the keepers to coach. 

This first session went well, as it was based on the general coaching understanding I had gained from the FA. However after while I had run out of ideas, and started repeating these basic drills and when you have to plan for 1.5 hours, I realised I needed more in my toolkit and more variety to be able to coach these keepers. That said sometimes repetition can be good and drilling in techniques can really help. Just look at some of the best keepers in the world, they will practice, practice, practice… There is not always such a thing as a naturally gifted footballer, even they need to practice and hone their skills in a structured fashion.

The best keepers though need to start somewhere and as juniors, they may not have appreciated too much repetition, as of course the younger kids can get bored of this.

My skills have improved over time, but not to the extent of our Head Coach, Julia, but then they would never be at her level, as she has many years of experience and teachings, from her days playing at the highest levels and through her role as a university lecturer. Her understanding of coaching, means she is comfortable coaching the youngest to the oldest keeper, with appropriate drills for each age, that ensure the student keeper is fully engaged.

We are a good team at the Academy, with myself and Julia at the helm. For even though I realise, that I can feel a little out of my depth coaching the adult keepers, Julia is always there to help. Besides I now know my niche area… I love coaching the basics and working with (and with my daughter now also helping) the younger keepers. So that is what I do, with Julia looking after the older keepers. It works perfectly…

So after nearly four years, with more coaching tools in my bag and working regularly with these young keepers, I have realised that there is a need to coach them differently, more so that keeps them engaged and not bored. As my other coach pointed out with the coaching he does with his football team, they need to have the ball with them more… I.e less talking, more doing. 

All our coaches who have worked with the young keepers, all started the same way, feeling they needed to get their coaching points across by stopping the session and talking the keepers through them. However where this may be good for the older keepers, the coaches soon realise that a few short pointed statements or a quick demonstration, giving them more time to do what they love (goalkeeping) works far better.
This is not to say that you cannot use short pointed information for the older keepers, as this is also needed at times, however the older the keeper the more they would listen to the coaching information, as often they need to understand the specifics to help take their game even further… 

Oh yes and one final thing we make the coaching fun, with a few games mixed in. Games that are keeper focussed but fun and what’s more less talking, more doing!

From the recent feedback from parents and keepers of what we are doing and from what they see in improvements on the pitch, I do feel that we are getting things right here at the Academy. 

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