Category Archives: Technical Development

Taking Goalkeeper coaching to the next level: Using the Batak Pro at the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy to improve reactions

At the Academy we always had a Plan B if we we were caught out by the weather. A plan that included work indoors on balance and reactions. To date we have not been too unlucky with the weather and as such Julia’s Plan B wasn’t used. However, after Julia observed the improvements of one of our keepers by using the Batak wall in the lab at the University, part of Plan B was rolled out last night.

We try to Instil better technique in our keepers, but in a fun environment and the Batak is one of those tools that even though a fun exercise actually helps promote better reactions and vision.

If you are unaware of what the Batak is, check out this link to see Pepe Reina attempt it:

One of our keepers got a score of 77 in 60 seconds, putting Pepe Reina to shame. By the way, Pepe if you read this, you are welcome to come to the Academy and take on Will ūüėČ

After this session we went back out on the Astro and did some shot stopping… Had they improved and did they react better? Most definitely!

It’s no surprise then that we are now planning to use the Batak more often!

Well done keepers ūüėČ

Goalkeepers are you looking to improve your technique with Goalkeeper specific training? Come along and join us at the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy 7:00pm Friday nights on the Worcester University 3G AstroTurf.

Further information and contact details at:

Coaching: Distribution – Under Arm Roll

Part 4 – Under-Arm Roll Out

So to the final part of our journey on Distribution after previously looking at kicking (Dead ball kicking and Kicking from hands and throwing (Over Arm Throw, we now take a look at the Under-Arm Roll Out.

Like all of the distribution methods practice can make perfect and even though this is seen as the easiest of all 4 distribution methods it can still be rushed and guidance may be needed to our younger student Goalkeepers or even to just give a reminder of the basics to those more experienced Goalkeepers to hone their technique.

So as before, lets look at what is the right technique:

Figure 1

Again the basic technique is as easy as 1-2-3, in one smooth movement, like rolling a bowling ball…

The steps then are as follows:

  • Look at your target;
  • Hold the ball in your throwing hand, with the opposite foot forward (i.e. If you throwing hand is your right hand, place your left foot forward) as seen in Figure 1 – Step 1;
  • Moving the ball forward, start crouching down, with opposite foot still forward, and the rear leg now bending so that the knee eventually touches the floor;
  • Still moving the ball forward, with the throwing arm going past the now bent rear leg (almost brushing it) as per Figure 1 – Step 2;
  • Watching the ball now;
  • Rolling through along the ground and releasing, with the throwing arm carrying through in motion after release of the ball as per Figure 1 – Step 3;
  • After release of the ball look to your target; and
  • If required to promote follow through of the arm, get them to point at the target they have just rolled to afterwards.

To progress things there are some useful exercises that can be used:

  • Put balls (of different sizes) mounted on cones out at appropriate distances, and encourage them to knock these balls off the cones by rolling out; or
  • Again for that game scenario (and to encourage accuracy) get them to roll out to a target area – although unlike kicking and throwing, the distances this time are not as far… – Set out a box with marker cones on different parts of the field at appropriate distances. Having a coach/keeper/player in that box to collect the ball with hands/feet. If using another keeper they could work together rolling the ball to each other in boxes/target areas whilst you as a coach look on/or assist; and
  • Mix it up a bit, so they roll left and right… creating some movement from the Goalkeeper, maybe have more than one option for them on different parts of the field. Getting them to look for who to roll to before they roll out the ball or even get some communication going between Goalkeeper and outfield

Also, it is not set in stone to just practice one distribution technique in an exercise, so to really mix things up, you could set out targets at varying distances, or get target coach/keeper/player to move about encouraging different techniques. Meaning that they may need to Kicking from hands, Over Arm Throw, Under-Arm Roll Out, or even off the floor Dead ball kicking style… Which now starts to encourage the decision-making process (Psychological and Technical)…

This series was just 4 of the distribution techniques Goalkeepers can use. There are others, however these are the main ones that a young student Goalkeeper should learn. They will all need practice to improve on and again I stress for patience, as practice can eventually make perfect… The top Goalkeepers seen at Euro 2012 this month have all had to perfect their distribution techniques, and for them too, this did not happen overnight. It took years of practice. So no pressure, take your time and above all have fun doing it! ūüėČ

Final call to vote in the Goalkeeper Development Poll

The Goalkeeper Development Poll is still open.

After a number of votes already cast Psychology and Technique are the early leaders… Is this what you think is important in developing goalkeepers? What about their Social and Physical Development too? Or if you are stuck on which you think is more important and that it is all 4, then how much time must we as coaches focus on each?

Let me know what you think and if you wish to write an article for the blog on any of these aspects and how you coach for them, please add a comment and your email address.

Thank you

Si ūüėČ

Goalkeeper Development Poll

A number of blog posts on this blog and the coaching techniques used at the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy, focus on Goalkeeper Development, however even though all four of the ‘FA four corner model’ development types are coached on, I have never really asked the question to my followers of what they think. All types are important in their own way, but there must be one that my followers think is more prominent, the one that perhaps us coaches should focus more on…. So what do you think, time for a poll:

Of which of the following Goalkeeper Development types do you think is the most important in developing Goalkeepers?

If possible please can you leave your comments as to why.

If you need further information on each of these types please refer to previous posts:

Thank you

Si ūüėČ

The building blocks to better Goalkeeping: Exercises to help with Low Diving Saves and Recovery Saves

The best thing about Social Media, is that it can help you get in contact with others with a similar ethos. That being one of providing information to Goalkeepers, that can help and inspire. I have recently been in discussions with @Greeney1987, who also has a blog for Goalkeepers, A site well worth a look.

I am also interested in learning from and observing other coaches in action, so I was delighted, when he recently did a blog post for me to give me some extra ideas when I do my exercise on High-Diving Saves:

I have offered to do a blog piece in return of which I was asked to do something on Recovery Saves

Recovery Saves are not necessarily something I work on with my Goalkeeper Students as a solo topic on a nights training. It is usually something that is built up to¬†after other diving exercises, to really push them… For example last friday, I worked with my Goalkeepers on the Low-Diving Save, ensuring that I had worked on tightening up their technique, improving the basics first and then gradually built up to an exercise that had either the pressure of:

  • An attacker ready to pounce on the loose ball, encouraging the Goalkeeper to get back and set to make a second (recovery save); or
  • A second server, serving a ball in to the Goalkeeper¬†after they had just made the save from the first server.

So as a session plan I would also want to ensure the basics and dependant on the age and ability, I may either do this by starting with observing the Goalkeeper or just building up on the basics first to start with certain key exercises that then build into an observed exercise… This then is up to the coach to gauge which is best for the type of student they have… For this blog piece we will start at the basics and work up…

“Without the basic building blocks, would the end product be the same?”

The basic technique of a Low-Diving Save is as follows:

  1. Starting Position – Should be off their line and set for the save;
  2. Agility –¬†Taking short steps and having¬†quick footwork to get across goal or out of goal;
  3. Handling РTaking a step forward, pushing off this step (Steps 1, figure 1) with hands leading (Steps 2 in figure 2) to make the save;
  4. Vision – Watching that ball, following with hands;
  5. Positioning – Placement in front of the goal, narrowing the angle.

figure 1

So we now need to plan for this, which could be done by such exercise like:

  • Using SAQ (Speed-Agility-Quickness) equipment, such as: a ‘Speed Ladder’, to encourage short, quick footwork, running forward and going sideways; or set cones in a zig zag getting the student Goalkeepers to take short sidesteps round them…
  • Putting the Goalkeeper on their knees and holding the ball out to the left or right of them to encourage diving forwards with correct handling…
  • Still holding the ball to the left or right, with Goalkeeper now on their feet, encourage¬†them to take the step out towards the ball with hands leading…
  • Etc…

There are many exercises that can be done that can encourage correct technique, these are just a few. However once technique has tightened, then the Goalkeeper can now be tested, not only by taking shots to the left or right to observe their Low Diving Save and if the basics have helped improve them, but also by making things a little more competitive, such as:

  • Having the goalkeeper start out of position, to then use that quick footwork to get into correct position and make the save… Short steps, to help with agility…
  • Maybe even distracting them, so you test their reactions too…

As discussed earlier, this could now be the time to test their recovery from one save, to making a second successive save… Thus introducing exercises for the Recovery Save.¬†A couple of¬†great ways to exercise for this are:

  • Having multiple servers set round in a circle in front of the Goalkeeper, all sending in a served ball to the Goalkeeper, one after each other, immediately after the Goalkeeper has completed the previous save (and if caught the ball, thrown it back to the server). The Goalkeeper now must make a save, recover and save again; or
  • Having 1 server serving a low ball to save (or if limited on numbers getting them to dive on a stationary¬†ball), then immediately after the save,¬†getting back on their feet for a serve from¬†the 2nd server, which this time could be a different type of service (high ball or even 1v1…), testing them on something different immediately after the first save… adding a sense of realism…¬†

… I did Low-Diving Saves last week and this week I will be training on high ball saves (including High Diving Saves), so this 2nd option would be good follow-up from week 1, so I can mix low and high saves with recovery…

You¬† do sometimes see Goalkeepers in a¬†match, pull off a string of successive saves.¬† These¬†last exercises are mirroring this (As commented, adding a sense of realism). However you must remember that the basics must be worked on for this to be a successful exercise, as without short/quick footwork, stepping into the save with hands leading, diving forwards, the agility to get up for successive served balls, or even to not have the hands in the right position, could mean the difference between a successful save¬†or not…¬†

So ‘Keep it real’ making training realistic, fun and challenging for the development of Goalkeepers… ūüėČ

The Worcester Goalkeeper Academy has kicked off the new season in style

Since the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy started back in September, we have seen an upsurge in attendance. Not only with a big influx of new Goalkeepers but also new coaches.

The reputation¬†of the Academy is starting to spread… It is a reputation built on quality, that we are there to develop all aspects of the Goalkeeper, preparing them for their club football matches, technically, physically, socially and psychologically.

Don’t just take our word for it, we have had Managers and Parents feedback to us on how much they have seen their Goalkeeper improve, with one recently picking up the Player of the Match award!


But it isn’t just the Goalkeepers that we are attracting, as this season sees 5 new coaches in the academy. This means that we can provide much more focussed time with our Goalkeepers, with many of them benefitting from 1 to 1 and 1 to 2 coaching sessions, meaning that they get even more training time¬†to develop their skills.

If you are a Goalkeeper looking to develop your skills in a focussed environment or a Coach looking to develop Goalkeepers (must have as a minimum: CRB, Safeguarding and First Aid), please contact us via:

Why the new FA youth development plan is good news for Goalkeeper development

The new FA rules for player development have had¬†mixed reviews but are they really that bad and could they actually be beneficial. Here’s my opinion on why I think it’s good for young goalkeepers (and outfield too) –¬†let me know what you think and if you agree with me…

The new development plan as stated on

Introducing 5v5 for U7s and U8s, with progression to 7v7 and then 9v9, allows the children to play on appropriate size pitches and with appropriate size goals.

The smaller pitch and number of players allows greater number of touches of the ball and involvement in the game, helping develop greater technical skills at a lower age.

The move will also bring a more child friendly approach to competition, breaking up the eight-month long adult based season into smaller periods of competition which encourage increased learning.

So my reasoning why this is good for youth goalkeeper development:

1/ Appropriate Size Goals

How many of our young Goalkeepers have seen themselves move up an age group and into goals that are just too big. That they then get demoralised seeing numerous more goals go past them because now the opposition has a greater target to shoot at… Yes, this is a greater challenge for a goalkeeper to overcome technically, but¬†a harder challenge still for many Goalkeepers psychologically. So to putting them in appropriate size goals will benefit their confidence, rather than destroy it.

This also benefits the outfield player too, as they now must improve their technical abilities to try to get past a Goalkeeper in an appropriate size goal, rather than not necessarily improve their techniques (as seen with the previous format), as they have such a large target, meaning that outfield players would tend to just shoot at will, without actually having to be that accurate!

2/ Smaller Game Formats and evenly matched teams

By limiting team sizes at a smaller age on appropriately sized pitches will mean each player will get more time with the ball. That includes the goalkeeper as combining this with teams being equally matched should lead to more end-to-end action and therefore more shots on goal. Instead of the current game format, where either the action is limited because there are too many bodies on the pitch, or that the one team is far stronger than the other team with more action at only one end of the field. This current format can be quite tedious for players, especially Goalkeepers who get bored from lack of action.

3/ Everyone gets a chance/Appropriate coaching

Consider this:

  • What if there is a player¬†not selected because the coach feels they are not as good as another player;
  • That this player is a slower developer than others;
  • That this player could with the right development, one day be better than that other player;
  • But because they do not get given the game/development time of the other player they never reach that potential or simply get frustrated and walk away from the game.

– That would be sad wouldn’t it…?

So really as my final point, this goes hand in hand with my previous two points, that coaching should now focus not only on the technique, but also giving everyone a chance to play football! Meaning that we should hopefully keep our kids interested and develop them correctly, allowing confidence and ability to build!

These are¬†just some of the big¬†reasons why I think the new FA Youth Development Plan will be great¬†for not just future Goalkeepers but all future footballer¬†¬†players. Let’s get behind it and get developing the potential stars of the future!

Vision technicians – Goalkeepers need to be observant!

Vision Technicians… No, not window cleaners… Great goalkeepers!

For Goalkeepers must watch the ball, watch the players, follow the game … Basically be observant of everything and alert at all times.

The Benefits:

  • Having such an alert Goalkeeper can help the team and as previously posted, they can communicate what they are observing round the pitch to the other players;
  • Watching the game can get the Goalkeeper in the right position in front of the goal;
  • As practiced this week at the Academy actually stopping and waiting at least just a couple of seconds to watch the flight of the ball will actually help the Goalkeeper judge what they need to do to either catch the ball (hands, feet, position etc) or re-position for a ball they aren’t likely to catch (balls over head and that for example, they may need to then get into position for a shot from the opposite side of goal…); and
  • Improving alertness, means improved reactions (technical AND psychological development). Reacting quicker to situations, to move into position quicker (see earlier points) or to stick out that all important, last second, hand or foot…
image from

Sometimes Goalkeeper play games that not much happens. For young goalkeepers it is easy for their minds to wander in games such as these.¬†With them being caught out when at a moments notice the action is at their goal. It is easier to encourage older Goalkeepers to keep alert, but they too can be caught out in similar situations. So you have to feel for all Goalkeepers¬†in matches with not much action, so¬†keeping the Goalkeepers alert can therefore sometimes be a challenge…

So as coaches we could:

  • Encourage them to get¬†them more involved with their team-mates, by¬†getting them to watch/follow the game and¬†issue instructions at the back, keeping them and their team-mates alert;
  • Get them to feedback at half-time, full-time and if appropriate through the game on theirs and their team’s performance – this could ensure the previous point; and
  • Coach techniques:¬†to keep them observant; to encourage movement, handling and positioning; to remind them to wait momentarily, judging the flight of a ball before moving to catch a high ball…etc.

As a coach I too have to be observant – I shall keep an eye on how my Goalkeepers get on and if they improve! ūüėČ

Focussing on Goalkeeper improvement – Positioning

As said let us now then focus on realistic improvements, not focussing on those things that are rare, like keeping a clean sheet. Yes, if you do keep a clean sheet, well done. However as in my previous post focussing on something more realistic is better for you and your confidence.

So perhaps you may need to focus on your positioning?

As a Goalkeeper do you:

  • Follow the movement of the game while it is playing? – Do you move to the¬†left side of¬†your goal/area with play occurring¬†on the left side of the pitch?
  • Move in line with the ball and the goal?
  • Come off your line and¬†narrow the angle for the opposing player?¬†– That you make the goal look smaller, which in essence makes you look bigger?¬†

If the answer is no or you feel you could do better, then these are areas to focus on in a game. Maybe it is that you are good at positioning but you may need to focus on speed of movement or balance as areas to further enhance and improve your skills in this area.

But as said before don’t focus on improving 100%, as development of skills takes time, so for example, in starting out maybe encourage yourself to just follow the movement of the game. As this is a good starting point as if you are following movement you are positioning yourself generally in line with the ball and the goal…

Continual Development of Goalkeepers: Plan-Do-Check-Act

The Continual Development of Goalkeepers, is a process that follows the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle of an ISO9001:2008 Quality Management System.


Everything the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy does is planned. This includes the running of the Academy and the weekly Session Plans for the Development of key skills.


Developing Goalkeepers Technical, Physical, Psychological and Social Skills through theory and practical coaching sessions.


Continual assessment of the Academy, the Goalkeepers and the Coaches to ensure that areas of improvement can be identified. Other data for improvement includes feedback gained from Keepers, Parents, and Coaches.


If areas of improvement are identified through assessment and/or feedback it is acted upon to ensure that the Academy continues to Develop in all areas.

This PDCA cycle is continuous and ensures that development is constantly occurring. That it is at the forefront of everything we do… To continually improve and develop Goalkeepers and Goalkeeping standards!

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