Category Archives: Guest Blog Spot

Guest Blog Article by Hannah Cresswell: Are there fair opportunities in sport for female athletes?

Last Friday at the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy, I had a discussion with one of our promising young Goalkeepers, Hannah Cresswell about the frustrations she sees and has observed first hand as an aspiring Female in sport. She so desperately wants to achieve success in her sport, however sees a limited opportunity. I suggested therefore that she write an article for this blog, so she could convey her thoughts to a wider audience and see if others agree with her or perhaps maybe back her in a campaign to get women’s sport better recognised in the UK. Have a read, see what you think and please feel free to post your comments, as Hannah is interested to hear what you think…

My opinion on Women’s sport after playing in Women’s Football from the age of 7 years until now age 16 years old including 4 years at Academy standard, by Hannah Cresswell

Women’s sport has in the past been not always received the support by the public that it has deserved. However this attitude is starting to change, with the popularity in TV viewing and support having grown in recent years. This change in attitude seems to be mostly due to: The Australian Tennis open, where there was a controversy to do with female players putting in more effort before, during and after games compared to the male players; and the 2012 Olympics, which was a big stage for the world to appreciate women’s sport, with each country having women involved in taking part.

However, is it the Government/MPs, who are the ones who are preventing the growth in women’s sport as a whole in the UK? Money is in more abundance in male sport either because of tradition and supposed popularity. For example, at last autumn’s Twenty20 Cricket World Cup, the women’s teams were given a daily living allowance a third less than their male counterparts; while the winning men’s team took home £616,000 whereas the champion women’s team won just £40,000. Do you call this fair play? Why should people be expected to just accept that women’s sport is rising with no money or structure to support it? What is the point in women wanting to play sport if they can’t go anywhere to take part in it?

What can these young players expect for the future of Women's Sport?

One part of the sports industry the FA, do not (and from my experience, I mean do not!) fund, is the ladies teams, especially to the same extent as the men’s. The FA runs a total of 24 England teams including women’s, youth and disability sides as well as the England senior team. Women’s football is the fastest growing sport in the country, with £4.5 million invested by The FA every year. Over a million women and girls now play football, which should be boosted by the inspiring displays of the national team at the Women’s World Cup in China and the enthusiastic following during the Olympics. This information is on ‘’.

£4.5 million to some may seem a lot of money, however if you put this into context, by comparing it to for example, just one of the men’s competitions, the FA Cup, the men’s team gets £4,822,750 just between 32 teams. This is just one competition and also does not include individual players’ pay!

I feel, Women’s sport is not treated with the respect it deserves.

People said they enjoyed watching the women’s events in the Olympics. So what have the Government done about broadcasting it on TV? Absolutely nothing! It’s seldom on BBC or ITV, however maybe about once every month it will be shown on the Sky Sports subscription channels… if you are lucky. It says something when the home of Football can’t even expand a Women’s league to the same extent as the Men’s game.

Just look at what happened in the USA after the Women’s world cup… They set up the WUSA and have developed the structure and facilities for Women’s football dramatically.

It is really disappointing how Women’s Football can’t take off in the country it began. So really the point I am trying to make, is that no matter how much support Women’s sport gets from the public or those eager young female athletes, the lack of money and media will always force it to stay at a lower class status compared to men’s sport. Which ultimately means that talented young women end up walking away from the sport they love.

Do you agree? Will you help me to get people talking about Women’s sport, promoting it, to get the recognition, investment and media help it deserves?

Guest Blog Article by Mark Oxer: Optimal Learning Environment

This Guest Blog is from Mark Oxer, Men’s and Women’s Soccer/Futsal Head Coach at Olds College Broncos. It adds depth to recent postings about ‘keeping it real’ and the psychological aspect of training. This article from Mark (no pun intended) really makes you think… about planning training sessions for the maximum benefit for the student Goalkeeper by Making them realistic and fun…

Practice is generally considered to be the single most important factor responsible for the permanent improvement in the ability to perform a motor skill (i.e., motor learning; Adams, 1964; Annett, 1969; Fitts, 1964; Magill, 2001; Marteniuk, 1976; K. M. Newell, 1981; Schmidt & Lee, 1999). If all other factors are held constant, then skill improvement is generally considered to be positively related to the amount of practice. The generalizability of the relationship between practice and skill is so profound that it is sometimes modeled mathematically and referred to as a law (Crossman, 1959; A. Newell & Rosenbloom, 1981). Indeed, the attainment of expertise, the highest level of proficiency in a motor skill, generally requires years of practice (Ericsson, 1996). In truth, the attainment of expertise is not a goal or a reality for most learners of motor skills. Because of our incomplete knowledge of practice variables, we are often inefficient in our practice sessions. Thus, the limited opportunity for practice, coupled with the potentially small gains in expertise resulting from each session, increases the importance of maximizing the benefits gained whenever practice is undertaken. For over a century, researchers have studied means by which practice conditions can be structured so that they maximize the potential for learning (Adams, 1987); understandably, that issue remains of considerable interest to theorists and practitioners alike. Clearly, the concept of practice as a single, unitary construct that leads to improvements in performance is not a simple one.

Creating an optimal learning environment is not something that happens by chance. There are some fundamental founding principles to follow and a formula that can be applied. (Laver, 2010)

The neural networks in our brain and our nervous system are created from the moment we start moving (even before we are born). As we move we start to build up networks by linking neurons so that we can produce movement patterns. The freedom to experiment and find your own way is delivered through the most powerful learning vehicle known to man – play! (Laver, 2010)

Play is the medium though which we learn fastest and most effectively. The learning we receive during play is not ‘bolted on’ it is deeply learned and becomes part of us. This type of learning has been termed ‘genuine learning’ by psychologists. Play has been defined as “A physical or mental leisure activity that is undertaken purely for enjoyment or amusement and has no other objective”. Play in its most genuine sense is not there as a means of learning. It just so happens that learning is an almost inevitable consequence. In fact, play creates the conditions necessary for whole brain learning. Three of major ingredients for whole brain learning are ‘immersion in the activity’, ‘a state of relaxed alertness’ and ‘stimulation’ (active processing of information). These occur naturally when we play and perhaps go some way to explaining why we learn so effectively during play. Players that have mastered their bodies will tend to produce a more elegant skill, which is likely to be more effective. Remember – More networks, connections and links in our brain equals more intelligence. This is as true with ‘movement intelligence’ as it is for intellect. With more neural connections and more intelligence, we and our brains are able to adapt to novel situations more effectively (Laver, 2010).

So what does all this mean for training as a goalkeeper?

This author suggests that we make our training sessions as realistic as possible, that we move away from agility ladders, hurdles, cones, and move towards an environment that allows the keeper to form their own movement patterns. Not only does this provide a realistic environment and a fun environment, but it creates an environment that it unpredictable and it has been proved that skill retention is higher when the skill is learned randomly rather than through continuous repetition (Guadagnoli & Lee, 2004). Furthermore this author suggests that we seek to remove ‘formal’ punishments from training sessions, and allow the ‘punishment’ to be that of a goal being scored and the ‘reward’ of a goal being saved. Understanding the environment of football and that a keeper my face only a small number of shots in a 90 min game, as coaches rather than giving the keeper drills, we can manipulate the environment which the play is occurring, to facilitate more opportunities for the keeper to develop their movement.

As a Collegiate Head Coach, I use this method of training with my team and with my keepers, and have had very successful results. My role is to facilitate the environment, and provide helpful feedback to the team and athletes regarding their performance, with the aim of helping them develop their optimal movement intelligence.

Thank you very much Mark for this excellent article!

Guest Blog Article by Richard Mace: Imagery Scripts

Not One but Two guest blog posts this week! I feel truly spoilt! This time it is Richard Mace, also a Goalkeeper Coach at the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy, discussing a topic that I have touched on in this blog, Imagery Scripts…

After reading a post by Jon Barrington I decided to also express my desire at seeing a more psychological approach to coaching GK’s. I cannot give a reason as to why it is not common place, I would understand if a coach didn’t feel they had the knowledge to delve into such an area but the possibilities are endless.

If I was to say now that to read any further you must go and kick a dead ball 30-40 yards, I doubt anyone would actually do that but instead you would imagine it. For anyone that has just imagined kicking a ball, you just used one psychological skill, imagery. Now I ask you to imagine the possibilities of being able to adapt your mental abilities towards learning a new skill. Changing a technique without touching a football, it’s certainly possible.

A different way to look at it is this; we have all tried to do something new, something we have never done before. What is the first thing we do? Would you look to see how it is done? Find an example of a professional Goalkeeper doing that action? Possibly… But what you will do immediately before performing the skill is think about how you will do it, what will it look like? Imagine how it will be done, imagine yourself doing it. That is imagery in action again. It’s so simple and so effective.

You can take this to a whole new level but this is imagery in its most basic form and it’s something most people won’t even realise they are doing. This can be further explored; internal or external imagery? You can use imagery whilst sitting in bed at night, but is it more effective when doing it out on a pitch? Can you add your feelings to it? How does the ball feel on your foot/in your hands? How did making that important save make you feel?

A parting note to anybody reading this that is interested in seeing imagery in action: Watch David James’ warm-up!

Nice one Rich – Thankyou!

Guest Blog Article by Jon Barrington: Why is the unknown of goalkeeping, the dark side?

Adding to posts already provided about Psychology this week Jon Barrington, a Goalkeeper Coach at the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy specialising in Psychology and Performance Analysis, provides his view on the subject…

Embrace… Experience and Gain the Edge

Ask yourself the question, why is it that the majority of the Goalkeeper training provided at youth level consists of either none or very little sport psychology? Could this be because of a lack of knowledge? A lack of interest? Or a lack of respect for it as a sub-discipline? Without it where is the opportunity for the goalkeeper to develop to their potential?

As a third year Sport and Exercise Psychology student the unknown of this topic and its lack of application in the majority of youth football is frustrating, as I have seen it working and improving Goalkeepers, first-hand at the Academy.

The unknown should not be kept at arms’ length and ignored but embraced and experienced in a manner which will facilitate the Goalkeepers’ development to the next level above their peers.

Whether you are a Goalkeeper or a parent reading this blog, my advice to you would be embrace and experience the benefits of Sport Psychology and let the Goalkeepers GAIN THE EDGE!!!

Thank you Jon.

Guest Blog Article by David Evans, Just4keepers: Improving young keepers, not just ability but confidence

As I have posted a few blogs recently regarding goalkeeper confidence, I thought this blog from David Evans from Just4Keepers was apt. He has kindly allowed me to use this article of his, as content for my Guest Blog Slot:

Now you’ll probably have to excuse my bias here as being a professional goalkeeper coach of course my view may be a little bit one sided but let me put forward my views anyway.

So what is a goalkeeper coach worth to your team? Well if you think that a good keeper can save you 10-15 points a season it’s the difference between winning titles and a relegation dogfight!

Good keepers are worth their weight in gold and if you get one you certainly try to keep hold of them, but why then would you not have someone there to specifically improve them, keepers need to be tested daily to keep themselves sharp and only a keeper coach can do that for you. Don’t expect your keeper to stay in top form if he is neglected, left to train by himself or with his understudy while you work on overlapping full backs or attacking crosses. Keepers have not only got a physically demanding position that requires specific training not just having to stand in a coconut shy, but also a mentally demanding position that needs a coach who can put an arm round the shoulder, talk through the mistakes, the confidence dips, the torment of the position.

As a manager can you afford the time to do that for your keepers as well as 16 outfielders? I’d say it would be tough to, so why not employ a keeper coach to do it for you? Someone who understands the keeper and the psychology that goes hand in hand with the position. I’d say you can’t afford not too. Budget is tight? Then spending a little less on strikers or flair midfielders, and a little on helping your keeper could be the difference between promotion and relegation.

Think about it. Help your keeper, help you team, gain more points, win more prizes, keep your job longer. Everybody is happy.

Wishing you clean sheets and happiness, until next time.

A big thank you to David for this. Check out his blog for more great posts like these at:

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