Category Archives: Psychology

Proud Dad

My daughter has come a very long way. From life’s twists and turns she has had to battle with that big foe, confidence. There have been times that have challenged her confidence, however one of the biggest things that has helped her continue to build confidence has been, that of being part of a team of girls who share the same passion as her, for playing football…

She first discovered football at first/primary school. However, on moving to Middle school, she found that at that time they did not promote girls football. She attended their after school training but this was for the boys and as the only girl there she found it difficult to settle in, which upset her. So, we found her a local team and this was the start of something good…

She was now part of a team of other like minded girls and from this confidence grew. It was within this team that she discovered her love of Goalkeeping, often filling in this position, when the Manager asked for volunteers. This became such a regular occurrence, that the Manager suggested that she attend Goalkeeper training…

From the moment she attended the Goalkeeper training, she was hooked. Through attending this and subsequently the Academy with a Head Coach (who as a female goalkeeper herself inspired My daughter!) and all the other many coaches at the Academy that have trained her/with her, she has improved her Goalkeeping skills further…

Her development this year has been superb, with opposing Managers commenting about her tremendous improvement, game to game, with one saying ‘she was the best in the league’…

… And last night, was my proudest moment, when she picked up the award for ‘Most Improved Player’. Well deserved indeed.

I would like to thank the following people who have helped my daughter on her development journey, to enable her to gain such great recognition:

To her former Manager, who introduced her to Goalkeeping.

To Bernie, a brilliant Goalkeeper coach and the person who inspired her the most, to develop her skill further in Goalkeeping. He has a great way with all ages of student and continues to help her develop at the Academy.

To her current Manager and former Assistant Manager (who I took over from), who allowed my daughter to make her own decisions in goal, that if she needed help in the early days with goal kicks say, that it was her choice. This has really been a big catalyst to her development. That combined with her new team mates who play as one team, laughing together and developing together. A team where everyone improved because they all worked together to help each other.

To the opposing Managers, as their comments along with our own observations were the reason she was picked out for this award.

And finally to the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy, a centre that she went to, because she wanted to be as good as the lady who set it up, Julia. Julia and all the other many volunteer coaches who turn up each week (including myself), have really honed in on the areas in most need of development and built on all aspects of her game. This included the biggest hurdle of all, confidence… as at the Academy they also looked at the psychological part of the training and this truly has developed, as my daughter is now more confident in not only Football, but also in life.

Well done indeed. Very proud ūüėČ

A New Season Brings New Challenges…

The new season kicked off at my Goalkeeper daughter’s u16 girls football team and as you’d expect with little match practice the start was slow… With a goal conceded just minutes into the match… She knew she should have done better. But after a poor start, she jumped fully into action, producing save after save, sometimes 2 or 3 saves in quick succession. So many saves as she had so many shots on goal… I felt quite sorry for her on the one hand, but immensely proud on the other.

With so many shots on goal could then suggest either that our team was poor or that the opposition team was just out of this world…

No disrespect to their opponents, they were good but not that good and even their manager commented that he hoped this game didn’t lull them into a false sense of security, as their next match will be tougher…

This would suggest that there were problems with our team, however every one of them gave their all, so it was not an issue with the team members. The problem was simple we had only 7 of the 9 players needed for the match, with at one point, through injury only 6 players.

For this is the problem as kids get older, players either move on (we lost one to a Premiership Academy!) or their interests change or they get disillusion. Disillusionment¬†is not the case… Well not yet anyway…

In this game even though after the first goal conceded, my daughter played outstandingly well, with parents and players applauding her, with so many shots on goal it was difficult to keep the score line so low… They lost 12-0 ūüė¶

It was clear to see through the match that the talent was there, they were just 2-3 bodies light, in the build up or defensive play… They were over-run and then ultimately exhausted come the final whistle.

My hope now is that we get more players in, as similar future score lines are going to hit them massively psychologically… This bunch of players do not deserve this… Even though it does mean my Goalkeeper daughter does get a lot of practice!

Lessons Learned: The difference in how a goalkeeper acts is dependent on the team you play in

A sunny Saturday afternoon in Scotland to watch my nephew’s team play a local friendly to hopefully see him score a goal or two ended up with me watching two different games of goalkeeping.

My nephews senior team were run ragged losing 15-0, with one Goalkeeper extremely busy and one called into action only about 3 times during the 90 minutes… Such a contrast in Goalkeeping reminded me of my daughters experiences as a Goalkeeper, previously playing as a Goalkeeper with little action to move to her new team to being run ragged like my nephew’s team…

At 10-0 down his Goalkeeper started to get despondent… Leaning on the goalpost… Showing clearly that he’d had enough. I would say that he was probably at fault for a third of the goals.

At 12-0 I saw him¬†holding his head in his hands on the floor… Where as his opposite number looked on with his hands on hips, looking a little bored.

Lessons learned:
So would you rather have all the action and potentially concede a lot of goals so you get more chance to develop or no action and get bored?

The main reason the action was at this goal and why the score line was so big, in my opinion,¬†was not¬†all down to the Goalkeeper… Yes, he was at fault for some of the goals but mistakes do happen and if there wasn’t such a barrage of shots on goal maybe the mistakes would have been fewer… No, in this match the main reasons for this huge score line was down to tactics and formation.

Lessons learned:
Basically the point I was making with this article to young aspiring Goalkeepers is that Goalkeepers can have it tough, not just at Junior level, but Senior level too; and Goalkeepers should not feel that such a big score line is down to them. So do not¬†beat yourself up or get so despondent (like the Goalkeeper mentioned here),¬†as there are other factors to conceding goals not just your ability! So keep on trying and keep on goalkeeping¬†ūüėČ

Clean sheets aren’t the be all and end all – they are a bonus

My daughter’s team will have conceded 40+ goals this season in 16 games. However in no way does that mean that the team have been poor. What cannot be seen by a team’s goals conceded is the type of goals scored: Goals that¬†even top-class professional Keepers struggle to keep out of the net; or Goals that come from an unlucky bounce, unforced errors and flukes. It also doesn’t¬†take into account that the¬†team did actually play really well all season, giving their maximum effort, but that the opposition may have actually played better.

In addition, after my previous posts, I hope now you will have seen that there is more to being a great Goalkeeper than keeping a clean sheet… That if you look at¬†the statistics I posted of the Championship Goalkeepers, that keeping a clean sheet is just as hard for a professional Goalkeeper as it is for our student Goalkeepers.

Joe¬†Hart shall¬†pick up the Golden Glove award in the premiership for his 17 clean sheets, 2 more than the next best Goalkeeper. A talented goalkeeper for sure. He should also¬†be¬†in part¬†thankful¬†to his¬†talented defence for this award, as¬†he wasn’t necessarily the busiest keeper in the Premiership…(We shall review those stats very soon and like I did for the Championship Keepers,¬†sing the praises of the other Premiership Keepers who also deserve recognition alongside England’s Number 1!)

Basically the point I am getting at for our young Goalkeepers and also to their respective teams is that Clean Sheets are difficult to obtain. So try not to put yourself under pressure, if you rarely keep a clean sheet. If you do it then that is a bonus. If however you are keeping clean sheets regularly, be thankful also of your team as they may too play a big part in your success.

But above all don’t worry about conceding goals – the main thing is to look at improving yourself (as a player and as a person) and more important than that, to have fun! ūüėČ

Goalkeeper Confidence

Here are a couple of sites to check out to find out further advice and guidance of how to keep confident and build confidence in goal:

Jeff Benjamin’s Goalkeeper Coaching Site:

Pilgrim Goalkeeper Coaching:

Some great words of advice and notes of experience. Now go on…¬†believe in yourself!

Confident goalkeeping – There’s a mountain to climb but it’s worth it.

So in previous posts we have¬†looked¬†at¬†bravery, either that of communication or that needed during a game to¬†make that catch surrounded by players and from¬†diving at feet.¬†¬†As mentioned many times before being brave and confident is¬†hard for any player as there are many things that can affect confidence, as that is the fragility of the mind – that one little thing could be the cause of poor confidence… Or that said, it may be a little thing to you or I but a massive issue to the person in question.

We as coaches¬†train for many different scenarios¬†to help our¬†Goalkeeper students, through practical or fun exercises and confidence building motivational speak. However no coach can predict or prevent what will happen in a Goalkeeper’s mind during a game. Especially in situations where¬†your student Goalkeeper is fetching the ball out of the back of the net on more than one occasion¬†through the match. Couple that with the unforeseen reaction¬†of¬†not only their own¬†but those around them (players and coaches) and there is always the potential that confidence either is or starts to get affected.

We asked our Goalkeepers at the Academy, how they react after a goal goes in the back of the net and we had back some interesting answers. Some punch the floor, some shout and scream at themselves or their players, some just get upset. Let’s face it, it is hard for any Goalkeeper, but more so for a young student Goalkeeper as they want so much to be good at Football! Our Keepers do¬†get upset.¬†We have seen examples,¬†where after say the third goal scored against them, that¬†their heads drop and they are uninterested in the game. Yes, I understand that¬†there could be other factors of heads dropping¬†as I previously explored, but no Goalkeeper really likes to concede a goal. After all look at the reaction of any Goalkeeper out there who keeps a clean sheet, they are on cloud 9…

So it does seem that coaches and Goalkeepers¬†have a mountain to climb when it comes to Goalkeeping confidence, because as already¬†mentioned, the mind is a powerful thing. But don’t get downhearted, this mountain is scalable… Confidence can be affected, but you as Goalkeepers have the power to improve not only your skills but your confidence too (which will lead to you being a better Goalkeeper!). Remember:

  • Conceding goals happens – You can try to save everything, but there are going to be those goals that not even the best goalkeepers in the world can stop;
  • Try and save everything – At least have a go… you may only¬†kick yourself that you didn’t try!¬†You never know you may just actually save it;
  • Focus on developing your skills – don’t focus on keeping a clean sheet (see point 1), focus on, for example, improving your positioning or handling during the game;
  • Set realistic targets – If you say you are going to look at improving handling, don’t set yourself a target to catch every ball, that your handling will be 100% good. Try and set a target based on little improvements;
  • Know what you can improve on – It is good to acknowledge what you need to improve on as you can focus on this and more importantly feed this back to the coach, as they can then devise training sessions to help focus on these improvements;
  • Know what you did well – don’t just focus on improvements, remember to also HIGHLY PRAISE what you did well. It is great to¬†understand what you did well because in each match you will do things right and you must remember to acknowledge it.
  • Ensure you have support – You as a Goalkeeper want to improve and those around you should be encouraging your development (especially if they are following FA standards). If you aren’t don’t be afraid to speak up or seek help. If you have set your sights on improving as a Goalkeeper, I applaud you and want you to achieve your aims of improvement. Please don’t get upset and walk away from something you want to do, get help on it and help to do it better!

Yes confidence is a mountain to climb but you have the ability to climb to the summit. Let me know how you get along on your journey up the rock face! ūüėČ

Confident Goalkeeping – Being brave isn’t easy

Finding your voice in Goalkeeping is difficult as confidence plays a big part. Confidence can also be bravery too. Being not only brave enough to call out, but also being brave against an opposing player, either when they are running at you in one and one situations, or jumping for a ball with players around you, or making that tackle at feet, etc.

image from

It’s hard being brave… it’s a massive psychological hurdle to get over.
Yes they say you have to be mad to be a goalkeeper, especially when you have to dive at feet as you are always scared of getting hurt. Just ask my daughters… The youngest is 8 and she is still wary of diving at feet bur through fun exercises and games to encourage it, she is slowly improving. Whereas my 13 year old does dive at feet bravely. That this weekend she did just that, saved the ball, but has just sprained her ankle in the challenge. That said it hasn’t put her off but for others this can make them wary of making the challenge next time for fear of getting hurt.

The mind is a powerful thing! But as a goalkeeper consider this:

  • Remember outfield players too can be just as scared as you – in fact there is more pressure on them to score in a 1v1¬†situation as they are expected to beat the keeper. Although actually the odds can usually be in the favour of the Goalkeeper;
  • OK, injuries can happen, not just to goalkeepers but to outfield players too.
  • Often if football is played in the proper environment (such as FA standard) then it should be played to minimise injury anyway;
  • On the ‘rare’ occasion that an injury happens then the necessary help and equipment are there. To get you soon back in action; and
  • If you worried about ‘rare’ injury and wrapped yourself in cotton wool¬†you wouldn’t have so much fun as a Goalkeeper¬†– football should be about fun after all!

‚ÄúI think you have to be brave, you know that a goalkeeper is always going to take blows. When you dive at someone‚Äôs feet, that player doesn‚Äôt always have time to jump and they bang into us” – Petr Cech.


So be brave and be strong Рremember injuries are actually quite rare and you have coaches there to help you.

Continual Development of Goalkeepers: Psychologocial Development

Psychological Development coaching can be conducted through classroom teaching or during practical training sessions (Technical and Physical). With assessments being done in either of these coaching areas.

Psychological Development includes:

  • Confidence and Bravery;
  • Decision Making;
  • Reactions; and
  • Communication.

The Academy also encourages Keepers to produce ‚Äėimagery scripts‚Äô which not only show the keepers understanding of techniques learnt, but also as sits in imprinting the techniques in the mind. This has added and extra dimension to the Academy. These imagery scripts combined with those other Psychological Developments described further aid improvements made in the Goalkeeper‚Äôs Technical Development.

Development of Goalkeepers and Coaching Styles, by Andy Morgan

In addition to giving an overview of experience and his own philosophy, Andy Morgan of the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy, provided further information on his views on development and coaching styles…


Personally I promote Technical, Social and Physical Development, as they come as one big package:

  • Technically I want to help the goalkeepers to be the best technically they can be and usually that means using the ‚Äėtextbook‚Äô way to save the ball, however if the goalkeeper has an unorthodox technique but is an effective goalkeeper, then I‚Äôm happy!
  • Socially I want them to be confident in their surrounding and be able to communicate well with us, the coaches and the other Goalkeepers. This is because this will transfer across to their own game days in which they will be required to communicate with their team.
  • Psychologically, such as encouraging Confidence, where¬†a confident Goalkeeper will put confidence in your defence. That confidence in your defence, will lead to¬†confidence in your midfield, and before you know it the whole team is feeling confident which can only be seen as a positive.
  • Physically, that at present you hear all the time about David De Gea¬†and how he‚Äôs too weak for the ‚ÄėEnglish game‚Äô. This just shows how physical our football is compared to other nationalities and relates to the importance of our Goalkeepers physical development.¬†

From the time the goalkeepers first attend the Academy to when they decide to leave; I hope they have improved in all of these areas.

Best Coaching styles?

With regards to developing goalkeepers and coaching style, there are so many different styles in which to coach and it all comes down to the type of goalkeepers you have at your disposal, depending on their age, ability and maturity, however I always look to see what ideas the goalkeepers have to develop their own learning and look to prevent me telling them what to do all the time. All styles have their purpose though so I feel deciding if it can be done better is a difficult question to answer.

Imagery Scripts – The start of something good

As previously posted, at the Academy we encourage our keepers to produce imagery scripts as they help focus the mind, especially in a game or a Development exercise.

This week one of our new Goalkeepers produced their written imagery script for how they kick a dead ball, which they gave to me before actually going through the training exercise of Friday. This was great, as we could not only read what they were thinking but then get them to demonstrate the script in action and furthermore¬†we could then help them add to it or better it through coaching…

Their imagery script was as follows:

  1. Look for a good piece of ground to place the ball on;
  2. Place the ball on the ground;
  3. Find a piece of writing on the ball to use as a spot to kick;
  4. Place my standing foot next to the ball and make a little mark;
  5. Look up to see where I am aiming for or to see if there is a shorter option;
  6. Take six steps back and one to the left;
  7. Look again and call my full backs short. If there is a short pass on, I would use it, if not pick a player to aim at;
  8.  Run up to the ball;
  9. Place my standing foot on the mark;
  10. Swing my right foot back and kick the ball; and
  11. Follow through with my right foot.

This was a great first attempt at an imagery script by a novice member of the Academy. This now gave us something to work on. We as coaches already had questions and ideas to improve the script and that which we could now work on with the Goalkeeper in training, such as:

  • What do they class as a good piece of ground?
  • Why do they make a little mark?
  • Why six steps, could it be more efficient taking 2 or 4 steps?
  • Why take one step to the side, would they do better taking steps to an angle?
  • How fast do they run up to the ball?
  • How do they actually kick the ball and with what part of the foot?
  • etc…

So in the training session we got this Goalkeeper to work through their imagery script and watch how they kicked the ball (as in their own admission, this was an area they wanted to improve!). After a few attempts we had noticed a few things that could improve, which we ran through with the keeper, such as fewer steps and for kicking the ball with the right part of the foot.

By the end of the night, improvements were noticed by both the coaches and the Goalkeeper. So now this Goalkeeper has extra detail to add to this imagery script. I shall ask them again sometime in the future to provide a new imagery script and look forward in anticipation to seeing an¬†expanded script, incorporating the improvements they and us have noted over the next few weeks/months…

%d bloggers like this: