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Goalkeeping It Real gets a wider audience after being published in UPRO Football Magazine

I was recently asked if I could write an article for UPRO Football Magazine on Goalkeeper Communication, including the interaction with their Defence…

… After much writing, re-writing, spell checking, grammar checks (albeit I think I missed two mistakes…!), however I have just found out and am pleased to announce (and feeling rather chuffed too!) that the article was accepted for publishing and you can now view it at:

Enjoy 😉

Goalkeeper Communication Skills

Sorry no video this time, but if you look at video footage of Joe Hart in my previous posts you can understand what I mean. However further to my last post there are other sites that can provide further information on the art of good Goalkeeper Communication. These can be found at the following links:

Enjoy 😉

Finding your Goalkeeper voice – Communication Skills

As seen in my goalkeeper spotlight on the talent that is Joe Hart, one of his greatest attributes is his communication skills. It is not just about his communication to claim the ball or tell his defenders to clear the ball, but his communication with the whole team that shows how good he is.

As keepers we are taught to shout ‘KEEPERS’ when going to claim a ball, or shout ‘AWAY’ if we need our defenders to get the ball away. Those are just the basics. Unfortunately even the basics for some of our young keepers are hard to master, as this comes down to the Psychological aspects of Communication and Decision Making. In some cases we have heard that keepers don’t even like shouting at their players for fear of offending them. So our first hurdle to overcome is a Psychological one.

Once though that they have the confidence and ‘have found their voice’, they can then start to master the communication skills that Joe Hart shows. In that they can start using communication to help the team. Such as providing their team mates instructions that provide them with information they may not see at first, as their view is what is around them, not necessarily what is happening over the pitch. That a keeper could give them the information of who they could play the ball to, if an opposition player is approaching them or perhaps to tell a team-mate to provide the player with the ball some help, etc.

“Goalkeepers who talk will give confidence to defenders and help their teammates to react to situations that they may not always be aware of” – David Coles

This shows that Goalkeepers are about more than just saving goals!

Goalkeeper spotlight: Joe Hart

I am sure some of you goalkeeper following folk were wondering why I hadn’t done a spotlight on Joe Hart sooner. This isn’t because I haven’t wanted to, I have just found excuses not too after seeing some other fine Goalkeeping that really needed a stage before even the talent that is Joe Hart.

Following on from previous posts, where I have discussed that there is much English talent in the lower leagues, Joe Hart is a classic example of the talent we have in this country that is being spotted outside of the Premiership. In fact for Hart after playing his first professional game in 2004 for Shrewsbury in the Conference and then going on with Shrewsbury to be voted League Two’s best Goalkeeper in the 2005-2006. Plus also putting him PFA League Two Team of that Year.

It was such great form for Shrewbury Town that brought him first under the England FA spotlight at U19 level and also on the radar of a number of high-profile clubs. So at the end of the 2005-2006 season, it was time for Hart to move on, where he decided to sign for Manchester City in a deal worth up to £1.5m.

Sometimes signing young talent can be a gamble as you are unsure how much more a player will develop. However in Hart’s case he developed his skills not just at Manchester City, but while going out on loan at Tranmere, Blackpool and then his greatest loan move, Birmingham, where he showed the Premier league just what sort of player he had developed into, earning him a nomination for the 2010 PFA young player of the year and getting into the PFA team of the year. Like his replacement at Birmingham, Ben Foster, Hart took his loan move as an opportunity to show his current club and the rest of the country that he could compete at the highest level. That his was an exceptional talent. Someone who not only turned his club manager’s head but also the England Manager’s head too.

So in the space of 5 years, Joe Hart went from non-league football to England’s first choice goalkeeper. What an exceptional rise to fame!

Some say he is a fantastic keeper now, that he has it all… And I would agree that he is a fantastic keeper although I still feel this is just the start of even better things with Joe Hart, that he could easily become one of the world’s best.

At the Academy we like to encourage our own keepers to look at what they do well and where they could improve (we also do this for the coaches and the Academy too!). The coaches and keepers last week also reviewed Joe Hart and agreed that there are many areas that he does well, but like them, there are still areas that we all felt could improve.

Some of the areas we all agreed that Joe Hart does well were:

  • Communication skills – How many pictures have we seen in the press of Joe Hart shouting out instructions to his team? This is probably why he could be a good future England Captain.
  • Speed, Agility and Quickness (SAQ) – The ground Joe Hart covers to get over across the goal to save a ball is exceptional. Couple that with how quick he is to get back and set for a second or third save, shows excellent skill.
  • Reactions – Joe Hart makes some great pinpoint saves, where he has little time to react. This also adds to the SAQ, with his quick reactions after getting to his feet to make lightning quick reactionary saves!

Some of the areas we all agreed that Joe Hart could improve on were:

  • Set Position – We noted that in some situations Joe Hart is seen with a wide stance. OK that maybe how he is comfortable and may allow better push-off but we prefer having feet closer together, otherwise you could fall foul like Pepe Reina of Liverpool did recently in the match against QPR, with the ball going through his legs (I can hear Soccer AM now: ‘Tunnel’… ‘Taxi for Reina’…!).
  • Punching – Goalkeeper do tend to punch balls these days, however with Joe Hart he always tends to go for the catch (great!). That said that in situations he really needs to he makes the judgement call to punch, unfortunately we have seen examples where the punch is neither high or wide and most often punched out to the front of goal. Fortunately though in most cases he got away with it!

OK you may disagree, on the areas of improvement. But like all keepers of Joe Hart’s mind-set, he will know the areas he wants to improve on, using his coach to hone in his skills. Joe Hart like other great players in this world may already have talent, but he will do what he can to ensure further development. After all he has already shown this in such a short space of time. He is an exceptional talent and I look forward to seeing how this talent improves further.

Young Goalkeeper Development – Don’t Forget The Parents!

Let’s face it for young football players, we need to take a moment to think about their parents….

…They are the people who become the taxi service to the potential stars of the future… The people who can be the support network for their children, lifting their spirits when their children feel they have had a bad game… And those people who also have the power to pull the child out of a team or development centre if they feel that their child is not being treated correctly.

We need to take our hats off to the parents. But also the clubs and development centres need to ensure that the parents can in some way help the children develop, by getting them involved or ensuring that they understand the childs needs as a footballer or even making sure that communication channels are strong…

Communication matters

What are they doing? How is this training going to help? Are just a couple of comments I have heard on the sidelines as a spectator at a development centre. With one of the parents so disillusioned that he took his daughter out of the centre and never returned… Had he stayed he would have seen the presentation they gave, which explained perfectly what was actually happening. His daughter was improving but because she was not practicing shooting at goal all the time, it was felt that the centre was not actually helping her (even though she was developing the other aspects of her game)… Yes it does sound far-fetched, but sometimes the reasons for children leaving clubs or centres can be this extreme!

It is therefore very important to involve the parents, to ensure that they understand. Which is why this week at the Academy we gave a presentation to the parents.

The results of this presentation were extremely positive. In fact, the presentation actually turned into a forum, where the conversation really opened up between coaches and parents. With some very positive feedback indeed…

Communication is very important not only with the children but the parents too!

Psychology for Parents

As a parent to an aspiring Goalkeeper I have been there and done that. I have made mistakes, but I have also seen that as parents we can all make them. Not realising that the or actions we do or the words we say, actually may have an impact on our child that we weren’t expecting.

I once offered my daughter a financial incentive for a clean sheet, but would then see her head drop if a goal went in. I’m not the only parent to do this, as I have seen it countless times, with the similar outcomes to mine. Of course I learnt from this and now don’t offer a financial incentive, instead offering positive advice and support – Plus it’s cheaper too! Unfortunately some parents still have to learn this, but sometimes it is not always that easy to see how one action meant in good faith, can actually have a negative impact.

So there is an education process that is required – Parents need our support too!


As previously discussed feedback was given in the presentation by the parents. We also gathered it at the end of the last term as parents need to feel involved in this Academy and feel they have a voice not only in the development of the Academy, but also at a personal level for the development of their child.

But there is even more feedback that is far more valuable than this. A parent can be your eyes and ears. They could become your scouting network. Feeding back information to coaches of how their player performed. The things they did well and… not the bad, but instead relaying back to the coaches on the things they need to improve on.

Feedback of any kind is worth its weight in gold!

These are just 3 aspects of why parents are important to your club or development centres. Get them involved, make them feel special and above all listen to them! 😉

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