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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…

And you think the criticism of Bale is bad… Try being a Goalkeeper!

So because Gareth Bale was the worlds most expensive football player, gives the fans the right to single him out for criticism for a failing Madrid side? 

Why are goalkeepers singled out for criticism for a side losing because they made one mistake all match, leading to a 1-0 loss?

The same reason for both is that they are both seen as being in a position of responsibility and that some people forget that this is a team game. It is a team that can lose matches not just one player. 

I have seen Goalkeepers from grass roots up to professional level, who have for most of the match, played superbly well, but for one moment of madness, at the end of the match to find that because of this the ‘player of the week’ or ‘man of the match’ gets given to an outfield player. What’s more at the end of the season even though they have improved immensely, because they were not star player or had conceded the losing goals in the weeks leading up to the awards, they get overlooked. 

Not getting the recognition, because the defence in front of you parts like the Red Sea… Meaning you have more shots at you than a tin can alley. Hmm… Actually looking at it like this, I actually think Bale gets it easy… If you compare him to a grassroots goalkeeper… Even though Bale gets flak, he get paid millions for the privilege… Such a hard life. 

What’s more we now learn that David de Gea is considering a move to Real Madrid. It took him a while to win over the fans and the press alike when he started at Manchester United, even when a number of the goals were through Defensive errors. He has now most definitely silenced those critics. So why would he really consider going through all that again, especially if he does make those little mistakes that the at mean he gets the ‘Bale Treatment’… Oh yes and get paid millions for the privilege… Such a hard life.  ūüėČ

Villain to Hero

After posting the article about Casper Ankergren, of his momentary error that cost 2 points for Brighton an Hove Albion after a sterling display, I read some fascinating stats in another Goalkeeper also once berated by the press for similar momentary errors. Someone who the press were writing about his replacement at Manchester United almost as soon as he’d started his career there…

Fast forward to the recent stats in the Premiership and David De Gea is now showing that those critics (as usually is the case) were far to quick to judge. Keeping it clean at Manchester United for 627 minutes and now being called up to the Senior Spanish Team. Well deserved!

Let’s hope he keeps proving his doubters wrong. Although if he does make a mistake, can we please keep it real and remember the good times?

…And with the Manchester Derby this weekend with the expected barrage of shots, will he be able¬†to keep this premier league clean sheet run going, so that he can come close to,¬†match or even surpass the record by another Manchester United great, Edwin van der Sar, who kept it clean for 1,311 minutes?

To K or not to K?

Through the continual development of my Goalkeeper Coaching, I have observed and been taught various coaching techniques and styles. Understanding that different coaching methods suit different abilities, ages or situations in game play. The one coaching technique that seems to have a varying degree of opinion is the scoop technique and the use of (or not) the ‘K-Position’.

There are different schools of thought when it comes to the ‘K-Position’, but each do have their own merits, albeit in differing situations.

The following diagram (figure 1), shows 3 figures doing 3 types of scoop catches.

The Scoop Save - Which of the 3 is the best?

figure 1

1. Shows the Goalkeeper reaching down to the floor with feet close together, using the hands to let the ball roll up them, scooping the ball, eventually pulling the ball into the chest.

2. Shows the start of a ‘K-Position’ but not actually allowing the bent knee to fully touch the floor. Again¬†using the hands to let the ball roll up them, scooping the ball.

3. Shows the ‘K-Position’. This is similar to 2., but with the bent knee touching the floor.

The biggest advantage of ‘K-Position’ is that by putting the knee down creates a second barrier, so that as a Goalkeeper you have a safeguard behind your hands acting as another ‘barrier’ in front of goal, that the ball would hit, if the ball does get through the hands…

However the ‘K-Position’ has a big¬†disadvantage¬†too, just ask Rob Green…

image from smh.com.au

image from smh.com.au

As we saw in the 2010 World Cup, when England played the USA, Rob Green had to deal with what seemed a tame shot. He made the decision to use the ‘K-Position’, and saw the ball end up in the back of the net. For the biggest disadvantage of the ‘K-Position’¬†is that once committed to it, your movement as a Goalkeeper is limited, so if the ball hits a divot and changes direction you are already committed and will find it as difficult as Rob Green did to recover…

This doesn’t mean that the¬†‘K-Position’ is truly bad, if used when completely behind a ball (ensuring movement to get into a position to take behind the ball), it is can be very effective. So one school of thought is to use it when dealing with slower balls… Or as Figure 1 drawing 2, to coach the Goalkeeper to not let the knee fully touch the ground as then you are not fully committed and have a little more flexibility in movement.

The other school of thought though, is not to use it at all, and to just coach as Figure 1 drawing 1, ensuring that the feet are not too far apart, so that the legs can become the second barrier. That if needed, when dealing with a faster ball, to either do a collapsing save (dropping down straight on top of the ball) or to smother the ball (by scoping the ball up but dropping forward onto the ball).

Which ever school of thought, each can be used and each have their merits…¬†of which I am slowly starting to learn more about, and also of what their drawbacks might be. It is our job as Goalkeeper coaches to therefore understand each and of which would best suit the Goalkeepers we train. We can then assist them to make¬†the¬†right decision… However, that said, with the many different¬†scenarios¬†that could present themselves to a Goalkeeper in an¬†actual¬†game, it can sometime be difficult for any Goalkeeper to ensure that they make exactly the right choice. For they can only make one, which will be in the split second they have to think about it and one that they feel is the right one to do at¬†the¬†time.

Understanding these different techniques and deciding when to use and not to use which one, is why the life as a Goalkeeper has its challenges. With¬†the¬†biggest challenge being the critics, especially those who aren’t¬†conscious¬†of¬†the¬†fact that Goalkeepers have so many choices to make. As¬†Rob Green discovered, choosing the ‘K-Position’, seemed right at¬†the¬†time (as it would for most Goalkeepers), as this seemed such a straight forward catch… but as we all saw it was a decision that meant yet again another Goalkeeper was to be slated by our unforgiving press. ¬†Just look at Joe Hart over¬†the¬†last 2 weeks, a hero for England against Brazil and then a¬†Villain¬†for Manchester City… or the ever slated David deGea, now lauded as one of the best Goalkeepers after his heroics for Manchester United to deny Real Madrid… and all because of¬†the¬†choices made… Who’d be a Goalkeeper… me definitely – it’s just too much fun! ūüėČ

The sparkling new season kicks off – So which Goalkeeper will shine?

A new season with new opportunities for Goalkeepers to cement their place in their clubs folklore, to show them self as the new star on the block or just try desperately to deal with all that is thrown at them…

So who do we have to watch this season? Who will we be most excited about and who will excel?

In the English Premier League, we will get chance to see those Goalkeepers again who impressed last season, through their impressive stats, such as¬†Manchester City’s Joe Hart¬†(Awards: http://wp.me/p27nBU-c1 and Spotlight: http://wp.me/p27nBU-80)¬†and Manchester United’s David De Gea (Awards: http://wp.me/p27nBU-c3). Will they impress again or for De Gea¬†will he be pushed this time¬†for his place in goal by the equally impressive Andres Lindegaard now that he is back from injury?¬†

Will Arsenal’s Worjciech¬†Szczesny¬†(Spotlight: http://wp.me/p27nBU-5u)¬†put his Euro 2012 red card behind him and build on his stats last season to be the¬†Goalkeeper that lives up to the potential Arsene Wenger believes he has to be one of the greatest Goalkeepers?

We have some new¬†Goalkeepers¬†to watch too, where¬†through promotion from the Championship we see two exciting propositions, with equally¬†impressive stats,¬†Reading’s Adam Federici (Awards: http://wp.me/p27nBU-bA and Spotlight: http://wp.me/p27nBU-am) and Southampton’s Kelvin Davis (Awards http://wp.me/p27nBU-bX and¬†Spotlight: http://wp.me/p27nBU-5o). Can they continue their impressive form or is the Premiership too big a step up…?

West Ham also promoted lost England Goalkeeper Robert Green to QPR¬†who felt that he has the potential they need to keep it clean at the back and help¬†QPR¬†avoid their dalliance¬†with the¬†drop zone this term… A great Goalkeeper indeed with the¬†potential to¬†be their saviour, however will they be too reliant on him and perhaps¬†will he then¬†be as busy as Wolverhampton¬†Wanderer’s Wayne Henessey¬†was last season if the QPR defence is not there to help him?

West Ham instead bring in a new Goalkeeper but one¬†who is very¬†experienced¬† in the Premiership, Jussi Jaaskelainen¬†from relegated Bolton Wanderers to work once again with Sam Allardyce. Jussi’s stats were also impressive last term, before he was unfortunately out for the season through injury. However if he rediscovers this form, could he help Big Sam bring back a mean defence like that which they both experienced in the old¬†days at Bolton Wanderers, to keep West Ham in the Premiership? A defensive record similar to that which Martin O’Neill can boast in his time in the premiership, that may also see Sunderland’s Simon Mignolet (Spotlight: http://wp.me/p27nBU-6k) shine?

We have already discussed QPR¬†but what about second season syndrome for last terms other Premiership new boys, will the defensive records slip for Swansea’s penalty king¬†Michel Vorm or¬†Norwich’s England new boy John Ruddy?

Will it be these that I have mentioned or the other equally impressive¬†Goalkeepers of Stoke City’s Asmir¬†Begovic, Wigan Athletic’s Ali Al-Habsi¬†or Newcastle United’s Tim Krul that shine?

Perhaps¬†indeed it could be a more¬†experienced Premiership Goalkeeping¬†head that steals the lime light such as¬†Tottenham’s Brad Friedel, Aston Villa’s Shay Given, Fulham’s Mark Schwarzer, Chelsea’s Petr Cech, West Bromwich Albion’s Ben Foster (Spotlight: http://wp.me/p27nBU-6Q), Liverpool’s Pepe Reina, or Everton’s Tim Howard, that stand out this season?

It’s early doors in the Premiership with a number of goals scored against some of our hopefuls,¬†whilst¬†some others are already¬†impressing… ¬†However with another¬†37 games to go I wonder who will stand out from the¬†crowd¬†(and for the right reasons!). Who ever it is, for now I think¬†we should sit back and watch as we are most certainly all¬†in for a treat of some tremendous displays of Goalkeeping – I can’t wait ūüėČ

Premiership 2011-2012 Goalkeeper Awards – Double Award: David De Gea

Not 1 but 2 Awards this time for just one Goalkeeper… And if we look back to last year this Goalkeeper was being written off¬†by sections of the press. It just goes to show that you shouldn’t believe all you read in the tabloids. So a¬†big congratulations to Manchester United’s David De Gea for:

  • Best Clean Sheets to Games Ratio; and
  • Meanest Keeper = Number of Goals¬†Conceded to Shots on Goal.

The following is a break down of the top 5 players in all three categories from www.goalkeepingitreal.co.uk:

  Player Club Games Played Clean Sheets % Clean Sheets vs games
1st David De Gea Manchester United 29 13 44.83%
2nd Joe Hart Manchester City 38 17 44.74%
3rd Tim Krul Newcastle United 38 15 39.47%
4th Simon Mignolet Sunderland 29 11 37.93%
5th Michel Vorm Swansea City 37 14 37.84%

And

  Player Club Goals Conceded Shots on Goal % Conceded vs Shots
1st David De Gea Manchester United 29 134 21.64%
2nd Joe Hart Manchester City 29 133 21.80%
3rd Simon Mignolet Sunderland 33 139 23.74%
4th Brad Friedel Tottenham Hotspur 41 163 25.15%
5th Michel Vorm Swansea City 49 194 25.26%

Who is better David De Gea or Worciech Szczesny?

Who is better David De Gea or Wojciech Szczesny? Have a look at this video and let me know:

  • Who you think is the better keeper;
  • What do each of them do well; and
  • What they need to improve on?

2011-2012 Premiership’s Best Goalkeeper Poll

So I have already shown my cards as to who I think is the stand out Goalkeeper of the Premiership this Season. But you may disagree with me… especially as there has been some fantastic Goalkeeping examples by a number of the Goalkeepers in the top level.

Now is your chance to vote for your best in my poll.

Goalkeeper spotlight: Michel Vorm

I saw this¬†tweet last week:¬†“Who have been the best goalkeeper for you this season ? – SZCZESNY¬†– DE GEA¬†– HART – KRUL¬†– VORM¬†– FRIEDEL¬†– OTHER”. As a fan of Goalkeeping¬†I had to reply, pointing¬†out that this list could be expanded on, that indeed they are all quality Goalkeepers. Although if I had to pick one, the¬†stand out Goalkeeper this season in the premiership is Michel Vorm of Swansea City.

At the start of this season no one really knew about Michel Vorm, they do now…

Michel Vorm signed for Swansea City from Ultrecht for what now seems to be an absolute bargain in Premiership prices of only £1.5 million! Making his debut against Manchester City. This turned out to be a 4-0 defeat for Swansea, but that score could have been much higher had it not been for the activity of Vorm in the Swansea goal. Since then Vorm has kept 12 clean sheets. Which is some feat as he is the second busiest keeper in the Premiership, having had to make 111 saves so far. 

He is also gaining a reputation for a penalty save specialist, having saved a penalty from Ben Watson of Wigan Athletic and Clint Demspey of Fulham in this season. I would have to agree, he has a fantastic technique, both psychologically and technically, winning the battle of minds and using great agility to make the save respectively.

Swansea are likely to stay in the Premiership this season. There have been heroics outfield and people making a name for themselves at Swansea, but the star of the show for me has to be Vorm. A class act who Swansea must keep hold of!

Goalkeeper spotlight: Ben Foster

In a previous spotlight I posted about Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczesny and that infamous mix up with Laurent Koscielny in the 2011 Carling Cup Final. However let’s not forget that in that match, even though Szczesny may not have been having the best of games, in the opposite goal, Ben Foster was showing the world just why he is one England’s finest keepers.

Like Tom Heaton of Cardiff (also previously in one of my Goalkeeper spotlights), Foster was also a former keeper at Manchester United who like Heaton was unlikely to ever be first choice keeper at United considering the form of Edwin van der Sar (and then also to become third choice in the pecking order behind Tomasz Kuszczak). So like Heaton, Foster has had to move away from United to establish himself.

Foster had a loan spell away from Manchester United with Watford, where he was described by the then Watford Manager, Aidy Boothroyd as “better than current Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar”. With Boothroyd proclaiming that Foster “is going to be the best goalkeeper in the world.” High praise indeed, but then he did help Watford secure their promotion to the Premier league and was named Player of the Season the following year when on loan again with Watford.

So after impressing on loan and with Watford and with Alex Ferguson also believing he had a potential talent, Foster eventually got the chance to take over from Edwin van der Sar at a time when van der Sar was injured. However, where as David De Gea at Manchester United seems to have been given the time to prove himself even after being slated by the press, Foster appeared not to have had such a grace period.

Like De Gea, Foster to seemed to be having a crisis of confidence.[http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/oct/05/ben-foster-england-manchester-united].

But you have to hand it to Foster, even though being slated by the press, especially after the 2-1 defeat to France, Foster has dusted himself off and got on to show that Aidy Boothroyd’s comments were just.

Foster’s move from Manchester United for an estimated ¬£6m to Birmingham City, really showcased his talent. Although when he first moved, Foster had a lot to live up to as the previous season saw loanee Joe Hart show Manchester City just why he is considered England’s best keeper (and was enough to ensure that Hart then became first choice at Manchester City, which was frustrating to their other great keeper, Shay Given!). However, Foster showed that he was equal to Joe Hart, and kept things as tight as Hart did at the back. Becoming a firm favourite with the Birmingham fans especially after his heroics in that Carling Cup final, picking up the man of the match award in that Final. [http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/news/Birmingham-man-of-the-match-keeper-Ben-Foster-amazed-at-the-Carling-Cup-triumph-over-Arsenal-against-all-odds-article708595.html]

In addition to his Carling Cup winners medal and man-of the match, like at Watford, Foster was also deservedly awarded Birmingham’s Player of the Season!

Even though Foster was in inspirational form it was not enough to keep Birmingham in the Premiership and with subsequent relegation, meant that Birmingham needed to look at sending out Foster on loan to help their wage bill. This has seen Foster go on loan to West Brom, with the option of signing permanently, should Birmingham fail in their bid to bounce straight back up into the Premier League. Birmingham’s loss is most certainly West Brom’s gain, as he is now their first choice keeper producing again exceptional goalkeeping prowess that is getting the praise he deserves, from his Manager, Roy Hodgson who has stated in the press of his desire to keep Foster permanently [http://www.sundaymercury.net/midlands-sport/west-bromwich-albion-fc/west-brom-news/2012/03/18/west-brom-roy-hodgson-praises-ben-foster-66331-30561771/]; and getting high praise from Alan Hansen on this weekend’s Match of the Day after producing a string of fine saves.

Foster has most certainly grown into a great goalkeeper. An asset to any team… It now is not really a question as to whether he will pick up more awards, as with the form he is in, it is almost a certainty that he will be honoured again….The only question really for us, England fans, is how can we persuade Foster to join the England squad again? To have both Joe Hart and Ben Foster at future championships with England would be fantastic!

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