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Keeping it Real: Planning for a distribution of knowledge

After 2 weeks of being involved in a different capacity (parents presentations and assessment marking) at the Academy, this week was time to get my hands dirty (…well as dirty as they can on 3G astro!). My turn to develop a session plan for a group of young Goalkeepers with a mixture of skills and abilities.

So I put my thinking cap on. I wanted to ensure that I covered the basics but in line with my ethos, to keep it real, in that it would allow the keeper to understand the techniques but in way that they could relate to in a game. Whilst also being a fun exercise, as this would aid the learning process.

I therefore sat down one evening last week and drafted out my plan. The theme was distribution, but as weeks 5 and 6 were kicking from hands and from the ground (dead ball), I chose to focus on throwing and roll outs. As this would give the keepers a variety of options when distributing a ball.

The plan needed to be for a 25 minute coaching session, however I always plan a lot more in my plans. I always start at the basics and then plan many different progressions to something that is more technically challenging. This is because on the day of training as a coach you need to have a lot more in your locker. You may need to adapt or change the session to keep it moving, fun or indeed specific to the levels of ability within the group. This would ensure that it presents enough of a challenge to all involved.

As pointed out I drafted out a plan, because as I was working with other coaches in this exercise, I wanted to involve them in this session plan process. This included sitting down with them before putting the final plan into action and more importantly even before this, to gain feedback from the more senior coach before finalising the plan.

“Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan” – Margaret Thatcher.

So after feedback and adding even further progressions from the senior coach, it was now D-day and time to put the plan into action. We started at the basics and where needed changed the training for each member of the group taking them up a level at a time. We ‘kept it real’, having servers (acting as outfield players) or by encouraging the Goalkeeper to look round before rolling or throwing the ball out, as if they were picking out their pass (as they would in a real game) and where needed we gave 1 on 1 training to each Goalkeeper to hone in their technique. We spent a lot of time honing these skills and OK we never got to the later progressions (we can use these another day!), but actually from working like this, this group did show noticeable improvements.

I am an advocate for quality planning. This shows that if you plan extensively, thinking of many plans and situations (keeping it fun and realistic), as well as not being afraid to gain input from others, when you actually come to putting your plans into action, there is every chance they shall succeed. However, in the unlikely event (after such planning) that things don’t go to plan that you understand what went wrong, taking in as much feedback as possible so that you learn from it to make your plans even better next time.

“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win” – Zig Ziglar

As a coach, I am still learning every week and understand that I may make a mistake, but I try not to by quality planning. So my quote should be therefore: “I shall always plan to do better” 😉

Continual Development of Goalkeepers: Technical Development

Technical Development is the biggest area of the Development process as it incorporates the needs of Handling and Kicking, together with Diving, Positioning, Distribution and Dealing with different types of shot at or across goal.

Technical assessment of all areas of Technical Development include:


  • Throwing – Left and Right Hand, Distance and Accuracy; and
  • Kicking – From Hands or Dead ball – Left and Right Foot, Distance and Accuracy.

Diving and Handling:

  • At Feet, to the Left and to the Right;
  • High and Low Diving Saves; and
  • Collapse and Smother.

Back Pass, Corners, Set Pieces and Dribbling (Dribble and Drive).

Assessments of these could include the other aspects of development: Physical (Stamina, Speed and Agility), Psychological (Confidence, Decisions and Reactions) or Social (Team work, Communication and Coach-ability).

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