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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! 😉

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Team GB football goes for gold?

So the exciting Goalkeeping that is Jack Butland may not have got a start at Euro2012 with two more experienced keepers getting in his way, but he will get the chance now on the Olympic stage.

Birmingham City’s Jack Butland joins the impressive young Middlesbrough Goalkeeper Jason Steele in the newly formed Team GB for this summers Olympics.

Image from www.mfc.co.uk

Could they pick up deserved medals? Well it might not necessarily be Gold with In form Brazilian and Spanish teams. Then again in knockout competitions any one can dream…

The dream though has better odds for the Women’s football under the experienced guidance of Hope Powell, with the chance of watching the great Women’s Goalkeeping talents of Linkoping’s Karen Bardsley and Everton Ladies’ Rachel Brown.

Image from www.corren.se

For years Women’s football has been overshadowed by the Men’s but could the Women now get one over the Men by getting the Gold they deserve?

With the Goalkeepers in both teams they certainly both stand a chance of keeping it tight at the back so they should have the confidence to attack and get the goals needed – so both indeed have every chance of success… So come on Great Britain lets all cheer on these Great Britons!

Euro 2012 Group D Goalkeepers

The Goalkeepers to Watch in this tournament (if they get their chance)… A quick guide to the Goalkeepers at Euro 2012

PART FOUR – GROUP D

England

Joe Hart, Manchester City FC, Age 25 – Squad Number 1 – 18 senior international appearances prior to this tournament

Robert Green, West Ham United FC, Age 32 – Squad Number 13 – 12 international appearances

Jack Butland, Birmingham City FC, Age 19 – Squad Number 23 – 0 international appearances

France

Hugo Lloris, Olympique Lyonnais, Age 25 – Squad Number 1 – 33 international appearances

Steve Mandana, Marseille, Age 27 – Squad Number 16 – 15 international appearances

Cedric Carasso, Bordeaux, Age 30 – Squad Number 23 – 1 international appearance

Sweden

Andreas Isaksson, PSV Eindhoven, Age 30 – Squad Number 1 – 93 international appearances

Johan Wiland, Copenhagen, Age 31 – Squad Number 12 – 8 international appearances

Par Hansson, Helsingborgs IF, Age 25 – Squad Number 23 – 2 international appearances

image from ca.sports.yahoo.com

Ukraine

Maksym Koval, Dynamo Kiev, Age 19 – Squad Number 1 – 1 international appearance

Andriy Pyatov, Shakhtar Donetsk, Age 27 – Squad Number 12 – 26 international appearances

Oleksandr Goryainov, Metalist Kharkiv, Age 37 – Squad Number 23 – 2 international appearances

image from uk.eurosport.yahoo.com

So with this the final part, you have now been introduced to the 48 Goalkeepers at these European Championships. Only a small selection of these will get their chance, unless of course they get sent-off or injured, then we will see a few more…

Will the French va va voom or the power houses of Schevchenko (Ukraine) and Ibrahimavic (Sweden) take the action away from goal and further up the field, giving their Goalkeeper a break… Hmm… I doubt it, as all group games so far have produced much action with very few clean sheets… Or perhaps could England’s Joe Hart repeat his Manchester City form that got him the Golden Glove Award for his impressive 17 clean sheets in the Premiership or will England’s defence do him no favours… We shall wait and see…

So will any of these be your pick of the tournament…

Premiership 2011-2012 Goalkeeper Awards – Quadruple award winner: Joe Hart

So David De Gea was a double winner but Manchester City’s Joe Hart goes not 1 but 2 Awards better! Oh yes he is a talented Goalkeeper and he’s English! With all that foreign talent in our Premiership, Joe Hart cleans up…

Our England Number 1, now selected for the Euro 2012 is set to show Europe how good he is… So massive congratulations to Manchester City’s Joe Hart for:

  • PFA Goalkeeper – Selected in the PFA Team of the year;
  • Most Clean Sheets;
  • Best Clean Sheets to Shots on Goal Ratio; and
  • Meanest Keeper = Average Goals Conceded per Game.
image from http://www.telegraph.co.uk

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

  Player Club Clean Sheets
1st Joe Hart Manchester City 17
2nd Tim Krul Newcastle United 15
3rd Michel Vorm Swansea City 14
4th Brad Friedel Tottenham Hotspur 14
5th = David De Gea Manchester United 13
5th = Wojciech Szczesny Arsenal 13

And

  Player Club Clean Sheets Shots on Goal % Clean Sheets vs Shots
1st Joe Hart Manchester City 17 133 12.78%
2nd Pepe Reina Liverpool 12 119 10.08%
3rd David De Gea Manchester United 13 134 9.70%
4th Wojciech Szczesny Arsenal 13 135 9.63%
5th Tim Howard Everton 12 138 8.70%

And

  Player Club Games Played Goals Conceded Average conceded/ game
1st Joe Hart Manchester City 38 29 0.76
2nd David De Gea Manchester United 29 29 1.00
3rd Pepe Reina Liverpool 34 35 1.03
4th Tim Howard Everton 38 40 1.05
5th Brad Friedel Tottenham Hotspur 38 41 1.08

England Goalkeepers – nice selection

So Roy Hodgson this week made his first big decision as the new England Manager, to name the squad for the Euro 2012 finals. With some familiar faces, some that were missing and some new ones. As usual of an England Manager there were those quick to rain on Roy’s parade, that he hadn’t pick this player over that… However you can’t really argue over his selection of the Goalkeeping position.

Again, we see that this country does have much exciting talent for this position, even with Ben Foster withdrawing from International Football.

He was always going to select Joe Hart and as my stats shall show later this week he deserves this more than most. Fast proving himself one of the best keepers in the world. Hopefully he will get to prove this at the Euros!

Then we have Robert Green. He has his doubters after some high profile errors, but he does learn from them. His form in the Championship with West Ham has been brilliant with: 15 Clean Sheets – That’s a 35.71% Clean Sheets to Games Ratio; 45 goals conceded in 42 games played for West Ham; and Keeping it mean at the back with a 17.79% of goals conceded to shots on goal ratio.

Today Robert Green now heads back into the Premiership with West Ham following an excellent game of football (for the neutral) in the Championship Play Off Final. It does make you question why the papers are linking Paul Robinson with a move from Blackburn to the Hammers, after all why would they want to replace such a talent.

image from www1.skysports.com

And you have to applaud Roy for selecting John Ruddy, who had pulled off some remarkable saves at Norwich (his stats are also coming soon…). He most certainly deserves his place.

Finally if for what ever reason one of these 3 are withdrawn, we have a great young keeper on the replacement list, Jack Butland. As previously posted when enthusing about the young talent in the wings he has been producing immense displays on loan for Cheltenham Town that has got him not only watches by a number of Premier League clubs but also noticed by the England Senior squad. Way to go Jack!

In fact way to go all the England Keepers. Bring on the Euros and some great Goalkeeping displays! 😉

Goalkeeper spotlight: Frankie Fielding

With votes now coming in for your Premiership Goalkeeper of the season… Showing that this season has been good for Goalkeeping in the Premier League with the voting across a wide range of Goalkeepers… It got me thinking that maybe I should start a poll for Championship Goalkeeper of the season too…

Perhaps if I ran this poll, maybe we would see a number of votes for our star England U21 Goalkeeper, Frankie Fielding?

After this weekends display for Derby County against Ipswich Town, with the papers exclaiming that Frankie “was in unbeatable form”, he again showed just why he is rated so highly and perhaps showed Joe Hart that there is more competition coming in the future for his place in the Senior England team… Because, as per my previous article on the future looking bright for England, he is just one of a crop of future England star stoppers that can give us confidence in this position for years to come.

Frankie was a product of the Blackburn Rovers Academy, but the closest he came to the first team was on the subs bench. So instead he went out on loan to Wycombe Wanderers, Northampton, Rochdale, Leeds United and after a frustrated plea to want to play first team football, played for Derby on loan too. With clean sheets and impressive display helping Derby to remain a Championship club, Frankie signed for a bargain £400,000 this season.

image from telegraph.co.uk

The reason I rate this young talent so highly, is because Frankie Fielding is a battler who just loves playing in goal and will do what he can to be no.1. Even if that means issuing a come and get me plea… His stats this season also show that he is definitely one to watch:

As at the 9th April Frankie Fielding at Derby County has:

  • Conceded 53 goals;
  • Kept 11 clean sheets in 41 games; and
  • Been one of the busiest Goalkeepers in the Championship, having to cope with 275 shots on goal, so conceding 53 goals and keeping 11 clean sheets against that barrage of shots is some feat!

With Frankie Fielding now on the fringes of the Senior England team and with these stats I am sure he is being looked at quite closely…. That with this such form, he could certainly be worthy competition for Joe Hart or one player that Premier League Clubs would soon be knocking on Derby County’s door…. What a great future prospect!

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.

The future’s bright for England U21’s

Just to add to my previous post, check out this YouTube video of Jack Butland (Birmingham City), Declan Rudd (Norwich City) and Ben Amos (Manchester United), our Englands U21 Goalkeeping talent in training:

The Goalkeeping future is bright for England

So the Premiership is bad for English football? That English football clubs are damaging the England team, with them bringing talent in from abroad rather than develop or look to bring in home-grown talent?

OK, certain rules are now in place and there is an expectancy for top level clubs to develop their own players. However, doesn’t it seem that things are changing naturally anyway, that our English keepers are slowly being seen on the big stage as some of the best in the world. Talented keepers previously overlooked like Ben Foster (previously posted about) of West Bromwich Albion and Joe Hart of Manchester City, who went to other clubs to show that they should be first choice keepers. With some now citing Joe Hart as being one of the best keepers in the world!

Where as in previous years the press were questioning our goalkeeping talent as not matching that of other countries, including that of current world champions Spain, that now we have a pool of talented keepers that are getting themselves recognised on the biggest stages, through international, premiership and cup competition matches. With the Cup competitions also elevating the talent that is emerging in the lower leagues. Talent that includes Tom Heaton of Cardiff City (previously posted about) and that of Frankie Fielding the bright prospect at Derby County and already in the England U21 set up.

Also consider Jack Butland of Birmingham City, who like Ben Foster and Joe Hart has gone out on loan to get first team action at Cheltenham Town. That from his incredible displays for Cheltenham, has now being noticed by the Premier League, being linked to Arsenal and Tottenham. This shows that the search for talent is not always abroad, but local too. He has also represented England at every level up to the Under 21s! [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2116662/Jack-Butland-wanted-Arsenal.html#ixzz1pTZ0VtLS ]

For me, all this shows that we have much to look forward to with England. With our current crop of keepers, those waiting in the wings and of the development of the next talent through the expansion of top-level development or at goalkeeper specific centres (like that of our own Academy), the future for England goalkeeping most definitely is much brighter than ever before!

Goalkeeper – Hero or Villain?

The goalkeeper position is so unforgiving and even more so under the spotlight of the highest levels of football. These keepers are expected to be absolute superstars and come under intense scrutiny when they make a mistake or not keep a clean sheet.

It could be said that it is the same for forward too at the highest level, if they don’t score the goals week in week out… However there is usually more than one forward on the pitch to share the blame. That then, there is a share of the responsibility. Although should there be a collective blame too of a defence when things go wrong at the back?

Not in the case of David de Gea, who was heavily criticised by the press following their defeat to their old foes, Liverpool. Yes, he made errors but so did his defence… This will really affect a goalkeeper already short on confidence. Hats off to Michael Owen though who has come out and defended his keeper (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2093384/Michael-Owen-blasts-David-De-Gea-critics.html), as should the rest of his team and also the fans too.

This is a player who took the plaudits in 2009 after his debut in the UEFA Champions League and for his performance for Club Atlético de Madrid’s in saving a penalty in their La Liga opening game (http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=901256.html). A player who was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson in 2011 after performing brilliantly for Spain in the Euro Under-21 cup winning team and described as ‘one of brightest prospects in the game’ (http://www.sportinglife.com/football/news/story_get.cgi?STORY_NAME=soccer/11/06/29/SOCCER_Man_Utd_Snap.html&BID=165). A signing for Manchester United, that made him the third most expensive keeper in the history of football.

Can he really go from hero to villain that quickly?

It has become so apparent if you study David de Gea that his confidence is low and in need of a much needed boost. As Paul Parker points out in his Eurosport Blog that not only can you see this complete lack of confidence, that he also looks lost… Well let’s face it he has taken on a lot of criticism, and it looks like it is really affecting him.

He’s not the first high profile keeper to receive such criticism, take our previous England keepers, Scott Carson, Paul Robinson, Robert Green and David James. All criticised for a mistake that cost us international matches and competitions, that let’s face it we only ‘may’ have won, especially considering the level of the competition we would face… Did we also criticise the fact that we didn’t score enough goals?

… And why does one of the Academy’s favourite player’s, David James have to have the label, ‘Calamity James’? When as a keeper he has kept a phenomenal amount of clean sheets… It’s a shame that a few bad mistakes (with some of them being made whilst he tried to compensate for a lack of defence), meant he gets such a poor nickname.

Yet unlike David de Gea, David James now shrugs off such criticism. And if he concedes a goal, you know it has annoyed him, but then he brushes it aside and refocuses ready for the next save…

As a goalkeeper you need to have a regime to be able to move on from a mistake.

My daughter used to be bothered by letting in goals too, as she would get too heavily focussed on keeping a clean sheet. Thus, when she let in a goal her head would drop…

…So we changed her motivation and praised her on performances. Stating that should may well concede goals and not to worry… just as long as she puts in the performance and tries to improve on the areas she needs too… It has improved her as a keeper that she smiles after every match. I am just happier to see her acknowledge that she made a mistake and then to watch and see that she learns from this.

It just goes to show you the power of the mind!

David de Gea is only 21 and he has huge promise. I think we should cut him a little slack. It is unrealistic to heap pressure on one player as this is a team game after all…

As a final thought, consider David Coles philosophy: “One save doesn’t make you a great goalkeeper, the same as one mistake doesn’t make you a bad one’. Very apt! 😉

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