Blog Archives

Practice makes perfect…

Check out this YouTube video. However, to our young goalkeepers, please may I ask you to showboat on the training ground only! Plus also a word to the wise, this guy has spent ages perfecting his skill to just kick these dead balls perfectly and although it may not necessarily be clear to see him using an imagery script, he has got to a level where he can automatically adjust (without realising) to suit to kick the ball. Just goes to show that practice can make perfect!

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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…

www.worcestergoalkeeperacademy.com

Guest Blog Article by Richard Mace: Imagery Scripts

Not One but Two guest blog posts this week! I feel truly spoilt! This time it is Richard Mace, also a Goalkeeper Coach at the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy, discussing a topic that I have touched on in this blog, Imagery Scripts…

After reading a post by Jon Barrington I decided to also express my desire at seeing a more psychological approach to coaching GK’s. I cannot give a reason as to why it is not common place, I would understand if a coach didn’t feel they had the knowledge to delve into such an area but the possibilities are endless.

If I was to say now that to read any further you must go and kick a dead ball 30-40 yards, I doubt anyone would actually do that but instead you would imagine it. For anyone that has just imagined kicking a ball, you just used one psychological skill, imagery. Now I ask you to imagine the possibilities of being able to adapt your mental abilities towards learning a new skill. Changing a technique without touching a football, it’s certainly possible.

A different way to look at it is this; we have all tried to do something new, something we have never done before. What is the first thing we do? Would you look to see how it is done? Find an example of a professional Goalkeeper doing that action? Possibly… But what you will do immediately before performing the skill is think about how you will do it, what will it look like? Imagine how it will be done, imagine yourself doing it. That is imagery in action again. It’s so simple and so effective.

You can take this to a whole new level but this is imagery in its most basic form and it’s something most people won’t even realise they are doing. This can be further explored; internal or external imagery? You can use imagery whilst sitting in bed at night, but is it more effective when doing it out on a pitch? Can you add your feelings to it? How does the ball feel on your foot/in your hands? How did making that important save make you feel?

A parting note to anybody reading this that is interested in seeing imagery in action: Watch David James’ warm-up!

Nice one Rich – Thankyou!

www.worcestergoalkeeperacademy.com

Keeping it Real – It’s not just about saving a ball…

I have just finished reading a post by one of our former coaches, Andy Elleray(now a performance analyst in the premiership), which he goes on to discuss, using facts and figures, that goalkeeper coaches must have more in their training plans than just training for saving goals.

[http://www.gkanalyst.co.uk/everything-goalkeeping/are-we-training-what-actually-occurs-in-matches]

Yes, OK that is what a goalkeeper is there for, to stop the balls from hitting the back of the net, so you’d expect that most of the time coaching would be to dedicate to catching and saves. This is certainly apparent in initial training courses for up and coming coaches that are dedicated to handling and diving. However, I would agree that such a course is beneficial for new keepers to the game and those needing to improve the basics. Although as the keeper gets older and progresses the training must then consider the wider picture.

That was the reason why we assessed in many different areas in our recent assessment at the Academy, to look at (but not limited to) diving, handling, positioning, fitness, confidence, communication, kicking, distribution and even dribbling skills. For a Goalkeeper has to be proficient in more areas than ever before.

Take distribution, a key area we looked at and as Andy’s analysis shows this is a big component of real life for a Goalkeeper as it could equate to 70-80% of their time in a match situation. 

So yes training needs to cater for a larger variety of skills now. It doesn’t mean that we now spend more time focussing on distribution, as all skills are important. But also it goes even further than this that training must consider the requirements and situations that present themselves in a football match -Always ‘keeping it real’.

I saw an article in FourFourTwo of a coaching senario with Joe Hart, that I have since seen coached, where a goalkeeper has their back to the Server and only turns to face the server when the coach tells them to. They then have to make a last minute decision as the server also volleys the ball in on the call (to turn).

I understand the idea of this as the Goalkeeper has to react quickly and it could perhaps improve their reactions. But my issue is that when ever in a match does a Goalkeeper have their back turned like this? Could we perhaps change it that the Goalkeeper is on the floor and has to jump up on command to catch a ball served to say for a high catch, or to the other side of the goal, as rebounds and Goalkeeper reactions to this as a follow up save, is more life-like?

The final part then to ‘keeping it real’ would be that if you train for life-like situations you can then get the Goalkeeper to write them down as an ‘imagery script’ and train their mind ready for a game in which such senarios may present themselves. The Goalkeeper then has an idea of what they need to do, as they have a script imprinted in their mind and they have also then trained for such situations…

Keeping it real – What do you think?

Angry bird spotting

Many of my blog posts have discussed the dead ball. With my daughter taking centre stage… Of her development from sometimes kicking the goal kicks well, to now kicking most of them well. This has come from hours of practice and her imagery script (see blogs: ‘Getting one over your doubters’ & ‘Psychology works!’).

So if she keeps practicing and adding accuracy to her kicks then should could be as good as these guys:

http://en.video.canoe.tv/video/comedy/sports-bloopers/88720339001/real-life-soccer-angry-birds/1202393157001

This video is awesome and went down a storm at the Academy, when we placed our cuddly toys (yes we are never too old for a toy) on top of the cross bar… Enjoy 😉

Psychology coaching works!

In my post on getting one over your doubters, I pointed to improvements made by my daughter thanks in part to the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy and the psychology coaching she received.

She like the other players was asked to do an imagery script. In that she had to write down a script of how she kicks a dead ball (goal kick), i.e. how she, places the ball, how many steps, to take, how fast the run up, how she kicks the ball (the technique), how she feels kicking a good one, how… etc. I was not sure how this was going to work myself until I saw it come to life out on the pitch…

She placed the ball just as she wanted, ensuring she took the right number of steps from the ball. Then she stopped, thought about what she was going to do and the ran and kicked a great dead ball… Wow

I think that writing it down and then following that routine, actually firmed it up in her mind.

She did know how to do it, but in the past in matches, she would not necessarily follow any sort of routine. Instead, just kicking the ball and seeing it go literally anywhere… She would often know immediately, what she had done wrong and then try and correct the next one (if her old manager was to give her that chance…).

So fast forward to now and in recent matches most kicks are great. Because she uses her script… Well most of the time – You actually can tell whether her kick will be good or not as you now notice when she isn’t following her script.

I have since coached this technique to her out field team mate, wanting help on her free kicks. With then getting them in return to teach their technique to another member of her team. It worked and brilliantly at that…

I am now definitely bought in to the concept of imagery scripts. David James (who has our admiration at the Academy) uses them. If you want to find out more check out this interview with David James from Sky Sports:

http://vimeo.com/m/13389676

Psychology coaching works!

In my post on getting one over your doubters, I pointed to improvements made by my daughter thanks in part to the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy and the psychology coaching she received.

She like the other players was asked to do an imagery script. In that she had to write down a script of how she kicks a dead ball (goal kick), i.e. how she, places the ball, how many steps, to take, how fast the run up, how she kicks the ball (the technique), how she feels kicking a good one, how… etc. I was not sure how this was going to work myself until I saw it come to life out on the pitch…

She placed the ball just as she wanted, ensuring she took the right number of steps from the ball. Then she stopped, thought about what she was going to do and the ran and kicked a great dead ball… Wow

I think that writing it down and then following that routine, actually firmed it up in her mind.

She did know how to do it, but in the past in matches, she would not necessarily follow any sort of routine. Instead, just kicking the ball and seeing it go literally anywhere… She would often know immediately, what she had done wrong and then try and correct the next one (if her old manager was to give her that chance…).

So fast forward to now and in recent matches most kicks are great. Because she uses her script… Well most of the time – You actually can tell whether her kick will be good or not as you now notice when she isn’t following her script.

I have since coached this technique to her out field team mate, wanting help on her free kicks. With then getting them in return to teach their technique to another member of her team. It worked and brilliantly at that…

I am now definitely bought in to the concept of imagery scripts. David James (who has our admiration at the Academy) uses them. If you want to find out more check out this interview with David James from Sky Sports:

http://vimeo.com/m/13389676

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