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…
My daughter has come a very long way. From life’s twists and turns she has had to battle with that big foe, confidence. There have been times that have challenged her confidence, however one of the biggest things that has helped her continue to build confidence has been, that of being part of a team of girls who share the same passion as her, for playing football…
She first discovered football at first/primary school. However, on moving to Middle school, she found that at that time they did not promote girls football. She attended their after school training but this was for the boys and as the only girl there she found it difficult to settle in, which upset her. So, we found her a local team and this was the start of something good…
She was now part of a team of other like minded girls and from this confidence grew. It was within this team that she discovered her love of Goalkeeping, often filling in this position, when the Manager asked for volunteers. This became such a regular occurrence, that the Manager suggested that she attend Goalkeeper training…
From the moment she attended the Goalkeeper training, she was hooked. Through attending this and subsequently the Academy with a Head Coach (who as a female goalkeeper herself inspired My daughter!) and all the other many coaches at the Academy that have trained her/with her, she has improved her Goalkeeping skills further…
Her development this year has been superb, with opposing Managers commenting about her tremendous improvement, game to game, with one saying ‘she was the best in the league’…
… And last night, was my proudest moment, when she picked up the award for ‘Most Improved Player’. Well deserved indeed.
I would like to thank the following people who have helped my daughter on her development journey, to enable her to gain such great recognition:
To her former Manager, who introduced her to Goalkeeping.
To Bernie, a brilliant Goalkeeper coach and the person who inspired her the most, to develop her skill further in Goalkeeping. He has a great way with all ages of student and continues to help her develop at the Academy.
To her current Manager and former Assistant Manager (who I took over from), who allowed my daughter to make her own decisions in goal, that if she needed help in the early days with goal kicks say, that it was her choice. This has really been a big catalyst to her development. That combined with her new team mates who play as one team, laughing together and developing together. A team where everyone improved because they all worked together to help each other.
To the opposing Managers, as their comments along with our own observations were the reason she was picked out for this award.
And finally to the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy, a centre that she went to, because she wanted to be as good as the lady who set it up, Julia. Julia and all the other many volunteer coaches who turn up each week (including myself), have really honed in on the areas in most need of development and built on all aspects of her game. This included the biggest hurdle of all, confidence… as at the Academy they also looked at the psychological part of the training and this truly has developed, as my daughter is now more confident in not only Football, but also in life.
Well done indeed. Very proud 😉
Julia West, Head Goalkeeper Coach at the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy
- Qualified UEFA B licence coach specialising in Goalkeeper development.
Played regularly in goal at premier level and represented England universities in a number of international fixtures.
Coached male and female Goalkeepers at Oxford Utd, Brentford Utd and Kidderminster Harriers centres of excellence and youth teams.
- Involved in national talent identification schemes for Goalkeepers. Successfully nurturing two female Goalkeepers into the England youth network and identified further talent through scouting and observation of regional coaching camps.
Observation of Goalkeepers is crucial in helping development along with asking them to find solutions to various problems. Allowing Goalkeepers to try out techniques which could enhance performance within a supportive framework has proved successful in the past and is a vital learning experience for the Goalkeeper.
Julia is very keen to spread the goal keeping word and encourage all to enjoy this often neglected position.