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Lessons Learned: The difference in how a goalkeeper acts is dependent on the team you play in

A sunny Saturday afternoon in Scotland to watch my nephew’s team play a local friendly to hopefully see him score a goal or two ended up with me watching two different games of goalkeeping.

My nephews senior team were run ragged losing 15-0, with one Goalkeeper extremely busy and one called into action only about 3 times during the 90 minutes… Such a contrast in Goalkeeping reminded me of my daughters experiences as a Goalkeeper, previously playing as a Goalkeeper with little action to move to her new team to being run ragged like my nephew’s team…

At 10-0 down his Goalkeeper started to get despondent… Leaning on the goalpost… Showing clearly that he’d had enough. I would say that he was probably at fault for a third of the goals.

At 12-0 I saw him holding his head in his hands on the floor… Where as his opposite number looked on with his hands on hips, looking a little bored.

Lessons learned:
So would you rather have all the action and potentially concede a lot of goals so you get more chance to develop or no action and get bored?

The main reason the action was at this goal and why the score line was so big, in my opinion, was not all down to the Goalkeeper… Yes, he was at fault for some of the goals but mistakes do happen and if there wasn’t such a barrage of shots on goal maybe the mistakes would have been fewer… No, in this match the main reasons for this huge score line was down to tactics and formation.

Lessons learned:
Basically the point I was making with this article to young aspiring Goalkeepers is that Goalkeepers can have it tough, not just at Junior level, but Senior level too; and Goalkeepers should not feel that such a big score line is down to them. So do not beat yourself up or get so despondent (like the Goalkeeper mentioned here), as there are other factors to conceding goals not just your ability! So keep on trying and keep on goalkeeping 😉

Worcester Goalkeeper Academy Coach Profile: Richard Mace

Richard Mace, Goalkeeper Coach  and specialist coach for Psychology and Perfomance Analysis at the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy.


Qualified to Level 1 Football coach and in the final year of a degree in Sports Psychology.

A former player for the Wolverhampton Wanderers Academy, Cambridge United and Worcester City.

A highly experienced coach, who has coached for Cambridge United in their Community and at Centre of Excellence coaching schemes.


A Goalkeeper with quick feet is hard to beat.

Much Practice can make perfect as can the use of imagery scripts: “Changing a technique without touching a football, it’s certainly possible”.

Worcester Goalkeeper Academy Coach Profile: Andy Morgan

Andy Morgan, Senior Goalkeeper Coach at the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy.


Qualified as a Level 2 Football and Goalkeeping coach, with FA youth Award and is currently working towards a (BSc) Degree in Sports Coaching Science and Physical Education.

Got into goalkeeping by accident. Started off as a left back/ left winger however during an u10s game he went in goal and never looked back. Having, 9 years of playing experience with Worcester City Youth, Cheltenham Town and Birmingham County u18s.

Started coaching at local football holiday camps, and has now been coaching for 4 years, within schools and for 18 months at the Academy.

Personal Development

Within Andy’s own personal development, he is always looking to better his coaching ability and reduce the amount of time in which he talks to allow the Goalkeepers to have more time developing their skills and enhancing their own ability to learn.


Performance analysis is important. How even the slightest movement, like squaring up the hips more or keeping the head still will improve the Goalkeeper’s performance. However, aside from that, it’s all about fun, making sure the Goalkeepers have a good time and want to come every week to learn something new and with that, leave every session feeling they’ve been successful.

Making sure the Goalkeepers are having fun tops the list for me! If the Goalkeepers are having fun they will keep coming back and will be eager to learn. Put them in a boring environment and you’ll never see them develop, as they won’t be interested, however the professionalism always needs to be present.

Worcester Goalkeeper Academy Coach Profile: Jon Barrington

Jon Barrington, Goalkeeper Coach at the Worcester Goalkeeper Academy, with the main responsibility for Psychology and Performance Analysis.


Qualified to Level 1 Football coach and in the final year of a degree in Sports Psychology.

Has run Goalkeeping sessions for the Kidderminster Harriers community scheme.

Provided cover for Julia West at the Kidderminster harriers Girls Centre of Excellence Goalkeeping sessions.

Fortunate enough to be coached by great coaches including Bernard Day and Peter Bonnetti and wants to pass on the experience to the next generation of Goalkeepers.


Being tall, agile and having good hands and feet may provide the basic foundations of a good Goalkeeper. But, hard work, enthusiasm and commitment makes a great goalkeeper.

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).

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.


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?

Assessing a better future

The Worcester Goalkeeper Academy kicked off again on Friday and after months of planning week 1 was a resounding success.

We realise that to develop a player, in line with qualitative continual improvement goals, we first need to understand what the players current ability is and then reassess in the future weeks to see if improvements are achieved.

Keepers were therefore split into groups and assessed in different categories, to test their current abilities in line with the FA four corner model, testing each keeper for technical, psychological, physical and social ability.

The data collected is currently being collated by our performance coach, but on quick glance it could be seen that this was indeed a useful exercise. We now have a starting point for every player and will now look to improve them through specific coaching plans over the coming weeks.

We shall be using our performance coaches from next week to continually monitor performance of both player and coach to assist them in our pursuit of this continued development.

And with our expanding team of highly experienced coaches and the resources we have available to develop all aspects, we are confident of improvements. I shall let you know how we get on…

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