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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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Deadline Day – Premiership Goalkeeping Headaches

We knew he was a talent prior to the European Championships and then witnessed as to why he is one of the worlds best Goalkeepers keeping the score low for the French. Now former Olympique Lyonnais Goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris comes to the Premiership So we can watch in awe as he steps between the sticks for Tottenham Hotspur… Oh hang on a minute… Spurs already have a top class Goalkeeper in Brad Friedel… He might be 41 but he is still top class. This surely would give any Manager a selection headache having two great Goalkeepers… But what a fantastic headache for any manager to have… Although spending £11.9m on Lloris would suggest that it won’t be long before Brad has to make way… Even though his heroics this weekend against Norwich, kept the score line down… how could he be sidelined?

And what of QPR… They sign England Goalkeeper Robert Green at the start of the season  to replace the outgoing Paddy Kenny (now at Leeds United). A Goalkeeper with a decent Goalkeeping record in the Premiership. Coming to QPR from West Ham, after an impressive 15 clean sheets for the Hammers last term… And although he has made the headlines for England, sometimes for the wrong reasons, he still remains great back up for Joe Hart in the England Squad… A useful acquisition then for QPR. However deadline day  saw free spending QPR sign another great Goalkeeper, Brazilian Julio Cesar from Inter Milan. Will that also mean sidelining one talent for another.

Ok there is some method in the madness, of which some other clubs could learn from (those with complacent Goalkeepers), that having another talent on the bench could push the man between the sticks to perform better for fear of losing their place… It can work well, but if the Goalkeeper between the sticks then performs well enough to stay in goal, eventually (if not there for the pay cheque) the Goalkeeper on the bench starts to grumble, which either results in the occasional cameo appearance to appease them or that they start to look for the exit… Like Shay Given did after being in Joe Hart’s shadow for so long…

Shame we can’t play more than one Goalkeeper in one team… After all, they do say that some Goalkeepers are frustrated strikers at heart. Perhaps swapping positions in a match 😉

The sparkling new season kicks off – So which Goalkeeper will shine?

A new season with new opportunities for Goalkeepers to cement their place in their clubs folklore, to show them self as the new star on the block or just try desperately to deal with all that is thrown at them…

So who do we have to watch this season? Who will we be most excited about and who will excel?

In the English Premier League, we will get chance to see those Goalkeepers again who impressed last season, through their impressive stats, such as Manchester City’s Joe Hart (Awards: http://wp.me/p27nBU-c1 and Spotlight: http://wp.me/p27nBU-80) and Manchester United’s David De Gea (Awards: http://wp.me/p27nBU-c3). Will they impress again or for De Gea will he be pushed this time for his place in goal by the equally impressive Andres Lindegaard now that he is back from injury? 

Will Arsenal’s Worjciech Szczesny (Spotlight: http://wp.me/p27nBU-5u) put his Euro 2012 red card behind him and build on his stats last season to be the Goalkeeper that lives up to the potential Arsene Wenger believes he has to be one of the greatest Goalkeepers?

We have some new Goalkeepers to watch too, where through promotion from the Championship we see two exciting propositions, with equally impressive stats, Reading’s Adam Federici (Awards: http://wp.me/p27nBU-bA and Spotlight: http://wp.me/p27nBU-am) and Southampton’s Kelvin Davis (Awards http://wp.me/p27nBU-bX and Spotlight: http://wp.me/p27nBU-5o). Can they continue their impressive form or is the Premiership too big a step up…?

West Ham also promoted lost England Goalkeeper Robert Green to QPR who felt that he has the potential they need to keep it clean at the back and help QPR avoid their dalliance with the drop zone this term… A great Goalkeeper indeed with the potential to be their saviour, however will they be too reliant on him and perhaps will he then be as busy as Wolverhampton Wanderer’s Wayne Henessey was last season if the QPR defence is not there to help him?

West Ham instead bring in a new Goalkeeper but one who is very experienced  in the Premiership, Jussi Jaaskelainen from relegated Bolton Wanderers to work once again with Sam Allardyce. Jussi’s stats were also impressive last term, before he was unfortunately out for the season through injury. However if he rediscovers this form, could he help Big Sam bring back a mean defence like that which they both experienced in the old days at Bolton Wanderers, to keep West Ham in the Premiership? A defensive record similar to that which Martin O’Neill can boast in his time in the premiership, that may also see Sunderland’s Simon Mignolet (Spotlight: http://wp.me/p27nBU-6k) shine?

We have already discussed QPR but what about second season syndrome for last terms other Premiership new boys, will the defensive records slip for Swansea’s penalty king Michel Vorm or Norwich’s England new boy John Ruddy?

Will it be these that I have mentioned or the other equally impressive Goalkeepers of Stoke City’s Asmir Begovic, Wigan Athletic’s Ali Al-Habsi or Newcastle United’s Tim Krul that shine?

Perhaps indeed it could be a more experienced Premiership Goalkeeping head that steals the lime light such as Tottenham’s Brad Friedel, Aston Villa’s Shay Given, Fulham’s Mark Schwarzer, Chelsea’s Petr Cech, West Bromwich Albion’s Ben Foster (Spotlight: http://wp.me/p27nBU-6Q), Liverpool’s Pepe Reina, or Everton’s Tim Howard, that stand out this season?

It’s early doors in the Premiership with a number of goals scored against some of our hopefuls, whilst some others are already impressing…  However with another 37 games to go I wonder who will stand out from the crowd (and for the right reasons!). Who ever it is, for now I think we should sit back and watch as we are most certainly all in for a treat of some tremendous displays of Goalkeeping – I can’t wait 😉

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…

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 – 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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