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…