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Tuesday, 03 February 2015 23:03

Modern Goalkeeping Blog

I noticed that I haven't written a blog since way back in September and having covered a number of goalkeeping matters in the past I asked for ideas from people who follow my Goalkeeping School Facebook page.

There were a few responses with ideas to discuss, some were going over old ground that I have spoken about before but a few ideas are worth discussing.

Over the years football has changed and often those changes have impacted on the goalkeeper more than any other player. I have spoken on a number of occasions about the need for the modern goalkeeper to be good with their feet, to be comfortable on the ball and be a good distributor of the ball over different ranges. This has changed the way I coach over the last 12-18 months without doubt.

From the top end of goalkeepers I coach in terms of Wes Foderingham and Tyrell Belford at Swindon Town down to the grass roots goalkeepers in my goalkeeping school I incorporate far more actions involving distribution. Working through the syllabus I do there are specific sessions on distribution. However even when we are working on other topics such as dealing with crosses or shot-stopping for example I will still try and involve a distribution as an action following an action. It could be that the goalkeeper makes a save and hits a side volley to a target man or a goalkeeper catches a cross and rolls to a server who sets it back for them to pass a ball to a wide player. I also actively encourage and work specifically on the "weaker" foot of the goalkeeper and again I am talking about all goalkeepers from grass roots up to Wes and Tyrell as everybody can improve their all round game to make them a better goalkeeper.

Although stats don't tell the whole story they do give a picture, hence why I have my own stats sheet I complete each game. In 30 games so far this season that Wes has played he has distributed the ball 1,440 times at an average of 48 times per game compared to making 74 saves at an average of just over 2 saves per game and dealing with 79 crosses at an average of just under 3 crosses per game. Of those distributions a big number will involve short to medium range distributions (with feet and from hands) due to our style of play.

Obviously my website is geared up for the coaching of grass roots goalkeepers so you might wonder if there is any relevance to those figures. There has been much national debate about the state of our game after the poor performances/results of the national team. There has been much debate how we improve for the future of our game and the national side. I believe long term the starting point is grass roots football.

I have spoken previously of my concerns in grass roots with a big percentage of coaches seemingly more interested in results and league tables and getting the ball forward in a very direct style. Playing out from the back, from the goalkeeper through the thirds brings risks, risks that some coaches seemingly don't want to take. Developing young players I personally believe is more important than just results, especially for the future of our game.

Therefore goalkeeping coaches and outfield coaches need to be patient and have realistic expectations of what each player (goalkeeper and outfield) can do at each respective age. We need to encourage young players to express themselves, to try things without the fear of being shouted at if they go wrong. Psychology and in particular confidence is a huge part of football and especially for a goalkeeper where they are under more pressure than any other player. The slightest mishap for a goalkeeper more often than not results in a goal conceded. As coaches we have a huge part to play in giving them confidence or helping them regain confidence.

The goalkeeper needs to be given the confidence to play short and medium range passes to start with and to receive the ball back from their defenders/midfielders. The defenders/midfielders need to be given the confidence to receive the ball under pressure and be able to get out of tight situations and move the ball forwards through the thirds of the pitch building up the play patiently. There will of course be mistakes, but mistakes are great learning opportunities and will help with the player's development.

Another area of the game which has changed for the modern goalkeeper is the 1v1 situation when an opponent has broken clear and is through with the goalkeeper to beat. Years gone by goalkeepers would fly out of their goal and dive in head and hands first in a bid to secure the ball. These days though I feel this has changed because attacking players now rather than looking to go around the goalkeeper are actually looking to almost gain contact with the goalkeeper and go down to gain a penalty and possibly get the goalkeeper sent off as the last player, thus giving their team a player advantage across the rest of the game.

Therefore a goalkeeper faced with this situation now has bigger decisions to make. If they intend to dive at feet, lead with hands and actually try and secure the ball they have to be 100% sure they will get it first so need to see that the ball is not fully within that players reach, that their touch is away from them. If the player has good control of the ball the goalkeeper now has different options. I think the great Dane, Peter Schmeichel was probably one of the first to come out in a manner they likened to a "starfish" at the time spreading arms and legs out wide to make himself a big obstacle. We now call this the "blocking" technique which we have seen used regularly and very effectively in the "Futsal" format of the game. Although in an ideal world every save a goalkeeper makes would result in securing/catching the ball, in the real world the most important factor is keeping the ball out of the goal and being effective. The blocking technique is proving effective for many goalkeepers as it allows you to make a bigger barrier for your opponent to get the ball past.

Because it's a more modern technique I wanted to learn about it more myself and last season spent time at Manchester City Academy with Head Academy Goalkeeping coach Tim Dittmer (who is now one of the national goalkeeping coaches) who I watched working on the technique with the goalkeepers there. It's not an easy technique, its takes a lot of bravery as you are basically encouraging the attacker to hit the ball into you at close range. It also involves trying to read the player and getting the timing right when to jump into the shape to prove most effective.

Over the years, goalkeeping gloves have changed and have developed and this is a factor in the goalkeeper's armoury against their opponent. Modern footballs are lighter, move quicker and swerve violently but importantly have a shinier slippy feel to them making the job of a goalkeeper harder. Gloves and the latex used are getting better to try and help cope with the new modern footballs.

When I was growing up it tended to be mainly Uhlsport, Reusch and maybe Sondico who produced goalkeeping gloves. The market place now for goalkeeping gloves is flooded with so many different brands. I personally got to the stage where I was paying £40 per pair of Sells gloves and it was just getting too much. I therefore investigated getting my own gloves made and this I did and I am very pleased with how they have developed over the time I have been using and distributing them. However I never started out and have no intention of trying to dominate the world glove market! I merely wanted to have access to many pairs of gloves for myself as I go through so many in my job and to be able to provide goalkeepers I coach with a good glove at a good competitive price and keep costs down for the youngsters and goalkeepers in general.

I see many goalkeeping forums where people are debating different gloves, criticising others and I don't bother getting involved. The market place is big enough for everybody to have their share of the business and it's not the be all and end all to me. I am happy to use them myself and if others want to use them great but I don't ram them down people's throats, I advertise them on my website and occasionally on social media, most buy through word of mouth.

There are different styles of gloves, different latex, different finishes to the palms/fingers such as "Roll-Finger, Negative Cut, Flat Palm, Finger save etc" My only advice would be to try different models, different latex and see what you prefer and feel comfortable and confident with as again feeling confident in what you use will make you feel more assured when you play. Remember though it's the hands in the gloves that catch the ball, the gloves are there just to help!

Price wise gloves can range from around £15 up to £140/50. Personally I would never pay over £50 for a pair of gloves as I don't believe there is such a difference from the top price glove compared to the mid price glove. I, like many provide gloves in the mid twenty pound price range and as gloves don't last that long anyway I feel that's about the right price for the economic climate we are in. The fitting of the glove needs to be comfortable for you, having gloves that are too big will not benefit you as you will lose handling control of the ball and if you have them too tight you will run the risk of them splitting when being used.

Most importantly is looking after them and washing and cleaning them to try and help pro-long the life of them and keep the latex grip in the best possible condition to help you do your job in goal. They need to be washed regularly to get the dirt off of the palm and keep the latex moist to pro-long their life and maintain their "tackiness" which helps with gripping the ball.

Again there is much debate how you wash them and people will all have different opinions. My personal way is that I use a particular glove wash, pouring some of this in a sink of warm water and soaking the gloves. I then use an old tooth brush which has gone soft and brush the dirt from the glove. Then I rinse the gloves in cold water, squeeze out the excess water and leave to dry on a tea towel on the kitchen floor. I've done this for many years and feel it works well for me but other people will have their own opinions on it.

As always when I get into these blogs, I've probably waffled on a bit! Hopefully you haven't fallen asleep before you get to these final few sentences, and hopefully something within my ramblings has been of some use. Feel free to post on my Steve Hale Goalkeeping School Facebook Page any other ideas for future blogs, as long as they are goalkeeping related and not to do with the price of Freddo's as one person suggested!

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