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Thursday, 21 April 2011 17:26

Development Blog Part Two

Development Blog Part Two

Since my last blog I have taken in a grass roots junior game and also experienced junior football in Holland.


Its not often that I get the opportunity to watch my nephew play for his local team as i'm normally involved with watching my goalkeepers at Swindon in the Centre of Excellence games programme on a Sunday morning. However a few weeks ago all the age groups were away so I went to watch him play. He isn't a goalkeeper, he plays in midfield or an attacking role so it was great to see him play and good that one of my goalkeepers from my goalkeeping school was also playing as he plays in the same side as my nephew. I don't often get chance to see my goalkeepers in game action and see if they are putting into practise the techniques we work on each week so it was good to watch the match on two fronts. The goalkeeper in question had a good starting position for through balls and swept up well behind his defence and made a couple of good saves so I was pleased with how he did. There was one thing that disappointed me though, and this was no fault of his. We are talking under 11 football here and nearly all young goalkeepers at this age will struggle to get big distances on their kicking from goal kicks / free kicks etc. The ball went out for a goal kick and a biggish lad playing at the back picked the ball up placed it down on the floor and took the goal-kick and kicked it as hard and as far as he could. I turned to my brother-in-law and said "Why is he taking the goal-kick and not the goalkeeper?" to which he replied "Apparently he gets it further up the pitch" I have two points to make here; firstly how is he going to improve and develop his kicking if he doesn't get the opportunity to take goal-kicks? Secondly from a coaching and team point of view if this is the case why can't the coach actually coach the team how to play out from the back working on the defenders positions to receive the ball and also the midfielders making runs? This would benefit both the goalkeeper and the outfield players, then the goalkeeper could mix up playing out from the back and kicking longer and help him develop his game. Often we all learn by making mistakes and then finding a different way of doing something to be successful, this would be achieved by trying to play out from the back, yes it may cost the odd goal but in the longer term the players overall will benefit.


I have just returned from a week away in Holland with Swindon Town Centre of Excellence where we took the Under 11's, 12's & 13's. Over the course of the week we managed to have two 2 hour long training sessions and we played games against top professional teams such as Feyenoord and Sparta Rotterdam and games against non league sides such as FC Emma and Gravezande. In the games against the professional teams we played the relevant age groups against the relevant age groups but against the non league sides we played our lads against the age group above so they were tested over the course of the games technically, tactically and physically. What I like about the Centre of Excellence games both here and when we go abroad is that the results are irrelevant, we won some games, drew some and lost some but there is no pressure that we must win and gain 3 points. This allows far more learning and experimenting to take place which can only benefit the lads. Over the course of the week I got to have plenty of time working with the goalkeepers we took away with us on the training ground, seeing them in games and seeing how they were in a social environment being responsible for keeping their rooms tidy and reporting for meals and departure times for games and training etc. While we were away we also managed to watch Feyenoord first team train from close up which was great. The goalkeepers were put through their paces and some of the agility work with hurdles was superb and demonstrated the levels of agility and mobility that a goalkeeper needs at the highest levels of the game. What I will also say about the trip, I was surprised at just how good the facilities were in Holland and it really puts us to shame in England. Even non league grass roots teams seemed to have at least two 3g flloodlit pitches and a few grass pitches with railings and in some cases small stands combined with a really nice big clubhouse which seemed to be a focal point in the community of that particular town, it certainly made us jealous as coaches!


This week I was also pleased that I got to see another of the goalkeepers in my goalkeeping school perform when he turned out for the North Wilts Rep team against one of our age groups at the Centre of Excellence. It was the first time I had properly seen him play in a game and he did really well making a number of great saves so I was very pleased for him.


Well the season is coming to an end shortly and its the time of year most goalkeepers don't like as its no fun playing on rock hard pitches with very little grass in the goal-mouths, balls bouncing high and awkwardly and the sun in your eyes! Still we all need a break to re-charge the batteries. Having said that, I am close to finalising a two day course which will be towards the end of May or early June.

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