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Steve's Blog

Friday, 26 September 2014 09:58

Goalkeeping Distribution Blog

A parent spoke with me at my goalkeeping school this week asking for help with his 10 year old son who was finding taking goal kicks difficult. He said that he was struggling to get much height and distance and his team coach was talking about getting one of the outfield players to take the goal kicks.

Friday, 25 July 2014 17:20

Updated Blog

Things have been so hectic I only just realised my last blog was some four months ago!

A lot has happened in that time so here we go..................

Monday, 24 March 2014 19:51

Grass Roots Goalkeeping Blog

At Swindon Town Academy we get plenty of emails from parents, grass roots coaches, and players themselves asking for trials and this includes goalkeepers.

Often these emails tell us how good this particular player is and for this blog I’ll obviously focus on the goalkeepers.

Monday, 03 February 2014 22:12

Goalkeeping Psychology Blog

Once again this blog is not of my doing, I cannot claim any credit. Another fellow goalkeeping coach wrote this article and I wanted to share it with other members of the "Goalkeepers Union"

This blog is written by Nick Hutchings who is the First Team goalkeeper at Poole Town FC and is a senior coach at Between the Sticks goalkeeping school. http://www.betweenthesticks.co.uk

I hope you enjoy his article and gain some useful information from it.

Thursday, 16 January 2014 21:57

Goalkeeper Fitness

I have to confess that this blog is not of my doing, I cannot claim any credit. It was brought to my attention by a fellow goalkeeping coach and having read it myself was suitably impressed and wanted to share it with other members of the "Goalkeepers Union"

Monday, 02 December 2013 13:47

Decision Making Blog

Decision Making Blog

There was recently a debate on Twitter amongst some coaches about whether goalkeeping coaches should be at games standing behind the goal coaching the goalkeeper through the game.


My own personal opinion on this matter is that the goalkeeping coach should be there to watch and observe the goalkeeper and maybe offer feedback during the half time break or if the game is broken into periods at the end of each period “If” there is a need to.


However during the actual match itself I personally feel apart from the occasional comment as a coach you should just let the goalkeeper play the game.


A huge part of the goalkeeper’s game is about making decisions and they have lots to make, here are just a few:



Do I need to dive?

Can I move my feet quickly to get to the ball?

Should I catch or parry or tip over?

Where should I try and parry to?

Do I get up and attack the ball if I don’t hold it or do I stay and protect the goal?

Do I come off my line and if so how far?

Do I dive at feet or do I try and stay big and block?

Do I wait for the kick to be taken and react or do I guess which way it will go (Penalty kick)?

Which way do I dive (Penalty kick)?

How many players do I want in my wall (Free Kick)?



Do I stay on my line or come for the cross?

Do I catch or do I punch/deflect?

Where do I punch to?

How high do I hold the line of my defence (Particularly free kicks from wide deep positions)?

When do I come (Ball swinging in or ball swinging away, driven or lofted)?



Should I throw it or kick it?

Should I volley/side volley or drop-kick?

Should I over-arm/javelin throw or roll out?

Who/where should I throw or kick to?

Do I pass it with the inside of my foot or do I drive this pass with my instep?

Do I loft this pass?

How much weight (power) do I put on this pass?

Should I take a touch or should I clear first time?

Should I side foot clear it or strike through it?

Have I got time to take a touch and pass out to keep possession?

Should I just clear the danger?

Where should I try and clear the danger to? (Attacker coming straight towards the goalkeeper)

Should I pass it short or should I look to play longer?

Which side of the body does my team-mate want to receive the ball on?

Does my team-mate want the pass to feet or into space in front of him?



As I said those are just a few of the decisions a goalkeeper has to make in the game so you can see they have a lot of crucial decsions to make.


If a goalkeeper makes a lot of bad decisions, the chances are it can result in a goal, far more so than the decisions made by the outfield players. Therefore the pressure is on the goalkeeper to make not only split second decisions but very good decisions!



If you as a coach / goalkeeping coach / parent stand behind their goal constantly telling him / her what to do how will that goalkeeper learn to make their own decisions and develop their decision making skills?



You have to be prepared to let them try for themselves and you also have to be patient and accept they will make mistakes when making those decisions. However, making mistakes is actually a very good learning tool as ultimately it is the chance for them to learn what to do or what not to do next time in that or a similar situation. You have to show the goalkeeper lots of support and try and concentrate on the positives and not the negatives as much to allow them to feel comfortable and not under constant pressure.



Dealing with crosses is one of the hardest aspects of goalkeeping in my opinion because there are so many variables (lofted, driven, curled in, curled away, pace of the ball, weather aspects i.e.: sun in eyes, rain, wind, pitch conditions i.e.: muddy, hard ground, icy ground, how many players in and around goalkeeper etc etc) meaning the goalkeeper has to take these things into consideration in a  split second and decide if he/she is going to come for the cross and how they are going to deal with it.


I had a recent situation in a game with a young Academy goalkeeper when it came to dealing with crosses. I encourage young goalkeepers to be positive when it comes to dealing with crosses, not just stay on their line all the time and shy away from them. On this day the opposition goalkeeper was a very tall lad for his age so many would assume he would be dominant on crosses but he was in fact the opposite and one of the goals we scored he was rooted to the line when the ball was in a simple area for him to come and catch.


At the other end of the pitch our goalkeeper who was smaller made a really positive decision to come for a cross well outside his six yard box. Not only did he come he tried to catch rather than punch, another positive in my eyes. He got there but the ball unfortunately slipped from his grasp and a striker followed up to score. Far from being disappointed or upset with him as he trudged off at half time looking slightly despondent I expressed how pleased I was with him that he made that positive decision to try and deal with the cross and he would learn and benefit from it. Within ten minutes of the second half starting a free kick was lofted into the box and again he came out just on the edge of his six yard box, called confidently and amongst bodies rose well to catch the free kick and take the pressure off his back four. The smile on his face as he then cleared told its own story........



Where is the best place to watch your goalkeeper?


From a number of different angles, behind the goal, from the opposite end of the pitch, from the halfway line, from the side of the pitch level with his 18 yard box, I would suggest you mix it up to get different views of what they do. Standing behind the goal all the time will probably make the young goalkeeper feel like your eyes are on the back of his/her head constantly and make them feel under even more pressure. They need to feel more relaxed and to be able to make their decisions; you cannot play the game for them. Let them learn and let them flourish then be there to support and help them when they need it.

Monday, 28 October 2013 07:32

You Will Make Mistakes Blog

You Will Make Mistakes Blog

Looking to play in goal?


Well let me make this perfectly clear to you now so there are no grey areas.......




A strange thing for a goalkeeping coach to say you may think but it’s just a hard fact about the life of a goalkeeper quite simply. When you stand between those posts everything you do will be scrutinised and with everything you do there is a risk involved which may result in a goal if you get it wrong. An outfield player does not have such high stakes with what they do as there is always somebody behind them to “get them out of jail” whereas the only thing behind you as a goalkeeper is the net!


I would like to also dispel two theories that:


“Any cross inside the 6 yard box should be the goalkeepers”


and also


“you should NEVER get beaten at your near post”


These maybe statements you have heard and often they will have probably been said by an outfield coach. Most goalkeepers and goalkeeping coaches will understand through experience that there are a number of factors that have an effect on both instances.


Dealing with crosses in my opinion is the hardest part of goalkeeping. So many factors can be taken into consideration:


Weather:- Wind, Rain, Sun

Pitch conditions:- Muddy, wet,  hard ground (frosty conditions), slope on the pitch

Opposition:- Quality of crosser, size and speed of attackers in the box

Type of cross:- Inswing, outswing, lofted, driven, whipped in, pace of ball


All these factors yet as a goalkeeper you have to make a split second decision of whether you are going to stay on your line or come and try and deal with that cross, be it catch, punch or deflect  which is the other decision you have to make.


Therefore add in the bodies in your area and you can see why it’s quite easy to make an incorrect decision or make a slight error technically when dealing with that cross. The type of cross in terms of pace in particular and where that cross is delivered from has a big say in whether you can actually get to that cross inside the 6 yard box, hence why I say it’s unfair to say anything in the 6 yard box is the goalkeepers ball.


Talking of pace of the ball, this can play a major part in not always being able to stop shots at your near post. Obviously it’s important to get your positioning and angles right to give yourself the best chance possible. You need to be in a position where you cover off the near post but also give yourself a chance with shots across you to the far post. However skill and trickery from the attacker who may be able to disguise which side they are going to shoot plays a part but the pace of the ball and distance away with which they strike the shot also plays a big part.


All goalkeepers will make mistakes, the more experience you gain the less mistakes will be made but mistakes will still happen. You only have to look at the abuse that England goalkeeper Joe Hart is currently getting and he has won the premiership and has nearly 40 international caps to his name.


Hart is a top class goalkeeper, that for me is not in question, he is just having a season where things are not going for him at times and of course with the media the way it is now these mistakes get highlighted even if only slight. He is still young in goalkeeping terms and he will go on to have a top career in the game. What he needs is the support of his manager, his goalkeeping coach, his team-mates and the fans.


If I see a young goalkeeper make a mistake, the first thing I look at is how they react to that mistake rather than being so concerned about the mistake itself. Do they let it affect what they do next or are they able to put that mistake behind them and do the next thing in a positive manner.


Often you can actually learn so much when making a mistake it can benefit the goalkeeper in the long term so it’s not the end of the world, even though it may feel like it at the time. In the game the goalkeeper must forget about that mistake straight away and concentrate on what they do next. Then after the game, replay it in their mind and think about what they could have done better and maybe even practice that situation but not dwell on it for too long, forget about it again and focus on the next game.


It is so important that we as coaches, parents, guardians, friends show support to goalkeepers because it is such a difficult position to play in considering the pressure that is upon them and how much they are scrutinised and questioned when they do things. Therefore let us help them and their development and not hinder it and put them off goalkeeping by being too critical.


This blog isn’t to put anyone off who is thinking about being a goalkeeper because there is nothing better than when you make that save when the striker thought they had scored! It is to make people aware and be supportive of what it is actually like playing in goal and show understanding which will help in the development of that goalkeeper.



Friday, 30 August 2013 17:18

Advanced Goalkeeping Training?

Advanced Goalkeeping Training?

The following article I must make perfectly clear is not mine, I did not write it, I came across it recently on a website. It is written by a goalkeeping coach in America.........However I enjoyed reading it because I agreed with many points in it so wanted to share it with you.



The Myth of Advanced Goalkeeper Training


"Through the years I have been constantly asked by parents, players, etc. that they are searching for “advanced goalkeeper training.”  Their previous training has taught them the basics and now they are ready for something else.  They have learned how to catch the ball, move their feet, dive, deal with crosses, etc.  Now their question is what is the next progression of my training?? 


The truly unfortunate thing, advanced training does not exist!  There is no such thing as “advanced goalkeeper training” where you will progress to these big, grand training exercises that are extremely complex in nature.  In fact, the higher level that you play at, the training gets even more simplified.


Goalkeeping is a very simple position.  To be successful at this position though you need to be very technically sound. 


Meaning, you are comfortable with your body and you have the ability to move and catch balls cleanly…all the time!  All it takes is ONE mistake, and we lose in our position.  Field players do not have this pressure on them at all, if they make a mistake, they just lose possession.  Big deal!  This is not a punishment as they still have the opportunity to win the ball back before conceding a goal.  But, when the goalkeeper makes a mistake, it almost always leads to a certain goal.


So, what does this mean?  Goalkeepers, whether you are a U12 player or the full professional, you will always train the same sort of things.  The difference?  The professional will deal with more pace on the ball, will be forced to be quicker, stronger, etc. in their movements.  This is what “advanced training” is all about.  But, the core training exercises will not change and that is where people get confused or led in the wrong direction.  You will not reach a point where all of a sudden you say, WOW, these exercises are so complex, look at how advanced this training session is today.  If you are proficient and clean with your training, to make it more “advanced” all you need to do is increase the speed/pace of the incoming service or shot, force yourself to get set quicker, etc.  But the exercises do not need to change…just the elements within the exercise like service, angles, etc.


As a former professional goalkeeper I can honestly say that goalkeeper training is extremely boring!  Why?  It is boring because of the nature of our training being SO repetitious.  We see repetition after repetition in training.  But we need to have this boredom from repetitions because of the things I mentioned above about making mistakes.  All it takes is one mistake and we lose.  So our training must work on our technique on a daily basis to limit these mistakes and stay sharp and confident.  Training will revolve around repetition after repetition of simple things.  It is about conditioning our body and our muscle memory so we do things efficiently and clean…thus no mistakes and less goals conceded.  But like anything in life, the more you do things over and over, the more it can become boring.  I always ask the question though, how boring is it on a Saturday when you just kept a clean sheet against the top team in the league?  Now that repetition after repetition in training all week long does not seem so bad because you were sharp and confident going into the match.


A few years ago at one of our residential goalkeeper schools we had a great dose of reality to a lot of our players.  We are constantly discussing muscle memory in our sessions and the purpose behind all of our very simple exercises.  Our motto is “Train Like a Professional” and we emphasize that professionals train the exact sessions and exercises that we are doing on a daily basis.  Most new players to our sessions think we are crazy and that the pros train much more difficult exercises, it is not just move your feet and catch over and over again…


Well, as luck would have it that week, the Chicago Fire were training on the same fields we were holding our sessions.  After our session we allowed our goalkeepers to sit and watch the Fire goalkeepers train for about forty-five minutes.  About 10 minutes into the training session our staff began noticing all of our players whispering to each other and pointing at the Fire goalkeepers.  We called them all in to ask them what was going on…They quickly said, they are doing “exactly” the same exercises that we just did this morning.  All the exercises consisted of were moving your feet and catch…quickly move to get your feet set and deal with a simple shot.   It was at that moment they all truly saw for the first time that what we were saying was correct.  The pros do train the simple things!


The position of a goalkeeper is not a rocket science!  You will get out what you put into it and if you are consistently working to fine tune your technique so when you react you are reacting perfectly, you are on the right path to be a big-time goalkeeper"



Tuesday, 21 May 2013 19:13

End Of Season Blog

End Of Season Blog

Well another season has come to an end, the 6th full year of Steve Hale Goalkeeping School, something which I’m very proud of!


For the first 5 years I always held it on a Monday night but due to my commitments with Swindon Town I had to move the session to a Wednesday evening and I must admit I was worried if that would affect the numbers of goalkeepers coming as I’m sure many teams probably train on this particular night. Sadly I did lose a few of my regulars due to this but pleasingly I picked up some new goalkeepers which has been nice working with a new batch.


Throughout the 9 months since September we have worked in all sorts of weather conditions, just a shame much of it hasn’t been sunshine! However the young goalkeepers have manfully battled on and worked hard throughout. I feel that by putting the session topic timetable in place this has given a better structure to our work both from a coaching point of view and for the young goalkeepers learning as there is a clear syllabus of work for the season for them so everyone knows where they stand.


Being a goalkeeper has always been a tough position to play and each year it seems to get harder and harder as the days of just stopping shots being good enough for coaches has long gone. The expectations on the modern goalkeeper are far greater and the emphasis now is that they have to be good ball players as well.


Working full time in an academy environment as I do but also coaching grass roots goalkeepers and having seen a few grass roots games recently, it’s interesting seeing what’s required of goalkeepers in both formats. In academy football the goalkeepers generally have to play out from the back so they need to be very good playing short and medium range passes and being able to receive the ball back and switch the play. The problem then comes later down the line in the older age groups when they are expected to be able to deliver 50-60 yard diagonal balls but they have been brought up most of the time playing short so some find it hard. The flip side is in grass roots football from most of what I have seen the goalkeeper gets it in his hands and just launches it down the pitch. I’ve also seen a number of goalkeepers not take their own goal kicks so that “The big kid at the back” can toe punt it down the pitch, one of my big pet hates!! When I have had triallist goalkeepers come into Swindon from grass roots football often they find it hard having to suddenly play a range of actual passes and switch play and be comfortable with the ball at their feet and manipulating it.


I feel there has to be some form of middle ground in both academy and grass roots football. Goalkeepers to develop need to be encouraged to play out from the back and go long and this needs to come from the coaches. However talking to many other goalkeeping coaches most of us have the same frustrations so I’m not sure it will change sadly.


Over the course of the season it’s been great seeing pictures in the Evening Advertiser sports section or write-ups with mentions for goalkeepers in match reports of goalkeepers that attend our sessions. I always try and photograph these and put them on my “Steve Hale Goalkeeping Facebook Page”, as I said it can be tough playing in goal so it’s important that they enjoy and make the most of the good moments in their games.


As reported a number of weeks ago it’s been great this season also to see Aaron Moody at Swindon gain a full time scholarship next season. Aaron attended my very first Steve Hale Goalkeeping School two day course I put on and I still have the pictures from this course. Years later having coached him through the system at Swindon he will embark on a two year scholarship. Along with Jared Thompson at Chelsea, Conor Thompson at Torquay Utd (whose just been offered a one year Pro deal) and young Oliver Whiteley at Swindon it’s always nice to see goalkeepers that have been with us go on to bigger and better things. Here’s hoping that in years to come i’ll be talking about another batch of goalkeepers making their way in the game.


At this time of the year it’s sad that we say goodbye to goalkeepers that have reached the end of the age groups we work with. I have to have a cut off point somewhere; I can’t have 19 year old goalkeepers working with 11 years olds for example!


We say goodbye to Arie Peursum from Cirencester Town who has been with us for the past year and has always worked hard in the sessions and got on well with the other goalkeepers and coaching staff. We wish Arie well in his future football.


We also sadly say goodbye to Alex Mathews, who again comes down from Cirencester Town. Alex has been with us for around 4 years now so he’s a “veteran” of Steve Hale Goalkeeping School! Again Alex has always been a pleasure to coach working hard, being very polite and getting on well with all. A big thanks also goes to his dad, Pete who does a fantastic job on my website each year. At least he won’t have to stand around in the cold and wet anymore in his “Indiana Jones hat”! :)


I must thank Chippy, Stuart Hutfield and Dan Callaghan for all their work. Chippy has been with me for a number of years now and does a great job for me and despite the banter I give him about his serving I really appreciate his loyalty and hard work each year. Dan was a young goalkeeper at Swindon who I coached and he was looking to gain experience in a coaching environment and I was happy to have Dan work with us and help him develop. He is a very level headed and mature lad who has been a pleasure to work with and again has done a great job over the last year. Stuart has only been with us for the last few months and again having passed some of his coaching badges has come onboard to develop further. Again Stuart is already proving a good asset and I thank him for his work so far and look forward to continuing his work with us.


It’s not easy trying to expand as you need coaches to be able to do this and unlike outfield football schools there are not so many goalkeeper coaches about. You then need to be able to work with them and trust them as they are representing your name as a business so I’m pleased with the people that have and are working/worked with me.


A big thanks also goes to all the parents who not only stump up their hard earned money each month but also stand there during the sessions no matter what the weather to support their children. I certainly appreciate what the parents do and I’m sure the children do as well.


As usual we now break up and the regular goalkeeping school is closed for June, July, and August and starts back in September.


Each year I like to put on a two day summer course, last year was the first time in 6 years I wasn’t able to, due to a busy summer. However, I am pleased that one will be going ahead on the 15th & 16th June at Beversbrook Sports Facility, Calne. Already I have good numbers signed up to this and it’s great that a number of goalkeepers are coming from all sorts of different areas for this. I have limited spaces available if anyone still wants to sign up but they will need to be quick!


These two day courses give us a good opportunity over the two days to get plenty of work done and work together as a team of goalkeepers and mix socially. Goalkeeping aside these are important aspects of growing up and developing as a person so it’s great that we can see how the goalkeepers do in that respect. I’m really looking forward to this year’s event!


There maybe news also in the coming months of expansion for Steve Hale Goalkeeping School, so watch this space..............



I hope all parents and goalkeepers have a great summer and look forward to seeing everyone again next season!
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 13:55

How We Can Help Blog

How We Can Help Blog

As well as playing in goal myself in the non league game for well over 20 years, I have also worked my way through various coaching badges. I have completed the FA Level One, FA Level Two and Uefa B licence outfield and then FA Level Two Goalkeeping and FA Goalkeeping B Licence. I have also completed the FA Level Two Basic Treatment of Injury course and kept my FA Emergency Aid and FA Safeguarding Children certificates up to date.


There is now another strand to the coaching pathway called the FA Youth award modules and I have just started these and I am currently in the middle of Module one. I need to complete Module one and Module two before September as my role at Swindon Town requires this and I also like to increase my knowledge whenever possible anyway.


I will openly admit that I was a little sceptical on these courses as they are more designed with outfield coaches in mind but I have got on with it nevertheless. Having completed half of the four day course there are still areas that I feel that are not really that relevant to me as a goalkeeping coach as most of the actual practises so far, are as I say geared towards outfield players. There have though been a few warm up games which I think I can use or adapt and hopefully in this coming weekends final two days there will be other practises I can adapt to use.


For me the presentations and discussions that have ensued in the classroom I have thoroughly enjoyed and has got my brain ticking over (some might seem surprised I actually have one!) and have been both useful and thought provoking to me as a coach. The Module one is geared towards the 5-11 age brackets, though there are still some generic principles that apply to all ages.


Throughout the course we talk a lot about the “Technical, Physical, Social and Psychological” areas of a young player and in the age range 5-11 most of the focus is more on the final three aspects I just mentioned. It is about creating the right environment for them to learn in, both in a safe and fun way.


From a social aspect it is about encouraging them to have fun and enjoyment, have a smile on their face and want to come back for more. If you enjoy something and want to do it there is a far greater chance that learning will take place.


From a psychological aspect it is about making sure the child feels included in the session, feels confident to give an opinion and even if not at a technically high level can see that working and trying hard brings rewards and praise.


The two areas that got me really thinking though are the “Physical and Technical” areas and thinking back to my own past experiences and what I experience with both my goalkeeping school, my work at Swindon Town and in my past role as a Teaching Assistant in a local primary school.


On this course there is a lot of talk about the “ABC’s” which stands for “Agility, Balance and Co-ordindation” and FUNdamentals which is letting the kids have fun but at the same time working on their basic movement patterns such as walking, running, skipping, jumping, turning etc.


I always vowed when I was younger not to be one of those old people that would say to me as a youngster.... ”In my day..........” HOWEVER I have become one of those people!


In my day as a kid you would be out down the park playing football or cricket with your mates, climbing walls, trees and generally getting up to all sorts of physical activities. These all helped at an early age with your movement, agility, balance and co-ordination skills without someone standing there coaching you how to do it, you simply learnt naturally.


My personal opinion is that not enough is done both in schools these days and at home by some parents to help young children with physical skills that will stand them in good stead not just for sporting purposes but life skills in general. While working in the school they knew I was a football coach so I sometimes got asked to take a P.E lesson which I was more than happy to do. What surprised me though was in a class of say 20-30 children the amount of children who struggled with simple things like throwing and catching, whether it was a football, netball, tennis ball or bean bag. Their basic abilities to climb a climbing frame or get over a beam in the sports hall also left me saddened. I think society obviously hasn’t helped as now there are so many distractions for children such as laptops, I pads, X-Boxes, numerous channels on the telly, that a lot will stay locked away in their bedroom rather than go down the park. I also appreciate and understand from a parent’s point of view it’s maybe sadly not as safe these days for children to go down the park on their own and parents work longer hours in their jobs therefore having less social time with their children.


However I still feel it’s important for the schools to do more and also the parents I feel can do more to help their children at a young age. Simple tasks in your own street, back garden or even in the front room such as throwing and catching different objects (ones that are safe of course), playing chase, allowing them to climb objects under your supervision perhaps will help in the long run and just short regular spells will help greatly.


When I look at it purely from a goalkeeping perspective there have been times where the children who are slightly bigger in build have gone in goal as they haven’t got the speed or energy to run around out on pitch. Now firstly the modern goalkeeper needs mobility, agility, balance, co-ordination and speed to be able to get quickly around his/her goal, to make saves, to come out to clear a through ball, to jump to claim a cross/high ball and dive around to make saves so if they can’t perform those skills effectively they will struggle in goal. Secondly if these children are put in goal how will they develop energy, speed, agility, balance and co-ordination if they are not challenged to do so?


From a technical point of view there was an interesting discussion on the course about whether children should be a specialised goalkeeper at a young age and there was discussion as to what age somebody should specialise as a goalkeeper. From experience with my own goalkeeping school the turnover of children who join and leave is always higher in my younger age group. There are two main reasons I feel for this, firstly because their concentration levels are obviously a lot lower but secondly because they don’t really know if they want to be a goalkeeper or a striker!


I don’t believe any child should be “made” to play in goal; they should try a few different positions out and see what they enjoy the most and where they feel comfortable to start with. Then if they really want to be a goalkeeper, let them play there and encourage them and be there to support them as I make no bones about it, it is a tough and sometimes lonely place to play!


At Swindon when they first come in at under 8’s I don’t even do any goalkeeping specific work with them I just let them train with the outfield coach and players only. It is only when they go to under 9’s I start to do goalkeeping specific work with them but it’s still important that they do lots of work with the outfield coach and players.


I sometimes get asked what I would look for in a goalkeeper at Swindon at such a young age from say 6 to 8/9 and the honest answer is not a lot! What I mean by that is you cannot expect too much at such a young age. It really is basic skills such as them not being afraid of the ball, whereas some will turn away from it, they need to be prepared to get in the way and stop the ball however they do it. I look to see if they have some basic hand to eye co-ordination so they can catch a ball even if it’s not in the perfect technical goalkeeping style. I also look to see if their basic movement skills are good so they can move quite quickly and get around their goal and area quickly. If they haven’t got that it doesn’t matter how well they catch the ball they will struggle to get to it in the first place. I also look to see if they really enjoy actually being in goal and throwing themselves about or whether it’s just because they don’t have to run about so much or their one of their family was a goalkeeper so they have just followed suit.


Going back to the discussion about when they should specialise in goal I don’t think there should be a set age as such, it’s down to the individual if they want to go in goal all the time or not. Who am I or who is anyone for that matter to say “you must or mustn’t” go in goal all the time? Let them make decisions and enjoy the game and work out for themselves what they want to do and where they want to play.


What I would say though is the sooner they can start working on their goalkeeping techniques the better it will stand them in the long run. Again basing it particularly on the work I do at Swindon those ages from around 9/10 up to 15/16 is a massively important time for nailing down their goalkeeping techniques. Then as they get towards the 15/16 bracket and potential scholarships, physical elements, tactical knowledge, decision making comes into play more. You would still continue honing their technical skills and still do so at senior level but really their goalkeeping techniques generally need to be in place for them to stand a good chance of progressing at that level. Similarly at grass roots level those ages are important for goalkeepers to learn and develop their goalkeeping techniques.


So next time you have 10-15 minutes spare and a bit of daylight, can you take your young son/daughter out in the garden/street or down the park and spend some time playing fun little games, getting them moving in different ways, different directions, speeds, jumping, catching and diving. Help them build their movement patterns for all sports and life in general.


If it’s dark, wet and cold and you have had a hard day at work that still doesn’t excuse you! Can you play little simple catch games with them in the living room or their bedroom for their co-ordination skills? (Disclaimer: You cannot sue me if Mums favourite vase gets broken!)


We all need to help the young children of today develop. It’s not just down to the coach, or the parent or the school; it’s down to all of us as a team to help them be the best they can be.

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