Back In The Swing Blog
Back In The Swing Blog
As the title to the blog suggests, the season is now underway both in the professional game and now in the non league and grass roots game with most teams in the local leagues such as the North Wilts League having started last week. My goalkeeping school has been re-open now for two weeks with our third session coming up next Wednesday. Despite the change of evening and initial concerns having lost a few goalkeepers due to them training with their team on a Wednesday I have at the same time picked up some new goalkeepers which is good. It's nice to work with regular goalkeepers and try and help them develop over a period of time but its also nice to see what new talent is out there in the local area. I say local but not for the first time I have a goalkeeper from the Bristol area travelling down for sessions which is pleasing. Its also been great to see a couple of faces return who had to previously have a break including one female goalkeeper who looks to really be developing well as a talented goalkeeper.
I am still toying with the idea of opening up a session in the Calne/Chippenham area and held talks with a venue towards the end of last season. However its finding the right coaches in the area to work and support it as I can't physically do everything myself with my commitments at Swindon Town and Chippy also has a number of commitments himself. This is something I will continue to look at and monitor and so if your a budding goalkeeper coach reading this blog looking for coaching work please email me your details.
As you will have seen from the news items on my website I am happy to advertise for clubs who are looking for goalkeepers or goalkeepers who are looking for clubs. So feel free to drop me an email with your requirements and i'll endeavour to spread the word. I recently posted details about a young goalkeeper who used to come to my sessions who was looking for a new club. Within hours of posting those details on here and on my "Steve Hale Goalkeeping Facebook Page" he had two offers! I was glad to hear from his Dad to say he had been fixed up, it was great to be able to help.
Its been a very busy start to the new season in my role at Swindon Town but in no way am I complaining. Although we have had some dodgy weather when you consider its supposed to be summer, generally its been great working with the goalkeepers at our nicely situated and picturesque training ground. However at times my poor old shiny head has taken a bit of a battering from the sun!
A tough schedule was in place for the scholars and although our new young scholar goalkeeper moaned as most goalkeepers do when it comes to pre season we got him through it and already he has started to look physically stronger for it and benefitted his game. With it being the school holidays our young under 16's goalkeeper has shown a great attitude and come in regularly with the scholars as well. Getting the chance to spend more time working with him and the chance for him to be challenged by training with the scholars has been a big benefit to him and the improvements in his game have been noticed not only by me but by a number of other people so im really pleased for him.
The younger Academy goalkeepers have been back in regularly since the 1st of August and they really are an enthusiastic bunch and a pleasure to work with. Under the new EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) all Academy players will train three times per week which for the goalkeepers will be divided up between work with me and work with their squad. Its a big commitment for not only the players themselves but also their parents who have to taxi them about and they have my utmost respect for the support they give their children. Most people know that few make the grade as professionals but even if they don't make it I like to think we can still help them develop as players and as people broadening their social skills and still try and play the best level of the game they can.
I actually had to don the gloves again myself recently when I took part in a charity match for a Swindon Town Staff & Veteran team against Fairford Town Veterans in aid of the British Heart Foundation. This is an annual game to also remember John Hathaway who played for Fairford and was a coach at Swindon. I never thought I would be in the same line up as Paolo Di Canio, Ian Woan, David Duke, Jerel Ifil, Paul Bodin, Alan Mcloughlin to name a few! Though having seen the team photo in the Evening Advertiser the next day and after taking some abuse from a few facebook friends perhaps I should of prepared for it as the shirt was what you call "snug"! At least it inspired me to hit the gym more and look at what I eat, so a positive did come out of it and ive lost nearly half a stone since! hahaha
Onto my new style of goalkeeper glove that is out this season "The Keeper" glove. I'm pleased with how they are performing and its great to see young goalkeepers wearing them. In the market place today there are a wide range of gloves with many companies marketing their gloves in a wider range of places than I do. I am not into hard sell, I simply don't have the time and at present its not my main drive to try and conquer the world with my gloves. Some brands throw hundreds of pairs of free gloves at full time professionals in order to get them to wear their models and spread the word and good luck to them if they can afford to do that. The funny thing is the professionals are the ones with plenty of money yet get free gloves out of it which always amuses me but like I say fair play, if it helps sell gloves good luck to them. I have produced a glove that is reasonably priced in the current market and if goalkeepers at my goalkeeping school or at Swindon Town or anyone else for that matter want them thats great. Its nice to see a good proportion of the young goalkeepers I work with at Swindon wearing them and obviously with coaching daily I go through alot of pairs of gloves in a season myself.
One thing that I notice though is that young goalkeepers still don't look after their gloves enough which always surprises me. Your gloves are your "Tools of your trade", look after them and they will look after you. If you don't wash them fairly regularly the latex with go dry and the grip will get worse, quite simple really! Even with a well priced pair of gloves it will still cost you a few pounds over the course of the season as gloves don't last long because the better the grip, the softer the grip and the more wear and tear will happen so I do preach that you should look after them. For years now I have bought "Glove Wash" which I tend to get from Just Keepers www.just-keepers.com it doesn't cost the earth and you don't need too much per wash in a shallow sink of warm water and I use an old tooth brush which has gone soft to brush the dirt from the palm, rinse off and dry naturally.
Finally over the next few days have a look at www.gksforgosh.co.uk which is a very worthwhile cause raising funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital. I came to know about it via Lee Harrison who is the First Team goalkeeping coach at Wycombe Wanderers as sadly his young son is currently being treated at the hospital. The aim is to raise funds to go towards supporting a great hospital which does so much good for children up and down the country. GKs for GOSH also have a facebook page and Twitter account so you can find out more details there if your into social media.
Anyway thats enough for now, whenever I do these blogs I get carried away and start waffling!!
General Update Blog
General Update Blog
Well its just under 4 weeks till I re-open my goalkeeping school for its 6th year! That in itself is something I am proud of and I have always strived to try and help the young goalkeepers of Swindon and the surrounding area improve on and off the pitch. Obviously the reason young goalkeepers come to my goalkeeping school is to develop their goalkeeping skills but I also like to think they learn other skills that can be used in life in general. Skills such as commitment, hard work and giving your best, respect, team-work and social skills I like to encourage.
I have always run my sessions on a Monday evening but due to my increased commitments at Swindon Town this season I am having to change to a Wednesday evening for the time being. I understand that some of the local clubs that young goalkeepers play for may train on this evening but if the club wants to help their goalkeepers improve with specialised coaching it would be great if they actively encourage their goalkeeper to still come to our sessions. I get told a lot by parents and even coaches of teams that their goalkeeper doesn't get any specialised work within their club. That is not a criticism of the clubs in the area, it just means that they probably don't have a qualified goalkeeper coach within their setup so are limited to how they can help their young goalkeepers. I look at it this way and i'm sure my good wife will agree, I am useless around the home, can't even change a plug and wouldn't know the right end of a paintbrush! Therefore if something needs doing in our house, we would get someone who is trained in that particular field and someone who does have the experience to do the job. So whats the difference when it comes to coaching young goalkeepers? there isn't one! Give your goalkeepers the chance to develop by not only working with experienced coaches but also working with other young like-minded goalkeepers and help push them on. Despite the rising costs everywhere I am maintaining the monthly fees of £26.00 for the third consecutive year. The only slight change is a "once a year" registration fee of just £5.00 which im sure you will agree is not alot!
As stated before through my role at Swindon I also use my goalkeeping school as somewhat of a development centre and there have been a number of young goalkeepers who I have taken into Swindon for trials and some of whom have signed contracts. As stated on my front page probably the most notable recent one being Jared Thompson who has now gone on to even bigger things at Chelsea. Also through the grass-roots grapevine if I hear of any young goalkeepers doing well, I can arrange with our Head of Scouting at Swindon to get these goalkeepers watched and monitored for the future.
Over the years I have had a number of young goalkeepers who have been with me for a good period of time and shown great loyalty to my goalkeeping school. This is something I have always appreciated and its great to hear stories of their "worldy" performances from their parents, the goalkeepers themselves or when I see their name in the grass roots section of the Evening Advertiser which I get each week.
I recently returned from the Milk Cup in Northern Ireland with Swindon, a fantastic experience once again. We took a very mixed age group squad for the tournament so expecations weren't high in terms of winning a trophy, the goal was more about the experience the players would gain from it and thus aiding their development. Despite going out of the main Milk Cup section we did however win the "Bowl" competition so it was a nice reward for all the lads hard work. Our goalkeeper had a good tournament which was pleasing and i'm sure he will have gained a lot from the experience.
I have been back in with the scholars at Swindon since the 2nd July and pre season has gone really well! In terms of results we drew with Newport County then beat English Colleges, Nike Academy, Portsmouth, Cardiff City and Swansea City and to be fair the lads have been on fire! We now start our league campaign this Saturday with Torquay Utd at home followed by a local derby away at Bristol Rovers so i'm really looking forward to seeing if the lads can maintain that form. Again our goalkeeper who is new to the club has been very effective in these games and im just starting to get to know his strengths, and also areas of his game that we need to work on. Being in daily we can look to improve and develop him over the coming season. Today I went with him as he was required by the first team goalkeeper coach at the club for a short session, his first with the seniors. Its always good to watch other goalkeeper coaches work as I believe we can all learn off each other and with Domenico being Italian its good to see how his style varies to English coaches and its always an interesting conversation when speaking with him. It was also great to see Leigh Bedwell working having worked with him myself for 4-5 years as he came through the system and he is certainly developing well.
My new gloves have been delivered, along with a key-ring designed in the same style. I truly believe this is the best glove I have had produced so far. They come in sizes 6, 7, 8 & 9 and if I receive demand for gloves in a size 5 or size 10 I will get some made, though I don't find size 10 a popular size at all. "The Keeper" gloves are now on sale priced at £25.00 per pair or two pairs for £40.00. These prices fall in-line with a host of other goalkeeping gloves out there in the market place and are most definitely value for money. I hope to shortly have pictures up on this website for you all to see. They are currently on display on my "Steve Hale Goalkeeping Facebook Page" and also I have posted pictures on my twitter account @SteveHaleGK
Thats all for now folks, i'm looking forward to the start of the new season!!!!
A New Season Ahead Blog
A New Season Ahead Blog
It doesn't take long does it, one season finishes and a new one is nearly upon us already!
June has been a manic month for me personally, but ultimately a very rewarding one which I have enjoyed immensely. Obviously at the end of May I was given a contract to increase my part time role at Swindon Town to full time as academy goalkeeping coach under the new academy category 3 status scheme brought in through the EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan). This of course was fantastic news and this allowed me to relax and enjoy another big occasion on the 2nd June..........getting married to a fantastic lady! We had a truly brilliant day with friends and family and it was great to see a few goalkeepers I have coached attend, especially Jamie Stephens and his girlfriend Sophia who made the effort to come down from Liverpool where he is now plying his trade. The next day we jetted off to the Maldives and spent a week relaxing in the hot sun on a remote island in the Indian Ocean which was like paradise! Now you would of thought in a place like this it would be a complete break from the football world..............not for me though! There happened to be a 3G full size pitch in the middle of the island which the staff trained and played games on! Before you are worried that this may have caused an early divorce, it couldn't be further from the truth as my lovely wife had no problem at all allowing me to watch some of the sessions. In fact on the last day there was a "Staff v Guests" game which she encouraged me to play in but I declined as it was so hot and I didn't want to end a glorious honeymoon in the air ambulance knowing my luck! I did while there actually have my picture taken with a couple of the goalkeepers that were training there much to their bafflement and my amusement (mad englishman they must of thought!)
On returning to England I last week had an operation I had been thinking about for about the last 10 years, no not a Wayne Rooney hair transplant before the wisecracks start! I have worn contact lenses and glasses (occasionally) for a number of years now but certainly over the last few years I have picked up a few eye infections which has mean't not being able to wear my lenses, with eye drops curing the problem in about a week. This became more frequent and was hugely annoying and frustrating as trying to coach in glasses is difficult to say the least, especially in the poor english weather! It also just doesn't seem right coaching goalkeepers in glasses and a few jokes certainly came my way at times! Therefore with the increasing improved science when it comes to eye laser surgery I felt more confident in the modern treatments based on my own research and from speaking to two friends of my wife who had received the treatment. I had the short operation last Friday and although I have to be careful and take things steady with my recovery which i'm doing generally, my eyesight is now as i'm told by the surgeon 20/20 so i'm very pleased with how things are progressing on this front.
As if all of the above hasn't been pleasing enough, only this weekend some further great news has broken and which I have revealed on the front page of my website. Just after a year of setting up my goalkeeping school an 8 year old boy called Jared and his older brother Conor joined. Jared was very small as you can imagine at that age but straight away you could see he loved being in goal and demanding that people took shots at him. You could tell he particularly saw it as a challenge to stop the bigger goalkeepers scoring against him and the raw potential was there to see. In the space of a year he had joined me at Swindon Town and for the past 4 years I have coached him in the Centre of Excellence. As stated on the front page he has developed and grown as a goalkeeper and as a person. In fact if you look at the two pictures you will see him in 2010 and the next picture stood next to me was earlier this year and you can see how much he has grown physically, he is nearly as tall as me and he is only 13! This past 12-18 months Jared has really come on well and particularly his distribution has got better and better and his performances have become more consistent. As soon as you get a good tall goalkeeper (every club is after them!) scouts come sniffing and this proved the case with Jared and Chelsea, Southampton and Manchester Utd expressed their interest. A deal has been reached with Swindon and Jared this weekend just gone signed his contract with the European champions. This is a fantastic opportunity for Jared to develop even further and an exciting time for him and his family. It makes me very proud that he started out in Steve Hale Goalkeeping School, made progression to Swindon and now onto Chelsea. For any young goalkeeper or parent reading my website and this blog, it doesn't mean everyone will have this type of progression but it does show what is possible with hard work allied to ability. Having ability alone is not enough and there are many players who have never made it to a good standard because they thought ability alone would get them there. I cannot stress enough that "HARD WORK" is a huge ingredient if you want to be successful in any walk of life, not just goalkeeping or football. Jared is a role model and an example to all young goalkeepers why they should work hard, practice and listen to their coaches and see where this can take them. I wish Jared all the very best for the future and look forward to keeping an eye on how he progresses at Chelsea.
Somebody else stepping up with a Steve Hale Goalkeeping School connection is my trusted assistant Chippy (James Whitlock). Chippy, although approaching veteran status at 36 (37 in September) still plays local football as well as helping me with coaching in my goalkeeping school. Last season he also did some sessions for Hellenic Premier side Fairford Town (the fact they got relegated was nothing to do with his coaching I want to add! hahaha) This season ahead he is still likely to play, but he will also be doing some of the goalkeeping coaching at Evo Stik South & West side Swindon Supermarine. I am pleased for Chippy and I think it will help enchance his coaching experience dealing with senior goalkeepers in a Southern League club so good luck to him.
Only one week to go now till we start back in for Pre Season with the scholars at Swindon and I can't wait (especially as its not me doing the hard physical work!) Whether its Swindon or in the non league game where I have coached, I don't actually mind the goalkeepers doing the first week with the outfield players as its good to see their character and how they handle the workload in terms of their physical and mental strength. However after that first week I do like to get the goalkeepers to myself as much as possible and start working on their "goalkeeping fitness" which differs to that of an outfield player and therefore needs different work to an outfield player.
Outfield players do alot of aeorobic work such as distance running to build up stamina wheras goalkeepers need a bigger proportion of anaerobic work which is harder work in short bursts as goalkeeping is generally a mixture of explosive movements. Often outfield players may look over and give the goalkeepers some stick about how they have it easy when they see them resting but I can assure you the short bursts of work they do have to do are physically demanding and hard on the body!
Tonight (Monday 25th) we have our first session at Swindon with our squad which will be competing in the Milk Cup tournament in Northern Ireland in the middle of July. Its a brilliant tournament and a fantastic learning experience both on and off the pitch for the players. Its a very well supported tournament and this brings pressure for the players so its interesting to see how they handle this as our regular games programme at Swindon is more about development rather than results wheras tournament football is more about results. It is a good standard of opposition and this year in our third game we face Premiership giants Liverpool which will be a great test for the lads.
Despite my increased role at Swindon Town I have no intention of closing my goalkeeping school despite my increased work load. Not only do I thoroughly enjoy trying to develop and improve grass roots goalkeepers it also acts as a development centre whereby I can keep an eye on potential recruits for our academy at Swindon. I have since setting up held regular Monday evening sessions and I still intend to hold one evening session per week. What I don't know 100% at this stage today is whether that will continue to be on a Monday or whether I may need to move it to another evening, maybe a Wednesday. Once I am back in at Swindon and I have discussed and organised my schedule with the Academy manager I will then be in a position to make that decision. Once I know I will straight away get this advertised on this website and let existing goalkeepers in my school know.
Each year I always put on a two day course in the summer months which has always proved a great success and I have been asked by a few parents already about this. Unfortunately at this moment in time I cannot say yet whether this will happen and if im honest this is looking unlikely at this stage for a few reasons. Obviously with my wedding and honeymoon this took out some of my time but also I have been struggling to find a suitable venue. Most places have been unavailable due to ground maintenance work being carried out to get their pitches ready for the next season. On top of all this as already stated I am not 100% sure of my exact timetable with Swindon just yet so again I will take this decision shortly and update my wesbite with details.
Thats all for now folks!
5 Years Work Paid Off
5 Years Work Paid Off Blog
It maybe a corny line but on Thursday I was “over the moon” after having my part time role as Centre of Excellence goalkeeping coach at Swindon Town FC increased to Full Time Academy Goalkeeping coach, as the club goes into Academy status under the new EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) brought in by the premier league and English FA.
Without sounding like an “oldie” when I was a lad I was no different to millions of others in that I wanted to be a professional footballer. However there were not the opportunities and pathways in those days that there are now for young players. There were not academies or centres of excellence or the coaching available to me as there are now. Growing up I played grass roots football and was doing quite well and made it into the then Swindon Schoolboys squad and was watched by Southampton and had a trial at Cardiff City but I didn’t quite make the grade.
I played many years in the non league game but when I was about 34 I picked up a few niggling injuries and it was at this stage I started to look at the coaching pathway. In the past 5 years I have gone through my FA Level 1, FA Level 2 and Uefa B Licence outfield badges and my FA Level 2 Goalkeeping and FA B Licence Goalkeeping badges. All of which has taken a lot of time and a lot of money and hard work to achieve.
Also 5 years ago I started coaching at Jamie Shore Soccer Academy in Bristol as goalkeeping coach and set up Steve Hale Goalkeeping School. At the same time I was invited in to Swindon Town Centre of Excellence by Jeremy Newton and Dave Byrne to do some goalkeeping coaching at around the time Dennis Wise was just leaving the club as first team manager.
I am Swindon born and bred and my Dad took me to my first game on a cold and wet Friday night and I saw them beat Northampton Town 3-2 with a Peter Coyne hat-trick in the Lou Macari days. Over the years although I have obviously been playing myself I have always been a fan and gone to as many games as I possibly could. Obviously being a goalkeeper myself I have always watched and focussed on the many custodians the club has had over the years:
Jimmy Allan, Scott Endersby, Jake Findlay, Kenny Allen, Fraser Digby, Nicky Hammond, Frank Talia, Shay Given, Tim Flowers, Rhys Evans, Steve Mildenhall, Bart Griemlink, Phil Smith, Dave Lucas and Wes Foderingham all who I have watched grace the County Ground.
As a young lad Kenny Allen was my first favourite as he was a character with his long grey hair and he often wore a different make of boot on each foot! Then, it goes without saying Fraser Digby who became a legend at the club playing for 12 years and making 420 appearances. I also remember watching Steve Mildenhall coming up through the Youth team (managed by another Swindon legend John Trollope) and becoming first team goalkeeper. Interestingly having watched Rhys Evans play for Swindon I’m now actually coaching his 8 year old son at the club!
During my 5 years so far I have seen the likes of first team managers Dennis Wise, Paul Sturrock, Maurice Malpas, Danny Wilson and now Paolo Di Canio at the helm. I have to say Danny Wilson has been the one so far who has shown me the most respect, though I haven’t really had anytime close up with Paolo Di Canio so far. Also during this time I have gone in and observed and assisted first team goalkeeping coaches John Granville and then George Wood with the senior goalkeepers at the club and am looking forward to building up a relationship with current first team goalkeeping coach Domenico Doardo who I have met on a few occasions now. I watched and learned from both John and George and both of them were good in supporting and encouraging me. George Wood in particular I hold big respect for who has years of knowledge, a great personality and who actively encouraged me and got me serving and sometimes doing my own drills with the goalkeepers which was great. In that time I saw at close hand Peter Brezovan, Phil Smith and Dave Lucas and all three are good pro’s and accepted me in and have been good with me as they were with all the young scholar goalkeepers throughout that time such as Mark Scott, Calum Antell, Jamie Stephens, Leigh Bedwell and Conor Thompson.
Looking back over my own 5 years coaching the young goalkeepers at the club I have thoroughly enjoyed coaching all the goalkeepers. It’s been great to see Mark Scott make it as a pro though sad to see him depart recently. Also seeing Calum Antell develop and though his pathway was blocked due to the club already having 4 senior goalkeepers at the end of his scholarship he has gone on to make it as a professional at Hibernian. Following him has been Jamie Stephens who we sold to Liverpool, a great move for him and totally deserved. More recently Leigh Bedwell who I have talked about before in my last column, I have seen progress from under 14’s when I first joined to now earning his first professional contract with the club. Conor Thompson who started out in Steve Hale Goalkeeping School came into the centre and progressed through to scholar and also gained international recognition with Northern Ireland, the first time I can remember a young goalkeeper in our system doing that. Now we have Conor’s younger brother, Jared who again started out in Steve Hale Goalkeeping School and again then came into the centre. I have been coaching him at Swindon for 4 years and as we speak two premiership clubs in Southampton and Chelsea are both keen to sign him.
I have been to Holland twice, the Milk Cup tournament in Northern Ireland twice and been to South Korea all with the Centre coaching the goalkeepers. I have worked very hard and enjoyed all of the experiences I have had so far with Swindon Town, with Jamie Shore and setting up and running my own goalkeeping school and working through my coaching qualifications with the English FA.
Therefore, on Thursday when the Swindon Town Chief Executive, Nick Watkins shook my hand after we had agreed a contract, I was made up with both excitement as I look forward and relief as it feels like all that hard work has finally paid off. It has been my goal to become full time working daily in the professional football environment and now this new challenge will begin on the 2nd July when we report back for pre season training. I now have a month off to relax and then the hard work begins and I won’t take my foot off the pedal, I will be putting my all into the role!
I will stress though, that doesn’t mean the end of Steve Hale Goalkeeping School, far from it. I may need to look at whether we continue on a Monday evening or move it to another evening depending on the structure of my sessions at Swindon under the new Academy programme but we certainly will be continuing. I am fortunate in that I have two good people in Chippy (James Whitlock) and young Dan Callaghan helping and supporting me so even if I cannot make a session I have complete faith and trust in them. As has been the case during my time running it and working at Swindon, any goalkeepers that come into my goalkeeping school who I feel have the potential and right attitude for hard work I will look to try and bring through into Swindon if we require a goalkeeper at their particular age group.
Nearly The End Blog
Nearly The End Blog
I try to generally update my blog roughly once a month but its been a while since my last one so there are a few things to catch up on.
The title of this blog is not me predicting the end of the world don't panic, but merely that we are coming to the end of another long season. From my point of view in some ways it certainly has felt like a long season. At Cirencester Town in the Evo Stik Southern league Premier Division where I have been goalkeeping coach for the past two and a half seasons this season has certainly been the hardest I have experienced in all my time in football spanning back around 30 years! After a good first season back in the Prem last time round it was hoped to build on it this time round. Losing goalkeeper Matty Bulman in the summer though to Forest Green was good from a personal point of view but a massive blow from a team point of view. Obviously having had a season working with him I was pleased for him earning himself a two year deal back in the professional game. Bully deserved it after having a great season at Cirencester but from a team point of view it was a big loss. I tipped the gaffa off about Bristol based Danny Greaves and helped persuade him to make the move to Cirencester and he was in superb form in pre season and I felt he also could earn the right to go higher in the game again (he was at Bristol Rovers as a youngster). Unfortunately for Danny as a team our defending was woeful at times and although Danny would be the first to admit he could of done better on a couple of goals, generally I felt sorry for Danny as he was left exposed time and time again and couldn't prevent the goals and defeats that followed. During this time Danny was also struggling with an injury and trying to play through it so as to not let anyone down but that coupled with the goals conceded made it a tough time for him. Eventually, with his wife expecting twins he decided to take a break from football and left the club. I still maintain however that once Danny gets back playing regularly, someone will have a very good goalkeeper on their books!
At this time I stressed that it wasn't going to matter who we had in goal, Danny, Joe Hart or Casillas we needed to sort out what was going on in front of the goalkeeper or the goals would continue to fly in. Unfortunately I was proved right and over the course of the season we used 5 different goalkeepers, Danny, Mike Green and Kev Sawyer both excellent goalkeepers at this level and youngsters Charles Steward and Mike Hedges who were thrown in at the deep end a little. All credit to young Mike in the second half of the season, coming out of the Development team he really came of age and turned in some excellent performances which will stand him in good stead for the future, and a bright one I feel he has in the Non league game. After having worked all season with Bully the season before that was great as you built up your routines and a relationship and things worked well. This time round it was hard going because as soon as I felt like a routine and relationship was building that goalkeeper left and the next one came in. I enjoyed my time working with all of the goalkeepers and they all worked hard in training and performed well in games, I just wished they could of stayed longer! In February I decided to step down from my role, I won't go into the reasons why but I decided I had, had enough and sadly the team were eventually relegated.
Just recently at Swindon Town I have savoured some really good moments, not just because of the success the first team have had but because of the situations of two young goalkeepers. Firstly as already talked about on my website young Oli Whiteley who has been in my goalkeeping school this season earned a Centre of Excellence contract for next season. He's a real "Cheeky Chappy" character with alot of potential and sitting in the stands at the County Ground, watching him sign his contract on the pitch at half time during a first team game, with Paul Bodin (Youth Team Manager) it was fantastic to see his smiling face and his enthusiasm shine through. Thankfully I will continue to work with him at Swindon and hopefully help him to realise and develop his potential.
Secondly even better news was when second year scholar Leigh Bedwell was awarded his first professional contract with the club. Leigh started in the system at under 9's and I joined the club and started working with him at Under 14 level and have worked with him and seen him develop through to scholar and now pro. I cannot sing his praises highly enough as he has shown such a great work ethic, committment and desire hardly ever missing a session or game. He would be last off the training pitch and would often do extra and I still remember doing some sessions with him in the Summer months and off season such was his desire to learn and improve. During all this time his Dad has driven him all over the place and supported him. Also he has stayed in the background and let Leigh get on with it without ever being a "pushy parent" and as a coach he made life easy for me and was always a pleasure to deal and communicate with. On the day Leigh was to be told his fate at Swindon I was probably as nervous, apprehensive and excited at the same time as Leigh's proud Dad! I kept texting him asking if he had been told yet. When we spoke and he told me he had been taken on I don't mind admitting I was like a kid at christmas as I was so pleased that he had got what he had worked so hard for. Obviously Leigh now has to build on all that hard work and next season won't be easy for him as he has to adjust to the training in the senior environment. Also with no official reserve team finding game time will be crucial. Of course you can learn from being coached and training each day, that goes without saying, but you learn so much by playing games and for Leigh to continue to improve he will need this. I personally would like to see him have a good pre season with the squad and then go out on loan at Southern League level. There he will be in an environment where 3 points are at stake, playing on a range of different standard pitches against men who have grafted throughout the day in their day jobs and just want to win a game of football. He will experience balls being delivered into his box and have to compete for crosses with big target men or brutes of centre halves up for set pieces and this will toughen him up and help him develop. I certainly look forward to seeing how he progresses over the next twelve months as he tries to earn that second pro contract which is often harder than getting the first. If anyone will work hard to do that it will be Leigh!
Over the course of the season in my goalkeeping school the numbers of goalkeepers in both my age groups have fluctuated for the first time in 5 seasons. There are a number of reasons for this including some teams having their training nights on a Monday now preventing some goalkeepers coming to my Monday sessions. There are also numerous other activities out there in this day and age for children to do and of course in the current economic climate money is understandably tight for parents. Normally there is a higher turnover of goalkeepers in my younger group than my older group as at such a young age their attention span is shorter and some aren't really sure if they want to be a goalkeeper or a striker! However after a concern mid season i'm pleased to say my numbers are back up and I feel we have just the right balance in each group. Also having Dan Callaghan come onboard to join me and Chippy has been a great help. I coached Dan at the Centre of Excellence previously and now he is starting to get involved in coaching and I am more than happy to help him along the way as like Leigh Bedwell, Dan has a great attitude and work ethic and is a nice lad also. The kids have taken to Dan and we will continue to help him and encourage him on his coaching pathway.
I am very lucky that I work with both the goalkeepers at Swindon and my goalkeeping school as I enjoy seeing and helping goalkeepers at all levels of the game develop and improve and ultimately enjoy playing in goal. We are now into the last month before we close for the summer break which I do every year. This gives the children and their parents the chance to put their feet up and also me and Chippy!! Working hard is important but also knowing when to switch off and relax is as well and helps keep the body and mind fresh and enthusiastic. After 12 weeks off we will be opening up again and I am also still hopeful of running a two day course as I do each year in the Summer, though I am still searching for an appropriate venue. I am also looking into the possibility of opening up a session in the North Wiltshire area next season on another night and am currently looking at venues and logistics so watch this space.
After being let down on delivery times and some other customer service issues by my last supplier for my own branded goalkeeping glove, I have been in talks with a new supplier. We have between us designed a new glove, a sample has been made and I am currently testing this glove out personally. I have to say I am very excited about it and feel this could be the best one yet, so again watch this space for further news......
Well thats all for now folks, its been good to catch up!
Coach Education Blog
Coach Education Blog
I am currently in the middle of the process to become an FA Tutor for the Level One Goalkeeping Award. When I did my Goalkeeping B Licence, Martin Thomas (Assistant National Goalkeeping Coach) and Tony Parks (Tottenham Goalkeeping Coach) were two of my tutors and they spoke to me towards the end about also going down the route of Coach Education and asked if I would be interested to which I was. Martin kindly organized to put me through my Generic Tutors course (classroom based course on how people learn) to start with. Now I have had to observe a level One GK Award course being done and I am currently part tutoring one down in Bristol and will probably have to do another then put one on myself and be assessed before I can be signed off.
Over the two Level One GK award courses I have been involved on so far it’s great to meet all the wide range of candidates who come on the courses. Goalkeepers have been neglected for far too long so its good that people are now showing an interest and want to have more knowledge on the subject to pass on to our young goalkeepers. Obviously the level one course is the starting point and gives knowledge on some of the basic techniques but importantly there is a focus on the safety issues which are involved such as how to dive in a safe manner. It’s important that our young goalkeepers aren’t put off goalkeeping at an early age by hurting themselves and therefore a coach needs to be able to give the correct advice.
I have seen in the past myself at various football facilities where grass roots clubs have been training and seen some worrying sights of so called “coaches” or parents taking the goalkeeper and not giving good advice or information to the young goalkeepers which could potentially cause injury. As I said, on these courses you get a real mix of candidate from a parent who just wants to help his son / daughter, a person who wants to work through all his coaching badges and gain lots of knowledge and finally the ex-pro who is starting out on his now career pathway of coaching for a living.
Even if you have no intention of giving up your day job or wanting to be a specific goalkeeping coach I would recommend going on a course to gain that knowledge to help our young goalkeepers develop. If you have any involvement in a team, be it as a helper or parent it is worthwhile.
The course I must stress is different to the Level One outfield award which is just basically an organizers course whereby you learn different games to play, set them up and let them get on with it. This course actually involves learning coaching, in other words, identifying a fault and trying to correct it and improve the goalkeeper.
In May I am also attending a one day course with the FA to refresh my Goalkeeping B licence award which has to be done every three years to keep my licence valid so I’m looking forward to that. Then at the end of June I will be attending the week long FA Goalkeeping A Licence award course.
The way the system is in this country means you have to complete the relevant outfield course before you can do the goalkeeping course. You can do the Level one GK course and not do the outfield one but after that you have to go Level Two outfield – Level Two goalkeeping, Level Three outfield (B Licence) – Level Three goalkeeping (GK B Licence), Level Four outfield (A Licence) – Level Four goalkeeping (GK A Licence). It is not something I totally agree with to be honest but that is the route, so we have to abide by it. The reason behind it the FA say is because you have to have some outfield knowledge as this crosses over with what the goalkeeper does. I do agree with that but certainly when you get to outfield B Licence I think you have enough knowledge to then go straight to GK A Licence. What annoys me if that’s the case though is that why don’t outfield coaches have to do the goalkeeping courses?
I was unable to get on the outfield A Licence course last year as it was oversubscribed and I am unable to get on it this year for various reasons but I have been allowed to go on the goalkeeping A Licence course; however I cannot be assessed at the end of the course. Obviously I would like to be but I am going on it to at least get the knowledge from the course and therefore develop myself as a coach.
A year ago I put on a “Coach the Coaches” course in the summer for local grass roots coaches and managers. This is something I want to do again and I may well do one central one or I am willing to go out to grass roots clubs who have at least a few teams under their banner.
I can help the coaches/managers/parents of these teams with ideas on how they can help their goalkeepers develop, give them information on the safety aspects and also go through some of the techniques and pointers where young goalkeepers often struggle and how they can help. If you are reading this blog and are involved in a club feel free to contact me to discuss.
I have noticed lately with young goalkeepers at both my goalkeeping school and at the Centre of Excellence at Swindon where I coach that a few have been wearing seriously worn goalkeeping gloves, some with virtually no grip left on them. I have also noticed a couple of young goalkeepers with gloves that are perhaps too big for them.
Certainly gloves have in the past been very expensive, I know I used to pay between £40-50 for a pair of Sells gloves but nowadays every man and his dog are producing their own branded glove and this has brought the price down. I have my own branded glove and let me state that the topic of this blog is in no way a plug to get people to buy my gloves. I am not into "hard sell" as some are out there in the market place. Mine are readily available to purchase but I do not force them upon people, everybody has a choice and if they want to purchase mine, thats great.
The main reason for this topic of blog is that I feel it is important that each goalkeeper gives themself the best chance to to develop and improve and having a good pair of gloves will certainly help. "We used to play without gloves!!" will come the cry from past goalkeepers from the Seventies i'm sure but time and science has moved on particularly with regard the make up of the modern football used these days. Many have a shiny plastic like coating to them which when dry is hard enough to grip but when wet is like trying to catch the proverbial "bar of soap". Learning the correct techniques to catch the ball is clearly very important but a good pair of gloves will also help as they are the "tools of the trade" for a goalkeeper.
What size gloves should a goalkeeper wear? The glove needs to fit comfortably, it won't help if they are too tight and it certainly won't help if they are too big and your hands are flopping about inside them. As you get older you get to know what size gloves you are generally although different brands and styles can fit slightly differently. With regard a young goalkeeper its a case of trying a few pairs on to see what fits best and obviously kids grow quite fast so hand size can obviously change fairly quickly as well.
What style of glove should a goalkeeper wear? I get asked that question and often get asked whether a young goalkeeper should wear "fingersave gloves." These are gloves which have plastic inserts in the back of the gloves along the fingers which give support to the fingers. You can get "flat palm" style gloves, "negative cut" style gloves and "roll finger" style gloves. The honest answer is that it is purely down to what the goalkeeper feels comfortable in, there is no right or wrong. I would advise over a period of time trying a few different styles until you decide what you feel most happy with. My own personal opinion is that I don't like "fingersave gloves" as I feel it restricts my hand movement and doesn't feel comfortable and I have my doubts that it would really stop you injuring a finger. My own personal choice is a "roll finger style" as this is what feels comfortable for me and pretty much always has done and I feel that I have a good grip on the ball with these.
How much should I pay? Again this will come down to your choice or perhaps how much you can actually afford! Some gloves go up to as much as £100 a pair but I find that absolutely ludicrous and cannot see how anyone can justify selling gloves at that price or justify buying them for that matter. I feel that with the amount of people out there now producing and selling gloves you would reasonably expect to pay between £15 & £30 for a pair.
How long will the gloves last? This will depend on many factors:-
Firstly as I said there are many brands out there, though a big proportion of those brands will be buying from similar if not the same manufacturers with a big percentage of them coming from companies in Pakistan.
How often the gloves are worn will play a part as if you use them 3-4 times a week they will obviously deteriorate quicker than if used only once or twice a week. What type of pitches you use them on can play a part, be it muddy, hard, astro turf or the latest 3G surfaces as often when a goalkeeper has made a diving save and he gets up he may well push off the floor to get back up and this will produce wear & tear.
My advice would be to have a couple of pairs on the go at any one time so one pair as your best for matches and one pair for training. Then when the ones you use for training start to get bad, throw them away and start using your match gloves and buy a new pair for matches and keep repeating that cycle.
When you have used your gloves either for a match or for training its important that you then clean them as this will also have an affect on both performance of the gloves and how long they last. If you don't wash them the mud will dry on the glove and this will dry out the latex and reduce the quality of the grip and length of life of the gloves. My advice is against putting them in the washing machine as the chemicals used in washing powder will also harm the latex. I also advise against drying them in an airing cupboard, tumble dryer or on a radiator as this will also dry out the latex and affect quality of grip, performance and length of life of the gloves.
Over the years I have always done the following: Purchase some goalkeeping glove wash which you can get from between £7 - £9 per bottle from www.just-keepers.com. Fill a sink half full with warm water with a small amount of the glove wash and allow the gloves to soak in this for 5-10 minutes. Then I use an old tooth brush which has gone soft and I brush the dirt from the gloves with this. Next I rinse the gloves out thoroughly with cold water and squeeze firmly but not too hard to get the excess water out. I then lay them on an old towel in the corner of the room out of direct sunlight and allow them to dry naturally. This has always been the process I have used and its worked for me.
To repeat what I stated earlier its obviously important to learn the various goalkeeping techniques and how to catch the ball but having a pair of gloves that aren't worn through with no grip left and holes everywhere will certainly help.
Coaching Schemes Blog
Coaching Schemes Blog
Hopefully everyone has had a good Christmas, I certainly have as my waistline keeps telling me! It's been nice to have a short break from virtually all of my various coaching commitments with just one private one-to-one session taken on and a couple of Cirencester Town games in the last week or so. As much as I enjoy coaching it's nice to have a little break now and then and the same goes for goalkeepers who play and train throughout the year. The break is good both physically and mentally and i'm sure we will all be buzzing to get back into it in the new year.
Through both the Internet and through social media such as Facebook I look at all the various goalkeeping coaching schemes that go on across the whole country and overseas. It's interesting to look at how people run their schemes, how they advertise, how they structure their sessions or courses, what their background is etc. Again through Facebook I have networked and built up a number of friendships across the country and abroad with fellow goalkeeping coaches and its clear to see how we all have a real passion for goalkeeping and how to help goalkeepers develop. Many of us have different ideas and its good to discuss those ideas and our own opinions.
It must be quite tough at times for parents when looking for goalkeeping coaching for their children as to who and where to take them as there are more and more companies or individual coaches setting up. There are coaches that have more coaching badges than an episode of Blue Peter, there are ex-professionals that don't have any coaching qualifications but who work from their own past experiences and there are coaches who maybe advertise qualifications without perhaps actually having completed those qualifications and been signed off as such by the FA. There are also coaches out there who are still fresh out of nappies themselves and have gained just an FA Level One outfield coaching badge which to be quite honest anyone can get as there is no actual coaching as such involved on that course. These types of coaches often don't have the experience or social / life skills required to be able to actually "coach" and help a goalkeeper develop and are merely "childminders" for want of a better word.
It's perhaps not really for me to say what is right and what's wrong and who is good and who is bad as we are all different. I wouldn't criticise ex-professionals who don't have any or perhaps just limited coaching qualifications as obviously they have good experience from their own playing career behind them. They will have worked with top coaches and will have knowledge about goalkeeping through their own experiences in the game so can help goalkeepers develop by passing that on. However the flip side to that is that it is one thing to know how to do something yourself but it is another to be able to get that knowledge across to someone else as everybody learns in different ways. Former England midfielder Chris Waddle was once asked on a coaching course "how he bent the ball so well" and he couldn't actually explain it to someone else he just replied "I don't know I just do it".....
The good thing about the various courses and qualifications you can do these days with the various Football Associations is that they can help you get the information across in different ways to be able to help players / goalkeepers understand and develop so there is also alot to be said for gaining qualifications. Would you employ an electrician to re-wire your house who didn't have the necessary qualifications??? Having said all of that at the same time perhaps there are people out there who are very good at learning and passing courses but don't really have an understanding of the art of goalkeeping so like I said previously perhaps there is not a right and a wrong way but a different way.
I don't see it as my place to try and belittle others out there in the marketplace, I prefer to concentrate on what I and Steve Hale Goalkeeping School offer with our background.
I personally am not an ex-professional with hundreds of league games under my belt but I have played in goal from 6 years of age through to about 20 + years in the non league game so understand what a goalkeeper does and what a goalkeeper goes through mentally. I have also studied hard over the years gaining various coaching qualifications both outfield and goalkeeping qualifications. On top of this I have also worked in a college environment and also for the past 5 years worked part-time in a primary school so I have built up my knowledge of what makes children "tick" and how they learn. Therefore overall I have dealt with and coached 6 year old children right the way through in both grass roots and professional football (Centre of Excellence), to adults in both non league football and through my position at Swindon Town been fortunate enough to have some experience with full time professionals so regard myself as a "well rounded coach" (and i'm not referring back to my waist-line again!). My assistant, James Whitlock (Chippy) has also played in goal for many years and is still playing now in local football. James has also started working his way through coaching qualifications and is also running a boys team. Along with this he has children of his own so again he also has alot of experience and knowledge to give.
Steve Hale Goalkeeping School has been established for five years now so we have coached hundreds of children along the way, all of whom have been different in terms of their technical ability, physical ability and mental ability. I pride myself in that we try and cater for all and our main priority is trying to help goalkeepers develop both in terms of their goalkeeping ability but also we want them to improve and work on their social skills at our sessions which is also very important in life.
I would like to finish by thanking all of the young goalkeepers and parents that have been involved at my goalkeeping school and who are currently involved, for their efforts in 2011 and like to wish everybody a Happy New Year and an enjoyable 2012 ahead!
The cold weather is now upon us and I don't mind admitting I don't like it! Out has come my beanie hat and my under armour top and leggings. Obviously i'm not the one diving, jumping and generally moving around the training pitch in short sharp intensive bursts so I get colder quicker than the goalkeepers themselves. However it is important for any young goalkeeper in particular to dress according to the conditions. Unlike outfield players who generally will be running and on the go alot of the time during a session, goalkeeping work is slightly different. Goalkeeping is more about short sharp intensive bursts of work and as much as you can do as a coach to keep the goalkeepers active there will be times where rest is needed between drills and a bit of standing still. Therefore it is important that goalkeepers wear clothing that allows them to move freely but also keeps them warm and dry if possible.
With my position as Centre of Excellence Goalkeeping Coach at Swindon Town not only do I coach and look after the goalkeepers there but I can also keep my eye on grass roots goalkeepers with my goalkeeping school. If I feel that goalkeepers at my goalkeeping school are showing good potential and we are maybe light at Swindon at that particular age group I am more than happy to then bring them into Swindon for a further look. At times in the past it has actually cost me as I lose a monthly fee from a regular goalkeeper who we may actually take on and can no longer attend my school. However I don't mind that as my role is to help goalkeepers develop and if I can improve a goalkeeper and push him / her onto the next level then great, job done.
When I first setup my goalkeeping school some five years ago one of my first students was Conor Thompson. Conor is now a first year scholar at Swindon and has played for Northern Ireland Under 15's and is now in the Northern Ireland Under 17 squad. His younger brother Jared was also at my goalkeeping school in the early days and he too is also at Swindon in our Under 13 team there and progressing well. Although not at Swindon now, Calli Smith also progressed into the Centre of Excellence and was with us as a contracted goalkeeper for a year. Our present under 15 goalkeeper was actually on the first two day course I put on when setting up my goalkeeping school so its been great to see how he has developed over the years. There have also been others who have been in for us to have a closer look at in a more intense environment. They have been given game time to see how they get on against better opposition than they would face in grass roots football. Young Oli Whiteley is currently a member of my goalkeeping school and is also training and playing games with our under 7/8's at Swindon and is showing good potential and we are keeping a close eye on how he progresses at the moment. Oli has bags of enthusiasm, always has a smile on his face and his goalkeeping techniques for someone his age are showing up well. We tend to have two goalkeepers per age group, though in a couple of our age groups at the moment we only have one. We are always looking but we won't just take someone on for the sake of it, they have to be better, as good as or certainly look like they could develop quickly for us to take them on a contract. Along with our regular Centre of Excellence programme against the likes of Bristol Rovers, Cheltenham Town, Swansea City, Plymouth Argyle, Exeter City, Torquay Utd etc Jeremy Newton the Centre Director does a brilliant job getting us fixtures against all the top premiership sides. We have played Man Utd, Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Everton to name a few so its fantastic for the players and obviously goalkeepers in particular to test themselves against the best young talent in the country. We also undertake overseas tours and have played professional sides in Holland and South Korea along with our regular trip to the Milk Cup in Ireland which is a fantastic experience.
I devised a specific goalkeeper pack for the young goalkeepers at Swindon over a year ago. The pack contains a host of pages with information and tips on goalkeeping, quotes from goalkeepers who have been in the system and from the first team goalkeepers at Swindon. Also they have sheets they have to regularly complete stating the sessions they have done, goalkeepers they have watched and most importantly their self analysis sheets from matches. On these particular forms after a game they have to write down aspects of their game they have done well in and specific incidents and also aspects they found hard that day and again specific incidents if there were any. It's not only a way that gets them thinking about their game but it also helps me build up a picture of areas they are doing well in and areas they need work on as I cannot see them play every game. An awful lot of young goalkeepers at any level will say that they find kicking and dealing with crosses the hardest part of their game and goalkeepers at a professional club are no different. I had their packs in this week and have been through them and looking at their match forms, most have made comments about finding kicking and crosses hard so it's something we try to do a fair bit of work on.
In 2012 I am being booked on the Goalkeeping A Licence course and I am looking forward to this immensely. I am unable to get actually assessed at the end of it unfortunately as I need to complete the outfield A licence course first (which is ridiculous in my opinion). That course takes at least two years and costs about three and a half thousand pound and is not easy to get in on but I still want to gain the knowledge from doing the Goalkeeping A Licence course which is the highest qualification a goalkeeping coach can achieve.
Next week I start on the second phase of the pathway to become a Coach Educator for the FA as I would like to be able to do some work for the FA delivering the FA Level One Goalkeeping Award certificate. So for three full Sundays in December I will be alongside the Tutor for the Level One course being running by the Wilts FA at Stanley Park, Chippenham. Mike Byrne who I have alot of respect for is the Tutor and I will observe the course over the three Sundays and then the next stage will be to assist on a course in the future. After this I will have to put the course on while the Tutor observes me to see that I am delievring the course to the correct standards. I have already completed my Generic Tutors Course which was the first stage so it is quite a long process. I have a big passion for goalkeeping and we need more goalkeeping coaches or coaches with goalkeeping knowledge to help all of our young goalkeepers throughout the country develop and improve as currently not enough support is given to players in what is a specialised position.
Finally as you will see from my latest news item, my own branded glove which has sold well will be coming into stock again shortly. I have made some slight changes to it but didn't want to change it too drastically as I was very happy with how they have performed. Ideal for christmas presents too, so keep your eye on my website and Steve Hale Goalkeeping School Facebook page for more news on them.
Crossing & Kicking Blog
Crossing & Kicking Blog
There are many aspects to goalkeeping but in my opinion the hardest aspect of goalkeeping is dealing with crosses.
I often hear people talk about goalkeepers and say "He's a great shot-stopper" and of course keeping the ball out of the goal is the main objective of the goalkeeper and therefore constant work on their shot-stopping techniques is important. However and this is in no way being derogatory to goalkeepers they should be able to save shots or they shouldn't play in goal in the first place! I have seen many an outfield player go in goal in training and even occasionally have to don the gloves in a match if their goalkeeper has got injured or sent off and seen them make saves. It goes without saying these techniques need regular work but its how a goalkeeper deals with crosses, distribution and organisation that defines a bad goalkeeper, an average goalkeeper, a good goalkeeper and an outstanding goalkeeper.
Today I look primarily at dealing with crosses and a little bit on kicking:
The reason why I feel that dealing with crosses is the hardest aspect of goalkeeping is because there are so many factors which have an effect on the goalkeeper dealing with a cross into his/her box.
Wind - The ball holds up / The ball comes onto you quicker / The ball swirls around and moves in the air
Rain - The ball is slippery
Sun - You lose sight of the ball with a low sun in your eyes
Muddy pitch - Hard to keep footing and move quickly through the mud
Icy Pitch - Slippery under foot
Slope - The ball may come onto you quicker or hold up similar to windy conditions
Floodlights - Poor floodlights may make seeing and judging flight difficult
Own Physical Attributes
Short - Do you find it hard to compete with bigger players, do you have good timing of your jump
Tall - Are you slow to move your feet and not jump as high as you possibly should
Physical size - May have to deal with physical pressure from tall aggressive forwards
Delivery - Quality of the cross itself from the opposition players
Ball swinging in
Ball swinging away
Hung up in the air
Near post delivery
Far post delivery
Position the ball is actually crossed from on the pitch
Every cross can be different and needs to be dealt with on its merits
So straight away there are so many factors involved in actually dealing with a cross and a goalkeeper has a split second as the ball leaves the players feet to make his/her decision on whether to actually come for it and then how he/she is going to deal with it (catch/punch/tip/parry).
Drills can be put on to help with this area but its hard to really re-create the intensity and realism that you get in a game. Practise should be undertaken, firstly without any pressure, just dealing with some crosses coming in un-opposed to start getting used to judging the flight. Then a player can be introduced who doesn't challenge for the ball but does make runs and movements in and around the goalkeeper to try and put them off. Taking it further they may then make a challenge for the ball and then defenders and other attackers maybe introduced before taking it into a full scale practise match or phase of play. The real test and best experience comes from an actual match however I feel.
Otfen young goalkeepers in particular though even senior goalkeepers are guilty of this will shy away from coming for a cross and stay on their line and let defenders deal with crosses. I like goalkeepers to be more positive than that and try and take command of their area. I would much rather see a goalkeeper come for crosses and make the odd mistake and learn from that mistake and situation than just stay rooted to their line. If a goalkeeper can come and take crosses it takes so much pressure off your team and your defence in particular.
A positive starting position off your line, edging slightly forward and looking like you want to come, allied when you do come with a huge bellowing aggressive voice to call for the ball will help give you an aura or presence in your area and will actually lead to the opposition start to deliver crosses further away from your goal. If you are timid and look afraid, opposition players and coaches will pick up on this and likely put more crosses close to you to put you and your team under pressure to induce errors so that they may score.
Being short does not mean that you cannot deal with crosses, what it means is that you just have to work harder on the timing of your jump and the height at which you can jump (spring). Fabien Bartez the former Manchester United and France goalkeeper was a prime example of a goalkeeper not blessed with height but who came for a lot of crosses successfully. At the same time I have seen many a tall goalkeeper who has relied on their height but then not moved their feet quickly enough or timed their jump well and has struggled on crosses so don't let height be an excuse.
Because its a difficult aspect of the game much practise is needed on it and also patience. If you make a mistake try not to worry and don't let it put you off coming for the next cross and at the same time don't think you must come for the next cross to make up for your error as the next cross may not be the right one to come for, remember "every cross can be different and treat each one accordingly".
I get asked all the time by parents and goalkeepers about kicking and how the goalkeeper can get better at it. The simple fact is certainly when it comes to young goalkeepers most struggle to get a good amount of distance simply because they don't have the physical power in their legs to get that distance. Yes technique is important and that can be worked upon but often physical strength plays a big part in it.
There is also no rocket science to it or that many fancy drills to practise it, the best thing to do is get a bag of balls (or only one if thats all you have) find a field and with a friend / parent / brother / sister / coach simply practise your kicking. I always say warm up your muscles first, start striking the ball over a short distance and then gradually make that distance further with the person you are working with. Accuracy is just as important as distance as there is no point being able to kick it the length of the field if it goes in different directions all the time and out of play as your team will have no idea where to setup when you go to strike the ball.
Again having patience and not getting frustrated or upset is vitally important, especially at a young age and this goes for parents and team managers / coaches as well! I have spoken before about how annoyed I get when I see young goalkeepers not being allowed to take goal kicks and the big centre back coming back to take them because he can kick it further as how is the goalkeeper going to get better technically and develop his/her kicking muscles if they are not allowed to take them.
Everybody develops at a different rate of time and I have seen many goalkeepers who have struggled then all of a sudden it clicks for them and they can get great distance so patience and hard work really are key virtues for goalkeepers / parents and managers / coaches!