The event titled "How can I help my goalkeeper" was designed to give an insight into the trials and tribulations of what a young goalkeeper goes through and ways in which grass roots managers and coaches can assist in their goalkeepers development even if they havent got goalkeeping experience themselves.
The first hour of the session was classroom based with Steve working through a power-point presentation on the big screen in the "Paul Harrison Suite".
After addressing the 14 coaches/managers and also a handful of parents of young goalkeepers explaining his own playing and coaching background, Steve went on to talk about the way the game has changed in particular for goalkeepers these days.
Topics such as the modern footballs and the coating on them and the way they move so much in the air brought up points such as more parrying saves having to be made now because it simply wasnt possible to catch every shot. There was plenty of discussion on how goalkeepers were no longer there to just make saves, but how the modern goalkeeper also has to possess good skills with their feet to be able to play from the back and be an instrumental part of the team. This brought a good discussion amongst the group about finding the balance between playing from the back as a team and at times playing a little longer but having different options to be able to cope with both strategies.
Expectation levels were spoken about and what can be expected of goalkeepers of certain ages and physicality's especially when it came to how far a young goalkeeper can strike a ball. It was pointed out that they need time to practise, to experiment but also have the chance to do so in the games programme and not just have the "big centre back" take all the goal kicks!
There was also a discussion about the way the game has changed in terms of 1v1 situations and how although it is still possible to dive at feet, it was not as much common practise as it used to be because of players now trying to make contact with the goalkeeper and go down to earn penalties and get goalkeepers sent off. "The Blocking Technique" which was brought to the fore perhaps initially by Peter Schmeichel and through "Futsal" is now widely used in the game and is a technique which takes time to work on. This along with "Foot Saves" and simply ensuring effectiveness in the goal was assisted with footage of young goalkeepers at Manchester City Academy being shown working on such techniques.
As time pushed on Steve went through some slides talking about "Communication" and the difficulties for young goalkeepers and handed out various sheets with "goalkeeper vocabulary" they might use and should therefore understand and learn to aid them on the pitch.
After a brief discussion on the importance of "decision making" and the many different possible scenarios faced by goalkeepers a very important factor was discussed by the way of "Confidence". In any young player confidence is fragile but even more so for a goalkeeper and sadly Steve explained how over the years at his goalkeeping school he had received news from some parents how their child had packed up playing in goal due to "moans and groans" directed at the young goalkeeper from coaches/managers, parents of other players and team-mates. He stressed how important it was to try and take the blame and fear factor away from a young goalkeeper, to encourage them and allow them to flourish. He spoke about the way statements or questions could be worded slightly differently to have a more positive spin on a conversation when discussing results, performances and learning opportunities.
The time in the classroom simply flew by and it wasnt long before the next user of the facility was knocking on the door to come in which gave chance for all participants to have a quick break and head out onto the 3G for the pitch based session.
Steve had put together a small group of young goalkeepers to work with ranging from 10-12 year old academy goalkeepers at Swindon Town's academy along with some 12-15 year old goalkeepers from Steve Hale Goalkeeping School, both male and female.
The session started with Steve detailing the need to work on short sharp explosive footwork movement patterns both with the ball involved and without to help develop those footwork skills and why these were important to the goalkeepers. The young goalkeepers were put through their paces with numerous different exercises with plenty of smiles and fun had, along with some healthy competition during the practises.
The next phase showed coaches and managers how a simple 15 minute match day warm up routine could be structured simply and effectively to ensure the goalkeeper entered a game having worked through a number of aspects of their game they would likely face. Steve then progressed this into a warm up involving the team which would ensure each of the players was actively involved.
After a quick drinks break Steve spoke to the coaches and managers on ways that even when working as a coach with a whole team, practises such as possession sessions could be tailored to include the goalkeeper especially directional possession sessions. These would allow the goalkeeper to feel more involved and included within the team and be relevant to the actual game itself.
Once again the hour on the pitch seemed to fly by and it wasnt long before Steve addressed the group for the final time, re-capping the whole evening and what he had tried to get out during the two sessions for the benefit of the group and the goalkeepers.
After the event Steve said:
"I was really pleased with how this evening went! The interaction with the coaches, managers and parents was good and I feel that I got a lot of information across in the two hours I had. Yes there was more I could have got across but perhaps that will come in a future event as I was careful not to overload people with too much information. I was really pleased these coaches, managers and parents made the effort to attend tonight. The development of young players and in particular based on the theme tonight, their goalkeepers, starts with them, they play a huge part in a child's development so having some understanding of the goalkeepers position is vital to that.
I would like to thank Jeremy Newton at Swindon Town Academy for allowing me to have use of the academy goalkeepers, one's I used to coach, it was great seeing them again and working with them. I would also like to thank Josh Pickett, James Thomas and Emily Sawyer-McGrogan from my own goalkeeping school for taking part and Dan Wheeler who coaches at my goalkeeping school along with Swindon Town Academy under 10's coach Gary Norman who also has 15 years grass roots experience at Purton who also assisted in the pitch session. Finally thanks to Royal Wootton Bassett Sports Association for use of their excellent facilities, I would have no hesitation using these facilities again!"
Be sure to keep an eye on this website as Steve is keen to run another event in the new year!
Since the event, here are just a few quotes from feedback received from those that attended:
Steve, great session last night, kept the interest going to the end. I will definitely be changing the way I warm William up before the matches and training. Thanks. Simon Croft JFC U16
Just wanted to say thanks for the your time yesterday I definitely took a lot of positives from last nights session. That practical side was definitely helpful for me and the other Ferndale Rodbourne coaches that were there as they were all using some of the training methods this morning at training including me. And as of next week I'll be dedicating an extra 30 minutes training for my goalkeepers.
I would have liked to have seen more of the practical side. But all in all it was very good session.
Ferndale Rodbourne ycfc U9's
Just wanted to send a quick note to say how much Mark and I both enjoyed the session on Friday, think we both got a lot out of it and hopefully our keepers will too.
Can you let me know when you do another of these sessions as there are a few other coaches at Robins that I think would be keen to attend and would benefit from it?
Robins U12s Red/U15s
Good session last night Steve, you came across very well and passionate. I came out of it learning new things. You were definitely right about people not understanding what a young goalkeeper goes through in a game
Kevin – Parent of goalkeeper
Keep doing what you are doing mate, I think it was a really good session and I reckon the goalkeepers of those coaches there will have a much better experience as a result
Michael – Parent of goalkeeper