Coaching keepers is not just improving technique

  • As a professional goalkeeper coach running my own academy, I find that I coach a lot of young kids from the ages of 6 through to 18, one of things I've discovered more than these keepers lacking talent (which they don't) is that a lot lack self confidence. Many feel the weight of expectation, even at the tender age of six, placed on a goalkeeper. They feel to concede is to let everybody else down, but we as coaches need to let them know that it's not their fault and to help them put goals, and mistakes, behind them in order to avoid making further errors or conceding again.

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    Parents approach me regularly to discuss incidents that have occurred at their sons/daughters games and believe me some are sheer comedy! For example I was told by the parent of a six year old that after shipping six goals the week before against a team two years older, the manager told him that his son was dropped "as a punishment for a poor display", oh and would the dad mind breaking the news to his son!

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    What did this "coach" think that would do to the fragile confidence of a six year old? What does that tell us about the abilities of the coach? The level of emotional intelligence?  What the lad needed was an arm round his shoulder and telling him it wasnt all his fault, weeks of work improving confidence and with it technique destroyed by a coach wanting to win before improving the development of his players. Try giving positive feedback all the time to ALL the team, not just a few. If someone does make a mistake then give feedback in the double positive method, then that way even if there is a error to be corrected it is done in a positive manner. Make sure you use a calm and friendly method to do this, and don't ask leading questions of the player. Remember as a coach you need to be a friend, a mentor, a teacher, a confident, and most of all empathetic to your keepers feelings and position. Maybe this is why a lot of outfield coaches don't understand the specific needs of a keeper as they haven't played the position and therefore don't understand the pressures and personal torment that come with it?

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    Be postitive, it will work wonders for your keepers. Wishing you clean sheets, until next time.

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