Having Your Own Philosophy

By @SteveHaleGK

Not long after I started goalkeeping coaching I started to buy all sorts of different DVD’s and books to gain as much knowledge and pick up as many different “drills” as I could. I then went and watched a couple of professional first team goalkeeping coaches armed with a note pad and pen to scribble down all that I could of the “drills” that they carried out. I must admit and I mean no disrespect to those coaches but I didn’t really learn that much from the sessions that they did, it was similar to what I was already doing. I went along expecting to see all sorts of weird and wonderful practises to wow the goalkeeping world but after a while I started to realise that you cannot re-invent the wheel.

Don’t get me wrong I still like to look at clips on you-tube of different goalkeeping coaches work, scour the internet, read books, watch DVD’s and go along and watch other goalkeeper coaches work in the flesh. There are still snippets you can pick up, sessions you can perhaps adapt or tweak but I think sometimes we lose sight of the fact we should be our own man. I often come up with my own drills and as long as they are related to what a goalkeeper actually does and it helps them improve, along with the diagnosis of any errors, then you are doing your job.

I think it’s important to be open-minded but at the same time you have to have your own philosophy and a self-belief in what you do as a coach. What works for another coach may not work for you, what works on one goalkeeper might not work for another.

Is there a “right or wrong” or is there just a “different” way of doing things?

As coaches we are always on the lookout for these “different drills” to try and keep things fresh and keep the goalkeepers interested but as I mentioned before you cannot re-invent the wheel. I personally put myself somewhere in the middle of “forward thinking” and “old school”. There are many different pieces of equipment in the market place now such as response balls and rebound nets added to all the cones, poles, mannequins, hurdles, ladders and hoops going. There is a time and a place for many of them depending on what you are trying to get out of your session but one comment made to me a couple of years ago by a man I have a lot of respect for always makes me smile. George Wood (former Arsenal, Everton and Scotland goalkeeper) who was formerly first team goalkeeping coach at Swindon said to me one day “I can’t remember seeing a ladder in my six yard box when I played!”

Sometimes, just you, a football, a goal and a goalkeeper is all that’s needed. You can mix up different types of service (volley, half-volley, strikes from the floor, dippers and skidders) from different angles and distances around the goal when it comes down to shot-stopping and the various techniques that are used to keep the ball out.

When all is said and done you can have as many “drills” as you like but the most important issue is that you identify any areas that the goalkeeper is struggling on and help them to put that problem right. You also need to make sure you praise them when they are doing something well!

Being adaptable is a key strength of being a goalkeeping coach. In an ideal world you would have a good ratio of goalkeepers to work with, perfect pitches, goals sized appropriate to the players you are coaching, access to players the minute you need them to provide opposition and plenty of space…………….In the real world you may have just one goalkeeper or you may have quite a few, there may just be you to serve. You may be working on a mud-heap or a bone hard astro-turf pitch and you may be working in an area the size of a postage stamp!

Have confidence and belief in what you are doing and be your own man with your own ideas and opinions.

Steve Hale