This week with our keepers we tried as much as possible to let the games be the teacher. Our keepers were put in a variety of games and situations that are normally reserved for the end of sessions when they have been practicing a skill. We wanted to just put them in those situations and see how much they had retained from previous sessions.
I remember doing a goalkeeping course and the coach educator who still works with top level goalkeepers, saying that he used go in set up the sessions and the two keepers would coach each other.
That’s the level of understanding we aim for in our sessions, not just “this is what you do”, but to ask questions of them to ensure understanding of the “WHY?” we do things a particular way. The fact that when we are now delivering our goalkeeping sessions and we just say something like “hands” or “posts” the keepers will look and correct themselves. This alone shows such a progression in their understanding from when they first started. Of course their abilities to catch, make saves, deal with crosses has all improved too not just the kids understanding, after all it is players we are developing, not coaches.
What I love just as much as the development of all their abilities as keepers is how they have come together as a group. I am very proud of how the groups have not only expanded their knowledge but how they have gelled together and interact with each other. Watching our groups from different clubs and different ages get on at weekends, asking how games have gone, what they have done during the week and the banter they have between each other, brings as much joy to us as hearing the keepers have had a clean sheet or received a man of the match award in their last game. As much as possible we try to create an atmosphere of fun and learning, where there is never any fear of getting things wrong. I always try to create an environment for players to learn, by meeting mistakes with encouragement not criticism.
By making your players aware that when they make a mistake you’ve got their back, not that you’ll get on their back, your players will play with freedom, be relaxed, learn more and subsequently perform better…
We have been fortunate to have Mo (coach assistant) with us at weekends. Having been someone who has taken our courses and progressed onto being a member of our staff he knows what it’s like when you have bonded with your group, what it’s like if it’s your first day and he has been an immeasurable asset to help us deliver.
To finish, I’m just going to make a quick mention as to why football took a back seat for everyone this weekend, the shocking incident concerning Bolton Wanderers player Fabrice Muamba collapsing during the FA Cup match against Spurs on Saturday. He has been in intensive care ever since and thankfully today he is breathing without medication and his arms and legs have shown signs of movement.
Another player the Barcelona defender Eric Abidal will be soon undergoing a liver transplant.
Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families at this time.