WE all know that the importance of the goalkeeper has been magnified over the past 15 to 20 years but what has not coincided with this magnification is the amount of quality goalkeeping coaching for young goalkeepers across the country.
I regularly find that the vast majority of goalkeepers that I am asked to coach have either had no goalkeeping specific training whatsoever or very little at all.
Playing Gaelic football, I was a midfielder or full-forward up until I was 24, at which time I fell out of love with the game and decided to enjoy my life pursuing other interests. It was not until I was 28 that I was coaxed back to play in goal for my club.
There was no goalkeeping coach, so I became self-taught in everything that I did in regard to goalkeeping. After my second year back, a goalkeeping coach was sourced and together we worked hard on my game. Other than this, I had never received any goalkeeping coaching and cannot remember any of our underage goalkeepers receiving position specific training during any period of their development.
It is not uncommon to hear that most goalkeepers experienced drills that were more designed for developing the shooting skills of the outfield players. but because the drill involved them it was seen as goalkeeping training.
Also it is more than likely that any coaching drills and goalkeeping theory or advice experienced by the goalkeeper in the absence of an actual goalkeeping coach have been supplied by a coach who had never played in the position at any level.
In 2012, I began my own goalkeeping coaching career, helping out with the Monaghan senior ladies football team which involved working with one of, if not the best, female goalkeeper in the game, Donaghmoyne’s Linda Martin.
Although it had been my father who had asked me to join his backroom team, the reason I decided to take the opportunity to become their goalkeeping coach was because I wanted to give something back to those who needed it.
Over the past eight years I have set about trying to help goalkeepers across the country in any way I can in order for them to better themselves, including these weekly columns I now ironically write after my father, who started my coaching career, passed away.
Just like any coach, I want to pass on all the goalkeeping knowledge I have, and continue to develop and learn, on to the next generations of the position so that they may use it to springboard their own development and goalkeeping abilities as much as possible.
It is also my aim to inspire both players and coaches alike to have the confidence to become coaches or better coaches by providing weekly stimulation and ideas for them to use in any way they can.
I am in no doubt that any goalkeeper/coach reading this would certainly have loved to have had more contact time with a goalkeeping coach who would have been able to provide position specific training whenever they were developing through the underage ranks. This is why I would urge any goalkeeper or ex-goalkeeper that can feel in any way empathetic to the plights of those budding young goalkeepers coming through the underage systems without any goalkeeping training to act by introducing it into your own clubs.
Below are seven steps to help you create a goalkeeping school within your own club:
Before starting a project of this nature, the very first thing you will need to consider is if you have the available time to dedicate to the goalkeeping school. If your answer is no, then it is a non-runner. If your answer is yes, even if it is only one night per month, then that is far more beneficial to the young goalkeepers at your club than never receiving any position specific training at all.
Once you have decided you do have the time to begin the goalkeeping school, the next step is to ensure you have the clearance from the club hierarchy to proceed with your idea. Whether it be the chairperson, committee, and/or coaching officer/committee, always ensure that you have their blessing before organising the logistics.
Before you begin to plan the details of the goalkeeping school, you need to make sure have all of the necessary documentation required to be allowed to coach underage players within your club. These may include various coaching courses/badges, child protection certificates, Access NI vetted, Covid certificates and any other requirements deemed necessary by your club these can be discussed with your coaching officer/committee.
The next step is to plan the running of the goalkeeping school. Everything from the frequency, dates and time of the sessions, age groups, pitch bookings, etc. will all need to be meticulously planned before you start. The better your planning, the smoother your goalkeeping school will run so ensure you plan for every possible scenario so that you can be ready for it if and when it may happen.
It will be vital for you to plan what drills, theory work, techniques as well as any other goalkeeping training you wish to complete with your goalkeepers well in advance. Your overview can be general in nature, but your week-to-week and session plans will always have much more detail. Once you have your periodisation complete, it can be disclosed to your goalkeepers so they can also plan accordingly for every session.
With the help of the club and the various underage management teams, you can launch your goalkeeping school with all the relevant steps in place. No matter if you have one goalkeeper or 20, you should train anyone who turns up. Just be ready for any eventuality.
Reflect regularly on your processes, your practices, your training, your drills, equipment as well as gathering both player and parental feedback as much as possible. Accept positive feedback but it is the negative feedback that is most important when you are looking to improve. Always be proactive in improving yourself as a coach whether it be with literature, online videos or blogs as well as attending various goalkeeping courses to help you improve your coaching ability.
Want more advice for goalkeepers? Contact Patrick now.