By Patrick Morrison
OVER the coming two articles, I will delve deep into the various developmental stages of goalkeeping. These stages can help both goalkeepers and coaches in their continuing quest for progression. They can be used as a kind of map or set of signposts to show where exactly they or their goalkeepers stand in terms of their development.
These levels are not rigid in their application but are good way to understand where the goalkeeper’s development is compared to where it could or should be therefore allowing the realisation of progression or regression having taken place.
It is the role of the goalkeeping coach to ensure that the goalkeeper is developing in a positive fashion. They must be able to understand the abilities of the goalkeepers they work with as well as being able to recognise their limitations. Once the coach understands these then they can decide what level the goalkeeper is currently at.
It is possible for some goalkeepers to develop quicker than others and for them to move onto a higher performance level before expected. My ’Levelled Progression’ system is more of a framework than a commandment and should be used as a guideline to help coaches decide what are the best training requirements for their goalkeepers to develop efficiently. My Levelled Progression model has seven levels of development:
Level 1 – Learn the Skill & Perform the Skill Very Well [6-10 years]
At this level the goalkeeper gets their ‘first touch’ in goal and progressively learns the skills to become a goalkeeper. They learn the basic techniques of goalkeeping and, through specific training, develop them further.
Children at this age only have eyes for winning so it is important for the coach to teach them to deal with defeat and install coping mechanisms for when this occurs. The coach shows patience with young goalkeepers as they allow them to take their time to execute the skills. This also allows the coach a good platform to view mistakes and correct them.
There are five stages of learning any skill:
– Absorb the whole skill;
– ‘CHUNK’ into global parts;
– Master the Movement;
– Exercise the Process [take it slow];
– Learn to FEEL it [both sides].
Coaches should always ensure the mastery of all of the skills through regular practice, quality coaching inclusive of feedback, spot and fix coach’s eye as well as using other performance analysis methods to assist their coaching.
Level 2 – Perform the skill very well, at speed [11-12 years]
This stage of development is a continuation of Level One but with more complexity introduced to the basic techniques. The main difference between Level One and Two is the speed at which the techniques are carried out.
The goalkeeper should now have a good understanding of the basic techniques/skills required for goalkeeping and so must further these by increasing the pace at which they are performed.
It is important for the coach to take into account that the goalkeeper will need appropriate physical development to be able to perform at this higher level while also understanding that the goalkeeper will also require adequate recovery between performing skills.
Level 3 – Perform the skills very well, at speed and under fatigue [13-15 years]
The coach will continue the development of the goalkeeper’s skills with the later beginning to look like a competent goalkeeper. They will also be introduced to tactics and in particular possession restart [kick out] strategies.
The coach will focus on more difficult techniques and also begin to strengthen the goalkeeper’s ability to catch high balls. Again, the goalkeeper will need to increase their physical attributes to be able to cope with the increased intensity in workload.
The coach will begin to introduce basic game related situations that the goalkeeper will find themselves in and use training techniques to coach good decision making in these situations. The development of the psychological side of the goalkeeper will also be developed further as the coach will allow the goalkeeper to make some of their own decisions and teach them responsibility of their own physical wellbeing [conditioning, hydration, rest etc.], while also being able to follow instructions.
The coach will encourage the goalkeeper to ask questions, as they now begin puberty, which may make them reluctant to ask questions due to possible embarrassment, whereas younger children tend to ask questions more frequently. Accepting criticism and constructive comments will be very important at this level as well as learning to deal with negative comments or performances.
Level 4 – Perform the skills very well, at speed, under fatigue and under pressure [15-16 years]
At this stage the goalkeeper will continue to develop their goalkeeping techniques with more complex exercises, but, the coach will now add in game related pressures to increase the difficulty and level of importance for effective skill execution at speed and also when tired. This will include not parrying balls back into play or catching high balls under contact. As emotional stress affects skill execution, learning to control their emotions will be important for the goalkeeper at this progression level.
The goalkeeper will be able to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their own actions, being able to explain their rationale for the decisions they make to his coach. They will also be able to self-evaluate and use criticism and constructive comments to his advantage to better their ability. They will develop a strong mental game both tactically and emotionally and will be ambitious to progress themselves further.
The goalkeeper will develop a healthy lifestyle and be fully responsible for their own physical development which will be important to maintain the standards required for both games and training. The goalkeeper will be expected to learn how to deal with the added pressures in training which becomes more demanding and poses complex new challenges.
It is poorly skilled critical movements that cause defeat, so the coach will need to highlight mistakes or fine tune imperfections in technique correctly to ensure best possible results.
Don’t miss the article next week where Levels Five, Six and Seven will be continued.
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