By Patrick Morrison
PART two of the levelled progression series, following on from last week’s opening.
Level 5 – PERFORM THE SKILLS VERY WELL, AT SPEED, UNDER FATIGUE, UNDER PRESSURE, CONSISTENTLY [17-21yrs]
This level is seen as a transitional level as the goalkeeper moves through both minor and u-21 grades where there is more emphasis on performance. This means that the goalkeeper will be expected to perform very well on a more consistent basis.
The goalkeeper learns that consistency in their skill execution both from the hand and foot, are vital to performance and to ‘Give It Their All’ in competition, they must first ‘Give It Their All’ in training. The work and preparation is completed during training nights and the goalkeeper must learn to enjoy Game Day while using their ‘Competition Brain’ and not their ‘Training Brain’ during games.
The goalkeeper ensures that they are in the best possible physical condition with an understanding of the increased performance levels required whenever they move up to the senior team ranks.
They also prepare themselves mentally for that step-up as they may not be automatically chosen as first choice goalkeeper straight away as well as the heightened mental strain of the higher playing grade.
At this transitional level, the goalkeeper may also have the opportunity to step up to county minor and u-21 level where they will need to adjust to a more professional approach to their game.
The coach will need to help the goalkeeper learn to be able to manage trivial levels of fame, how to handle media exposure and encourage social interaction between goalkeepers from different clubs.
The goalkeeper, whether playing for club, county or both, will need to find a harmonious balance between football and the different aspects of their life.
These being family, relationships, work, academia, travel plans, other personal interests etc.
Level 6 – PERFORM THE SKILLS VERY WELL, AT SPEED, UNDER FATIGUE, UNDER PRESSURE, CONSISTENTLY, IN COMPETITION CONDITIONS [22+yrs]
Now fully matured, the goalkeeper should have the full mastery of all techniques and continue to accumulate more experience while at the same time, understanding how to use it appropriately. The coach and goalkeeper should now have maximum physical ability and be able to regularly keep this at a high level working with intense workloads while allowing for sufficient recovery.The goalkeeper may have to show patience to deal with not being automatic first choice and adapt to the higher skill levels of seasoned senior players (teammates and opposition) who play faster, smarter football.
They must learn from the experienced goalkeepers and their goal must ultimately be to become first choice ‘keeper. This may mean taking any opportunity to play games for reserve teams etc., as well as regular appraisal to improve their performance.
There may also be opportunities for the goalkeeper to make the step into senior inter-county football, which will also require further physical and psychological adjustments. If this happens, the goalkeeper will need to be able to deal with greater media exposure and the pressures it can bring, managing higher levels of fame and being able to manage limited time between all aspects of their life to find a harmonious balance will become important. A stable family life always is a sturdy platform for having consistent performances.
Both the coach and the goalkeeper work in harmony to recreate intensive game scenarios in every training session. In these sessions the goalkeeper makes decisions in real time or ‘In the Now,’ as opposed to reacting to stimuli from their environment or coach.
The coach ensures that the goalkeeper works on their Whole Game Management as well as Part Freeze Frame or Critical Movement analysis to ‘spot and fix’ mistakes effectively. The goalkeeper will develop a unique language and rapport with their teammates and together they will draw up a set of Principles of Play to be adhered to, so as to ensure cohesive success.
The phrase “Practice Makes Perfect” is obsolete. In fact, what it should state is: “Perfect Performance Practice Creates Consistent Perfect Performance of Critical Movements, In Critical Moments when Performing Under Competition Conditions.”
Level 7 – GOALKEEPERS AGED 32+ YEARS
At this level, goalkeepers begin to harbour thoughts, however slight, about life after football. With the right training regime a goalkeeper will be able to cope with the demands of the game and continue to compete at a high level successfully for a prolonged period of time.
A smart daily training schedule can maintain a high level of performance and increasing the intensity of exercises while decreasing reps can maximise this. The ‘keeper will also learn to use experience to compensate for reductions in physical capabilities such as speed or agility.
It is important the goalkeeper, now more than ever, listen to their body and understands their limitations in order to adapt recovery time in tune with their body. The coach and the goalkeeper will draw up a coaching plan that embraces the physical limitations of the goalkeeper as well as discuss the best ways to return from injuries at this stage.
It is important for the goalkeeper to appreciate their playing time, however frequent it may be, and learn to savour every moment that they get to spend on the field of play as their career draws to an inevitable close. As a more senior member of the team they can take on a more leadership style role, especially with younger goalkeepers, by offering opinion and being open to discussion from younger, inexperienced teammates.
Ultimately, it is the goalkeeper’s decision when they would like to retire from the game and it is definitely not an easy decision for any player to make. For this reason, it is very important that the retiring goalkeeper gives thought to preparing for their coming retirement and more specifically design a retraining plan or life plan for what they intend to do after they retire.
After retirement there will always be a great void left in the goalkeeper’s life and it is very important for the goalkeeper to have planned accordingly to fill that void (coaching; recreational sports etc.) to ensure they have a positive physical, psychological and spiritual conclusion to their playing career.