Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

The goalkeeper has nowhere to hide

davidscwnewWatching one of the Under-12s goalkeepers at my local club this week picking the ball out of the net seven times I was reminded me of an article I had read by David James, the former England stopper who is now at English Championship club Bristol City.

When the 41-year-old was playing in the Premier League with Portsmouth, he once suffered the humiliation of conceding 10 goals in two games. Recalling that and other similar events, he said: “I try to get on with it; I take the dogs out for a walk. I try to move on and prepare for the next game. I have a debrief with my psychologist…” Psychologist?

Now that is where the similarities end…!Coaches of youth teams don’t have psychologists at hand when they lose a game, and neither does the poor lad whose goal has been under constant bombardment. More likely is that said keeper will be in the car home getting a pasting from his dad, your words of comfort a distant and fading memory!

But that’s the problem for keepers… their errors are highlighted every time the ball goes in the net; they have nowhere to hide. That’s why you must not let your keeper take the blame because, trust me, if you do, he won’t be your keeper for much longer! Protect him and nurture him so he wants to play in goal no matter what the score is.

At training nights make sure he joins in with all the fun bits – the match, skills, fitness – before you move him between the sticks for some designated keeper practice. It is important for you and the team that he feels part of it all. You can also get him to be vocal at training – to shout at his defenders and order them around, if necessary. Not only will this give him a unique status, but it will cement his value to the rest of the team as a leader and organiser on match day – someone who can survey all that’s in front of him with ease.

And encouraging him when he makes a mistake rather than criticising means that most of his team mates will do likewise.

At the end of the day keepers are vital to your team and their influence is stronger than you may realise. Let’s make sure they don’t go home crying.


If you don’t shoot you won’t score

DCLast weekend saw my one of the teams I coach take part in a 6-a-side tournament which was very competitive. There was a broad range of teams in both size and ability playing and we had been put in a very strong group.

There was some fabulous football played by all the teams in our group, and I couldn’t help but admire the amount of work that had been put in by all the coaches that were there.

It made me feel that the future of the game was in good hands when I saw a lot of clever one touch play – and there was a fair share of spectacular goals.

One thing about playing 6-a-side on small pitches is that there are lots of chances to shoot and this was something I tried to encourage my team to do. We scored two spectacular goals from outside the area but for most of the games we tried to walk the ball into the net – something that may have worked but the speed of the movement bamboozled even their own team mates and a couple of taps in sped by.

But it did prove exhilarating to watch and players, parents and coaches came away with a great feeling from the experience.

As a culmination of a fantastic season in both Youth Alliance and Academy Leagues, the League Football Education (LFE) is running a Youth Goal of the Season, you can see the top goals by following the link below, and you can vote for the one you like best.