Sean Connors is Rush Soccer’s Global Goalkeeping Director.
The Goalkeeper Coach and Goalkeeper relationship is fundamentally different from other player/coach relationships in soccer. Based on smaller training groups and activities that are closer together, the GK Coach has the ability to develop a close relationship with their players. By being an active participant in a Goalkeeping session GK Coaches have the ability to gain trust and have fun with their players. These relationships are evident from youth level through professional.
Creating a close relationship is vital to the success of the Goalkeeper because they need someone to help deal with the highs and lows of the position. Youth Goalkeepers are especially at risk of falling victim to the pressures of the position because they are not equipped to deal with the mental difficulties. The reality is the Goalkeeper’s every mistake is out in the open. When they let a ball in the goal, teammates, coaches, and fans all know a mistake was made. This pressure results in many children shying away from the position, or quitting when the pressure of mistakes becomes too much.
Coaching Goalkeepers is more than just teaching the technical and tactical aspects of the position. Working to improve a Goalkeepers mentality is vital to their success. Goalkeeper Coaches must work to create an environment that is safe for the GK to train and make mistakes. All Goalkeepers will let in goals… Especially during training when they face shot after shot. GK Coaches must work with their GKs to be comfortable in those moments by focusing on learning from the goal, and then moving on and focusing on the next save.
Coaches need to work with Goalkeepers to avoid the highs and lows of their emotions. Highs being “I made an amazing save, I’m the best Goalkeeper in the world.” Lows being “I can’t believe I let that goal in, I’m terrible, I don’t know why I even play soccer.” The best Goalkeepers keep their emotions as EVEN as possible. Enjoy big saves, learn from mistakes, and always focus on THE NEXT SAVE!
• GK Coach must show constant resolute support for their Goalkeepers.
• GK Coach must communicate and provide feedback/insight everyday.
• GK Coach must be honest with good and bad news. Operate from a place of reality.
• GK Coach must care for them as people.
• GK Coach must be strong for them in their most difficult situations.
As we discuss making relationships with players I recommend watching the following video: “How to Connect With Kids: 3 Principles from a Principal” –
CLICK BELOW TO WATCH THE TED TALK
In this video Principal James Cowper speaks to his three principles: 1) Be Playful, 2) Be Present, 3) Be a Coach. This is great advice for parents, teachers, and of course coaches!
CHALLENGE: At your next GK Session focus on connecting better with your players. As you greet your Goalkeepers give them the opportunity to talk about their last game. Give them the opportunity to tell you about their success or failure. By talking the GKs about their game, and answering their questions, you allow them to start training with a blank slate focusing on getting better making the next save. Work on being playful with your GKs and start training with some fun! A simple tag game will bring a smile to your players faces. To make it even better join in! Take a turn being “it” and players will love seeing your playful side!
“A common mistake among those who work in sport is spending a disproportional about of time on “x’s and o’s” as compared to time spent learning about people.”
~ Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University: Men’s Basketball ~
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