Countdown to a Breakdown

Alternate title: Tension

Tonight was the last practice before my team’s first tournament of the season.  And it got me thinking.  The players get a release.  They get to play the games.  They get the physical.  The coaches get the stress.  Did I do all I could to prepare my players?  Did I remember everything to take along for the out of town trip?  Was my speech brilliant enough?  Am I prepared?

When I played, I wasn’t afraid of anyone.  I didn’t care how much better a player was than me, I was never afraid.  I knew I could always foul them or get into them somehow.  I was *that* player.  I could control that somehow.  But coaching is different. I am not in control.  All of my abilities are represented in someone (abstractly) that I have no true control over.  No matter how many times we work on a behavior, that player will either do the behavior correctly or not.

The other thing is that I am kind of on my own to a certain extent.  I am in a unique situation.  Most clubs do not have  a dedicated goalkeeper coach.  And goalkeeper coaches are usually part of a set up.  I have the head coach that I answer to and … the parents?  I have no mentors while I am doing this.  I am my own expert to lean on.  Nothing like jumping in to learn how to swim.  I have some connections  but feel so out of my depth because of where they are versus where I am in our respective careers.  I feel awkward asking advice from professionals for an amateur boys team.

I think the boys will do well.  If they stay focused, remember what we went over in practice, we should be able to hold our own.  I like either of our keepers in any of the games.  I usually enjoy these trips and am looking forward to it.Practice



Disclosure: I am taking a course through Columbia College in Missouri about Social Media.  This post is for that course.

In developing a personal brand, it is important that one follows what they love.  One of my favorite things is soccer.  It is truly one of my passions.  Along with that passion is also my favorite team; Manchester United Football Club.  I have seen the global fanbase grow along with the growth of the internet (yep, been a fan that long) over the years where once it was almost impossible to catch a game on tape delay to where now channels are devoted to it (as it should be).  One of the better blogs to consistently follow the club over the years is the Republik of Mancunia <;.  It has been critical of the club when necessary and supportive when many fans were crying wolf.  All with a certain Manc take on things.

Another blog that I have found is the Goalkeepers Union <;.  It is named that because of the special bond that exists between people who play the position.  This blog has a lot of good technical information about playing the position.  This will help from a coaching stand point.

Another blog is Keepertalk, <;.  It has information about equipment that keepers use.  I do get questions from some of the kids I coach about equipment and I am not always up to date with my information.

A fourth blog is Goalkeeping, <;.  This one is sort of all over the place without a lot of focus.  This is a good reminder to keep myself focused on what my personal brand is all about.  If I am going to focus on one thing, then that is what I need to focus on.  Not on whatever strikes my fancy.

The last blog that I am going to mention in this post is Dynasty Goalkeeping  <;.  This blog is about a professional’s attempt to make a living in the women’s game after college.  It includes her journey to other countries in search of work.  It is very honest.  There is also a link to Dynasty Goalkeeping school which is a business that teaches goalkeeping.  The site is very well done and well laid out.

One of the things with the better blogs is that they are updated regularly.  More than once a quarter.  A couple of the blogs had pictures of players in uniforms of teams they previously played with.  And not just players that recently changed teams either.

Week review

Sometimes when am I coaching, I have to remind myself why I am doing it.  It’s not about the fancy session plans.  It’s not about how creative I can be.  It’s about helping a player become a better player.

Coaches are thieves.  We steal each others drills all the time.  I try to come up with my own.  I may “borrow” elements from other drills, but I really try to come up with my own.  It’s one of the ways I get to be creative.  A couple of times this week in our training sessions, that got thrown out the window.  After doing some of my wonderfully brilliant drills, one of my keepers was not very impressed.  For all that we were working on, he had something else that he wanted to work on.  So my session planning got thrown out the window.  It’s not about the coach’s brilliance.  It’s about the player’s need.  So we worked on the discipline the player requested.

Something that I do enjoy passing on to the kids that coach is appropriate gamesmanship.  One of my keepers can reach the crossbar while standing up.  When the team practices penalty kicks, I have told him to go and hold on to the crossbar and stretch a little to emphasize how tall he is.  I have told both of them to hold their arms out to make themselves look bigger.  Little things like that.  And it was successful, the team only made about half of their penalty shots.

The Coach

If you haven’t guessed by now, this blog is about my experiences as a youth soccer coach.  I coach goalkeepers primarily.  Today, my team won both of their league games, the last one they posted a shut out.  I am proud of the boys because they have both improved from our friendly scrimmages yesterday and listened.  The best part is when the position coach can sit back and enjoy the game.  I am glad that the boys’ hard work paid off today.  On to another week.

You knew you’re a coach when…

I recently saw a post on FB featuring a “brilliant” triple save by a keeper.  While impressive, the coach in me saw that if the keeper had made the correct save to start with, which he could and should have, the theatrics required for the second and third saves wouldn’t have been required.

One of my keepers made a brilliant play in one of the scrimmages.  However, it wasn’t the correct form.  Head coach was happy, so I didn’t say anything other than a thumbs up.  But this keeper coach wanted to correct.  But I also know that you shouldn’t nitpick and my keeper made the save.  That’s his job, full stop.  So congratulate and move on.  🙂

Live what you learn

Last Sunday, August 23, 2015, I finished up my National Soccer Coaches Association of America Level 3 Goalkeeper Coaching Diploma.  There was a lot of good information and it served as a clearing house for ideas and training techniques for the coaches who were there.  I learned a lot over the three days and when it was over, I had to quickly rush to my U12 boys team’s game.  We unfortunately lost, and due to some soft goals.

All week I had the opportunity to work on some of the things that I saw in the game that were issues.  One of the biggest is concentration issues.  Some of it is the age, some of it is personalities.  I have to remind myself that I can’t give the two keepers on my desire.  I can encourage but I can’t make them want it if they don’t want it.  And that is one of the hardest things.  One of the keepers I work with has regressed from where we were last year at this time.  My other keeper is frustrated with playing time when he isn’t keeper and it is affecting his keeper play.  Both have great potential, if they continue to work at it.

One of the main things that I learned in my class for my Level 3 Diploma is that the keepers will only be as good as they want to be.  A coach can encourage that or ruin that, but it is up to the player to realize their potential.  One of the things that I am working on with my keepers is to not get so hung up on some of their mistakes.  The game doesn’t stop, the other team doesn’t feel sorry for them, they have to keep playing,  We can talk about it during a break but they need to keep playing.  There are three things all athletes can control at all times during competition.  Attitude, Concentration, Effort (A.C.E.).  If any of those drop, it drags the rest down.

My boys had some scrimmages today where they let themselves down.  Tomorrow we have some more league games.  It should be an opportunity for my keepers to show that they have adapted the correct ACE.  I hope they have learned from their mistakes and that the hours of practice this week aren’t in vain.  I almost spend more time with them than I do with my family when I start counting the session planning and documentation (I write down my training sessions afterwards).  I just want them to do their best.


Working on credentials towards achieving the next the step up in my goalkeeping coaching.  The first night’s lectures were good, just a lot of information.  Sitting in a room with all professionals and I am the only volunteer.  Nice to be in a situation where I can network with people outside of my immediate geographical area.