A simple blog that gives my opinion from the world of football, and in particular - the overlooked world of goalkeeping! Writer for Goalkeeper Magazine (www.goalkeepermagazine.com).

All comments are welcomed, and are to be encouraged!! Enjoy!

Please follow KeeperTalk on Twitter - @keepertalk1

Friday, 6 January 2012

Get Your Mind Right !!

As a goalkeeper, there are two extremes to how we see our performances:

A)     You’re playing well week in week out, saving everything, claiming every cross, loud, big and proud! “Go on…have another shot.” “Put that cross on me.”

B)      But then it all changes, you drop one cross, one poor clearance, on awkward bounce. All of a sudden your confidence is shot, you start to fumble the simple claims, you don’t fancy that cross in between you and your back line, communicating with your back four becomes even harder. “Please keep this cross away from me.” “I don’t fancy the pass-backs on this surface.” Everything seems to find its way past you and in to the goal.

Now these are clearly two extremes of the spectrum, with many of the Keepers reading this knowing and more importantly believing that they are strong enough to overcome a tiny blip. However there are also the keepers reading this who will have experience of the two scenarios. This article aims to look more closely at the reasons for this sudden switch in mentality, and maybe help you understand the psychology of Goalkeeping a little bit more.

KeeperTalk has teamed up with leading Sports Psychologist Dan Abrahams to discuss the difference that a goalkeeper may face as opposed to an outfield footballer, and ways in which a goalkeeper can manage their psychological approach to the game.

There is no hiding from the fact that goalkeeping is almost a completely different sport to the outfield footballer, and as such should be approached differently from a sports psychology perspective. Goalkeepers train away from the rest of team, warm up individually, and of course spend a large percentage of the 90 minutes alone.

Dan Abrahams compared a goalkeepers psychology to that of a golfer. Golfers perform their action intermittently, and effectively have a lot of time to think – or over think; which is where there can be a problem. This is much the same with goalkeepers. It is said many keepers find it difficult to go 89 minutes without being troubled, and then being forced in to a save in the final minute. Could this be due to over thinking? Loss of focus? Harder to maintain focus?

Dan Abrahams explained how the brain is hard wired to be negative. This can have a knock on effect for goalkeepers who are subject to this extra thinking time. Dan tries to encourage players to think positively using various techniques, which we will touch upon in this article. One of the most important things Dan tries to implement is to make players aware that they need to manage themselves with their thoughts, this is tougher for a goalkeeper due to extra thinking time, but nevertheless can make a big difference when it comes to performance. 

There are various techniques that Sports Psychologists like Dan use to give players that little bit extra help psychologically. Here are just a few of the tips from Dan:
1.       Body Language – If you act confidently, you will think confidently. The mind affects your body language but the effects can also be replicated vice versa.

2.       Breathing techniques – Psychology experts like Dan will implement breathing techniques to their athletes. These are specific to the individual, so would require advice from an expert in the field.

3.       Positive self talk – Little words or sentences to yourself can help. It is vital that these thoughts are positive, as the brain will automatically try to promote negative thoughts. Avoid words like “don’t” or “can’t”, as these are negative thoughts and the brain will automatically drawn to them. Sentences should be assertive and positive, “I will catch this next cross.”

4.       Use of keywords, Dan encourages one of his client to attempt to ‘tick’ off certain keywords during each performance. Words such as “dominant,” “Committed,” and “decisive” with the Goalkeeper having these words in his mind it will promote positive thoughts!

5.       Finally and probably the most important is Imagery. It is vital that any player imagines positive performances and actions. Imagine making that save, that claim, that rush out of your box but also imagine how you feel after it. Many keepers think about recent errors, and they are always there in their mind at all times. To counter act this the promotion of positive experiences and positive imagery are vital.

Thank you for reading this article, and I hope that you may even have learnt something from this. KeeperTalk would like to that Dan Abrahams for helping me write this article. You can follow Dan on Twitter at @danabrahams77 , in which he often gives advice and thoughts when it comes to sports psychology. You can also read Dan’s blog site which is on the right hand side in the ‘friends of Keepertalk’ box.
Thanks for reading, and please post any comment…

Follow Dan at @danabrahams77 

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Howard Refuses to get Blown Away!!

Everton's recent goalscoring sensation Tim Howard has revealed the reasons why he declined to celebrate following his freak goal against Bolton Wanderers last night. 
The United States international scored an incredible goal following a clearance from a pass back inside his own area bouncing over opposition goalkeeper Adam Bogdan. 
But Howard refused to celebrate out of consideration for Bogdan at the other end of the field. 
"It's not a nice place to be," Howard said. "I've been there before - a long, long time ago - and that was why I didn't celebrate."
"I was delighted that we were in the lead and would hopefully go on to get three points, but it's not a nice feeling for a keeper, it's really awful actually,"

Despite his freak goal, and a superlative performance. Howard was unable to prevent Everton succumbing to a 2-1 loss against The Trotters.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Foster Stands Firm!

Current West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster has again turned down Fabio Capello's call to be included in his latest international squad.

Foster who declared to be an 'indefinite sabbatical' from international football last spring, was visited by Ray Clemence regarding making a return to the England fold to provide much needed support for Joe Hart. Foster instead opted to maintain his international stance, claiming that he needs to concentrate on his club form for WBA.

The former Birmingham and Manchester United stopper joins fellow Premiership goalkeeper Paul Robinson in distancing himself from international football, at a time when the England goalkeeping ranks are looking particularly bleak.

With Foster and Robinson out of contention, it leaves only Hart and Norwich City's John Ruddy as first choice English goalkeepers in the Premiership - who Capello has deemed unqualified to be included in his latest squad.

One can only wonder what will happen should Joe Hart suffer an injury.....

Friday, 5 August 2011

Keeper Focus: Kevin Pilkington

KeeperTalk's latest interview comes from a goalkeeper that has gone through all the emotions as a goalkeeper. Kevin Pilkington made the breakthrough at Manchester United in 1994 when he was handed is first team d├ębut.Unfortunately for Kevin first team opportunities were hard to come by, mainly due to being in competition with arguably the greatest goalkeeper of all time in Peter Schmeichel. This forced KP to move in to the football league where he has gone to play over 350 games and has recently just signed for Luton Town FC at the age of 37. KeeperTalk was given the opportunity to speak to Kevin and ask him about his career as a whole.

How did last season go for you Kevin? 

I am always disappointed when I'm not playing regularly so it was a frustrating season for me. When I got a chance to play (Fa trophy and Mansfield loan) I really enjoyed it and thought I did myself justice.

What made you choose Luton as your next club?

I spent 3 months there on loan from Notts and really enjoyed my time and was made very welcome. Its a big club with good history so it was a fairly easy decision. 

Did you ever consider playing abroad?

I would love to play abroad! I nearly went to New Zealand a couple of years ago but unfortunately it fell through. I think it would be a great experience not just for me but my family as well.

Having had injury problems, what is your approach to training now?

The same as it has always been train as hard as possible. Always give a 100%. 

Has there been any individual who has been a huge inspiration to your career? 

My Dad. He was always there for me when I needed help or advice. But in footballing Circles Eric Harrison. Hard task master but a legend!

Who is your favourite current goalkeeper?

There's a few. Joe hart I really like. Great ability and temperament. Buffon has done it at the top level for years. Reina the best distribution! Stekelenburg can't believe he only went for 6.3 million euros!

Who is the goalkeeper you most dislike? 

None! Great respect for all keepers! 

Who is your all-time favourite goalkeeper?

Peter Schmeichel! The best!

Playing/training with the great Peter Schmeichel day in day out at United, what was he like? 

Awesome! Somedays he was unbeatable. Lucky enough to be on the bench when he made the save against rapid Vienna. Unbelievable save! 

What gloves are you wearing at the moment?

I am wearing ReactGK gloves. Very good as well!

What has been the biggest obstacle to your career so far?

The Schmeichels! Peter and Kasper!

Greatest moment of your career to date?

Making my debut for United against Palace and promotion winning season with Mansfield!

That is your ambition for the rest of your career?

Play as much as possible and enjoy playing. Also I want to be a GK coach and give some of my knowledge to some young gks! I love goalkeeping and want to be involved for years to come!

KeeperTalk would like to thank Kevin Pilkington for taking the time to volunteer for this interview, and wish him all the best for this season and the rest of his career. You can follow Kevin on twitter at @kpilks.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Baggies to use Myhill as Bait!

West Bromwich Albion’s pursuit of Birmingham City goalkeeper Ben Foster has taken another twist, as it now appears they are prepared to give them current stopper Boaz Myhill in return.
Foster looks set to move to the Hawthorns in a season long loan deal, with Birmingham eager to get him off their wage bill after suffering relegation to the championship.

The news will no doubt come as a blow to Myhill, who has already expressed his frustration at Roy Hodgson looking elsewhere to fill their current goalkeeping void. However it appears he could be moving the other way, should Roy Hodgson be successful in his acquisition of the former Manchester United stopper.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Lindegaard to Fight for Place!

Manchester United goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard has sent out a warning message to Old Trafford new boy David De Gea, by stating his intent on becoming Manchester United’s number 1 this season.
The former Aalborg stopper spent much of last season on the sidelines due to Edwin Van Der Sar’s dominance between the sticks and also due to a knee operation that has sidelined him since March. However the Danish international has set his sights on breaking in to the Manchester United first team this term.
Lindegaard said “It’s not about making the choice difficult for Sir Alex. For me, it’s about being number one. That is what it’s all about – playing. I enjoy competing and, so far, I feel very good.
“There is big competition in all the spots but, so far, I’m very satisfied with my own performances.
“I think I’ve played very well so I believe in my chance. If I didn’t believe in my chance, how could I expect other people to?
“I’m not scared at all. I am very proud of representing Manchester United. It’s the biggest dream in my career come true.”
These words will sure be of no surprise to United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who has been quick to dismiss hotshot De Gea as guaranteed first choice at Old Trafford.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Baggies Fancy Foster!

West Brom have made contact with Birmingham City over possibly signing goalkeeper Ben Foster.

Roy Hodgson is in the market for a new stopper since offloading Scott Carson to Bursaspor, and has identified Foster as his top target. Talks have opened between the two clubs, and with Birmingham keen to reduce their wage budget since relegation - they are believed to be regretfully resigned to the former Manchester United man leaving the club, be it on a permanent deal or on loan.

Foster has been linked with a host of clubs this summer, but with Spurs opting for Brad Friedel and Aston Villa signing Shay Given, West Brom have now become the front runners in the chase to sign the highly rated goalkeeper.

It is believed that The Baggies will make a move for West Ham's Rob Green should a bid for Foster fail to materialize, however with both clubs looking to do business and Foster enjoying life in the Midlands - it appears Foster will be making the move to The Hawthorns in the not too distant future.

WBA manager Roy Hodson had this to say on the matter, "I am aware of our interest but I am not aware of how far down the line we are with our negotiations with Birmingham, so I can't make any comments on that.

"But Ben Foster is a goalkeeper who interests us and if we can get him to West Bromwich Albion on loan or on a permanent deal, that would be something we would be very happy about."
What is for certain is that Foster represents one of the best options for WBA, with him being a stand out performer in the Premiership last season he will no doubt be a great acquisition for The Baggies.