MESSAGE TO ALL COACHES: A lot of the time when we do things to help our students, sometimes we do not see straight away the positive impact we are potentially having on the lives we are trying to help. For instance when I did the free live zoom mindset training over lock down Reuben speaks about in his email below, I did not realise the positive impact this would make on young Jenson. So the message to fellow coaches, just keep doing what you are doing and helping your students, because you never know that one thing you do, could be life changing for your student (s)! ??
Bit of a long email but I want to share this with you….
Jensen, 12 years old, played against Bradford City last night, the very team he has supported since going to watch his first game aged 5. He was very excited about this prospect and in the hours prior to it, he prepared well for it, early bed the night before, ate good food, focused his mind etc etc and he was mentally and physically prepared for it.
He met his team mates outside the ground who all seemed in the same frame of mind and football was definitely on the agenda. They walked to the pitch together and warmed up really well, Jensen was worked hard by his team mates in the warm up and he seemed he was in fine fettle, confidently catching/handling the ball.
There were two keepers and the coaches decided they would play 3 thirds of 30 minutes and that both keepers would play exactly half the game each, Jensen 1st third and half the last third. Jensen was up first, confidently running into his goal, bouncing in his line tapping the cross bar, psyching himself up but his biggest test yet.
The whistle went, the game started and straight from the kick off, the opposition made a direct effort on goal but Jensen was ready and made a great save, diving low to his left and holding on to it, a confident save and one all keepers want to make to boost their confidence straight away.
He played out from the back as the coaches wanted him to and his team played through the thirds scoring at the other end, taking the lead. Tails were up and confidence was great.
Bradford however, gathered themselves together and started playing some wonderful football and the onslaught began, it became apparent quite quickly that this was a bit of a mis match and it was going to be a long game for both keepers, shot after shot, long range close range, one on one’s etc.
Jensen was feeling the pressure, it was clear to see he was getting frustrated with his non existent defence and consequently panic set in at every attack and unfortunately, he made two bad saves costing two goals. He was upset, he knew he should have saved them easily but under the pressure, lost his head and became emotional.
The coach came over and spoke with him as I’m not allowed to approach or speak to him during a game. By the end of the first third, the score was 6-2 but his head was down about the two saves he’d not dealt with. Now it was the other keepers turn!
Now, I know you believe strongly in the psychology of goalkeeping both pre, during and post games and we have heard you speak about finding that ‘reset’ button if the opposition score or a goal keeper makes a mistake etc so I was really hoping Jensen would find that button and ‘reset’ but his body language was telling me that that button was a needle in a haystack.
I was gutted for him and I was desperate to speak to him and see if I can help him find that reset. Seeing him sad, fed up, annoyed, emotional and sat with his head in his hands was tough for me and I considered pulling him out as damage limitation as I didn’t want his confidence being knocked and setting him back.
However, in the same instance I was thinking that, I looked over and saw him stood up with a ball in his hands doing keeper exercises. He was throwing it up and catching it, doing kick ups, laid on the floor kicking and catching it to himself and passing the ball around his body. Has he found the reset button?
The second third ended 7-1 to Bradford, so 13-3 in total and now it was Jensen to play his half of the last third. I was worried, anxious and I anticipated having to deal with an inconsolable boy at the end of the game but I was also conscious that he seemed to have re-focused his mind set.
The game kicked off for the final third and the onslaught continued, shot after shot peppered his goal but remarkably, save after save was made. Shots in every are area of the goal were tipped over the bar, around the post, blocked and caught, he was having a worldy. Parents were clapping and cheering him, chatter between them was one of amazement and delight that he had turned it around.
His part of that third ended 1-1 and he was subbed off for the other keeper with applause from the spectators, pats on the back from players, fist bumps from the referee and coaches and he turned to me, smiled and gave me a double thumbs up.
I was so proud of him, he’s done something I could never have done, I wouldn’t have recovered as I know from my own footballing experiences in high pressure games so for him to change his mind set off his own accord at 12 years old, for me is remarkable!!
He came off that pitch smiling and I put my arm around him and I told him what an amazing thing he had just done. Coaches spoke to him on his way to the car and told him he’d recovered well but for me, it wasn’t just a good recovery, it was an unbelievable recovery.
I strongly believe that the social media live videos you did over lockdown played a huge part in what I had just witnessed. We both watched and interacted with you when you did the live streams and you spoke about keepers resetting and different mind sets. We had a big chat about it after although I wasn’t sure he was completely savvy about the subject or understood it fully…….but clearly he had!!
Thank you J4K, this could quite easily have been a different story but because of your dedication to all goalkeepers and the streams you did for them all, I’m very happy to inform you of the experience Jensen had last night. Little did I know at the time that the information you were giving would make such an impact so early on in my lads career.. but it did!!!
Keep up there great work