The Forgotten Keeper
Sometimes as a goalkeeper or goalkeepers parent you can feel like your alone on an island. Keepertec has your back and feels your pain. Remember that without a goalkeeper, soccer would be a very boring and pointless game.
When was the last time you learned something new? Or more specifically tried to learn a new sport? Something unlike anything you've done before, something that takes you out of your comfort zone and unbalances you? This is what kids feel constantly when we introduce them to a new sport. This post focuses on that concept... More specifically I'm going to share with you what learning a new sport in my 30's taught me about learning.
As a Canadian kid I grew up in a hockey loving family. Hockey was always on TV and my grandfather was an ex player and coach. In an era where girls barely played soccer, let alone hockey, I gravitated to the beautiful game. I started organized soccer at an early age and continued on until I hung up my gloves and started coaching instead. But realistically Hockey was in my blood. I don't even remember being taught how to shoot a wrist shot, it just happened. I played street hockey with the boys and spent hours out side with a stick, net and tennis ball. I loved it! As I got older I still enjoyed watching it, but as kids do, stopped going out to the street to play.
As I entered my 30's I was looking for a new sport to play. Not because I didn't love soccer anymore or wasn't thankful for the life it had given me. But it was my job now and I wanted to different physical release. I was always drawn to hockey and Im sure if I grew up on the Prarries it's the sport I would have picked. There was just one tiny problem... I didn't know how to skate! It's a bit of an issue if you want to play ice hockey. So I did the only thing I could think of, joined a learn to skate program.
Being older and learning a new skill is not only difficult, it can be scary. For one I had a lot further to fall than the average 4 year old. Of course on week 1 I was like Bambi. Completely lost and having to think deeply about every movement to avoid falling even while standing still.
As a coach myself I tried to apply teaching and learning techniques to myself. I started to put myself in the shoes of the kids I taught. In soccer I'd been playing since 4, everything was natural to me and second nature. I can read the game and react without thinking. Now here I was standing on a sheet of ice with two small blades under my feet. I was excited, but useless. Being an athlete I don't like being bad at things. I tackled this new challenge with the enthusiasm of a child, but much more self aware.
Throughtout the weeks I would repeat drills and practice on my own to work out the details of each movement. I took what I learned in a session and worked to improve it on my own. Being self aware of my learning helped a lot. Over time I continued to improve, to become more comfortable and eventually be able to add a stick and puck to my movement.
So what did this amazing experience teach me? More than I had realized at the time. Aside from the many personal things I learned about myself, I learned or remembered even more about how we learn.
Here is the best advice I can give any young player learning how to be a goalkeeper.
- It's hard to learn new things
- Making a mistake doesn't feel very good.
- Making mistakes helps in learning
- Understand how a movement should feel
- Watch others and then repeat. "monkey see, monkey do"
- It's frustrating when your body doesn't do what your mind wants it to.
- Learning requires patience
- Learning happens in stages
- Have one focus to improve on each time, not everything all at once.
- Remain positive about small improvements
- Performing with with time is different than under pressure
- Competition makes you better
- It's important to be self aware of mistakes and how to fix them
- Ask questions
- Step back and think about it
- Never top tying to get better
- Be happy and thankful when others notice your improvements.
As adults we sometime forget exactly how much goes into learning. Try to remember this fact the next time your frustrated with your players for making what we perceive to be "simple mistakes". I can assure you, falling flat on your back from standing is most defiantly a simple mistake, but it still hurts tremendously.
2611 Viscount Way