What are the Values of a Professional Goalkeeper?

So I sit here living in a fantastic country, with an extraordinary life, in my eyes doing the best I possibly can to fulfil young kids dreams of becoming professional Goalkeepers. What an amazing job aye?

Your right, it is an amazing job and I’m very grateful for the life I lead now, I wouldn’t change it for the world however my life could have been so different.

In a nutshell (as this post isn’t about me, it’s about educating not just Goalkeepers but young sportsman around the world who have an incredible opportunity) I had incredible opportunities at a young age, a scholarship and one-year professional deal at Wolverhampton Wanderers. The Glenn Hoddle Academy in Spain, later playing for Spanish club Jerez and then signing at Northampton Town for a handful of games. Later dropping to non-league and having some fun…and it was great fun!

I had insight to some of the best coaches, in my opinion in the world, such as Perry Suckling, Dave Beasant, Grahame Rix, Nigel Spackman, Bobby Mimms, Tim Flowers and the most incredible football mind I have ever come across, Glenn Hoddle. Many of these guys I still call my friends.

I really mean this, if I would have put the effort into being a professional footballer that I put into coaching young Goalkeepers to fulfil their dreams then maybe I wouldn’t be here today.

Do I regret it? NO.

If I done it all again would I change how I done it? YES.

How would my life been if I had lived my life by the values I perceive to be now ‘The Ingredients of a professional Goalkeeper? Who Knows, however, I know that living my life by the below values when I was 15 – 23 I probably wouldn’t be in Australia today, I would have given myself the best opportunity.

The Goalkeeper Values I feel are the main ingredients are:

– Opportunity

– Resilience

– Preparation

– Fun & Laughter

– Learning

– Hard-Work

Opportunity

Opportunity is the foundation of being a Goalkeeper, it’s being conscious that you have an environment to use and facilitate all the other values. Opportunity to train, Opportunity to learn, Opportunity to have fun and laugh with life-long friends, Opportunity to ‘bounce-back’ and Opportunity to work hard.

I had this opportunity. I just didn’t realize. Now it’s my job to create and make Goalkeepers conscious of the opportunities they have.

So this is my message to coaches, parents and young aspiring Goalkeepers and sportspeople.

“You have one opportunity at a career as a Goalkeeper, in this opportunity you may have many different opportunities at different clubs, in practice, and in games. However, one chance at a Goalkeeper career. Take this opportunity, don’t let it bypass you, for the minimum consequence is that you will come out the other end a great human being”

Resilience

As a Goalkeeper, part of the game is that you will make mistakes. This mean you will let goals in, this means you will cost games, this means that behind your back team-mates and parents will be talking about you, this means that you will be sitting up in the middle of the night thinking about ‘that goal’, this means that your coach will report back saying all sorts about ‘my keepers this and my keepers that’.

So what? If you fall off your bike, then get back on your bike and try again. If you fall again, so what?… go again. Eventually not only do you become a better Goalkeeper, you become emotionally stronger and a better person. If you care about what others think of you then you will never succeed. The only person who needs to have an opinion on your performance is YOU!

I as a person was resilient in some ways but not in others, I bounced back and went again consistently, however I didn’t learn and try to get better. Now it’s my job to make young Goalkeepers emotionally stronger so they can bounce back and have a chance to progress.

So this is my message to coaches, parents and young aspiring Goalkeepers and sportspeople.

“Being a Goalkeeper is going to hurt you emotionally at times, if you can control these emotions, recognize when they are present and learn from them then you will only progress!”

Preparation

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Eat well, train well, gym well, recover well, ask questions, analyze well, organise well, Repeat.

You are always preparing, weather it’s for a game or training, “Consistent performance and progression is a consequence of your constant preparation”. If you do not have the correct equipment before for a game, then how can you play well? If you do not train your hardest then how can you play well? If you do not put the correct fuel in your body then how can your engine run? If you do not rest after training and games, then how can your body recover for the next game? You get where I’m going with this….

Of all the above, did I do this on a consistent basis? The answer is pretty simple, NO.

Your sports career is constantly preparing for your next competitive event. How can you perform to the best or learn from mistakes if you can’t say you prepared to the best of your ability. It gives you foundation to build on.

So this is my message to coaches, parents and young aspiring Goalkeepers and sportspeople.

“Your consistent performance and progression is a consequence of your constant preparation”

Fun & Laughter

Why strive to become a professional Goalkeeper if you are not having fun and making some incredible memories?

If you don’t enjoy it, if winning and improving doesn’t make you feel good, if you don’t want to train, if you don’t want to go in and see your mates every training session then please pack your bags up and don’t bother. It’s that simple.

My mum always used to say to me, find a job that you enjoy. As your life will evolve around that. Fun & Laughter is so important as it build relationships, something which is critical in being a Goalkeeper.

Look at Buffon and Chiellini, they have played over 600 games together. I can put my life on it that during that time they have had some laughs. They played last night (Tottenham Vs Juvetus) and were celebrating tackles, saves and clearances! You don’t celebrate them without having a relationship based on being friends.

So this is my message to coaches, parents and young aspiring Goalkeepers and sportspeople.

“If you are not enjoying the journey, please stop and pursue what you enjoy”

Learning

So we always learn, consciously or sub-consciously, weather we mean it or not. For example – everyone has burnt their hand on an oven before…we didn’t mean it, next time we make sure we take care, we wear protection. Therefore we don’t do it again.

FACT – Goalkeepers will always make mistakes. Being consciously aware of mistakes and learning how to not make the same mistake is the key to getting better.

If you are conscious of learning, then that’s when you can really improve. Self-assessment, asking question, video analysis, watching games, research, listening, watching other Goalkeepers, visualization… these are different ways to learn. Never stop wanting to learn, the more questions you ask the more knowledge you will consume.

Goalkeeping, I believe, is a very visual learning position. Watch video’s on how they set, how they dive. Video your own sessions and technique and compare it to the best in the world. Try to copy the best in the world.

Never stop wanting to learn. Never be afraid to ask a question, no matter how silly it may seem, if you don’t ask then you will not know.

Did I want to learn? Not enough, I thought learning stopped when I left school. Oh how wrong was I!

So this is my message to coaches, parents and young aspiring Goalkeepers and sportspeople.

“The minimum you can do is learn something new”

Hard Work

Hard work is a key ingredient, work hard at all the above and the consequence is that you will give yourself the best opportunity of becoming a professional footballer.

There are 24 hours in a day. As an aspiring professional sportsman you must sleep a minimum of 8 hours. What are you doing for the rest of that time?

Working hard on yourself. Not feeding your mind with constant unnecessary information on X-Box, Playstations and other forms of video games. Can you be that 1% difference who works hard off the pitch as well as on the pitch.

I worked hard on the pitch, I wanted to win. As soon as I finished training and games I had no interest. This is why I didn’t progress.

I had an opportunity and yes I worked my socks off for that 90 minute training session and that 90 minute game. However I didn’t do that bit extra.

Can you?

So this is my message to coaches, parents and young aspiring Goalkeepers and sportspeople.

“Work hard and smart to follow that incredible opportunity to become the best you can possibly be”

Summary

These are the vital ingredients I feel it takes to be a professional Goalkeeper/sports person.

Live your sporting life by these values and you will give yourself the best shot.

If you are a Goalkeeper – Please recognize your opportunity and work hard to live by these values.

If you are a parent – Live by these values, you are in the environment your Goalkeeper is growing up in. If they grow up in this environment, then it becomes second nature.

If you are a coach – Provide these values to your Goalkeepers. The ingredients are vital.

It’s always easy to say in hindsight but if I went into training everyday living by these values then I would have given myself the best opportunity.

Would I have made it? Who knows – But I would have given myself that best chance

Thanks for reading everyone.

Billy Lumley

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