An insight into England U21s goalkeeping sessions

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Tim Dittmer, FA Lead National Goalkeeper coach, tells The Boot Room how he designs goalkeeping practices for the England U21 squad. 


How would you summarise your approach to practice design?In my current coaching role with the England U21 goalkeepers I design the sessions by looking at three areas:

  • In possession – what tactics and style will our team adopt in the game and how will the goalkeepers add value to this?
  • What threats will the opposition pose us and how can the goalkeepers help nullify this?
  • What are the individual needs of the goalkeepers in terms of development and performance?
A coach teaching a player how to pass
Tim Dittmer, pictured left, working with a young goalkeeper at St.George's Park.


How do you plan your sessions?I always plan with 3 things in mind:

  • Empower the players – this could mean involving them in the design of the practices or linking the outcomes to the next opposition.
  • Inspire the players – ensure the practices are realistic to the game, challenging and competitive. The players must also know what they have to do in order to succeed or win each drill (this then helps the review process).
  • Expose the players – take the players outside of their comfort zone, provide problems that need to be solved and don’t be concerned if it goes wrong or looks a little messy.

How has this approach evolved? What, or who, have been your major influences – or reference points – along the way? I spent many a session getting this wrong earlier in my coaching career – making sessions look good, providing too little challenge and not stretching or being demanding of the players from a tactical or decision-making point of view.



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