“We’re a crazy group, in the best way possible“

Solidarity, substance and fun – the three key elements of the first HSV Goalkeeping Day at the Alexander Otto Academy meant that the young goalkeeping talents went away with a smile on their face and lots of think about.

As the day drew to a close, they all flew through the air one last time, only this time landing on the soft, white sand of the Alexander Otto Academy; a beach volleyball tournament was the final highlight of the fun-filled HSV Goalkeeping Day 2019, which all of HSV’s youth team ‘keepers from age 15 and upwards were invited to. Under the guidance of the various goalkeeping coaches, the young talents received advice for their game and looked to optimise their abilities in many diverse and thought-provoking drills, and became closer as a goalkeeping unit because of it. 

“With all of our ambition and everything we’re asked to do on the pitch as goalkeepers we’re a crazy group, in the best way possible – we want to nurture our ‘keepers during the goalkeeping day and strengthen the togetherness within our goalkeeping family,” was u21 goalkeeping coach Arvid Schenk’s explanation for the thinking behind the organisation of the event. The day wasn’t all about getting down and dirty though, with lots of theoretical and practical elements to the day, the first day of its kind that HSV has organised. First-team ‘keeper Tom Mickel as well as goalkeeping coach Kai Rabe were also in attendance to provide more tips to both youngsters and coaches alike.

The men between the sticks and their coaches had a packed programme to contend with, first going through theoretical basics before looking to implement what they had learnt in the afternoon. The strength and conditioning team lead by Milan Hentrich explained the importance of the movement of their hips to their young charges, and how “the strength and conditioning work that you do in the gym or on the pitch is just as important a building block for your development as the goalkeeping training that you do”, reinforcing the importance of a much-forgotten element, particularly in youth football.  

Sports psychologist Frank Weiland was also on-hand to talk about how to deal with stress, particularly useful to the oft-exposed last line of defence. “As a goalkeeper in football you are the last bastion that can intervene tellingly in many different situations,” Weiland explained. “Every goalkeeper knows the situation; when you’ve had nothing to do and then suddenly the ball comes to you. At that moment you need to be completely switched on. For a lot of lads that’s a huge amount of pressure, that you have to be able to deal with mentally. These are exactly the kind of skills that we went to provide our ‘keepers with here at HSV.” Many players use specific techniques intuitively, according to the sports psychologist. “Some goalkeepers stand next to the goal for a moment or two, have a quick drink and let off a bit of steam and ease the pressure in certain situations. Those kind of small rituals are really key for a goalkeeper, because you are expected to perform under huge pressure. To maintain these high levels you have to be emotionally stable. Those are exactly the kind of skills and knowledge that we want to impart to our players.”

These and many other little tips on and off the field were just part of the package that the young ‘keepers took with them and will look to integrate into their own game after a fun-filled day at the Volksparkstadion. “All of the lads were very involved and showed that they had already thought about a lot of the topics we discussed. Now it’s important that they implement what we’ve talked about on the pitch,” was Weiland’s conclusion on a very successful day for all involved.