Blog

Q&A with Sky Blue FC Goalkeeper: Caroline Casey

TKI has the pleasure of working with goalkeeper Caroline Casey during this 2016 NWSL season with Sky Blue FC. Casey was selected by Sky Blue FC at no. 29 overall (third round) in the 2016 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft. She is coming off an All-America First Team senior season at the College of William and Mary, recording a 0.88 goals-against-average, 86 saves and 11 shutouts while claiming 2015 CAA Defensive Player of the Year accolades. The Virginia native started every game of her college career and finished with 301 saves (second all-time), 29 saves (third all-time) and 48 wins.  Catch some insight from my of the NWSL starting goalkeepers. 

TKI: How has your professional experience been so far? What was it like to play in your first professional game this year as a rookie?

   I am really enjoying playing at this level. It is a unique environment, where you can be constantly surrounded by talented coaches and teammates. Playing in a professional game was everything I had wished for and more. Playing in my first game as a rookie was incredibly nerve-racking but as soon as the game started all of my fears and anxiety melted away. The atmosphere in the stadium and the feeling of cohesiveness amongst the team was amazing and is something I will cherish forever. 

TKI: What has been the biggest adjustment going from the college game to the professional level?

The biggest difference between college and pros is the pace of the game and attention to detail. Due to the fact that the pace is quicker I have to think ahead in terms of communication, positioning, and distribution. I have to think about all of the little parts of the game because they make such a difference at this level. 

TKI: Where do you want to take your playing career and how are you working to make that happen?

I aspire to play for the US National program and hope to one day be given that opportunity. I am trying to achieve this by finding playing environments where I can be challenged and pushed outside of my comfort zone. I have and will continue to search for positive places that foster development and growth because I feel I still have so much to learn. 

TKI: How has training with TKI been? Do you think you have made any particular adjustments or improvements to help better your game?

Amazing! I love going to TKI to train because every session is different and has a clear objective. When I leave a session I always feel like I got a good workout in that was challenging and goalkeeper specific. Since starting at TKI, I believe my set shape and foot skills have improved. I still have a long way to go but now I know the theory and have a better understanding of what shape/movements I am working toward. 

TKI: What is the best piece of advice you can give a young goalkeeper who wants to play at the highest level and achieve all their dreams?

  If soccer is something you are truly passionate about then don't be afraid to fight for your opportunities. Things usually won't just fall into place. If you want something, you have to work for it and make it happen. Nothing worthwhile comes easily, so you must be willing to make sacrifices. Be willing to be uncomfortable, be willing to make mistakes, and be willing to get frustrated. Once you can accept these things then you can start to make progress and you will be rewarded. Finally remember to have fun! Soccer is bigger than just yourself, it's a team sport and at the end of the day it's still just a sport.

Follow Caroline Casey and the rest of Sky Blue FC's season HERE!  

90 Day Winter Challenge

As all of your fall seasons come to an end, whether that be college, high school, or club we’re all heading into the winter months, or what some call it the ‘offseason’. We’re here to send you a friendly reminder: There is no offseason.  If you are dedicated to becoming the best goalkeeper you can be, if you have dreams of playing in college and succeeding when you get there, if you want to make sure that your body is staying fit and remaining injury free… you MUST be willing to work all year-round. Not just in season, or in preseason, but you must maintain a relentless effort to improve every single day.

The potential that you have is undeniable, and the choice to seize that potential is yours.  Everyday that you waste an opportunity to develop that potential is a day that you set yourself one day behind your potential self, and one day behind everyone else out there who is looking to take your spot next season. 

The greatest goalkeepers are those who are working at being better versions of themselves each and every day, even when their abilities already exceed most others.  At the end of the season they reflect on their performances, identify gaps in their game and skills to sharpen, they redefine their goals, rest their bodies, but their minds never stop working on ways to get better.  It’s an everyday process.  There is no offseason.  

Goalkeepers need time off to rest and recover their bodies; they don’t need to train 365 days a year.  But when those two recovery weeks are over, they get back to work with specific purposes in mind.  This 90-day winter challenge is going to provide all of you goalkeepers specific areas to work on that will help you prepare for a successful spring season and beyond.  The 90-day challenge will add a supplemental program that will help each of you grow in all areas: physical strength and ability, injury prevention, leadership, motivation, communication skills, and even technical areas. 

Practices make game days easier.  The harder the offseason, the easier the regular season.  Anyone can get pumped up for night games under the lights, but it takes a true competitor to get serious about their off season workouts.  Everyday has a win for you.  Crave taking ground on your potential self and the effort becomes irrelevant. 

Q&A with New TKI Trainer Nicole Barnhart

Nicole Barnhart is the newest addition to TKI's staff! We are so excited for her to join team once she finishes up this NWSL with FC Kansas City!  Let's get to know her a bit more as she offers us insight into her life as a professional goalkeeper. 

TKI Quickfire questions:

1. Favorite Book: The Power Of One

2. What do you want to do when you grow up: A few options, still undecided: Coach, Chef, Art Therapist, Graphic Designer/Artist

3.  Favorite Music: Country

4.  Favorite Food: Tough to name one food, because I love food!!! Maybe sushi?

5.  Favorite place you have travelled: Austria

TKI:   Great players have to go through some sort of adversity that bring out the best in them.  What the biggest hurdle that you have had to overcome in your career?

NB: Injuries…Lots of them, and most of them very ill timed.  I’ve partially torn my PCL, torn my ACL,  had 6 knee surgeries and 1 hip surgery, and am currently ACL and PCL deficient with no medial cartilage (all on the same leg).  On top of those, I’ve had shoulder injuries, disc problems in my back, and a serious neck injury.  I was told many years back that they didn’t think my career would last much longer because of the condition of my knee, but I have proven them all wrong.  I’ve put in a lot of hard work to stay fit and strong and to maintain the function of my knee.  And honestly, I feel like I am currently my fittest, strongest, and playing some of my best soccer. 

 TKI: Everyone has their own path to success, what do you think has been the single biggest attribute to having achieved the highest level in the world?

NB: The support of my friends and family over the years, and my unwillingness to listen to people tell me I can’t do something.  I am very stubborn and like to prove people wrongJ  I learned to embrace failure, and believe me, there was a lot of it over the years (EX: When I first tried out for ODP, I made the “B” Team.  EX: I was cut from the WNT at the end of 2006).  I never gave up, and learned that hard work produces success.   I like to think I am one of the hardest working people I know, in whatever it is I am doing.  My dad always told us that if we make the effort to put something in our lives, why not give it 100%?  I think I have taken this attitude/mentality into everything that has been put on my plate. 

TKI: Whats one piece of wisdom that you can impart on young goalkeepers? 

NB:   Your career will be a series of ups and downs.  You will gain the most from what you learn in the downs, but you will also learn a lot by how you carry yourself in the ups.   Remember, soccer is just a game and there are many more important things in life.  However, it is a game that can teach you a lot about life (in both the ups and downs), so don’t pass over those wonderful learning opportunities.

 TKI: Having good positive role models to look up to is so critical these days. Who did you look up to when you were growing up and why? 

NB: I didn’t have a lot of female role models to look up to when I was younger.  However, as I got a little older, I was able to look up to many members of the US Women’s National Team.  I wanted to be them one day, and play to represent my country.  As a matter of fact, I convinced my parents to get cable just before the ’99 World Cup so that I could watch them play in the tournament.  We also had kittens that we named after a few of our favorites – Lily (Lilly), Scurry, Mia.  So, when the opportunity came to be teammates and train/play alongside some of these same players I grew up watching, it was quite an honor.  Looking back now, I’d also say that I look up to my parents.  I really respect the way they raised me and my two siblings.  Although we may not have always agreed with them at the time, they knew what they were doing and raised us to be hardworking, honest, caring, respectable individuals, and I hope to be able to do the same when I have my own children one day.

TKI: You have been all over the world, playing with and against some of the top female players ever, traveling and visiting all kinds of places, but what do you enjoy most about playing professional soccer?

NB: Being a professional soccer player is by far the coolest job in the world.  I get paid to workout, dive around, and play soccer every day.  Who could ask for anything better?  Not many people can say they love their job, but I truly love my job, and am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do this each day.   As a professional athlete, I have met some amazing people, formed some lasting friendships, travelled to all parts of the world, and experienced places, cultures, foods, and so much more that I otherwise probably never would have had the chance to see.  On top of all of that, I live a healthy lifestyle, and I owe a lot of that to my job.  I have learned a lot about myself over these many years of playing, and that includes how to best take care of my body - I put healthy foods into my body to get the most out of it in the grueling trainings and games I put it through.  I have been very blessed with this great opportunity and I try to make the most of it each time I step on the field, whether it be for a training or game.  It is not a right but a privilege to be a professional athlete, and I take that to heart.  One of the coolest parts of the job is the interactions with the fans.  There are young boys and girls in the exact same position I was in many years ago, looking up to me now.  I take my responsibility as a role model very seriously, and continue to look forward to the amazing encounters and interactions with all of those people supporting me in what I do. 

 

A special thank you to Barnie for taking the time to chat with us! With many students who hope to play professional soccer one day, hearing some direct insight from a player of your caliber is great exposer for all of our students! As a family, TKI will be cheering on Barnie as she plays in the NWSL Championship on October 1st at 930PM EST! 

Q&A with Holly Van Noord

Holly Van Noord is the current goalkeeper at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.  She is taken an unlikely path to become a prominent goalkeeper at the Division 1 level and was gracious enough to sit down with us and share some of her insight on what has helped her get to the top level in the college game! 

TKI: A lot of TKI Goalkeepers are going through the recruiting process right now. Can you give us some insight on how that process went for you ?

HVN: The recruiting process can be both an exciting and stressful time.  I didn't play club so I decided that I needed to attend as many camps and clinics that I could at the colleges I was interested in attending to get recognized.  Come to find out, this was a great way for the coaches to see hours of my talent, personality, and work ethic and whether or not I would be a good fit for their program.  While looking at different colleges, I highly suggest visiting each one to get a feel for the environment and whether or not you can see yourself at that college.  

TKI: What was/is the biggest adjustment going from high level club or high school to college?

HVN:  The biggest adjustment going from high school to college was the intensity. I recognized very quickly that the women were more aggressive, work harder, and are more disciplined. College soccer programs require dedication and discipline with every aspect of your life and both your coaches and teammates expect you to put soccer as a top priority.

TKI: Where do you want to take your playing career and how are you working to make that happen?

HVN:  I would like to take my career to the professional level. In order to reach my goal, I work on my weaknesses and put in extra time outside of training and practices. Eating healthy, taking care of my body, and getting enough rest at night are three things that have really helped me train to the best of my ability. My faith also plays a big role in developing my confidence and helping me find my value in Christ and not my performance. Overall, my faith helps me work harder and become a better goalkeeper. 

TKI: How has training with TKI been? Do you think you have made any particular adjustments or improvements to help better your game?

HVN:  TKI has been a huge part in developing me as goalkeeper. The technical training is very specific and has helped me learn details to enhance my goalkeeping. Even when I am training on my own or with other teams, I am able to take what I learned at TKI and train myself. I know the adjustments that I need to change from TKI sessions and modify my performance from what I have learned. This has helped me improve my game and develop me as a goalkeeper.

TKI: What is the best piece of advice you can give a young goalkeeper who wants to play at the highest level and achieve all their dreams?

HVN:  The best piece of advice that I would give a goalkeeper who wants to achieve their dreams is to be discipline and put extra work in. It’s important to put your dream as a top priority in your life so that everything you do puts you one step closer to that dream and doesn’t hinder you reaching your potential. I would encourage you to be discipline with your body, your brain, your social life, your spiritual life, and your school life.

TKI's Champion Challenge

Being a champion doesn't just mean winning trophies and gold medals.  It's not about personal records, shutouts, or the number of goals you can score in a season.  Champions aren't defined by statistics, numbers, or earnings.  No. True champions are only defined by their character.  By their grit. Perseverance. And unrelenting work ethic.  The measure of a champion lies not in victories, but in the amount of heart and character they display on their path to achieve their full potential.  

Here at The Keeper Institute we are always trying to equip our goalkeepers with every tool necessary to develop their game and ultimately achieve their dreams.  We realize that we have a limited time on the field working with our students and that each of them will need to work on different aspects of the game away from the field and on their own.  To build off the momentum of the physical trainings with the Jump Rope and Core Challenges, this May we will be implementing  The Keeper Institute's "Champion Challenge!"  

Our journeys to reaching out full potential as goalkeepers and as people far extends beyond the four boundaries of the pitch.  It starts in our hearts.  It starts with a decision. It starts leading our lives as champions in everything that we do.  

Sign up for TKI's "Champion Challenge" and join us in becoming a champion in all aspects of life.

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How To: Mistake Management

As goalkeepers the fear of making a mistake often haunts us each and every time we step onto the field. It is essential for us to acknowledge the fact that we are not perfect, and mistakes are going to occur! Mistakes are acceptable as long as we handle them in the appropriate manner, and learn from them going forward! Thanks to TKI student Natalie Axelsson, here are three methods to manage our mistakes as goalkeepers:

1.  Compartmentalize

My former goalkeeper coach was the first to teach me to move on. Once a goal is scored there is no taking it back. Might as well forget about it for the duration of the game. If you continue to scold yourself, it will impede on your play. The best way for me to manage my mistakes is to move on. However, after the game analyze the goal step by step and learn from it. Mistakes are a learning experience.

2.  Step by step

 I learned this method through the book “No Hero” by Mark Owen. This is when you take the game one step at a time. Set miniature and obtainable goals for yourself. Keep telling yourself that you will make the next save and it will be amazing and clean. Then keep moving on. Focus on the game itself, take each hurdle a step at a time. This will keep your focus on the game, not elsewhere such as the scoreboard. If you try to watch the scoreboard countdown, you could miss something important, such as trying to organize the defense against an oncoming offensive attack.

3.  Visionary   

With this one you want to envision the game as you want it to be. You know you can do it because you have done it in practice. Now, as Nike would say, just do it. Visualize a perfect drop kick with power and accuracy past midfield, kicking a goal kick up and over the opponents head, or make an amazing one-on-one save. Remember, now you have the upper hand. The opposing team now underestimates you because in their mind you could not make the save and they will become bloodthirsty. This is your time to redeem yourself. Keep a calm mind and execute everything else in that game with precision. 

TKI'S 30 Day Core Challenge

Here at The Keeper Institute we are always trying to equip our goalkeepers with every tool necessary to develop their game and ultimately achieve their dreams.  To build off the momentum of the 30 Day Jump Rope Challenge, in April we will be hosting our 30 Day Core Challenge.  Not only will this program increase your core strength, but also hold young goalkeepers accountable for doing an extra 10-15 minutes of core, four days a week.  Learn about the importance of having a strong core below from expert Melanie Wittenberger.

Why is a strong core so important to an athlete? 

A strong core is one of the most important assets an athlete can have.  The core is the source of where all movement begins.  This means that every motion an athlete makes starts from the center of gravity of your core, and is extended through your limbs. The best way to think about the core is in comparison with a tree.  A tree could have the strongest thickest branches around, but if its trunk is weak, the entire tree is compromised. 

Many people think that the core consists of just your abdominal muscles, which are so commonly praised, however it is actually comprised of over 25 muscles that assist in stabilizing your body. By training all of the muscles that make up both the inner and outer core and athlete could increase strength, power as well as overall stability thus improving performance on the field.  Besides the positive attributes core training has on performance, it also aids in injury prevention. By strengthening the typically under trained muscles of the inner core, many common injuries could be prevented.

"Strengthening the core muscles has the ability to increase strength, power, and stability as well as prevent common injuries. " -Melanie Wittenberger, Strength Coach
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How to: Become a Professional Footballer with Aubrey Bledsoe

Hey TKI nation!

My name is Aubrey Bledsoe, I was a goalkeeper for Wake Forest University from 2010-2014. I chose to forgo the NWSL draft to play overseas in Norway last fall and am now back in the U.S. playing professionally for Sky Blue FC! As we kicked off preseason this morning I was reflecting on my journey thus far. It's been a dream of mine to play professional soccer in the U.S. and now it's a reality! So how did I get here?! 

Here are some of the things I've learned along the way that have gotten me to where I am today:

1. There are no shortcuts.
It takes A LOT of hard work to be successful. Sure, some people have more natural athleticism than others, but you can only ride that for so long. You have to commit to giving 100% in every training and then do extra on top of that. 

2. Seek out mentors in your life.
It's important to surround yourself with people you can learn from, both on the field and off. Building character is just as important as physical training.

3. Embrace your weaknesses and make them strengths.
I tried covering up my weaknesses but everything is exposed at the professional level. The sooner you acknowledge the areas which need improvement, the quicker you can turn them into strengths. Start working on your left foot now!

4. Have a vision for your life.
Spell out your dreams and go after them! Know where you want to go, then figure out how to get there.

5. Train smarter, not necessarily harder.
Just because you are on the soccer field doesn't mean you're getting better. It takes mental focus and purposeful training to improve. Quality is much more important than quantity! 

6. Be a student of the game. 
Be open to receiving feedback and expanding your knowledge base. Coachability goes a long way, there's always more to learn. Watch video of yourself and your favorite teams.

7. Don't forget to have fun and pursue other passions as well!

I've had the pleasure of training with Jill Loyden and TKI for the past 2 weeks in preparation for preseason. There's no doubt that TKI is developing some future professional goalkeepers and even better people! Keep working hard!

The Keeper Institute Headquarters

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We are extremely excited to announce that The Keeper Institute officially has a home! As of May 1st, TKI will open our very own all-encompassing training school. The Keeper Institute Headquarters is located in Sewell, NJ, and will provide education in every aspect of the goalkeeping position, such as: strength and conditioning, leadership development, video breakdown, on the field goalkeeping sessions and more! We cannot wait to get started in our new home, as this is a dream come true for us! TKI is confident that this will allow us to further develop not only outstanding goalkeepers, but also even more amazing people! 

In order to make our dream come to life in the next two months we will be raising funds that will go directly to laying down new turf, installing strength equipment, and the technology needed to properly break down video. If you would like to make a monetary donation please do so at the link below! Any and all contributions to our new home are greatly appreciated!

Donate here!

Also if anyone is looking to get rid of any gym equipment, or classroom furniture (ie. chairs) and would like to donate it to The Keeper Institute, please contact us at any time!

jloyden@thekeeperinstitute.com

mdorris@thekeeperinstitute.com

To those of you that have inspired us to make this happen, and to those of you that will contribute in the next couple months to making our dreams for The Keeper Institute Headquarters come true, THANK YOU! We appreciate each and every one of you more than you will ever know!

TKI'S 30 Day Jump Rope Challenge

"Excellence is not a singular act but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do. "

Habits are one of the most powerful forces in our lives. Creating good habits today can really propel us toward greatness. They’re are like small snowballs that gradually grow, build, and gain momentum as they roll.  Habits have the ability to rule our lives, whether we realize it or not. It’s time that we take advantage of that and start creating good habits off the soccer field so we can be fully prepared when we step onto the field.  

With that being said, The Keeper Institute would like to officially invite you to the 30 Day Jump Rope Challenge.  As a goalkeeper family community, we will begin the challenge on Monday, March 2nd and complete the challenge on Tuesday March 31st.  If you are wondering if you should commit to this, here are three reasons you need to:

 

  1. Improved footwork.  Jump rope is one of the simplest and most effective footwork tools that goalkeepers can utilize within a daily regimens.  Jumping rope improves coordination, footwork, endurance, quickness, hand speed, agility, rhythm, and even power.  
  2. Accountability.  At The Keeper Institute we are committed to pursing excellence in all areas of our lives.  Joining the 30 Challenge will make us accountable for completing the daily workout routines.  Too often we say, “Oh, I’ll do that later or  I’ll get to that tomorrow.”  This challenge is going to help us create better habits and commit to doing things TODAY.  We will learn that accountability means letting our actions rise above our excuses and our comfort zones.  Our external performances are a result of our internal commitments. How bad do we want it?  
  3. It’s convenient.  All you need is a jump rope and a small space in your basement or garage to complete these workouts.  Sign up below to get on our list for your weekly workouts.  The workout will be catered to your age (middle school or high school). Each week a list of 4 (approximately 15 minutes long) workouts will be sent.  Goalkeepers are responsible for completing the four weeks in the span of one week.  There are no excuses as to why this can’t be added to our everyday routines. 

Make the commitment today and join our 30 Day Jump Rope Challenge! 

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Second Mile Effort

The Second Mile Effort.

The Keeper Institute is committed to doing things with a standard of excellence. Always above the norm.  Exceedingly more than what is expected.  We live by The Second Mile Principle.  

The Second Mile Effort Principle was inspired by the bible verse found in Matthew 5:41, "If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”  The first mile are things that are obligations, ordinary things that are asked of you. Club team trainings, homework, and chores are all duties that are required and expected from us in our respective roles.  Giving the second mile effort is where we find ourselves exceeding mediocrity and extending toward greatness.  Living in the second mile allows for opportunities to go beyond expectation.  To achieve more. To find success. TO BE GREAT! We should all go beyond the fixed limited of exactly what is required of as, as goalkeepers, as students, as teammates, and as family members. 

Here are three ways to live in the second mile:

  1. Think higher thoughts.  Thoughts precede action.  We need to think above the majority.  If we think and dream like the majority, we will end up becoming a part of the majority.  We will end up becoming average.  We need to think what others think is not possible for our lives. Our thoughts need to remain focused on our goals.  We must remain mentally strong during times when we could easily be distracted by setbacks, obstacles, or negativity.  The way we think will shape the way we act.  Live with a made up mind.  Make up your mind that you will succeed, and that you will achieve all your dreams. Let your action be shaped by an unwavering commitment to your goals.

  2. Put your work "boots" on.  It’s all well and good to dream big, thinking higher thoughts, and believing you can, but without getting off the couch and putting in the work, well… you can kiss your dreams goodbye.  Victory loves preparation.  Preparation isn’t always fun; it requires time, hard work, and sacrifice.  Preparing to achieve something that is out of our depth can be uncomfortable, but we always want to stretch ourselves every day. Reaching higher. Living for more and outside our comfort zone.  Gone are the days of yore when we just show up for team training three hours a week.  Our eyes need to be open for opportunities to go above and beyond, ways to constantly improve ourselves.  How are you a better goalkeeper, student, and person than you were yesterday?

  3. Give more. Treat those around you with generosity. Give more to the special people that you get to do life with every day. As goalkeepers it is essential to assume leadership responsibilities, and develop personal relationships with those who follow you. The relationships we develop each and every day have the ability to change our lives for the better. Care and love those around you, for the people we surround ourselves with are the most important part of this life.

All new TKI training shirts will have the new Second Mile Logo stamped on the back. A simple reminder to always think, act, and give the second mile.  Make sure to stay tuned for our upcoming training programs, clinics, and camps. For more information check out our training page.

Q&A with MLS Goalkeeper Zac MacMath

Zac MacMath is a goalkeeper who currently plays for the Colorado Rapids on loan from the Philadelphia Union for the 2015 season.  The Union selected goalkeeper Zac MacMath with the No. 5 overall selection in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. He became the youngest goalkeeper in MLS history to reach 100 career starts in a match against Columbus on Oct. 11, 2014.  He is a fantastic shot-stopper who has really grown into himself over the years, and has emerged as one of the top goalkeepers in the MLS.  TKI had a chance to pick Zac's brain about what contributed to getting him to the highest level, and what since his professional debut has helped keep him there. 

TKI:   In 2014 you became the youngest goalkeeper in MLS history to reach 100 career starts.  What do you think has been the biggest contributing factor to your success at such a young age? 

ZM: There were many contributing factors to my success at such a young age but the one that sticks out in my mind is, commitment. At a very young age, I knew that soccer was my sport, and I wanted to do everything possible to make it a career. The commitment involved many things such as family, hard work, sacrifice, time, and many others. Setting my goals over and over again helped commit me to be where I am today.

 TKI: The mental side is a huge part of the game.  How do you recover from making a mistake or giving up a howler? Does it add any pressure to you when you know maybe millions are watching on TV?  

ZM: I learned at a very young age that mistakes are inevitable. My GK coach as a kid always said, “As a GK, you need a short memory, because there’s no time to dwell on your mistakes.” This still resonates with me everyday. If you dwell and take five minutes to recover from a mistake or goal, there might be another goal in the back of the net before you know it. The best thing you can do when making a mistake, is get right back up, own your mistake, and make it your mission to never make that mistake again. You’re not allowed to take a goal off the scoreboard; you’re only allowed to make sure another one doesn’t get put up.

When I was younger and more inexperienced, playing on TV might’ve added some pressure to the game. As a goalkeeper, we’ve got enough pressure, there’s no sense in adding more. These days, I use any audience, coaches, family, TV, to motivate me to be my best everyday.

TKI: What would you say has been your biggest hurdle to overcome in your career so far? 

ZM:The biggest hurdle I’ve overcome in my career is the realization that you can’t control everything. There have been many issues, on and off the field, which I don’t have any say in, and my play doesn’t affect the issue. There will be politics, there will be many things out of your control, and I’ve learned to focus on what I can control, my work ethic, my attitude, and my desire to be the best.

 TKI: We stress in the importance of watching football (MLS, Premier League, NWSL) to our students.  Specifically to watch the tendencies of all the goalkeepers so they can learn from the best in the world. Do you have a particular goalkeeper that you watch or admire?  

ZM: Growing up, I watched Edwin Van Der Sar play a lot. A coach told me we had similar tendencies, so I watched him anytime I could, and still use YouTube to watch highlights. These days, I continue to watch all goalkeepers from around the world. There is always something to learn, and sometimes you can pick things up in highlights but usually watching full games is the best way to learn from an elite goalkeeper. In watching full games, you get to see the ebb and flows that happen, cards, injuries, adjustments, score lines, all of which affect how a goalkeeper has to play in a match.

TKI: If you could have your choice of any five players to play a small-sided game of 5v5 who would it be?

ZM: This is a tough one for me. I would try to play on the field before being kicked back in goal. My 5v5 team would consist of, two of my best friends that play in MLS now, Kofi Sarkodie of the Houston Dynamo and Amobi Okugo of Orlando City SC. David Beckham would have to be there. Zinedine Zdiane would sit in the middle with Becks, and Theirry Henry up-top to finish everything. I know my stars are all retired, but these guys know how to win, and they would find a way to beat every team we could possibly face.

 A special thank you to Zac for taking the time to chat with us! With many students who hope to play professional soccer one day, hearing some direct insight from a player of your caliber is great exposer for all of our students! As a family, TKI will be attending the March 7th Philadelphia Union against the Colorado Rapids to watch Zac MacMath take the field against our Union

Opportunities for Growth

No matter how old you are, what level you play at, or what you have already accomplished, there is ALWAYS room for growth.  There is always more to mastering our craft.  There will always be a deeper understanding that we can seek to find.  Next weekend (Jan14-18th) we have a unique opportunity to come together as a soccer community at a physical venue and allow for that growth.  

Each year the NSCAA, National Soccer Coaches Association of America, hold a convention to gather some of the best coaches from around the world for live field demonstrations, classroom sessions, and coaching classes.  Over 4,000 coaches will be in attendance with an audience of over 10,000 people over a five day span.  This year we have a unique opportunity as the convention will be held in our backyard of Philadelphia, PA.  

The convention is a great event for coaches, players, and parents of all ages to attend.  No matter what skill level you find yourself, there will definitely be something that you will be able to take away and apply to your own area of expertise.  This year at the convention, TKI’s very own Jillian Loyden will be running a field session on the “Goalkeeper's Positioning to Save Shots.”  Some of the world’s best coaches will be providing their insight to how they have achieved a high level of success at all levels of the game. This is an event that you will not want to miss. Below is a link to the schedule and some detailed information to catch TKI at this year’s NSCAA Coaches Convention.

Hope to see you there! 

NSCAA Convention Master Schedule 

Jillian Loyden Presents "Goalkeeper Positioning to Save Shots":  345PM-445PM CC Hall B

 

 

 

4 Habits for the New Year

I loathe New Year’s resolutions.  In theory, making a change for the better through New Year’s resolutions is awesome, but too often I get discouraged when I don’t keep them and they just end up falling to the wayside.  So instead I like to write some simple goals that are measurable, but flexible enough to ultimately be changed over a long period of time, not just over the course of one single year.  Simple habits developed over time can really end up changing your culture and life.  There are no such thing as excuses, just priorities.  We do what we think is important, not just on special holidays, but over the course of our lives.  Here are four simple habits that aim to inspire you to seek greatness both on and off the field!  Hopefully at least one resonates for to commit to not only in 2015 but for the rest of your life.  Hopefully you cant just pick one of them! 

1.  Stop and celebrate the wins! 

Celebrate the smallest of victories, whether it’s a new learned technique, a score on a fitness test you’ve been working for, or a grade on a test that you studied hard for.  It’s so easy to let those moments slip by in the craziness of life, but make sure you enjoy what you’ve been working toward. You deserve it and so do the people in your life who helped you make it happen! 

2. Ask more questions. 

Our growth as goalkeepers and as people is endless in our lifetimes. Our lives should be journeys filled with constant and consistent growth.  Our problems cannot be resolved until we start asking questions.  Questions about tactics, techniques, leadership.  Question everything.  Questions is the art of learning. Learning to ask important questions is the best evidence of passion, understanding, and answers, which will ultimately lead to growth.  No mater how good you think you are, there will always be someone from you learn from.  No one ever graduates from learning. 

3.  Be more detail oriented.  

Details often make or break accomplishments. You could have an incredible goal that you want to accomplish, but big goals are only as powerful as the details that are behind them.  Being diligent in the small things gives us confidence and experience that will ultimately set us up to seize the great opportunities.  Practice, practice, practice. Never graduate from the bascis.  As you progress through your goalkeeping journey, the fundamentals and basics will be the cornerstone and foundation your rely on.

4.  Choose more joy! 

Goalkeeping is meant to be enjoyed, not endured. Make sure you take time to really enjoy the process.  Enjoy your journey.  Enjoy the path that you are taking toward greatness. Don’t dwell on negativity or be pessimistic about things that are out of your control.  Don’t let setbacks rob you of the joy that the game brings you.  Joy isn’t circumstantial; it’s a behavior that we must choose every single day when we get out of bed.  It’s up to you how you choose to look at each day.  Is it an opportunity to become a better person and player than you were yesterday or a chore that jus needs to be added to your To-do list?

Have a great and safe new year! What new habits will you be taking with you into the New Year?

CampFire: TKI Family Time

Last week our TKI family met at our own Jill Loyden's house for some quality goalkeeper family time that we call CampFire.  CampFire is an opportunity for all of TKI's high school aged goalkeepers and their families to gather, eat some amazing food, play some games, and get an opportunity to talk about life as a goalkeeper.  After we enjoyed a delicious meal, our students got prettttttty competitive when we started to play some minute to win it games.  It came down to the wire, but the freshmen pulled it out in a last minute victory!! (And they are not letting anyone forget it)  After our games ended, we spent the next hour sharing  college commitment victories, celebrating some stories of overcoming, and of course commiserated in some bad goals we gave up this fall.

Goalkeepers often find themselves lonely on the pitch; facing many different situations, circumstances, and pressures that most outfield players do not face, it sometimes can be hard to mentally cope.  We are different than outfield players and knowing that there are other people who are like us and have faced the same trials brings comfort, inspiration, and growth.  We believe that meeting together off the field directly translations to better relationships on the pitch, more enjoyment during training, and consequently goalkeepers being able to push each other more, creating a great environment for growth.

We are a family here at TKI.  We think its essential to not only bring out the best in ourselves but those to our left and to our right.  Our family atmosphere directly translates to our performance on the field and our leadership ability in ourselves. 

Mission for the week: Find effective ways to build good, working environments with the other goalkeeper on your team.

Off-Season Tips

Taking the foot off the pedal is both healthy and normal for the competitive goalkeeper to maximize their performance. Resting completely can lead to detraining effects which can really take the edge out of the goalkeepers performance throughout the season; so planning an appropriate off-season schedule is vital for the success of the following season.  Here are some tips to think about during your offseason and around the holiday time:

1.  Keep a balanced diet. 

Don't let the Christmas break make you look like Santa when the time comes to get back out onto the pitch! As with the whole season, a focus on solid nutrition should be the norm, even when it is time to take a break from the pitch.

2.  Stay active other than football.  

Take a break from the sport and stay active by doing your favorite activities.  Go for a hike, a swim, or play some basketball. Give your mind a rest and do something active that you enjoy!

3.  Recover your body.

As goalkeepers we get some serious knocks, bumps, bruises, and sprains throughout the season. Make sure you take care of your body by going to physical therapy, getting a massage, and giving your body time to heal; you wanted to ensure that any injuries are not prolonged and come back again in preseason.

4. Watch the game. 

One of the best ways to learn besides training yourself, is to watch more football.  There are going to be plenty of college games on this Thanksgiving and professional games over the month of December. Make sure you check the schedule so you can watch your favorite goalkeepers and garner experience through their gameplay.  TKI will be hosting a viewing party on December 6th to watch two of the best goalkeepers in the world, Joe Hart and Tim Howard, battle for three points.  For more information regarding the viewing party, email jloyden@thekeeperinstitute.com and RSVP today! 

 

 

 

Get PREpared for POSTseason

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We are quickly approaching the end of our seasons, this could only mean one thing: PLAYOFFS.  That time of the season when the pressure's on, every second counts, and every touch matters.  Here are some tips to help prepare for the BIG games:

1. Eat. Sleep. Hydrate.  Eat a good breakfast and lunch the day of the game.  Make sure to get 8-9 hours the 2 nights before the game ( anything more will make you feel sleepy).  Hydrate. Hydrate. And hydrate some more.  

2. Stick to your routine.  Just because you are going to being playing in the biggest game of the year doesn't mean you should change your routine. Eat your oatmeal, talk to your family, and blast your music. No matter how big the game is, keep your routine to help you relax and remain confident.

3. Dream Big.  The night before the game visualize your success. See yourself making each save, coming off your line to collect through balls, and making great clearances.  See yourself commanding your defense and leading your team to victory!  

4.  Talk it out.  Talk with your teammates before the game.  Go over set pieces and key players. Communicate to your defenders how you will work together and have their backs!

6. Target Success.  Set a few goals or objectives that will help you stay focused on your job.  Focus on what you need to do to make your team successful.

7. HAVE FUN! Enjoy the opportunity to play the game you love. Enjoy the chance to compete at a high level with your teammates. Soak it up. Smile. You have done all the preparation work.  All that's left to do now is ENJOY IT! 

 

A New Chapter

As a wide-eyed ten year old, I was able to witness the US Women’s National Team win a gold medal in the 1996 Olympics. It was that day that my life changed. It was that day that I started dreaming of what my life could be. Everyday following, I spent my life chasing my dream of reaching the pinnacle of women’s soccer, striving to wear the United States crest across my chest. My undeniable passion and love for the game only continued to expand throughout my journey of playing for numerous club teams, my high school, Villanova University, and the Women’s Professional League. Each and every one of those playing experiences largely contributed in guiding me to achieve my once far-fetched dream, and at 24 years old I got the opportunity to play on The United States Women’s National Team for the first time.
The game of soccer has forever influenced the person that I am, teaching me the significance of hard work and determination. It has given me the confidence to face all of life’s challenges, and more importantly taught me to enjoy the journey. I view my entire career as a blessing, allowing me to travel the world, achieve my dreams as a professional soccer player, and establish so many amazing relationships. 
I would like to say thank you to my family and friends who have supported me throughout my 21-year long career. Thank you for being there, loving and supporting me, from my days as a recreational player to the days I spent competing at the highest level around the globe. To the hundreds of people I have been privileged and honored to call my teammates, I could never say enough to express the gratitude I have for each and every one of you. From the bottom of my heart, please know that you have each had a part in inspiring me to be the best person and footballer that I could be. Thank you all for being my motivation through the ups and the downs, the injuries and recoveries, the victories and defeats, the moments of adversity, and some of the best times of my life. A special thank you to all my coaches, both past and present, for each doing your part to shape me into the goalkeeper and the individual that I am today. Your efforts and dedication towards me, and towards the sport have inspired my passion to coach and mentor the next generation of soccer players. 
My dreams as a soccer player have been fulfilled beyond what I ever could have imagined. With much thought and consideration I know it is time for me to step away from the game, and begin the pursuit of a new dream. Going forward I am committing my life to my family, The Jillian Loyden Foundation, and coaching kids in effort to help them achieve their greatest dreams. In continuing my efforts towards being the most positive role model that I can possibly be, I want to empower children to be the leaders of tomorrow, to do greater than I have ever done. I look forward to making a greater impact on the world in this next chapter of my life.

JILL 

Clear Minds, Clean Sheets

As goalkeepers it is imperative that we focus on not only the physical aspects, but also the mental aspects of our game. While we train in effort to master every technical skill of goalkeeping, without a strong mindset it is sometimes challenging to find success. In a position that often leaves us ‘standing on an island’ by ourselves it is very important as goalkeepers to consciously stay focused even when the ball is not in our hands. We must be prepared for anything coming our way, and ready to make quick, smart decisions at any given time. But, in order to stay focused on the game and be prepared in such decision-making situations, we must first have clear minds. 

Stepping across that white line on game day inevitably provides an adrenaline rush that most of us goalkeepers crave. The opportunity to do what we love, to put everything we practice during training to work, to be a leader, to strive towards success, and to do so along side our teammates whom we love. As we step across that white line though, it is essential that we do so with a clear mind. In order to have that clear mind, we must block out all distractions that certainly try to make their way onto the field with us. Such distractions can stem from negative attitudes of people around us, loud fans of the opposite team, conflicts that we are facing in our personal lives, and the list goes on.

Being able to successfully block all outside disturbances from our minds when we step foot onto the game field, will allow us to keep a clear mind. Keeping an undeniable focus on strictly the game will without doubt enhance the opportunity to complete the game with a clean sheet. A clear mind between the white lines is a mental support system in order for us to perform physically at the top of our game.  

Mission for the week: Step on the field with a clear head with your goals for the game in the forefront of your mind.  Be driven to accomplish your attainable goals, steer clear from being results driven or pleasing coaches! Clear minds, clean sheets! 

 

 

The Pursuit of Excellence


Too often we hear goalkeepers express their worries on the field by saying things such as; “The pressure, it’s a lot. I am afraid to make a mistake and let my team down.  I don’t want to lose my starting spot to the other goalkeeper.”  We hear fear. Anxiety. Doubt. We often hear goalkeepers state the tremendous expectations they put on themselves to be perfect, and to make every decision correctly.  Suddenly, they’re held back by fear, indecision, and hesitation.

 Of course it is essential that we all set high bars for ourselves, putting our best foot forward to continue to succeed everyday. We dedicate countless hours of our precious time, sacrificing things important to us, all in our best efforts to work hard in maintaining our high personal standards. Continuous hard work is expected, yet the problem arises when we chase perfection. Being perfect is an impossible standard that continually leaves us unsatisfied, disappointed, and often defeated.  If we expect perfection every time we step on the field, then we should also plan to spend a lot of time battling frustration.

 So how can we chase being the best possible goalkeepers and people that we can be without chasing perfection in the process?  The solution is simple: abandon the idea of perfection, and sustain pride in the pursuit of excellence.  If we can shift our mindset from the impossible expectations of perfection and set our sights on pursuing excellence daily, we can free ourselves to make mistakes, to learn, and to grow. 

 Here are three mindsets that we can choose daily to pursue excellence and not perfection.

1.  Mistakes are Necessary.

Be okay with making mistakes. The more we can open our minds to making mistakes, the faster we can learn, and in turn the quicker we can grow. Goalkeeping is essentially all about experience, so the more experience we are able to have in game situations, the more seasoned we become. If as goalkeepers we can adopt the mindset of learning from each decision we make, we will inevitable be more prepared the next time we face that same situation.  Approaching each situation as an opportunity to learn and grow allows us to continually pursue excellence.  Reaching your personal high standards will be attained while experiencing, and overcoming mistakes along the way.

2. Stack the Deck.

Ultimately as goalkeepers we do not control whether we win or lose a game. Sure, as the final line of defense and the greatest leaders on the field we play a large role in each game, but every outcome is not solely up to us. So stack the deck. Define success in a way that you can’t lose by setting goals that are attainable each game. It is imperative to have a confident mindset focusing on thoughts such as: “I WILL control the area in behind my backs. I WILL be organized on set pieces. I WILL be brave on crosses.  I WILL not get down on myself if I make a mistake.” Set your game day goals on aspects of the match that you can control.  At the end of each day, if you go to bed a better goalkeeper and a better person then each day was a success. Stack the deck and then choose success. Success is found in our daily decisions. 

 

3. Stay in the present.

Applying focus to the task at hand is amongst the most important attributes of finding success. As goalkeepers with  ‘go-getter’ mentalities it is very common that we get caught up in looking into the future. However, the future can often be overwhelming, compiled with uncertainty and many ‘what ifs’. Although it is essential to have long-term goals, it is crucial that we sustain patience, and focus on each individual task that we encounter. We encourage our students to stay focused on present tasks within games by having them break games into 15-minute increments. Keeping a stern focus on each 15-minute section of the game allows for us as goalkeepers to stay concentrated on solely the tasks at hand within that small time period. Along with game day focuses, keeping a close eye on our tasks at hand is essential in training sessions, and off the field endeavors as well. By focusing on what we are able to control within the moment, we will achieve many small successes ultimately leading to our long-term goals. 

 Perfectionists strive for impossible goals, while pursuers of excellence seek to achieve high standards that are in reach.  Perfectionists are thwarted by failure, while pursuers of excellence learn and grow from mistakes. Perfectionists feel frustrated with criticism, while pursuers of excellence view criticism as a way to learn. Be a pursuer of excellence in each and every task you endure. Allow your passion for excellence to drive you to run the extra mile, never stopping, never relenting. Enjoy the process and delight in the progress that you WILL make daily