FA Lead National Goalkeeping Coach and England U21 Goalkeeping Coach, Tim Dittmer, brings a wealth of wisdom to his dual role as coach and coach developer. In this interview with the 32-year-old, Player Development Project finds a coach already wise well beyond his years.
In normal lore, it is thought that we grow wiser as we grow older. But Dittmer has somehow figured out that wisdom isn’t necessarily a result of a long life. Wisdom is measured by what we are willing to learn, not simply what we already know. And learn is what Dittmer and the players he coaches do.
Let’s take a look at Tim Dittmer at work and play: on the game, on coaching, on the players and player development, on learning, on the unconventional, and even on inconvenient ways to grow confident and effective goalkeepers. Along the way you will see italicized “Dittmerisms” found in his Twitter account over the last year or so.
Like so many Liverpool area youngsters, Tim began kicking a ball around in grassroots play somewhere around age seven or eight as an outfield player on a small, local side—enjoying being a footballer. In time, he moved through the Liverpool Academy as an up-and-coming goalkeeper, played 200+ games for Vauxhall Motors among other teams in the Conference and Conference North. He then went on to Bradford City as both a coach and then player/coach. He didn’t just specialize on coaching ‘keepers at Bradford; he worked with outfielders at all levels and all abilities throughout his coaching apprenticeship. Juggling full time coaching roles at first Liverpool and latterly Bradford, It wasn’t until he moved to Manchester City in 2012 that he was forced to give up his own playing career to give the necessary time to coaching.
“What should mark youth sport? Fun, Challenging, and Games would be right up there with what young players would find most engaging I would imagine.”
“Making children wait in line to use one ball is like giving a class one pen…and expecting them to learn to write.” –Dittmer quoting Williams, 1996
When asked what he thought about the competitive path youngsters should take, his advice is to not specialize early: “I think it is best if youngsters play other invasion games, multiple sports, movements, and disciplines.”
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