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INTERVIEW: Daniel Wilks, Welling Utd

Updated: Mar 28, 2019

Daniel Wilks, Welling Utd Goalkeeper


How do you mentally prepare for matches?

DW: I tend to have a long journey to each game as I live in Cambridgeshire borders and play for Welling Utd who are based in Kent.

I tend to chill, casual chat with parents as parents are very supportive and come to every game possible also try to get a little nap in as well.

With about 20 mins of the journey left to go I’ll re-watch clips of previous games and saves which gets me into a positive frame of mind ready to play.

What part of goalkeeping do you feel is most developing while playing for Welling?

DW: As a young keeper, I am always learning and I will never stop learning, so far my consistency, mental toughness, dealing with setbacks and game management.

With taking a step from U23s football at Colchester last season into first team action at Welling, I’ve noticed a massive improvement in my consistency by playing Tuesday and Saturday in the season.

I’ve played every league game and every cup competition other than one London Cup match. I’ve improved my mental toughness with getting abuse from spectators, some player deals with it differently by responding, me on the other hand I ignore or laugh, it’s comical…water off a ducks back!

Regarding dealing with setbacks, playing the amount of games I have this season I’m bound to have things not work out.

I’ve learnt to just brush it off and focus on the next part of my game, you can’t play football when annoyed or let things get to you. With playing first team football it’s completely different to U23s, my game management has improve from knowing when to play or go longer.

What does your warm up consist of and why?

DW: My warm up starts in the changing room, after I’ve finished getting changed I’ll do static stretching, band work and foam roll before coming onto the pitch to warm up.

It starts with dynamic stretching whilst ball in hand/at feet as this way I’m getting loose and getting the feel of the ball too. Start with one touch passing close then two from 18 which are fired in a bit harder.

Over to the technical side, static volleys getting the hands warm/seeing a ball normally – do as many as I see fit.

Half volleys straight, half volleys low and dippers with feet movement from different angles adjusting back central this mirrors my movement around the six 6-8 reps each as I see fit.

Over to the goal, shots on the angle 4 reps each side again with my feet movement from earlier in the technical handling, more so now seeing visually my whereabouts in the goal mouth.

Crossing, seeing balls in from corner flag to 18 with variety of deliveries, flat, curl and hung up back post.

Last but not least, like to finish on kicking. Start with clip to get my shape both right and left as well as a few from hands which are side volley and half volley.

Some keepers will start with their kicking but I like to end on it, reason being with the way the modern day football is nowadays you play with your feet more and more playing out and act as a sweeper keeper.

Mentally preparing for matches can give you the edge

Goalkeeping tip of the week from DGUK's Martin Brennan:

in all the years I have worked as a coach in professional football I have learnt everyone is different and has there own way of doing things.

Let’s use three examples: working with a goalkeeper in league two who liked to get himself so relaxed in the dressing room before the warm up he would just sit and have banter with everyone.

A goalkeeper I worked in league one who has played over 400 Non-League matches loved just sitting reading a newspaper or the match program. Didn’t want to think about the game just wanted to relax and keep everything to himself.

Last example would have been a goalkeeper playing in the Championship who loved to listen to his own motivation clips. That got him into his zone and made him feel at ease.

I believe the key is you need to try all different things until you find a way that your comfortable with.

My personal advice in regards to headphones is you will spend the next 90 minutes in the match within reason on your own, so I would take full advantage of having a conversation to relax you, but this doesn’t make me right.

Every goalie will eventually find their own way and so you just need to keep experimenting. As long as you feel you're ready for kick off, then who is to tell you what you should do?

Every summer Daniel attends the DGUK Non-League Goalkeeping Camp – if this interests you, then please take a look here;

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