Q&A with Braidhurst’s Performance School coach Andy Goldie
Andy Goldie has been part of the Scottish FA JD's Performance School programme since 2012 and currently heads up the activity at Braidhurst High School in Motherwell. Widely regarded as one of the most progressive youth coaches in the country, Andy took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about the Performance School strategy.
What is the best piece of advice you could give a young footballer with ambitions of becoming professional?
Never give up. There is no set pathway and definitely no easy one en route to becoming a professional footballer. There will be setbacks, challenges and adversity and it is how young players respond in these moments that differentiates those who achieve their dream and those who fall short.
If a young player really wants to fulfil their ambition they must find solutions to overcome these obstacles - not use them as excuses. As coaches, the earlier we can develop a sense of accountability in our young players the better we prepare them for these moments. They have to appreciate that their scheduled / organised workload alone is not enough. It is often the additional hours of hard work and sacrifice that nobody sees that gives them that added edge.
Who are the best young footballers that you have worked with within the Performance School set-up?
Those who display the behaviours mentioned previously.
I am very privileged and honoured to have the opportunity to work with some of our best young players on a daily basis however these players have already benefitted from the fantastic work the clubs are doing before they come into the Performance School programme.
I have no doubt we are moving forward as a nation and if we can continue to drive these standards in our young players we will definitely have a brighter future ahead of us with some very exciting individual players for us to celebrate.
What is the biggest advantage the Performance Schools provide in players development?
Additional hours of quality individual focussed practice. Our programme is driven by the individual needs of each player in an environment where they feel valued, challenged and encouraged to express themselves without any restrictions to allow them to find the player they really are.
We have the luxury of working with the players for four years and trying to show them standards expected of Champions League and International players. We set high standards for both them and ourselves, but at the same time appreciate they won’t all follow the same journey.
Ultimately, we are developing players for the future, not for the present.
How are the Performance School coaches ensuring the youth players have the correct mentality for the game as they get older?
We instil our values in the players from day one which we firmly believe provide them with a solid foundation to continue their development in the full-time environment at their clubs.
In addition, we compliment the work we do on the pitch with workshops on sports psychology, sports science, etc that help the players develop the tools they need to analyse their own game, problem solve, create coping strategies within the game and techniques to practice purposefully in their own time.
There aren't many better moments in coaching than when players tell you how you've helped them settle into and thrive in the full-time environment.
How do the professional clubs work with the performance schools when developing youth players?
Ultimately the players who attend our programme are signed with professional clubs and therefore it is imperative that there is regular communication and a coherent approach between both programmes for the benefit of the player.
It is an area we are continuously developing to ensure commonality in the messages we deliver.
At Braidhurst I am fortunate to have great support from our partner clubs.
Stevie Clarke, under-15/16s coach at Hamilton Accies, delivers two sessions a week within the programme with Nicky Laughlin (Motherwell) and Michael McArdle (FVFA) also delivering and assisting sessions on a regular basis.
How do the schools ensure the students get both the correct level of education and the needed amount of football coaching?
This is an area I personally feel very strongly about. We have a great process within Braidhurst that allows me to continuously monitor attendance, class behaviour and school performance on a weekly basis to ensure their education does not suffer because of their football commitments or any other reason.
It is made clear to each player and their parents what is expected of them as a pupil first and foremost and if they fail to meet these standards then it is ultimately their football that is sacrificed.
It is important to reiterate to the young players the importance of their education not only for their future career prospects outwith and/or after football but the correlation between academic and football performance is very strongly linked particularly in approach and application.