Alex Penny Interview Blog
This week I caught up with Alex Penny, an experienced goalkeeping coach who has worked at a number of professional clubs and alongside a vast array of top quality coaches.
What is your coaching background and who do you currently coach?
I am an UEFA A licence coach with over 15 years coaching experience at various different levels.
I have worked right the way through from grassroots to 1st team. I started out as a community coach at Bristol City before moving onto the academy.
Following this I had over 3 years with Derby County working with players such as Lee Camp before moving to Wolves and the 1st team working alongside Bobby Mimms. I also worked for the Wolves Womens team at this time.
I was then recommended to Birmingham City and had over 2 years working with their development under 16 to 18s goalkeepers.
My next role saw me return to Bristol City where my wife was academy physiotherapist, as academy goalkeeping coach for the 6 to 18 age range.
I have also worked with Dominica national players during the world cup qualifiers and Southampton FC.
I am currently the professional phase coach for Cheltenham Town FC where I have been very lucky to have an excellent team to turn to from Mark Yates the 1st team manager to Russell Milton, Antoine Thompson, Jamie Victory and James Murphy at the academy.
Unfortunately my coaching is limited in this role as I have to manage a very large programme. I still like to stand in if the goalkeeper coach is away. (You never leave the union!)
What goalkeeping coaches have impressed you over the years and why?
As a young player I was fortunate to be coached by Bob Wilson (former Arsenal goalkeeper and one of the first recognised goalkeeping coaches) which enhanced my playing ability greatly. I would also like to mention my old youth team coach at my local football team Roger Hughes, he instilled some great values and thanks to that group he created I still have good friends to this day.
As a coach I have been lucky to work with some top coaches. Some of the best non goalkeeper coaches who helped me develop and really understood the importance of the position were John Ward, Dennis Mortimer, Dean Holtham, Steve Round, Dave Jones, Will Royall and John Clayton but goalkeeper coaches I would say Bobby Mimms, Chris Woods, Eric Steele, Alan Hodgkinson, Tony Pennock and Martin Thomas.
Bobby was a huge influence on my coaching and I cannot begin to say how great he was. He has played and worked at the highest level and you only need to see how good the goalkeepers have become that have worked with him.
When I was at Derby I saw at close hand how good Eric Steele (current Man Utd Goalkeeping Coach) was as he was brining on Mart Poom, Russell Hoult, Lee Camp and Lee Grant. I loved his energy and enthusiasm for the job.
Chris Woods who is the goalkeeper coach at Everton was very studious and always interested in different working practices.
Alan Hodgkinson really motivated me to become a better coach and you could see why he was at Man Utd for so long.
Also finally Martin Thomas, who took me for my goalkeeping B licence and all I can say is what a true professional he was I learnt so much in a short space of time and he is a credit to football.
What current goalkeepers impress you and why?
Having worked with Matt Murray at Wolves I believe he would be the current England number one but due to injury he had to retire. I still feel I need to mention him as if any young keeper wants to see a dominant, powerful, area commanding shot stopper then watch him on youtube.
There are a number of very good goalkeepers out there right across the leagues. I have always been impressed with Chris Weale at Shrewsbury, his work ethic is incredible and he is a top professional. Scott Brown at Cheltenham to serve a club for 10 years and still producing some great displays shows true love for the game, he hasn’t change from his early days at Wolves.
Lee Camp at Nottingham Forest is now a full international and has delivered consistent performances for a long time its no coincidence that teams he has played for are always knocking on the door for promotion.
Hugo Lloris was excellent for France and I feel has a big future in the game if he develops his qualities to the English game.
Ali Al Habsi is proving an excellent shot stopper and a real top performer in the premier league.
Michael Vorm reminds me of Pepe Reina, they are both excellent technicians and have good all round ability.
What is your coaching philosophy or what is important to you when coaching goalkeepers?
I like to create a positive, fun, creative learning environment which is open and honest. I try and develop sound fundamentals even if they are a top international goalkeeper who knows what works for them. I always demand 20 mins of quality basics.
How would you prioritise the various different aspects of goalkeeping coaching?
Age range dictates priority as they all develop at different levels.
I work to an evolving scheme of work which covers all aspects.
I always implement solid fundamentals and reinforce the positives. I like the FA four corners model as it breaks each aspect down and gives the coach a clearer vision of a players make up. I am a big fan of the FA youth modules and recommend all coaches to do the courses.
Nowadays there are many different pieces of equipment that can be used when coaching goalkeepers such as ladders, poles, rebound nets, response balls (balls with lumps on that bounce differently to create reaction saves), what do you think about using this type of equipment?
All methods need to be explored and used to your liking. I like the idea of fresh and new sessions that take keepers out of their comfort zones so I am all for it.
I get a lot of equipment from Zapkam sports and it has always enhanced the sessions.
I find that goalkeepers who do a lot of different activities especially at a young age develop into better players. So changing equipment to support development is great.
What gives you the most satisfaction as a coach?
The buzz of coaching and helping to teach young players.
I would just like to personally thank Alex for taking the time out to talk about his philosophy
Watch this space for the next in the series of interviews coming up shortly................................