The cold weather is now upon us and I don't mind admitting I don't like it! Out has come my beanie hat and my under armour top and leggings. Obviously i'm not the one diving, jumping and generally moving around the training pitch in short sharp intensive bursts so I get colder quicker than the goalkeepers themselves. However it is important for any young goalkeeper in particular to dress according to the conditions. Unlike outfield players who generally will be running and on the go alot of the time during a session, goalkeeping work is slightly different. Goalkeeping is more about short sharp intensive bursts of work and as much as you can do as a coach to keep the goalkeepers active there will be times where rest is needed between drills and a bit of standing still. Therefore it is important that goalkeepers wear clothing that allows them to move freely but also keeps them warm and dry if possible.
With my position as Centre of Excellence Goalkeeping Coach at Swindon Town not only do I coach and look after the goalkeepers there but I can also keep my eye on grass roots goalkeepers with my goalkeeping school. If I feel that goalkeepers at my goalkeeping school are showing good potential and we are maybe light at Swindon at that particular age group I am more than happy to then bring them into Swindon for a further look. At times in the past it has actually cost me as I lose a monthly fee from a regular goalkeeper who we may actually take on and can no longer attend my school. However I don't mind that as my role is to help goalkeepers develop and if I can improve a goalkeeper and push him / her onto the next level then great, job done.
When I first setup my goalkeeping school some five years ago one of my first students was Conor Thompson. Conor is now a first year scholar at Swindon and has played for Northern Ireland Under 15's and is now in the Northern Ireland Under 17 squad. His younger brother Jared was also at my goalkeeping school in the early days and he too is also at Swindon in our Under 13 team there and progressing well. Although not at Swindon now, Calli Smith also progressed into the Centre of Excellence and was with us as a contracted goalkeeper for a year. Our present under 15 goalkeeper was actually on the first two day course I put on when setting up my goalkeeping school so its been great to see how he has developed over the years. There have also been others who have been in for us to have a closer look at in a more intense environment. They have been given game time to see how they get on against better opposition than they would face in grass roots football. Young Oli Whiteley is currently a member of my goalkeeping school and is also training and playing games with our under 7/8's at Swindon and is showing good potential and we are keeping a close eye on how he progresses at the moment. Oli has bags of enthusiasm, always has a smile on his face and his goalkeeping techniques for someone his age are showing up well. We tend to have two goalkeepers per age group, though in a couple of our age groups at the moment we only have one. We are always looking but we won't just take someone on for the sake of it, they have to be better, as good as or certainly look like they could develop quickly for us to take them on a contract. Along with our regular Centre of Excellence programme against the likes of Bristol Rovers, Cheltenham Town, Swansea City, Plymouth Argyle, Exeter City, Torquay Utd etc Jeremy Newton the Centre Director does a brilliant job getting us fixtures against all the top premiership sides. We have played Man Utd, Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Everton to name a few so its fantastic for the players and obviously goalkeepers in particular to test themselves against the best young talent in the country. We also undertake overseas tours and have played professional sides in Holland and South Korea along with our regular trip to the Milk Cup in Ireland which is a fantastic experience.
I devised a specific goalkeeper pack for the young goalkeepers at Swindon over a year ago. The pack contains a host of pages with information and tips on goalkeeping, quotes from goalkeepers who have been in the system and from the first team goalkeepers at Swindon. Also they have sheets they have to regularly complete stating the sessions they have done, goalkeepers they have watched and most importantly their self analysis sheets from matches. On these particular forms after a game they have to write down aspects of their game they have done well in and specific incidents and also aspects they found hard that day and again specific incidents if there were any. It's not only a way that gets them thinking about their game but it also helps me build up a picture of areas they are doing well in and areas they need work on as I cannot see them play every game. An awful lot of young goalkeepers at any level will say that they find kicking and dealing with crosses the hardest part of their game and goalkeepers at a professional club are no different. I had their packs in this week and have been through them and looking at their match forms, most have made comments about finding kicking and crosses hard so it's something we try to do a fair bit of work on.
In 2012 I am being booked on the Goalkeeping A Licence course and I am looking forward to this immensely. I am unable to get actually assessed at the end of it unfortunately as I need to complete the outfield A licence course first (which is ridiculous in my opinion). That course takes at least two years and costs about three and a half thousand pound and is not easy to get in on but I still want to gain the knowledge from doing the Goalkeeping A Licence course which is the highest qualification a goalkeeping coach can achieve.
Next week I start on the second phase of the pathway to become a Coach Educator for the FA as I would like to be able to do some work for the FA delivering the FA Level One Goalkeeping Award certificate. So for three full Sundays in December I will be alongside the Tutor for the Level One course being running by the Wilts FA at Stanley Park, Chippenham. Mike Byrne who I have alot of respect for is the Tutor and I will observe the course over the three Sundays and then the next stage will be to assist on a course in the future. After this I will have to put the course on while the Tutor observes me to see that I am delievring the course to the correct standards. I have already completed my Generic Tutors Course which was the first stage so it is quite a long process. I have a big passion for goalkeeping and we need more goalkeeping coaches or coaches with goalkeeping knowledge to help all of our young goalkeepers throughout the country develop and improve as currently not enough support is given to players in what is a specialised position.
Finally as you will see from my latest news item, my own branded glove which has sold well will be coming into stock again shortly. I have made some slight changes to it but didn't want to change it too drastically as I was very happy with how they have performed. Ideal for christmas presents too, so keep your eye on my website and Steve Hale Goalkeeping School Facebook page for more news on them.