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Thursday, 25 October 2012 20:30

Leigh Bedwell Interview Blog

Leigh Bedwell Interview Blog

The latest interview sees me speak to a good young goalkeeper just starting out in his professional career. Leigh Bedwell joined Swindon at the age of 9 and I started to coach him at the age of 14 within the Centre of Excellence at the time. Leigh is a young goalkeeper who I often use as an example when talking to and coaching young goalkeepers because he has always had a fantastic desire to work, learn and improve his game.  Apart from his family there was nobody more pleased than me when he was awarded his first professional contract at Swindon Town and its great to see him involved in the first team squad every week. Leigh took time out from his busy schedule to answer a few questions:



First year as a professional after coming all the way through the youth system from 9 years of age, how are you finding it?


I’m really enjoying it, being a 'professional' is what I have always wanted and what so many young lads aspire to be. I feel really lucky to be in the position I am in. It’s a step up from youth football but I think I have adjusted to it well so far and feel that i’m learning and improving every day.


Since the age of 9 you have been coached by a few different coaches but what aspects of the sessions have you enjoyed and what have you least enjoyed about goalkeeping training/coaching?


I have been really lucky as all the goalkeeping coaches I have had have been brilliant to learn from, starting with Sal Bibbo, yourself, George Wood and currently with Domenico Doardo. I really enjoy the basics just constantly catching volleys and half volleys as it’s a goalkeepers bread and butter. I also enjoy the games for shot stopping such as goalie wars which are a bit of fun and a laugh but help you improve! When I was younger I didn’t enjoy practicing kicking as I was so inconsistent and got really frustrated at times but it’s something all young goalkeepers struggle with but everyone comes through it once you learn the technique properly, I really enjoy kicking now though!


What aspects of goalkeeping coaching do you feel are the most important at a young age?


As boring as it sounds I think it’s the basics! Just catching a ball and footwork, young goalkeepers need to concentrate on the simple things and the 'worldy' saves take care of themselves and just happen naturally! Also as I said above I struggled with kicking when I was younger so I think it’s important for keepers to start striking the ball with a correct technique at an early age, once they get the technique right the distance will improve as their muscles develop.


In the future (hopefully a long time off yet!) if you were to go down the path of goalkeeping coaching what would your philosophy be?


The basic job description for a goalkeeper is to stop the ball crossing the white line so I would encourage a goalkeeper to do all he/she can to stop the ball and then help him/her along the way with vital techniques to improve. All they need is the hunger and desire to stop the ball.


Name a few goalkeepers in the current or recent era that you look up to and enjoy watching play and why?


The obvious one is Joe Hart I think any English goalkeeper would say that he's a great talent and an inspiration to us all.  I’ll also add Shay Given to that currently not playing in the Premier League regularly but he’s been one of the best in the Premier for as long as I can remember. His consistency is impressive to play at the top level for so long and so well, is amazing.  I’d also like to mention Brad Friedel and Mark Schwarzer also playing at the top level for so long, not always the most orthodox but they get the job done which is the most important thing.


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 this type of equipment, good or you prefer to keep things simple?


I think modern equipment is good if it’s used in the right way.  At Swindon we often use rebound walls and nets the day before a game to switch on our reactions and make sure we’re sharp and ready for action. Ladders are also important as I think footwork is massive, you don't see or hear on Match of the Day the commentator mentioning the goalkeepers footwork but when a goalkeeper makes a great save more often than not he has had to use quick feet to help him make the save! I have not used response balls yet but would be keen to give them ago, maybe the shape of them would make it difficult to catch but they could help!


What would be the best piece of advice you could give to a young goalkeeper who aspires to be a professional goalkeeper?


Being a goalkeeper is the hardest position in the world, but if you work hard in training and listen and take on board exactly what your coach says you will learn and improve. Every goalkeeper makes mistakes, if you make a mistake it doesn't matter as long as you learn from it then you become a better goalkeeper. Don't let the highs get you too high or the lows get you to low.



I would just like to personally thank Leigh for taking the time out to answer my questions.


Watch this space for the next in the series of interviews coming up shortly................................

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