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Steve's Blog

Tuesday, 27 November 2012 05:32

Domenico Doardo Interview Blog

Domenico Doardo Interview Blog

This week I sat down and chatted with Domenico Doardo who joined Paolo Di Canio’s backroom team at Swindon Town FC as Goalkeeping coach in June 2011. Domenico has overseen the terrific form of goalkeeper Wes Foderingham in that time helping him become one of the top rated young goalkeepers outside of the premiership.



What is your background in your native country, Italy, who did you play for and coach before coming over to work with Paolo Di Canio and Swindon Town FC?


Torino – Serie A

Helles Verona – Serie A

Genoa – Serie B

Cremonese –Serie B

Italy under 21’s

Novara – First Division

Coaching – Benevento Academy


Who has been your favourite Italian Goalkeeper?


In the past Luca Marchegiani who played for Lazio and Torino for the bulk of his career and 9 times for Italy. Currently I like Christian Abbiati at Milan who has represented Italy 4 times and Gianluigi Buffon who has played a fantastic 123 times for Italy and an amazing 333 times for Juventus.


Would you say the style of goalkeeping in Italy is different to that in England and in what way?


I feel the techniques differ slightly; in particular we attack the ball more in our diving techniques. The way we train our goalkeepers I feel is also slightly different. For example I have found that whereas many goalkeeping coaches like to do lots of volleys when working handling, I prefer to do this in a more game related way with shots from the floor and movements in between each piece of handling.


What would be a typical week for you in terms of a training schedule for your goalkeepers?


Monday – Strength work

Tuesday – Diving saves

Wednesday – Distribution

Thursday – Crosses

Friday – Sharp/Reaction/Reflex

Saturday – Game

Sunday – Wes Foderingham – Recovery. Leigh Bedwell - Power work


If a Tuesday game, the Monday session would be a small mix of various goalkeeping components.


Over the years do you feel the game has changed much for a goalkeeper and if so what effect does that have on coaching goalkeepers?


Before the back-pass rule the main aim was making saves. Now as well as this the goalkeeper obviously has to be very good with his feet and now the modern goalkeeper actually starts a lot of the attacks, such as Victor Valdes at Barcelona. This has meant the style of the game has also changed and has become more physical and more of a high tempo game. With this in mind we have to work with the goalkeeper’s footwork skills and also their fitness levels as they have to be more athletic to meet the demands of the game.


How would you prioritise the various different aspects of goalkeeping coaching?


The most important aspect for me is good positioning in your goal in relation to where the ball is for the shot or cross. This gives you the best chance of being an effective goalkeeper. Then obviously technique is very important for when you come to make the save or deal with the cross.


How would your coaching differ across the younger age ranges up to senior goalkeepers?


I would do a lot more balance; co-ordination and technique work with the younger goalkeepers. It’s important to build them up from a young age. It’s also important to make it even more fun for the younger goalkeepers as their concentration levels aren’t as big as the senior goalkeepers. With the senior goalkeepers it is then about tidying up small parts of their game and maintaining a good standard.


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?


I like to use different pieces of equipment for variety. This way I can still work on a specific aspect of goalkeeping but do it in a different way to keep it interesting for the goalkeepers.


What is the most satisfying aspect of coaching goalkeepers, either at junior or senior level?


With the junior goalkeepers it’s great to see such clear improvements in their game over a period. Then seeing them take that into their games.  With the senior goalkeeper it can be making a great save or having a good performance. It could also be one aspect of their game they have worked hard on that week and it has come off in the game on a Saturday.





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


Watch this space for the next in the series of interviews coming up shortly................................
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 12:37

Andy Quy Interview Blog

Andy Quy Interview Blog

This week we talk to Andy Quy who began his career with Tottenham Hotspur on an YTS contract.  After failing to make the grade at Spurs Andy moved on to Derby County as a young professional and also spent time out on loan at Stalybridge Celtic. After another unsuccessful time at Grimsby Town he had short spells with Stevenage Borough and Kettering Town before finally finding regular football with Hereford United. However his career was cut short by injury and Andy retired and decided to take up coaching.


He began working with Derby County's and Aston Villa's Academy before working with the first team at Lincoln City. In 2007 he joined premiership side Stoke City as goalkeeping coach and now coaches established premiership goalkeepers Thomas Sorensen and Asmir Begovic.




You are currently coaching two very good premiership goalkeepers and internationals, in Thomas Sorensen and Asmir Begovic. Do you have a standard schedule for them both each week or does it vary depending on who they will be playing against?


Each week I try to cover all aspects of goalkeeping within the week. That is then prioritised by aspects identified for each individual keepers needs, along with strengths and weaknesses of the opposition for the next game.


Over the years do you feel the game has changed much for a goalkeeper and if so what effect does that have on coaching the goalkeepers you work with?


The need for the goalkeeper to be an outfield player has become more and more apparent. The keeper has become more recognised for starting attacks and a way of keeping possession as well as stopping goals. 70% of the keeper’s game is distribution.


Is there a big difference in the type of footballs used in the modern game and has that had an effect on how a goalkeeper goes about his / her job?


The type of balls being used, continue to change, but I believe the balls currently out there are about as good as they get.

Goalkeepers have had to adjust to the pace and movement of modern balls over the years and this is another major area that goalkeeping has changed.


Goalkeepers have had to change their positioning and how they make saves. It is not as easy to catch balls and therefore more balls are parried and deflected. Also the way in which balls are kicked has changed in terms of technique.


How would you prioritise the various different aspects of goalkeeping coaching?


I’d prioritise the different aspects of goalkeeping based on the age and experience of the players and their individual strengths and weakness. For young keepers all handling and diving techniques are a must, then to look at positioning and dealing with crosses. Alongside this all types of distribution must be worked on and to become comfortable with the ball at your feet. As players get older and more comfortable with handling techniques, crossing becomes a bigger part of the game and therefore time should be proportioned to this a lot more. Taking up good starting positions, lines of attack and catch/punch decisions are the 3 main areas to work on when doing this.


How would your coaching differ across the younger age ranges up to senior goalkeepers?


The pace and technical/tactical content would differ from the young ages upwards but ultimately your looking for the players of all ages to transfer what they learn with the goalkeeping coach into game situations and be effective in keeping the ball out of the goal.


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 of these pieces of equipment have their place and when used correctly can help enhance performance. More importantly coaching needs to be specific and game related.


What is the most satisfying aspect of coaching goalkeepers, either at junior or senior level?


For me at all levels the most satisfying thing is to see a player take what you have taught them in training and execute it correctly in a game.





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


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


Wednesday, 07 November 2012 10:55

Wayne Brown Interview Blog

Wayne Brown Interview Blog


This week I caught up with current Player / Goalkeeping Coach at Oxford Utd FC, Wayne Brown. Wayne has made just under 500 professional appearances and is still a current registered player at Oxford though he has also taken on the role of goalkeeping coach working with both the professional and scholar goalkeepers at the Kassam Stadium. Wayne is a vastly experienced goalkeeper who also spent a season playing professionally in South Africa and is now taking the first steps into goalkeeping coaching.



What is your coaching background and who do you currently coach?


FA Goalkeeping B licence.

Coached the South African Under 19 & 21's keeper in South Africa. Also held a coaching role Spurs African development squad.

Currently holds 5 Academy goalkeeping schools in Oxford & Hampshire

Player/Goalkeeper coach at Oxford United FC


What goalkeeping coaches have impressed you over the years and why?


Too many to mention!


I would say Jon Ibarrola (Mamelodi Sundowns FC- South Africa), Neville Southall, Pat Mountain to name a few.

All have different styles. Jon was fully hard core on technique, spring & the modern game. Neville was just a work horse, every session was a beasting! Pat was very chilled & mixed his session which is always great for keepers. Don't think I did the same session twice with him. Really helped me.


What is your coaching philosophy or what is important to you when coaching goalkeepers?


Technique and a positive attitude are huge!

I love my keepers to try things in training. I'm still learning different techniques of goalkeeping even at 36...it's great!


How would you prioritise the various different aspects of goalkeeping coaching?


Technique technique technique!

It’s huge with me, I really can't have poor hands. Even if you have great hands you should be constantly working on them.


Explosive power is big with our keepers. Deadlifts, squats, plyometrics.


Being excellent with the ball at your feet is a must these days. I encourage our keepers to play outfield too, best practise ever for them.

Finally, a positive keeper is great to watch. I’ve seen loads of good goalkeepers who struggled to make the grade because they were never on the front foot. They never had a good starting position, never had the go & get attitude etc. It causes huge self doubts in you & your team if they haven’t got this.


How would your coaching differ across the younger age ranges up to senior goalkeepers?


With the younger guys it’s the basics, repetition, making it fun for them.


The seniors are all about tweaking. It could be a tiny problem which just needs ironing out.


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?


We use many of the above & they are great. Not sure on the response ball though.


We used half core balls which are great for stability. We also use the bungee rope for power, crossing and footwork.



What gives you the most satisfaction as a coach?


As a coach I always think its great when young keepers put their new techniques they've learnt into games....and they come off!  I love that!


With the professionals I get a buzz when they have kept clean sheets or when the keeper has played & everyone says he had a quiet game today.


What they haven't noticed is the 4/5 crosses they have caught clean, that quick step to make a shot look easier than it was, the way they dealt with that dodgy back pass. Or just how exhausted they are after 90 minutes of talking, organising, being on the front foot & generally being the owner of their 18yd box. They come off the pitch knowing it’s a job well done without really being on the radar. That's a nice buzz!


I say to the younger keepers.........goalkeepers are the drummers of the band. Little bit mad, we have our own thoughts, own circles but everyone always has an eye on the keeper just in case something fantastic or ridiculous happens. Without us you can’t make proper music & you can't have a football match.





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


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


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................................
Sunday, 14 October 2012 22:06

Dave Lucas Interview Blog

Dave Lucas Interview Blog

Following on from my first interview with AFC Bournemouth Goalkeeping coach Neil Moss, this week I caught up with former Swindon Town goalkeeper Dave Lucas who I got to know during his time with Swindon. Dave has made over 300 professional appearances and although still a current professional at Championship side Birmingham City he is also now starting to get more involved with the coaching side of the game. From experience I saw at close hand how encouraging Dave was with the younger goalkeepers at Swindon so I think he will prove to be an excellent coach!


What is your coaching background and who do you currently coach?


I am currently a member of the first team squad at Birmingham City, alongside which i am head of academy goalkeeping at

Preston North End. I consider myself on the first few rungs of the coaching ladder with loads to learn and am looking forward to the challenge.


Last season I was player/1st team GK coach at Rochdale F.C, great experience but not sure I would take on a dual role again.


What goalkeeping coaches have impressed you over the years and why?


Over the years i have been lucky to have had the pleasure of working with some truly great GK coaches. Mike Kelly and Peter Bonetti whilst involved in the England set-up, both had unique personalities and had such depths of knowledge. Working with Mike in the summer of 1996 is an experience I will never forget, and he influenced my GK mentality and technique more than anybody before or since.


At club level, Billy Mercer, Jim Blythe, Roy Tunks, John Lukic, Andy Beasley, Pete Williams, George Wood, Eric Nixon, Kelham O'Hanlon and currently John Vaughan have all passed on invaluable advice over the years.


What is your coaching philosophy or what is important to you when coaching goalkeepers?


As far as coaching philosophy goes I firmly believe that positivity is the key. Whether that be footwork, starting position, decision making, communication or whatever, give me a positive keeper every time.


How would you prioritise the various different aspects of goalkeeping coaching?


For me, the basic priorities of goalkeeping have and will always be the hands and feet. The quicker/stronger the GKs feet, the easier he will find it to get into position to make saves, come for high/through balls and of course will help with the GKs distribution.  Good hands is taken for granted but cannot be overstated, when working with younger GKs I like to stress the basics of good hands linking in to the "set" position and how the hands and feet work in tandem.


How would your coaching differ across the younger age ranges up to senior goalkeepers?


As I said above working with youngsters for me is all about nailing down the basics and encouraging their enjoyment for playing in goal. I like to keep the sessions I do with schoolboys really light-hearted and fun. When working with the scholars at PNE I still believe the basics of hands and feet are the platform to work from, along with emphasising the role of the keeper within the team. The need for a strong and positive mentality is something I try to impress upon the lads.


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?


Keeping training fun and interesting is a challenge for all coaches, if different pieces of equipment can help that then i'm all for it. Jumping over three hurdles, doing a forward roll and making a save isn't something that has happened too regularly in any matches I have played in so I don't like to over do it though.


Rebound boards are a favourite of mine to use as it adds a bit of variation to some of my drills. The response balls are something that I am very keen to try out its just I haven't got around to them just yet.


What gives you the most satisfaction as a coach?


The most satisfaction I get as a coach is always at the end of a session, knowing that the lads have enjoyed themselves and taken a few pointers on board to use in their up coming matches.




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


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



Monday, 01 October 2012 10:25

Neil Moss Interview Blog

Neil Moss Interview Blog

Over the next few weeks I intend interviewing a number of goalkeeping coaches and goalkeepers and get their views and experiences on goalkeeping coaching and goalkeeping.


Today we start with Neil Moss. Neil has played over 200 professional games, the majority with AFC Bournemouth also having short spells with Gillingham and Southampton.


What is your coaching background and who do you currently coach?


AFC Bournemouth 1st team goalkeeping coach for 4 years.

AFC Bournemouth Academy goalkeeping coach 6 years, whilst still playing.

Owner of Between the Sticks goalkeeper school based in the Bournemouth area. We have 80-90 goalkeepers per week, all ages and abilities and i've been doing this for 7 years.   www.betweenthesticks.co.uk


What goalkeepers have impressed you over the years and why?


Any goalkeeper that has been consistent in their approach and game-play. Brad Friedel, Shay Given, Petr Cech, Van der sar. For me a goalkeeper must have played in the premier league to have fully tested themselves.


What is your coaching philosophy or what is important to you when coaching goalkeepers?


Technique. A goalkeeper must deal with the same shot in the same way every time he/she trains or plays.


Observe a goalkeepers strengths/weaknesses before you start to coach. Just because a goalkeeper does something different to your ideals doesn’t make it wrong.


Repetition, a goalkeeper coach’s job is to repeat as many times as possible every scenario a goalkeeper may face in a match.


How would you prioritise the various different aspects of goalkeeping coaching?


Playing out from the back is now more important than ever. Over a third of my time is taken up with “outfield sessions” so the goalkeepers improve their passing and ball control.


I will cover crossing at least twice a week in different ways. The goalkeepers do plyometrics twice a week with the fitness coach and also do gym work twice (game permitting)


The rest of my time is taken up by simulating saves and positions in relation to ball exercises.


How would your coaching differ across the younger age ranges up to senior goalkeepers?


Younger goalkeepers should be told all the basics of goalkeeping and taught technique in how to handle the primary saves.


Basic ball control skills should be taught as part of every session.


Older goalkeepers should be given more scope to adapt techniques to their own style; different goalkeepers will take up different positions depending on their size, speed and confidence.


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?


I use all the above equipment except the response ball. I think it’s a good idea but feel the bumps make it difficult to handle.


I’m a big fan of goalkeepers training with the exact ball they play with. There’s enough different ways to provide erratic ball flight and bounce with a standard ball.


The other equipment I use on a regular basis.


What gives you the most satisfaction as a coach?


At between the sticks being able to see very easily the kids we have coached compared to the newcomers.




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


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







Friday, 14 September 2012 17:17

Back In The Swing Blog

Back In The Swing Blog

As the title to the blog suggests, the season is now underway both in the professional game and now in the non league and grass roots game with most teams in the local leagues such as the North Wilts League having started last week. My goalkeeping school has been re-open now for two weeks with our third session coming up next Wednesday. Despite the change of evening and initial concerns having lost a few goalkeepers due to them training with their team on a Wednesday I have at the same time picked up some new goalkeepers which is good. It's nice to work with regular goalkeepers and try and help them develop over a period of time but its also nice to see what new talent is out there in the local area. I say local but not for the first time I have a goalkeeper from the Bristol area travelling down for sessions which is pleasing. Its also been great to see a couple of faces return who had to previously have a break including one female goalkeeper who looks to really be developing well as a talented goalkeeper.


I am still toying with the idea of opening up a session in the Calne/Chippenham area and held talks with a venue towards the end of last season. However its finding the right coaches in the area to work and support it as I can't physically do everything myself with my commitments at Swindon Town and Chippy also has a number of commitments himself. This is something I will continue to look at and monitor and so if your a budding goalkeeper coach reading this blog looking for coaching work please email me your details.


As you will have seen from the news items on my website I am happy to advertise for clubs who are looking for goalkeepers or goalkeepers who are looking for clubs. So feel free to drop me an email with your requirements and i'll endeavour to spread the word. I recently posted details about a young goalkeeper who used to come to my sessions who was looking for a new club. Within hours of posting those details on here and on my "Steve Hale Goalkeeping Facebook Page" he had two offers! I was glad to hear from his Dad to say he had been fixed up, it was great to be able to help.


Its been a very busy start to the new season in my role at Swindon Town but in no way am I complaining. Although we have had some dodgy weather when you consider its supposed to be summer, generally its been great working with the goalkeepers at our nicely situated and picturesque training ground. However at times my poor old shiny head has taken a bit of a battering from the sun!


A tough schedule was in place for the scholars and although our new young scholar goalkeeper moaned as most goalkeepers do when it comes to pre season we got him through it and already he has started to look physically stronger for it and benefitted his game. With it being the school holidays our young under 16's goalkeeper has shown a great attitude and come in regularly with the scholars as well. Getting the chance to spend more time working with him and the chance for him to be challenged by training with the scholars has been a big benefit to him and the improvements in his game have been noticed not only by me but by a number of other people so im really pleased for him.


The younger Academy goalkeepers have been back in regularly since the 1st of August and they really are an enthusiastic bunch and a pleasure to work with. Under the new EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) all Academy players will train three times per week which for the goalkeepers will be divided up between work with me and work with their squad. Its a big commitment for not only the players themselves but also their parents who have to taxi them about and they have my utmost respect for the support they give their children. Most people know that few make the grade as professionals but even if they don't make it I like to think we can still help them develop as players and as people broadening their social skills and still try and play the best level of the game they can.


I actually had to don the gloves again myself recently when I took part in a charity match for a Swindon Town Staff & Veteran team against Fairford Town Veterans in aid of the British Heart Foundation. This is an annual game to also remember John Hathaway who played for Fairford and was a coach at Swindon. I never thought I would be in the same line up as Paolo Di Canio, Ian Woan, David Duke, Jerel Ifil, Paul Bodin, Alan Mcloughlin to name a few! Though having seen the team photo in the Evening Advertiser the next day and after taking some abuse from a few facebook friends perhaps I should of prepared for it as the shirt was what you call "snug"! At least it inspired me to hit the gym more and look at what I eat, so a positive did come out of it and ive lost nearly half a stone since! hahaha


Onto my new style of goalkeeper glove that is out this season "The Keeper" glove. I'm pleased with how they are performing and its great to see young goalkeepers wearing them. In the market place today there are a wide range of gloves with many companies marketing their gloves in a wider range of places than I do. I am not into hard sell, I simply don't have the time and at present its not my main drive to try and conquer the world with my gloves. Some brands throw hundreds of pairs of free gloves at full time professionals in order to get them to wear their models and spread the word and good luck to them if they can afford to do that. The funny thing is the professionals are the ones with plenty of money yet get free gloves out of it which always amuses me but like I say fair play, if it helps sell gloves good luck to them. I have produced a glove that is reasonably priced in the current market and if goalkeepers at my goalkeeping school or at Swindon Town or anyone else for that matter want them thats great. Its nice to see a good proportion of the young goalkeepers I work with at Swindon wearing them and obviously with coaching daily I go through alot of pairs of gloves in a season myself.


One thing that I notice though is that young goalkeepers still don't look after their gloves enough which always surprises me. Your gloves are your "Tools of your trade", look after them and they will look after you. If you don't wash them fairly regularly the latex with go dry and the grip will get worse, quite simple really! Even with a well priced pair of gloves it will still cost you a few pounds over the course of the season as gloves don't last long because the better the grip, the softer the grip and the more wear and tear will happen so I do preach that you should look after them. For years now I have bought "Glove Wash" which I tend to get from Just Keepers www.just-keepers.com it doesn't cost the earth and you don't need too much per wash in a shallow sink of warm water and I use an old tooth brush which has gone soft to brush the dirt from the palm, rinse off and dry naturally.


Finally over the next few days have a look at www.gksforgosh.co.uk which is a very worthwhile cause raising funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital. I came to know about it via Lee Harrison who is the First Team goalkeeping coach at Wycombe Wanderers as sadly his young son is currently being treated at the hospital. The aim is to raise funds to go towards supporting a great hospital which does so much good for children up and down the country. GKs for GOSH also have a facebook page and Twitter account so you can find out more details there if your into social media.


Anyway thats enough for now, whenever I do these blogs I get carried away and start waffling!! 

Thursday, 09 August 2012 22:12

General Update Blog

General Update Blog

Well its just under 4 weeks till I re-open my goalkeeping school for its 6th year! That in itself is something I am proud of and I have always strived to try and help the young goalkeepers of Swindon and the surrounding area improve on and off the pitch. Obviously the reason young goalkeepers come to my goalkeeping school is to develop their goalkeeping skills but I also like to think they learn other skills that can be used in life in general. Skills such as commitment, hard work and giving your best, respect, team-work and social skills I like to encourage.


I have always run my sessions on a Monday evening but due to my increased commitments at Swindon Town this season I am having to change to a Wednesday evening for the time being. I understand that some of the local clubs that young goalkeepers play for may train on this evening but if the club wants to help their goalkeepers improve with specialised coaching it would be great if they actively encourage their goalkeeper to still come to our sessions. I get told a lot by parents and even coaches of teams that their goalkeeper doesn't get any specialised work within their club. That is not a criticism of the clubs in the area, it just means that they probably don't have a qualified goalkeeper coach within their setup so are limited to how they can help their young goalkeepers. I look at it this way and i'm sure my good wife will agree, I am useless around the home, can't even change a plug and wouldn't know the right end of a paintbrush! Therefore if something needs doing in our house, we would get someone who is trained in that particular field and someone who does have the experience to do the job. So whats the difference when it comes to coaching young goalkeepers? there isn't one! Give your goalkeepers the chance to develop by not only working with experienced coaches but also working with other young like-minded goalkeepers and help push them on. Despite the rising costs everywhere I am maintaining the monthly fees of £26.00 for the third consecutive year. The only slight change is a "once a year" registration fee of just £5.00 which im sure you will agree is not alot!


As stated before through my role at Swindon I also use my goalkeeping school as somewhat of a development centre and there have been a number of young goalkeepers who I have taken into Swindon for trials and some of whom have signed contracts. As stated on my front page probably the most notable recent one being Jared Thompson who has now gone on to even bigger things at Chelsea. Also through the grass-roots grapevine if I hear of any young goalkeepers doing well, I can arrange with our Head of Scouting at Swindon to get these goalkeepers watched and monitored for the future.


Over the years I have had a number of young goalkeepers who have been with me for a good period of time and shown great loyalty to my goalkeeping school. This is something I have always appreciated and its great to hear stories of their "worldy" performances from their parents, the goalkeepers themselves or when I see their name in the grass roots section of the Evening Advertiser which I get each week.


I recently returned from the Milk Cup in Northern Ireland with Swindon, a fantastic experience once again. We took a very mixed age group squad for the tournament so expecations weren't high in terms of winning a trophy, the goal was more about the experience the players would gain from it and thus aiding their development. Despite going out of the main Milk Cup section we did however win the "Bowl" competition so it was a nice reward for all the lads hard work. Our goalkeeper had a good tournament which was pleasing and i'm sure he will have gained a lot from the experience.


I have been back in with the scholars at Swindon since the 2nd July and pre season has gone really well! In terms of results we drew with Newport County then beat English Colleges, Nike Academy, Portsmouth, Cardiff City and Swansea City and to be fair the lads have been on fire! We now start our league campaign this Saturday with Torquay Utd at home followed by a local derby away at Bristol Rovers so i'm really looking forward to seeing if the lads can maintain that form. Again our goalkeeper who is new to the club has been very effective in these games and im just starting to get to know his strengths, and also areas of his game that we need to work on. Being in daily we can look to improve and develop him over the coming season. Today I went with him as he was required by the first team goalkeeper coach at the club for a short session, his first with the seniors. Its always good to watch other goalkeeper coaches work as I believe we can all learn off each other and with Domenico being Italian its good to see how his style varies to English coaches and its always an interesting conversation when speaking with him. It was also great to see Leigh Bedwell working having worked with him myself for 4-5 years as he came through the system and he is certainly developing well.


My new gloves have been delivered, along with a key-ring designed in the same style. I truly believe this is the best glove I have had produced so far. They come in sizes 6, 7, 8 & 9 and if I receive demand for gloves in a size 5 or size 10 I will get some made, though I don't find size 10 a popular size at all. "The Keeper" gloves are now on sale priced at £25.00 per pair or two pairs for £40.00. These prices fall in-line with a host of other goalkeeping gloves out there in the market place and are most definitely value for money. I hope to shortly have pictures up on this website for you all to see. They are currently on display on my "Steve Hale Goalkeeping Facebook Page" and also I have posted pictures on my twitter account @SteveHaleGK


Thats all for now folks, i'm looking forward to the start of the new season!!!!



Monday, 25 June 2012 12:27

A New Season Ahead Blog

A New Season Ahead Blog

It doesn't take long does it, one season finishes and a new one is nearly upon us already!


June has been a manic month for me personally, but ultimately a very rewarding one which I have enjoyed immensely. Obviously at the end of May I was given a contract to increase my part time role at Swindon Town to full time as academy goalkeeping coach under the new academy category 3 status scheme brought in through the EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan). This of course was fantastic news and this allowed me to relax and enjoy another big occasion on the 2nd June..........getting married to a fantastic lady! We had a truly brilliant day with friends and family and it was great to see a few goalkeepers I have coached attend, especially Jamie Stephens and his girlfriend Sophia who made the effort to come down from Liverpool where he is now plying his trade. The next day we jetted off to the Maldives and spent a week relaxing in the hot sun on a remote island in the Indian Ocean which was like paradise! Now you would of thought in a place like this it would be a complete break from the football world..............not for me though! There happened to be a 3G full size pitch in the middle of the island which the staff trained and played games on! Before you are worried that this may have caused an early divorce, it couldn't be further from the truth as my lovely wife had no problem at all allowing me to watch some of the sessions. In fact on the last day there was a "Staff v Guests" game which she encouraged me to play in but I declined as it was so hot and I didn't want to end a glorious honeymoon in the air ambulance knowing my luck! I did while there actually have my picture taken with a couple of the goalkeepers that were training there much to their bafflement and my amusement (mad englishman they must of thought!)


On returning to England I last week had an operation I had been thinking about for about the last 10 years, no not a Wayne Rooney hair transplant before the wisecracks start! I have worn contact lenses and glasses (occasionally) for a number of years now but certainly over the last few years I have picked up a few eye infections which has mean't not being able to wear my lenses, with eye drops curing the problem in about a week. This became more frequent and was hugely annoying and frustrating as trying to coach in glasses is difficult to say the least, especially in the poor english weather! It also just doesn't seem right coaching goalkeepers in glasses and a few jokes certainly came my way at times! Therefore with the increasing improved science when it comes to eye laser surgery I felt more confident in the modern treatments based on my own research and from speaking to two friends of my wife who had received the treatment. I had the short operation last Friday and although I have to be careful and take things steady with my recovery which i'm doing generally, my eyesight is now as i'm told by the surgeon 20/20 so i'm very pleased with how things are progressing on this front.


As if all of the above hasn't been pleasing enough, only this weekend some further great news has broken and which I have revealed on the front page of my website. Just after a year of setting up my goalkeeping school an 8 year old boy called Jared and his older brother Conor joined. Jared was very small as you can imagine at that age but straight away you could see he loved being in goal and demanding that people took shots at him. You could tell he particularly saw it as a challenge to stop the bigger goalkeepers scoring against him and the raw potential was there to see. In the space of a year he had joined me at Swindon Town and for the past 4 years I have coached him in the Centre of Excellence. As stated on the front page he has developed and grown as a goalkeeper and as a person. In fact if you look at the two pictures you will see him in 2010 and the next picture stood next to me was earlier this year and you can see how much he has grown physically, he is nearly as tall as me and he is only 13! This past 12-18 months Jared has really come on well and particularly his distribution has got better and better and his performances have become more consistent. As soon as you get a good tall goalkeeper (every club is after them!) scouts come sniffing and this proved the case with Jared and Chelsea, Southampton and Manchester Utd expressed their interest. A deal has been reached with Swindon and Jared this weekend just gone signed his contract with the European champions. This is a fantastic opportunity for Jared to develop even further and an exciting time for him and his family. It makes me very proud that he started out in Steve Hale Goalkeeping School, made progression to Swindon and now onto Chelsea. For any young goalkeeper or parent reading my website and this blog, it doesn't mean everyone will have this type of progression but it does show what is possible with hard work allied to ability. Having ability alone is not enough and there are many players who have never made it to a good standard because they thought ability alone would get them there. I cannot stress enough that "HARD WORK" is a huge ingredient if you want to be successful in any walk of life, not just goalkeeping or football. Jared is a role model and an example to all young goalkeepers why they should work hard, practice and listen to their coaches and see where this can take them. I wish Jared all the very best for the future and look forward to keeping an eye on how he progresses at Chelsea.


Somebody else stepping up with a Steve Hale Goalkeeping School connection is my trusted assistant Chippy (James Whitlock). Chippy, although approaching veteran status at 36 (37 in September) still plays local football as well as helping me with coaching in my goalkeeping school. Last season he also did some sessions for Hellenic Premier side Fairford Town (the fact they got relegated was nothing to do with his coaching I want to add! hahaha) This season ahead he is still likely to play, but he will also be doing some of the goalkeeping coaching at Evo Stik South & West side Swindon Supermarine. I am pleased for Chippy and I think it will help enchance his coaching experience dealing with senior goalkeepers in a Southern League club so good luck to him.


Only one week to go now till we start back in for Pre Season with the scholars at Swindon and I can't wait (especially as its not me doing the hard physical work!) Whether its Swindon or in the non league game where I have coached, I don't actually mind the goalkeepers doing the first week with the outfield players as its good to see their character and how they handle the workload in terms of their physical and mental strength. However after that first week I do like to get the goalkeepers to myself as much as possible and start working on their "goalkeeping fitness" which differs to that of an outfield player and therefore needs different work to an outfield player.


Outfield players do alot of aeorobic work such as distance running to build up stamina wheras goalkeepers need a bigger proportion of anaerobic work which is harder work in short bursts as goalkeeping is generally a mixture of explosive movements. Often outfield players may look over and give the goalkeepers some stick about how they have it easy when they see them resting but I can assure you the short bursts of work they do have to do are physically demanding and hard on the body!


Tonight (Monday 25th) we have our first session at Swindon with our squad which will be competing in the Milk Cup tournament in Northern Ireland in the middle of July. Its a brilliant tournament and a fantastic learning experience both on and off the pitch for the players. Its a very well supported tournament and this brings pressure for the players so its interesting to see how they handle this as our regular games programme at Swindon is more about development rather than results wheras tournament football is more about results. It is a good standard of opposition and this year in our third game we face Premiership giants Liverpool which will be a great test for the lads.


Despite my increased role at Swindon Town I have no intention of closing my goalkeeping school despite my increased work load. Not only do I thoroughly enjoy trying to develop and improve grass roots goalkeepers it also acts as a development centre whereby I can keep an eye on potential recruits for our academy at Swindon. I have since setting up held regular Monday evening sessions and I still intend to hold one evening session per week. What I don't know 100% at this stage today is whether that will continue to be on a Monday or whether I may need to move it to another evening, maybe a Wednesday. Once I am back in at Swindon and I have discussed and organised my schedule with the Academy manager I will then be in a position to make that decision. Once I know I will straight away get this advertised on this website and let existing goalkeepers in my school know.


Each year I always put on a two day course in the summer months which has always proved a great success and I have been asked by a few parents already about this. Unfortunately at this moment in time I cannot say yet whether this will happen and if im honest this is looking unlikely at this stage for a few reasons. Obviously with my wedding and honeymoon this took out some of my time but also I have been struggling to find a suitable venue. Most places have been unavailable due to ground maintenance work being carried out to get their pitches ready for the next season. On top of all this as already stated I am not 100% sure of my exact timetable with Swindon just yet so again I will take this decision shortly and update my wesbite with details.


Thats all for now folks!

Sunday, 27 May 2012 07:43

5 Years Work Paid Off

5 Years Work Paid Off Blog

It maybe a corny line but on Thursday I was “over the moon” after having my part time role as Centre of Excellence goalkeeping coach at Swindon Town FC increased to Full Time Academy Goalkeeping coach, as the club goes into Academy status under the new EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) brought in by the premier league and English FA.


Without sounding like an “oldie” when I was a lad I was no different to millions of others in that I wanted to be a professional footballer. However there were not the opportunities and pathways in those days that there are now for young players. There were not academies or centres of excellence or the coaching available to me as there are now. Growing up I played grass roots football and was doing quite well and made it into the then Swindon Schoolboys squad and was watched by Southampton and had a trial at Cardiff City but I didn’t quite make the grade.


I played many years in the non league game but when I was about 34 I picked up a few niggling injuries and it was at this stage I started to look at the coaching pathway. In the past 5 years I have gone through my FA Level 1, FA Level 2 and Uefa B Licence outfield badges and my FA Level 2 Goalkeeping and FA B Licence Goalkeeping badges. All of which has taken a lot of time and a lot of money and hard work to achieve.


Also 5 years ago I started coaching at Jamie Shore Soccer Academy in Bristol as goalkeeping coach and set up Steve Hale Goalkeeping School. At the same time I was invited in to Swindon Town Centre of Excellence by Jeremy Newton and Dave Byrne to do some goalkeeping coaching at around the time Dennis Wise was just leaving the club as first team manager.


I am Swindon born and bred and my Dad took me to my first game on a cold and wet Friday night and I saw them beat Northampton Town 3-2 with a Peter Coyne hat-trick in the Lou Macari days. Over the years although I have obviously been playing myself I have always been a fan and gone to as many games as I possibly could. Obviously being a goalkeeper myself I have always watched and focussed on the many custodians the club has had over the years:


Jimmy Allan, Scott Endersby, Jake Findlay, Kenny Allen, Fraser Digby, Nicky Hammond, Frank Talia, Shay Given, Tim Flowers, Rhys Evans, Steve Mildenhall, Bart Griemlink, Phil Smith, Dave Lucas and Wes Foderingham all who I have watched grace the County Ground.


As a young lad Kenny Allen was my first favourite as he was a character with his long grey hair and he often wore a different make of boot on each foot!  Then, it goes without saying Fraser Digby who became a legend at the club playing for 12 years and making 420 appearances. I also remember watching Steve Mildenhall coming up through the Youth team (managed by another Swindon legend John Trollope) and becoming first team goalkeeper. Interestingly having watched Rhys Evans play for Swindon I’m now actually coaching his 8 year old son at the club! 


During my 5 years so far I have seen the likes of first team managers Dennis Wise, Paul Sturrock, Maurice Malpas, Danny Wilson and now Paolo Di Canio at the helm. I have to say Danny Wilson has been the one so far who has shown me the most respect, though I haven’t really had anytime close up with Paolo Di Canio so far.  Also during this time I have gone in and observed and assisted first team goalkeeping coaches John Granville and then George Wood with the senior goalkeepers at the club and am looking forward to building up a relationship with current first team goalkeeping coach Domenico Doardo who I have met on a few occasions now. I watched and learned from both John and George and both of them were good in supporting and encouraging me. George Wood in particular I hold big respect for who has years of knowledge, a great personality and who actively encouraged me and got me serving and sometimes doing my own drills with the goalkeepers which was great. In that time I saw at close hand Peter Brezovan, Phil Smith and Dave Lucas and all three are good pro’s and accepted me in and have been good with me as they were with all the young scholar goalkeepers throughout that time such as Mark Scott, Calum Antell, Jamie Stephens, Leigh Bedwell and Conor Thompson.


Looking back over my own 5 years coaching the young goalkeepers at the club I have thoroughly enjoyed coaching all the goalkeepers. It’s been great to see Mark Scott make it as a pro though sad to see him depart recently. Also seeing Calum Antell develop and though his pathway was blocked due to the club already having 4 senior goalkeepers at the end of his scholarship he has gone on to make it as a professional at Hibernian. Following him has been Jamie Stephens who we sold to Liverpool, a great move for him and totally deserved. More recently Leigh Bedwell who I have talked about before in my last column, I have seen progress from under 14’s when I first joined to now earning his first professional contract with the club. Conor Thompson who started out in Steve Hale Goalkeeping School came into the centre and progressed through to scholar and also gained international recognition with Northern Ireland, the first time I can remember a young goalkeeper in our system doing that. Now we have Conor’s younger brother, Jared who again started out in Steve Hale Goalkeeping School and again then came into the centre. I have been coaching him at Swindon for 4 years and as we speak two premiership clubs in Southampton and Chelsea are both keen to sign him.


I have been to Holland twice, the Milk Cup tournament in Northern Ireland twice and been to South Korea all with the Centre coaching the goalkeepers. I have worked very hard and enjoyed all of the experiences I have had so far with Swindon Town, with Jamie Shore and setting up and running my own goalkeeping school and working through my coaching qualifications with the English FA.


Therefore, on Thursday when the Swindon Town Chief Executive, Nick Watkins shook my hand after we had agreed a contract, I was made up with both excitement as I look forward and relief as it feels like all that hard work has finally paid off. It has been my goal to become full time working daily in the professional football environment and now this new challenge will begin on the 2nd July when we report back for pre season training. I now have a month off to relax and then the hard work begins and I won’t take my foot off the pedal, I will be putting my all into the role!


I will stress though, that doesn’t mean the end of Steve Hale Goalkeeping School, far from it. I may need to look at whether we continue on a Monday evening or move it to another evening depending on the structure of my sessions at Swindon under the new Academy programme but we certainly will be continuing. I am fortunate in that I have two good people in Chippy (James Whitlock) and young Dan Callaghan helping and supporting me so even if I cannot make a session I have complete faith and trust in them. As has been the case during my time running it and working at Swindon, any goalkeepers that come into my goalkeeping school who I feel have the potential and right attitude for hard work I will look to try and bring through into Swindon if we require a goalkeeper at their particular age group.

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