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INTERVIEW: It was very worthwhile

22 May 2014

Keeper coach Tony Caig on the recent St George's Park conference

Keeper coach Tony Caig spoke to us about the recent Goalkeeping conference, held at St George’s Park, which brought specialists together from across the game as the role of the keeper continues to grow and evolve.

“Things have developed a lot in goalkeeper coaching in recent years and I think the fact that we now have conferences at St George’s Park shows that,” he said. “It's evolved massively in the last 20-30 years in this country and that was actually the theme of the conference as a whole. 

“It was about how the role has changed, particularly from the point of view that a lot of things have changed anyway in the modern game.”

“You now have to really think about how you're going to incorporate your goalkeeper into your outfield training sessions, for example,” he explained. “In the past the keepers would only be involved in a shooting and finishing session, and then again if there was a game at the end of it all, but these days it's more about functional play. More and more we see that a keeper has to think about the angles he'll give to support the player who is on the ball, and how they can become that extra outfield player if that’s what is required.

“When I started in the game keeper coaching was non-existent. I was lucky in West Cumbria because Mike Rogan had been a professional goalkeeper at Workington for years, and he used to run his own goalkeeper sessions in the school holidays. I always went along. Even those sessions were based on things Mike had picked up himself, because he had never been coached either. It was probably around that time when the real full-time keeper coaches started to arrive on the scene.”

“These conferences at St George’s Park aren't compulsory but, in terms of keeping up your licenses and moving forward, they are really useful,” he said. “It’s all about continuous professional development (CPD) so I try to get to as many as possible. I’ve found there is always something you will come away with. 

“You find that there are between 300 and 400 goalkeeping coaches from all different levels of the game who turn up. They are all FA qualified, so it gives you a good chance to speak to people and learn things from them. There's such a wide network of coaches, from grassroots level all the way up to Premier League and international level, so it would be silly to miss out on an opportunity like that.”

“I went out to Italy for a few days last summer, to their goalkeeper's union annual conference, and it was interesting to see not only Italian coaches, but German and Spanish coaches, with their ideas and thoughts on how they might do things differently to me,” he added. “With the FA there is a definite structure and pathway in goalkeeping coaches across all levels. All of the coaches will put their own slant on it, but there’s a general theme right the way through. 

“I think it's really useful to go and see how other people work. There was a Spanish coach when I was in Italy, Jose Zambade, who was at Deportivo La Coruna, and he was head hunted by Besiktas in Turkey. They looked at how he worked and decided he was the coach they wanted. 

“He's got some very different methods but he seems to produce very good keepers. There's a science behind how he does it because, for him, it isn't just based on putting drills and sessions on. He looks at the whole function and how a goalkeeper moves. 

“I'm trying to incorporate that into how I do things with our lads. It isn't just about the couple of hours a day when you're on the grass. When we don't have a midweek game, and we've got a bit of time, we’ll focus on how we can build a goalkeeper up physically. 

“They'll do gym work, power work, plyometric work and weights, which will all play a part in making them better. Dolly [Neil Dalton] and Kate [Gascoigne] will help me in terms of how I can plan these sessions to bring all of that together.”

“The conference this year was good and I think they've got to a point now where they need to start bringing foreign coaches into it just to keep it fresh and bring something different to it,” he said. “After the sessions were finished we had speakers and all kinds of different workshops to attend.

“We got the chance to speak to some really experienced coaches, who have played the game then made that transition, and they're now getting towards their 60s and still coaching. It's really interesting hearing how people like that have had to evolve their styles and methods to keep up with the modern game. 

“Tony Parkes was there and he talked about how he came out of the top level to allow himself to be a goalkeeper coach. He was kit man, reserve team manager and keeper coach at Halifax Town and he worked his way up from there. He went to Blackpool, and then he worked for the FA for a while, before his dream job came up at Spurs. 

“Harry Redknapp took him back to Spurs when Gomes was struggling with the mental side of his game. He had a loss of form which was really affecting his game but he enjoyed a bit of a resurgence after Tony started to work with him. He had Lloris, Gomes, Cudicini and Friedel to work with so it was interesting listening to how he dealt with those four on a daily basis. 

“They were all at different stages of their career, they all wanted to play and some of them had World Cup aspirations. He would try and incorporate something for everybody into the same session because they all had different things then needed to work at. He said that the best all round goalkeeper was probably Gomes, but he was more prone to errors, which is the mental side of his game that he needed to look at.” 

“Overall it was a very worthwhile event and I definitely came out, after it was all done, pleased that I’d taken the time to go along. As with anything in this business, things are changing and moving on all the time and that’s why I think it’s important for us all to keep up, in any way we can, as much as we can.”

Click HERE for the first part of this interview. 

Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel.

Click HERE to see the full five part interview on United Player.

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