First Team Goalkeeping Coach Åland United. Åland are the current Naisten Liiga Champions (Finland) and will be playing in the UEFA Women’s Champions League this year (2014).
Years Coaching Goalkeepers:
What is your background?
I am originally from Glasgow, Scotland. I have coached in Scotland, Hungary, USA and now I am coaching in Finland. I am worked in both men and women’s football, but most of my coaching experience is within the women’s game. I have a undergraduate BSc degree in Sport and Physical Activity then I have goalkeeping and field player qualifications from the Scottish Football Association
What got you into coaching?
I played at academy level with a few professional teams in Scotland and was quite a promising young goalkeeper. However, I wasn’t particularly tall and started to meet a few barriers as I was looking to sign a first team contract somewhere. I began coaching at 16 years old and thought it would be good practice for my ultimate goal which was to become a PE teacher. As the years went on as a coach I started to gain better positions and by the time I finished university I managed to turn coaching into a full-time position.
What is your coaching philosophy?
My philosophy changes depending on the type of goalkeepers I am working with. When I coach at academy level I like to stick to fundamentals and my sessions stick to the exact theme that we are working on. When it comes to my own goalkeepers at club level my sessions revolve around reaction saves and distribution with their feet. I’m a firm believer that teams include 11 players, not 10 and a GK. Therefore, I believe that sessions should have a lot of tactical elements included as the goalkeeper should be a major part of the teams philosophy, e.g building from the back.
Who has been a mentor to your through your coaching career? Is there a coach who impacted you to get into coaching?
I wouldn’t say I have had a mentor as such. My dad was my first goalkeeping coach and I believe he gave me the foundations to build on as I progressed in the world of goalkeeping. I’ve had the privilege to work alongside some very good coaches with a lot of experience. At Rangers, I had the opportunity to work closely with the women’s head coach who has experience working at the top college level in the US as well as full international level with Scottish Women’s A squad. Again, at Åland United, my current position, I’m working as part of a great coaching team and feel as if I’m learning every session that I get to work with them.
Do you feel that the role and importance of a goalkeeper coach has been fully realized in the coaching community?
I think at professional level yes it is. UEFA are doing a lot of work to make sure that goalkeeper coaches are seen as a vital part of any management staff. Again, pushing on with what I said regarding my philosophy, teams need the goalkeeper to be able to play the system the Head Coach requires, meaning the Goalkeeper Coach has the role of working as a go between. At grassroots level, there are a lot of goalkeeper coaches, it’s the access to these coaches that seem to be the problem, meaning a lot of young goalkeepers go without specific goalkeeper coaching.
Looking back, how have you seen your coaching develop from when you first started to now?
Absolutely! I’m still pretty young, only being 22. However, I think the difference from when I started at 16 coaching at my local semi – pro academy to now is a huge difference.
How do you design your training sessions?
I normally try and tie in my main theme with that of the team theme. For example, if the team are working on finishing, I will maybe work on shotstopping during the keepers alone time. Another example would also be crossing. We would work on some basic crossing before joining the team and joining in their crossing drills. Normally, however, I will watch back our match from the weekend and anything I think is vital that we revisit I will, but usually there is certain days that I will work on certain elements and will keep this same routine throughout the season.
How do you motivate your keepers behind your first string to ensure competition for the position?
I’m pretty lucky at my club that I have two goalkeepers who are of very similar quality. Each have their own specialties that they can bring to the team, and depending on the situation, one might be preferred to the other. However, when one isn’t playing as much as they would like, I think just keeping them training at a high standard and explaining to them that their chance in the team will come.
What is your ultimate coaching goal?
At the moment, I’m quite happy where I am. I’m working with some great goalkeepers in a good footballing environment. My next main goal would be to try and get involved with a national team at youth level alongside my club coaching. In maybe 10 years I would like to see myself working in England with one of the FA Women’s Super League teams.
Any advice for young goalkeeper coaches just entering their careers?
My advice would be to try and start their coaching qualifications as early as possible and try and rack up the coaching hours at a local club to give them the best foundations for trying to get into a pro team.
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I think I would maybe be a P.E teacher, but I would definitely still coach part-time if I couldn’t work as a full-time goalkeeping coach.