neil ince

Name: Neil Ince

Current Position: Founder of Teesside Keeper School (TKS)

Years Coaching Goalkeepers: Officially since 2011

What is your background?
After starting as a Kenny Dalglish wannabee then began playing in goal age 12 and soon became a Ray Clemence wannabee. I continued to stand in muddy puddles week in week out until I was 36 and loved every minute, apart from having a metal plate and 6 screws put in my wrist after going down at a lads feet on a one on one, winning the ball and having my wrist stamped on as a prize !! The joys of Sunday League football (I still have the metal work as a memento).

Everything I developed was self taught. Never had formal GK training. Was just put between the sticks and told to save the balls that rained down on me.

What got you into coaching?
I started coaching my eldest son Keirans grass roots team because I had been retired from playing for a couple of years and really missed been involved with football. After a couple of seasons we lost our GK and my eldest said if I trained him he would go in goal because he knew I was a keeper. That’s when I started concentrating on GK training, which developed in to coaching all the GK’s within the club and which exploded when i set up TKS in 2013 and now I have 23 GK’s from the ages 6-16 coming regularly to my sessions, which also includes my youngest son Jamie. (Glove costs are a fortune in our house !!)

What is your coaching philosophy?
For me the main objective is to teach through enjoyment. Children play football because they enjoy it and will want to keep developing and training as long as their coach keeps things fresh, interesting, motivational and enjoyable. The older they get then certainly sessions need to be more focused but they still need to get enjoyment out of it otherwise why would they do it?

Who has been a mentor to your through your coaching career? Is there a coach who impacted you to get into coaching?
When I started coaching Keiran I also took him to ex Boro, Bristol Rovers & Darlington keeper Andy Collett as he had started up a training academy locally. Andy was great with him and the other keepers. I liked the wayAndy spoke to them, enthusiastic, supportive and inspiring. He really made me want to be as good a coach as he was. He taught me initially how to coach goalkeepers. As I said earlier, even though I was a keeper myself for 30 odd years I hadn’t had any specific keeper training myself, so I hadn’t a clue how to coach keepers. Andy now has grown his academy tenfold and is also York Citys keeper coach but continues to inspire me, and thats what drives me.

Do you feel that the role and importance of a goalkeeper coach has been fully realized in the coaching community?
I think the vast majority of grass roots teams massively value a GK coach because most of the guys running the teams don’t really know how to coach a keeper and wouldn’t know where to start. The sad thing is though is that there are still a lot of grass roots clubs that don’t have a keeper coach and the keepers are still being put between the sticks and used as cannon fodder by having 20 balls smashed at them from all over. Maybe thats why I went from coaching 1 keeper, then to 4, and now 23, (plus grass roots clubs wanting me to do sessions for them) in such a short space of time because managers/coaches/parents & keepers want and appreciate specific training.

Looking back, how have you seen your coaching develop from when you first started to now?
My coaching has developed immensely. I have learned more about the art of goalkeeping in the short time I have been coaching than I did playing for 30 odd years. Strange how when you are self taught you learn by your mistakes but you don’t consciously take in the mechanics of what or how you needed to improve you just do it, but its those micro mechanics that you need to identify and teach when coaching.

How do you design your training sessions?
I have built up a ring binder portfolio of drills, which continues to grow, that includes diagrams, progressions and coaching points, divided up in to the following sections: Warm up’s / General Handling / Footwork & Movement / Shot Stopping & Angles / 1v1 / Distribution / Dealing with Crosses. I effectively concentrate on each aspect each session. So within a 6 session cycle all aspects are covered. To keep things fresh I make a note of the date a drill is used so that when the 6 week cycle comes round again then that drill isn’t replicated.

What is your ultimate coaching goal?
Ultimate coaching goal would be to coach full time. However a more achievable short term goal is to never stop expanding my own knowledge and continue the buzz seeing the development of the keepers I coach and maybe just maybe coach a keeper that eventually makes it as a professional.

Any advice for young goalkeeper coaches just entering their careers?
Get to as many professionally ran training sessions as you can and absorb as much information as you can, but analyze if you would have done things differently during those sessions. That way you will be inspired but still personalize your own sessions.