Much-travelled former keeper Fred Barber will be among the specialist coaches st
Much-travelled former keeper Fred Barber will be among the specialist coaches studying for the FA's Goalkeeping Coaching Certificate in the summer.
Barber, who turned out for a dozen teams in his 18-year playing career, is set to attend the course in June along with the likes of Peter Bonetti, Tony Coton and Steve Sutton.
The course, which was launched in November, is part of the FA's Goalkeeping Coaching Education Programme and covers technical skills and theory.
Barber will hone the skills he has used to coach keepers at various clubs since retiring from playing. He now acts as the goalkeeper coach for both West Brom and Bolton.
The jovial north-easterner explains just how a coach can help shot-stoppers improve their game. "To some extent you become a father figure to the keepers," he says.
"I got a call from Neil Edwards, Rochdale's keeper, who said he hadn't trained over Christmas and that he was having to do most things by himself. I told him he was thinking too much about his game rather than doing it naturally.
"He was thinking about where he should be stood and how to pull a save off. He told me that I had saved him a training session in goalkeeping, just by talking to him over the phone. It all helps, because he went home a lot happier, which cheered up his wife!"
Barber points out that managers' attitudes to keeper coaching has changed since he took on the role. "When I started off in the job, you got an attitude of 'you're just looking after the keepers, you are bound to say that'. But more and more managers now realise the importance of having specialist coaching.
"All the Premiership clubs tend to have full-time goalkeeper coach, in the First Division only the big clubs like Wolves and Leicester would, while the smaller ones like Grimsby wouldn't be full-time.
"You have got to try to sell your training to them. I don't just kick balls at the keepers. We work on techniques and everything we do is related to a game situation. We work hard with a high tempo.
"At the moment I am working with two managers who believe in goalkeeping coaches. Sam Allardyce wants it along with a good assistant manager, good physios, good fitness coaches etc, so he can concentrate on managing. He knows that the people around him will do a good job so he can sleep easier at night.
"When Gary Megson signed Russell Hoult from Portsmouth he said the lad needed hard work and asked if I would come and work with him. At one time Russell used to complain about hard work, now he gets on with it."
Hoult has reaped the rewards of his improved attitude to training with some observers tipping him for an England call-up. Barber can take some of the credit for Hoult's progress. "A lot is down to him, though I am sure he'd say that I have helped him along," says Barber.
"Gary (Megson) said he didn't keep 26 clean sheets last season for nothing. I have seen a big difference in him, his personality, his character, his handling, the lot. It is 200 per cent better."
Some managers are happy to let their senior shot-stopper do the keeper coaching, but Barber believes such an arrangement is far from ideal. "Kevin Pressman is doing that at Sheffield Wednesday. Now he probably will not push himself as hard, although he will say he does.
"If you are a keeper doing the training yourself, you are not concentrating on what you are doing, you're thinking about the next exercise. If someone comes in then you get told you are doing this, then that, etc. A coach would concentrate on pushing the keeper further."
As well as putting keepers through their paces on the training ground, Barber stresses the importance of getting them mentally prepared. "You will make mistakes in training and in games and you do put a shell around yourself, because you can't show that it affects you.
"You don't feel on top of your form every day, whether you are having a bad time and your confidence is low or whatever, but you can't let other people see that there is a crack in your make-up.
"It all starts with nerves, like when you are a kid doing important exams at school, it is that sort of feeling ahead of big games. Sometimes it is a good feeling, it all depends on the day.
"Some people are sick before games, and you see lot of people being nervous. I'll talk to the keeper before a game, encourage him during the warm-up, tell him that he's looking in good form etc, that is the knowledge you pass onto your keepers."
With David Seaman coming towards the end of his international career, the search is on for his eventual successor. Barber is in doubt as to who he feels should take Seaman's place in the England side.
"I have always rated Richard Wright. My business partner, Malcolm Webster, used to train him and he is something special. He has age on his side and he has had success with the top clubs. He has been in the England side when was quite young, so he's had a taste of it already and he has played a lot of league games."
Barber feels that Wright has the edge over other contenders to succeed Seaman, like Paul Robinson and Chris Kirkland. "Robinson is a good keeper and he's got some good coaches at Leeds. But he has not got the pedigree of Wright. This is probably because it's his first full season, whereas Richard has got a lot more under his belt after starting at an early age. He has more experience and that only comes by playing games.
"I think Kirkland still has got a lot to learn, but then he's only just got into the Premiership. As soon as they come onto the scene in the Premiership, people are talking them up as great keepers. But that puts pressure on their shoulders and a lot of responsibility. In England we tend to build them up and then quickly knock them down."