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      Dean Kiely explains goalkeepers’ pre-season preparations


      Eagle-eyed supporters at Crystal Palace’s Open Training sessions in Chicago and Detroit last week will have noticed the similarities – and differences – between pre-season training for the goalkeeping and outfield departments.

      But for those of you not able to make the transatlantic trip, goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely – who has coached at Palace for five-and-a-half years now – sat down with to describe the process of preparing a goalkeeper for a fresh new season.

      And with a number of experienced shot-stoppers in the squad, plus two bright prospects representing England at professional youth levels this summer, the goalkeeping department is, if you’ll forgive the obvious pun, in safe hands…

      Kiely on the trip to Chicago and Detroit…

      “It’s been a good trip. Always, when there’s a change of scenery and a different environment, it’s a good stimulant for goalkeepers. If the facilities are good, which they have been, then they’ll get some good work done.

      “The heat and conditions have played a role, but from my point of view, the goal is to top the ‘keepers up on technique and all the different aspects of what they need to do and where they need to be.

      “At this moment in time, they’re all in good nick and in a good place – and looking ready to go.”

      Kiely on the structure of a goalkeeper’s pre-season…

      “There was a session the other day which typified it: when the outfield players were warming up, we were working on our individual stuff, our technique and our shape; on moving our body around, making saves, and being in the right shape to deal with shots coming our way.

      “It’s physical work – managing your body, making saves, getting back up, making second saves... the outfield players run the metres and have to put the yards in. The goalies don’t cover all that distance because they don’t need to, but their physical maintenance is totally different, and it’s down to me to set the tone and help them give their best.

      “In pre-season, you have to balance it between wanting to get the players physically fit and sharp, but you never want that to go against their technique. More than anything, goalkeepers’ pre-season is all about being in the best shape possible to make a save, even when you’re tried or depleted.

      “From my point of view, a session usually starts with a warm-up and a little bit of fun. You’ll get a little bit of passing in, sharpening the feet up, then we’ll move into handling and footwork, dealing with volleys, half-volleys, dippers, zippers, mid-height saves, low saves… all of those things, moving them around the goal, and always asking them to be in shape and ready to deal with things.

      “Once you lose your set position, which might be down to fitness or technique or whatever it may be, any save becomes extremely difficult, so all our work is about: when that action comes, that save, can you perform it as efficiently as possible? That’s the key to it really.”

      Kiely on the modern focus of goalkeepers playing out from the back…

      “As a goalkeeper, you need a short pass, a mid-pass, and a big driver. It’s the same in golf: you have to have all those equivalent clubs, but you also have to know when to use them.

      “For us, there are times we want to play out and play through, and there are times we want to play differently – it’s all opposition-dependent.

      “We always want to get the goalkeepers’ feet moving in training – shifting, moving, playing a pass, shifting, moving – so they definitely have to have these skills. They’ve always had them, but now it’s a bit more prevalent.

      “All our goalkeepers have what’s needed, the trick is adapting it to the opposition you’re playing against.”

      Kiely on Joe Whitworth’s senior debut against Brighton last season...

      ... when Whitworth became the club’s youngest Premier League goalkeeper…

      “It was a great position to be in. We had three senior goalkeepers, but even after we had injuries, we had two Academy goalkeepers available who we feel can be elite: Joe Whitworth and Owen Goodman. The chance to play against Brighton in the Premier League was immense. Our Academy is immense.

      “Now, we’ve got two Academy goalkeepers, one who's played in the Premier League and one’s been on the bench in the Premier League, and both have been around the squad at 19-years-old. There aren’t many other teams who can say that.”

      Kiely on his love of coaching...

      “I was 41 when I finished playing, and I’ve found coaching the closest thing to playing that you can get to.

      “I was never going to coach. I was going to play, stop, and go and do something else, but you don’t realise, towards the end of your career, you’re coaching every day when you speak to younger players.

      “We take huge credit from the Joe and Owen situation. The next best thing to playing is coaching young players, helping them and developing them. We try to provide an environment for them to be their best, and right now in the goalkeeping department, we’re in a really good spot.

      “But we can’t stand still – we have to move forwards – and so I say to all of my goalkeepers: ‘I’m trying to replace you – and it’s your job to make my task impossible.’ If I can’t replace them, it means they’re doing a good job, and that’s the way it should be.

      “We’re all supporting and helping each other. A goalkeeper plays at his best when he feels comfortable and he feels confident. It’s down to me; these players have to thrive in the environment, and that’s down to the coach.”

      Kiely on working with Roy Hodgson and his coaching staff…

      “I worked with Roy back at West Bromwich Albion a long time ago, and we reconnected when he came to Crystal Palace.

      “It was apparent very early on that I came in as a Roy Hodgson appointment but it was good that [Sporting Director] Dougie Freedman and [Chairman] Steve Parish said to me, after six months, that I fit in really well with the values of the football club. I felt very comfortable very quickly.

      “I’ve been here over five years now and enjoyed my time here. Self-praise is no praise; I just know I've helped a good situation, with Palace being a strong, solid football team in this division, as far as I can see in the people in and around me.

      “I’ll continue to do that, and I’ll just keep trying to help and support the people that are close: Roy, Ray [Lewington], Paddy McCarthy, Shaun Derry, and all the rest of the coaches, staff and players. Long may it continue.”