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Interviews

KNOW YOUR ROLE: NEIL BENNETT

5 April 2020

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Get to know Huddersfield Town’s First Team and Academy Staff

- New ‘Know Your Role’ feature
- Town introduces you to the Club’s First Team and Academy staff
- Today we look at Academy Goalkeeping Coach, Neil Bennett

With the coronavirus currently postponing Town’s fixture list, we’ve decided to introduce you to some of our first team and Academy Staff – today we look at Academy Goalkeeping Coach, Neil Bennett!

Neil joined the Terriers after retiring as a career substitute. Having been used to life in the dugout he felt that the natural progression was to go into coaching, and so started working part time for Town’s Academy before being offered a full-time position as Goalkeeping Coach in 2017.

Neil’s role sees him work with the Academy ‘keepers to help them develop in line with the Club’s coaching programme and philosophies. This is done through a combination of on the grass coaching, classroom analysis and gym work.

Although the young ‘keepers are all at different stages of their careers, Neil runs us through a stereotypical day.

“Typically, the ‘keepers daily sessions vary from one another week to week as they face different challenges, but an average day starts off with a gym session first thing in the morning, followed by a ‘keeper session.

“In the afternoon the lads will be involved in the main group session with the rest of the squad, so I will do a goalkeeper specific warm up suited to the session and then assist in the session where needed.

“I will then work closely with Head of Academy Performance Analysis, James Beck, after the session to run through some analysis tasks for the goalkeeper. That could be a game review, training review or a unit review - back four and ‘keeper.”

Neil’s role sees him work closely with the entirety of the Academy, and with First Team Head of Goalkeeping, Paul Clements.

“I work closely with Clem to see if he needs any additional bodies for the First Team sessions and I follow the coaching programme that he put in place.

“He has helped me personally to develop as a Coach, so it’s brilliant to go and just watch his sessions with the First Team ‘keepers when I get the chance as I learn so much.”

“I’m close with the Under-17s Coach, Jon Worthington, and Under-19s coach, Danny Schofield, to ensure that they get the goalkeepers they need for their sessions and how the ‘keeper can best be incorporated into the session they have planned.

“I also spend time with Academy Physical Performance Coaches, Paul Bower and Lee Mellor, to make sure the goalkeepers are getting the physical work they need. That might be a gym session, recovery session or yoga.

“It goes without saying that I work very closely with the young ‘keepers.

“I know it might sound a bit cliché, but as a club we try to develop them as people as well as footballers, and I think the Academy programme puts a real work ethic into them on and off the field.”

Covid-19 has brought its fair share of challenges to the Club, something Neil was quick to admit.

“In my job I face different challenges at different times, for example, due to the current situation with coronavirus we’re having to keep the lads training remotely with individual training programmes as we speak to them via FaceTime.

“On a lighter note, it’s pretty challenging dealing with the Kit Men some days!

“After a hard day, I’ve gone into the changing rooms to find my laces tied in knots so I can’t put my trainers on.

“I’ve had knots tied in my kit so tight you can’t untie them, and every other day they take my belt of jeans and put it back the wrong way round!”

Neil was also quick to discuss which parts of his job he enjoys the most.

“I enjoy working with the ‘keepers on a daily basis, but I love being on the grass with them the most.

“It’s very rewarding seeing them progress and get better.”

If becoming a goalkeeping coach is something that you’re interested in, Neil has some words of advice!

“Firstly, enjoy what you do and make sure your goalkeepers enjoy working!

“Try and work with the goalkeepers by keeping practices game realistic, and make sure to incorporate the ‘keeper as much as possible into team sessions.”


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