CREATING a bond with the players you coach, making them feel comfortable and taking them out of their comfort zone to make them better, is key to success according to goalkeeping coach Stephen O’Sullivan.
The 30-year-old from Mahon is busy coaching kids from all ages in a quest to develop each player to the best of their ability.
An area of the game he feels is more important than ever, goalkeeping has played a massive role in his role and it’s an area he hopes to progress in the game.
“I’ve been coaching for about eight years now and I love how the role of a goalkeeping coach has developed massively,” said O’Sullivan.
The days of putting your worst player in goal just to try save the ball are gone.
“A team needs their keeper to be one of the key players who is comfortable with the ball at their feet and to be as fit as any of the outfield players.
“I believe that every club should have a goalkeeping coach. And it’s not just for the training aspect but also for the support of teaching young players how to deal with making mistakes because as we all know a keeper's mistake can affect players mentally.
“As a goalkeeper, you are either a hero or a villain.
“As we all know goalkeepers are humans and we do make mistakes, however a keeper might pull off five great saves in a game but if they concede one it can be detrimental to the team and this is why it’s important to have proper support.
“A coach that can help you deal with the mistakes and someone who can lift your confidence when needed.”
Currently a coach with Ringmahon, O’Sullivan is also kept busy with various other academies, most notably the Kennedy Cup squad, CR coaching and the Darren Randolph academy. All of which he believes he is making a difference to the quality of keepers being produced in Cork.
“I’m enjoying all the various roles I have at the moment.
“I coach Ringmahon U8s and there is a real great group there. I am part of the Kennedy cup coaching staff which is a good standard while I also coach with CR coaching which includes the Darren Randolph academy.
“The coaching in the different academies has improved me as a coach and a person.
“I am grateful to be involved with the Randolph academy because I get the freedom to put on my own sessions and help build Cork goalkeepers teaching them from scratch from footwork, body Positioning to handling.
“We could have 30 goalkeepers a night but we still are trying to go with government guidelines so we still try to make sure that everyone is safe and well spread out in the sessions.
“We are hoping to expand in 2022, it’s hard to try get clubs to buy into what we are doing but thankfully we are having huge success in Mayfield and Innishvilla.
“It has the potential to be a huge success because the market is huge as there aren’t a lot of academies like this around so we go into real detail on goalkeepers watching every mistake they make between each drill.
“Correcting small mistakes that could be the difference between losing and winning a game.”
Having spent some time coaching in the States, O’Sullivan has gained a lot of experience and being a good communicator he believes is half the battle of being a good coach.
“I spent time in New Jersey so I have gained a lot of experience both in the boys and girls game.
For me, the important thing is to create a good atmosphere for the players.
“Creating a bond, and whether it’s a simple one-minute conversation before training asking each individual how their last game went and what they felt went well or not so well, I believe this gives players confidence to open up. It certainly helps with their progression as players.
“It has been rewarding to see many players I have coached progress to League of Ireland and International level.
“Creating memories in sport is a wonderful thing and I hope I can play a huge part in many players’ lives when it comes to this.”