West Ham United’s goalkeepers are sticking together – virtually – during the coronavirus pandemic.
First-team goalkeeper coach Xavi Valero and stoppers Lukasz Fabianski, Darren Randolph and David Martin have been meeting regularly via video call to discuss their training regimes and maintain the special spirit between them.
In addition to the fitness, strength and conditioning and drills, the keepers are also continuing to use the cognitive NeuroTracker App from home, a 3D visual exercise that trains the brain and enhances mental performance.
With football currently suspended and players unable to train in groups, the coach hopes this approach will maximise his goalkeepers’ ability to keep fit in body and mind during the lockdown.
We are meeting regularly by video call and, while we are all looking forward to returning to the training pitch at Rush Green when it is safe to do so, this is a good way to work in these unique circumstances
“I am in permanent touch with the first-team goalkeepers and they are following their training programmes,” Valero confirmed. “In addition to this, they have the NeuroTracker installed on their tablets and phones, providing them with short training sessions to improve their mental agility.
“I have also sent them video footage from the games they have played in which we have already reviewed together, so they can review them independently and identify things they need to work on.
“We are meeting regularly by video call and, while we are all looking forward to returning to the training pitch at Rush Green when it is safe to do so, this is a good way to work in these unique circumstances.”
Fabianski, who has been training at home and sharing clips on social media, says the NeuroTracker has helped improve his concentration levels.
“I have spent a lot of hours developing what I can develop and I have seen the benefit, for sure,” said the Poland international. “This NeuroTracker is interesting because there it shows that there is always a time when the mind gets tired and then you have to recover it again.
“In games, when you are not so busy, you have to keep focused by talking to yourself and to the players in front of you and always keeping yourself in a good position. You cannot switch off, and that helps you keep focused.
“The goalkeeper’s position has evolved the most of any on the pitch. Lots of things have changed and improved, and we have to keep up.”
In addition to their own personal programmes, Valero and his first-team goalkeepers have also been working with the Club’s Academy coaches and young stoppers.
Valero, Fabianski and former Hammer Ludek Miklosko have held Zoom calls with the Academy coaches and young goalkeepers aged from nine upwards, sharing their experience, giving tips and answering questions, and further sessions are set to be hosted by Randolph and Martin in the coming weeks.
“I have been meeting with the U23s and Academy coaches Jerome John and Billy Lepine to ensure the young goalkeepers from Under-9s up to Under-23s are provided with support and following their training programmes,” Valero confirmed.
“I am also personally doing online video analysis with Joseph Anang and Krisztian Hegyi on different aspects of the game like positional play, 1v1 and understanding of the game.
“The Academy games programme has now been cancelled and there will be no competitive matches for the younger goalkeepers for some time, so it is important to keep them training and entertained while they are at home.
“Jerome, Billy, Neale Manning and Ryan Huddart, who work with our younger Academy goalkeepers, are all doing a great job, and we were happy to take part in online group sessions with the senior goalkeepers and Ludo, giving the young ones an insight into what it takes to get to the top and stay there.”