Digression & Progression...a look inside the mind and teachings of Dynamo Academy Goalkeeping Di
"The challenges lie in getting to know each individual players learning style, strengths and weaknesses and use that knowledge to maximize their performance on the field."
We had the pleasure of talking with the Head of Goalkeeping for the Houston Dynamo academy, Jason Grubb. He's had some amazing experiences as a coach at every level of the game and we are excited to share his insight!
I had the pleasure of working with you and the Dynamo staff recently so I had the opportunity to get to know you a bit but tell us a bit about yourself and your background in the goalkeeping position?
My Grandad and Great Grandad were both Goalkeepers. My Great Grandad was a training Goalkeeper for Manchester City after the second World War and worked with the legendary Burt Trautmann. My Grandad played on his school football team. I was drawn to the position very naturally. I recall my first training session as an eight year old boy wanting to dive around in the mud and try to block shots. I just loved it. I was never the biggest physically and my kicking game was poor, so making it into the pro game in England was always going to be difficult . I was lucky enough to have a 2-year playing experience at the Forest Green Rovers Academy (U18) and represent my County at the U18 & U21 levels along with one appearance for South-West England. I had spells at a number of non-league clubs, however coaching goalkeepers quickly become a passion and I moved onto the coaching ladder at an early age.
You coached at the professional level in England with Newport County FC, what brought you over to the United States? How has the experience here differed from your time abroad?
I have been surrounded by great people and fantastic opportunities from the start of my career. I was 18 years old when U.K Elite took a major risk in bringing me to the United States in 2004. They provided me with a perfect introduction to soccer within the US while my family provided me with the support to make the jump. The professional development I received during my 5 years at the company paved the way for where I am today. Without UK Elite taking the gamble, I would not be where I am in my career today. During my time with UK Elite, I was still returning to England during the Christmas holidays. My former GK coach and mentor, Ian Harris, had a number of coaching roles in the Conference (Division 5). Ian was always willing to provide me with opportunities to train under him at Salisbury City, Newport County and Hereford United. I was able to gain experience from goalkeepers such as James Bittner, Glyn Thompson, Glyn Garner and Rhys Evans. This was game-changing for me as they were all experienced within the professional game. My time with Ian Harris highlighted many aspects of coaching, but most importantly the ability to manage the individual player and build a trusting relationship. The biggest difference in my time in coaching at the professional level in England vs. the youth level in the US is the level of pressure the players are under in training. There are no excuses to slack in training or commitment. This is something that I continue to stress to my Academy goalkeepers on a daily basis.
You've coached at the youth, collegiate, and professional level. What are some of the challenges of transitioning between the different levels? Where do you feel most comfortable working?
I have had some fantastic coaching experiences across all levels of the game. I don’t prefer one level of player over another as I feel there is always improvements that can be made regardless of the level of player, and I truly enjoy being in and around the game at all levels. I take the preparation, training and games seriously for each level and try to convey this to the players as well. Each level has a unique energy and atmosphere, but at the end of the day the goalkeeping methodologies and basic principles are the same. The challenges lie in getting to know each individual players learning style, strengths and weaknesses and use that knowledge to maximize their performance on the field.
You are currently the Head of Goalkeeping for the Houston Dynamo Academy, how long have you been in this role and what lead you there?