Ben Williams says he’s grasped his coaching opportunity at Blackpool with both hands and loved the responsibility of mentoring the club’s young goalkeepers.
The experienced stopper, 35, had no hesitation in accepting a player-coach role at Bloomfield Road in mid-February, when predecessor Dave Timmins accepted a managerial position in Sweden.
Having taken on board the advice of several ex-goalkeepers throughout his career with the likes of Manchester United, Crewe Alexandra and Colchester United, Williams has been enthused to put his methods to the test on the training ground.
“Goalkeepers tend to have a long career and then goalkeeper coaches even longer. If the opportunity arises, then you grasp it with both hands and go from there with it,” he admitted.
“I’ve really enjoyed feeling like I’m helping the lads improve and work on things. You’re not just a coach, you’re a mentor and a sounding board for them.
“Generally, you have ideas of what has worked well on yourself and what you’ve enjoyed and got the most out of. I’ve played at enough clubs and played enough games to have worked under some great goalkeeper coaches who I have taken bits and bobs from, both on and off the pitch.”
Williams, who has made six appearances for the first-team this season, is in a position of strength when it comes to knowing the capabilities of his team-mates, having pushed and competed with Joe Lumley and Christoffer Mafoumbi.
“I’ve gone into this having worked with those lads and I know the tempo they work at and how they like to work. Every single one of them has been brilliant so far.
“First and foremost, you work with the first-team goalkeeper on his weekly prep and the games. The younger lads will work at a slightly increased load because they haven’t got games at the end of the week and have to work on the more technical aspects.”
Of those younger goalkeepers, 20-year-old Myles Boney is splitting his time at Blackpool with a loan stint at Nantwich Town, while 18-year-old Jack Sims had the experience of travelling with the first-team squad to MK Dons recently.
Meanwhile, the club’s two youth team ‘keepers, Craig Thordarson and Harvey Simson, have undergone warm-up drills with Williams prior to recent FA Youth Cup fixtures.
“I’ve been involved in the last couple of games of the FA Youth Cup run, preparing a warm-up for the young lads. We try and take them on board with us so that they can learn from the older keepers as much as possible in training. With the regularity of first-team games, it can sometimes be hard to get a full week of work in because you’re on a recovery slope or a preparation for a game slope.
“They’ve both done well though, as shown in their performances for the youth team in the league and FA Youth Cup,” he added.