In addition to regular individual contact, Franz Gruber sent his goalkeepers Patrick Pentz, Ivan Lucic, Mirko Kos and summer newcomer Ammar Helac a whole catalogue of questions about personal, athletic and general effects of the Corona virus on society.
‘The Corona virus is a topic that is very different from the topics we normally talk to players about, but we have to talk to them about it because we all have to learn to deal with it. I simply asked questions to draw the boys’ attention to a variety of things,’ explains Franz Gruber, who believes it is important that his goalkeepers structure their days during their time at home:
‘A well-organized day brings many advantages. Usually, players are bound to precise training plans - at this stage it is important that they become more independent. I think that goalkeepers have a certain advantage because they have a completely different way of thinking, because they are basically alone on the pitch,’ explains Gruber.
Austria Wien’s goalkeepers benefit from the current crisis because the long-time goalkeeper coach always demands a high degree of independence from them. Once a week one of them takes over Gruber's job and leads a goalkeeper training unit. For example, Pentz (23), Lucic (25) and Kos (22) have been learning for years to think about training content and to process it in a structured way:
‘The independence of our goalkeepers is therefore well developed. In my opinion it is important to strive to educate the players independently during normal training,’ emphasizes Franz Gruber.
One task that many people face due to the exit restrictions is to deal with themselves at home. A lot of things are easier on the countryside, Patrick Pentz is at home in Elixhausen near Salzburg, can move a lot in the fresh air, just like Mirko Kos in Mürzzuschlag and summer newcomer Ammar Helac, who still lives with his parents in Ebelsberg near Linz. Ivan Lucic lives in Vienna in the 16th district, but has the great advantage that he bought an ergometer for his private apartment some time ago.
In any case, the goalkeepers are not lacking on meaningful activities, especially thanks to their trainer. To motivate them Franz Gruber sends Pentz and Co video cuts with the best parades of their careers, as well as tricky arithmetic tasks and video analyses with technical tips - he also prepares a lot for the young goalkeepers Sandali Conde and Fatih Bayram. In Austria Wien’s goalkeeper coaching group, which includes all coaches up to the U12, Gruber encourages his colleagues Szabolcs Sáfár and Co. to seek personal contact with the players.
Gruber also has a video about goalkeeper training in Africa to give the boys a new perspective on their own environment at Austria Wien. ‘You can see how much effort and how much energy is being spent there with few means - that's motivating,’ says Gruber.
Apart from home programs, Franz Gruber, who came to Austria Wien in 1999 (initially to the U19) and has been the goalkeeper coach of the team for 17 years, also gives his goalkeepers general tips, ‘I have no experience with a pandemic, but I’ve been through some ups and downs in my life and try to help them.’
In his personal life, Gruber has a fixed daily schedule, takes care of his own training program (running, cycling, strengthening) and video editing for his goalkeepers, many things for which he otherwise doesn’t have as much time: ‘I painted the roof, cut the hedges and I'm helping my wife cook more often than usual,’ says Gruber, although sport catches up with him at the end of the day:
‘Most recently, I had a long conversation with Pavao Pervan, who told me how goalkeeper training and everything works in Wolfsburg. I am currently reading Marcel Hirscher's book. You can see that without getting up early and working hard, nothing works.’