Brandon Miller has played in the USL for the past 8 years, winning a championship and being named Goalkeeper of the Year in 2015. In addition to continuing his career at the professional level, he founded Prime Focus Goalkeeping. Prime Focus Goalkeeping not only sells top level goalkeeping gloves and other merchandise, but also has a blog and a YouTube channel. Go to primefocusgoalkeeping.com to see what they have to offer! When you make a purchase through their website, use the code keeperspace for 15% off your order!
KeeperSpace: Growing up, did you have any favorite goalkeepers?
Brandon: The two goalkeepers I really idolized when I was younger were Shaka Hislop and Zach Thornton. The main reason for that is I could identify with them most because they looked like me. I initially followed them because they were black goalkeepers playing professional soccer and I knew that was something I wanted to do even from a young age but as I started to watch them more, I saw that they were also very talented goalkeepers and I could learn a lot from them. I was lucky enough to get to work with Zach Thornton a bit last year while training with DC United so that was a bit of a surreal moment for me. As I got older, I also became a fan of Pepe Reina. I have been a Liverpool FC fan for a while but I loved his style of play and I wanted to emulate that as well.
KeeperSpace: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Brandon: The one major highlight has to be winning a championship with the Rochester Rhinos in the USL in 2015. For me, personally, it was so significant because the three previous years I was a backup or third string goalkeeper and it made me question whether I wanted to continue playing soccer professionally. I never really questioned whether I was good enough; I just wasn't sure if I was ever going to get the opportunity to be a number one goalkeeper. Finally, in 2015, after a few breaks went my way I was given the opportunity and I had a great season. As a team, we played around 40 games (from preseason, regular season & open cup, and playoffs) and only lost one game so that was a pretty special accomplishment. Capping that amazing season off with a championship was such a great feeling and doing it with the group of guys we had made it even better. There are a lot of little highlights throughout my career that I look back at fondly but I will never forget that season in 2015.
KeeperSpace: As far as goalkeeping, who has had the biggest influence on you?
Brandon: There have been a lot of influences for me as far as goalkeeping goes. I think it is important to learn something from every coach that you work with no matter how much experience they have. I can look at myself as a goalkeeper now and how I play the game and point to various aspects that have been influenced by the various goalkeeper coaches that I have worked with. I have been on 4 different teams professionally and worked with at least 7 different goalkeeper coaches on those teams as well as having trained with various MLS clubs so I have tried to take bits and pieces from each experience and input them into my game in a way that works best for me as a goalkeeper. I can say that my goalkeeper coaches from high school and college; Philip Poole and Aidan Heaney, have been big influences both on and off the field for me in terms of giving me advice on how to navigate through the professional game as well as providing me with training tips and training environments that I needed in the offseason.
KeeperSpace: Why did you start Prime Focus Goalkeeping?
Brandon: I started Prime Focus Goalkeeping because I want to have an impact on goalkeepers of all ages, more than just on the pitch. Prime Focus Goalkeeping for me isn't just a brand that sells gloves and apparel. I started a blog on the website as well as a video blog and YouTube channel to give goalkeepers at every level more of a voice to share their stories. I want all goalkeepers to realize that we all go through the same struggles and if people can read about the ups and downs others have gone through and gone on to succeed then hopefully it will motivate them to push through the hard times as well. Our YouTube channel not only has goalkeeper interviews but also various training sessions and highlights from work that I have done with goalkeepers at almost every level. You will see training sessions with college goalkeepers where I am putting them through their paces, sessions where I am training alongside younger goalkeepers or even professionals, and you might even see my highlight tape on there as well! I want to highlight goalkeeping even more than it is already because it's what I am passionate about. We also work with a lot of younger goalkeepers because I want to impart my knowledge of the position in hopes that the younger generation can learn a lot earlier the things that I know now. I want to use my wisdom to help mold a generation to become better goalkeepers, professionals, and people. It's about goalkeeping, but it's also about so much more than that. I want to use my brand to motivate others to go after their dreams. I want to use the Prime Focus products to instill confidence in goalkeepers both on the field and off. I'm trying to do that by building a brand that's about more than just goalkeeper gloves.
KeeperSpace: How is Prime Focus Goalkeeping different from other glove companies?
Brandon: I get asked this question a lot and I go back and forth on the response. There are A LOT of glove companies out there at a lot of different price points with various ranges of quality. I believe our quality and our price point is very attractive, especially to younger goalkeepers who are still getting a feel for the position. I believe in our gloves; I've worn them in every training session and game for almost two years now and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. But I will be the first to say, we aren't the only glove company in the world that offers top quality gloves at a great price. We don't differentiate ourselves on quality or price point; we differentiate ourselves on everything else that we offer. Like I said before, it's not just about goalkeeper gloves for us. The brand offers goalkeepers so much more insight into the goalkeeping position than just what size glove you should wear. We have some exciting things coming as well that will further the goalkeeping discussion even more and that is something I am excited about. It's also personal for me. I started this brand on my own and it has a special place in my heart. I try to have as much personal interaction with the customers as possible. We aren't Nike or Adidas and I don't ever want to be that large; I want to continue to be available for the people that support the brand and connect with us.
KeeperSpace: What is your training philosophy when training student goalkeepers?
Brandon: I love working with younger goalkeepers. If gives me an opportunity to teach which is something I enjoy doing. It's a passion I only recently discovered; my first few years as a professional I didn't do a lot of coaching but once I started learning the game and the position a bit more and gained a greater understanding both tactically and technically, I wanted to pass that knowledge on to younger goalkeepers. I always say that I want the goalkeepers I'm working with to be better than I am and I feel like the easiest way for them to do that is to learn the things that I am still learning day in and day out. I spend a lot of time on the fundamentals of goalkeeping. The position has evolved a bit over the years but the fundamentals are still the same. Every goalkeeper is different and there will be little differences in each goalkeeper's game that are necessary for their success but those differences are byproducts of the basics that every goalkeeper should focus on. We do a lot of footwork and ball work because I think it's key to be able to move efficiently throughout your 18 (and sometimes beyond!). You have to be confident on the ball, especially in the modern game, so ball work is something I incorporate in all of my sessions. A lot of that will be discussed in the upcoming projects we have for Prime Focus Goalkeeping so stay tuned!
KeeperSpace: If you could give one piece of advice to a young player looking to continue their career past high school or college, what would it be?
Brandon: Always be ready. You never know when the next opportunity is going to come so you have to be ready to take advantage of it whenever it does come. That is the one thing I look at most in my career and ask myself "was I always ready for my opportunity?". I think I can honestly look back and say I didn't take advantage of all the opportunities I've had, whether it be at the MLS level or other professional clubs, and so that's why I try to instill the proper mentality in any goalkeeper that I work with or even just talk to. Putting in the right amount of work both on and off the field to keep yourself ready to perform, whether it be throughout the season or in the offseason, is crucial to your success as a professional.