I’ll start off saying: “We are all failures – at least the best of us are.” the words are from J.M. Barrie and I have to say he’s totally Spot-On.
A comfort zone is a mental barrier that is based on what you (or your team) thinks you are capable of achieving or what you expect to achieve.
Soccer players (Goalkeepers in particular) tend to forget that struggle and discomfort are where all growth happens. On the field, every single day must be a challenge at something new? Your coach is pushing you to try scary new things that you don’t want to do? Either you succeeded or fail either way you are growing the entire time.
Somewhere along the line, you ended up playing on a better team, and your responsibilities added another layer of chaos into your soccer life, forcing you to retreat into a daily routine to achieve stability. In that process, many goalkeepers start daring less to take a step outside of their comfort zone.
On the field the learning process never ends, and there is always opportunity to grow, no matter in what age group you play or the level of your team/league.
Many keepers don’t like to try too many new drills because they fear failure, (you will all deny it, but in many cases it’s true!) but we need to understand that failure isn’t the end of the street, it’s actually the beginning. We learn and gain more from failure than we do from winning and way more than if we never even took the chances offered us in the first place.
Whether you succeed or fail, if you lose a tournament or a league game, it’ll be a hundred times more valuable to your growth than if you never took the the team by the hand and gave it a go in the first place.
Whether it’s your hips that hurt for soo much diving, your muscles are “pulled” after a long training session, the exhaustion of back-to-back training sessions… NO PAIN NO GAIN!
YOU HAVE 2 OPTIONS: You succeed and you grow or you fail and you grow, but trying is better than doing nothing at all.
No matter how much you want it, if you just wait around for something won’t get you anywhere, but the second you leave your comfort zone, you’d be surprised at how things just start falling into place, how that mental step will take you to the next level.
When you continue your basic routine training drills and listen to your coach say the same things, play games at the same places… We all tend to turn our brains off and just follow everything by memory without even noticing. These routines make us feel comfortable and often put our minds to sleep. In that case you either move on or just drop out.
Moving to a higher level team is often an anxiety-provoking activity for Goalkeepers. You’re constantly fearing you’ll get judged or that in training (or during the game) you could do the wrong thing and the coach (teammates and parents on the sideline) will notice it. First off, let me tell you, everyone feels the same way, so did I. That gut feeling helped me become a lot more sociable and I stopped worrying about the consequences of a “failed save”.
Trust me and forget about the coach, your teammates, the parents on the sideline or the DOC that is watching you from behind the goal. When you spend your time trying harder and newer and experiencing things you haven’t done before, through the power of leaving your comfort zone, confidence eventually comes whether you were looking for it or not.
“No goalkeeper ever became a pro by not failing. The more you fail and recover and improve, the better you are as a person and an athlete.” These are the words of Gianluigi (Gigi) Buffon, that started his career in the 90’s at the age of 16, when pushed into the game from the bench. He was 4th choice goalkeeper of Serie A team Parma. 2 keepers came down with the flu and 10 minutes into a game the starting keeper broke 2 fingers and was forced to leave the field. His team was facing “World Champions” A.C. Milan. Gigi that day made 12 decisive saves and left the field with a clean sheet.
His confidence and social skills came naturally when he was forced outside of his comfort zone and because of that he sparked his pro career overnight. When you make a conscious attempt to leave your comfort zone, you’ll be surprised at how weird, crazy, and awesome things tend to happen more to you.
Gigi made his life a story that people would want to watch a movie about.
“The first big step towards getting where you want to be is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”
A Few Pointers on How Do You Know If a Comfort Zone is Affecting Your Performance?
- You protect a lead based on expectations
- You play defensively after playing offensively
- You suddenly start focusing on not making mistakes
- You lose focus when in the lead
- You start making silly errors that have not been made all day
- You lose confidence when playing better than expected or beyond you perceived ability