I remember being criticized all the time, laughed upon when I made a mistake, mostly as a child when I was playing in the UK. While in Italy later on in high school and college I would remember my teammates looking at me with disappointment. This will really push you back mentally, after all goalkeeping requires a ton of mental strength more than physical strength.
If you’re fit mentally, if you’re confident, if you believe in yourself you can do it no matter of what people say to you about you. All those things people talked about me I used it as a motivation for myself.
When I was insulted from the stands, when they spat at me and threw everything they had in their pockets at me I would actually like it, I was making them mad because of my saves, so I knew I was doing well!
Here is one perfect moment where I got the blame. It was a really important game as only a win would lead us through to the national semi-finals. To be honest, Even if I was a college senior I was somewhat nervous. The game started and soon we took a double lead 2-0 in just 11 minutes. We knew that we just had to keep it that way to qualify for the nationals. That year we had a very solid defense, and they couldn’t find a way through, just like many teams tried before them. It was the perfect season, 32 games played and only 6 goals scored on. All was looking good when the poop hit the fan.
One of their midfielders shot a ball from 25 yards, it was a cross but ended up being the perfect shot on goal, I was too far out, I back tracked fast, but it went over my head and under the crossbar. The ball got in and the game from there went downhill. Towards the end of the game the draw came in on a close header, the forward was not marked by anyone, it was really easy for him and he didn’t fail. Then 3 minutes into injury time bang! Penalty for handball and goal!
Everyone blamed me for the loss and I felt totally useless. But friends, family and the local newspaper supported me stating that it was not my fault at all and that even pro keepers may not have been able to save the first goal.
That is one of the hardships of being a goalkeeper, people only remember the ones you miss. “No matter how many goals you save, some people will only remember the one you missed.”
Showing “strength of character” is not easy, but it is something every young goalkeeper should develop. With time, they will develop a sense of pride and inner satisfaction.
You need thick skin to be a goalie that’s for sure! As a goalie we’re in a position to receiving a lot of bitching. From parents, from teammates, even from club directors and board members who want to give the goalie a piece of their “not-so-helpful advice.
Mentally thin skinned goalies let that moaning and complaining ruin their game and lose their confidence while strong minded keepers simply ignore it and in some cases it actually motivates them.