Goalkeepers: The secret is to make the mind work for you, not against you!

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Achieving a goal is by far a wildly exhilarating thing. If you’re mind-set with the idea of giving up, you could be throwing away something wonderful. Goalkeepers wanting to give up between the ages of 13 and 18 is a classic I have gone through a series of very talented keepers wanting to pull the curtain on their possible goalkeeping adventure and I’ve managed to put nearly all of them back on the right rail!

In the path of a goalkeeper there’s going to be anxiety, uncertainty and fear about failing (a lot more than field players), but push yourself to keep going. After all, you’ll never know how close you are to succeeding, maybe making it to a college program or even further if you quit.

My goalkeeper coach at Ostia Mare (Italy) always told me “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” Once when we were sharing the training fields with the youth section of the club, he pointed his finger at a goalkeeper in the distance, it was a child and looked like he was 12-13 at the most. The coach then turned around and looked at me and said: “You just can’t beat the person who won’t give up”. The goalkeeper had a brain tumor at the age of 8, his dream was to become a great goalkeeper, his idle was Franco Tancradi, that played for AS Roma at the time. Four surgeries had slowed his body down, but his mind said NO, he kept on going and practicing every day! He died 3 months later, his body lost the battle with the cancer.

I asked my 8 year old son (at the time he had just turned 7) why he chose to be a goalkeeper, he replied that I was one before him and that I never stopped talking about it (lol). He added that he is always sharing with his classmates his goalkeeping adventures. “Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.”
This was before my son joined Deltona Youth Soccer, before he met his perfect match at Deltona he was at a poorly organized soccer club that was no much better than a average rec program. He had seen in one season 6 different coaches take over his team, most of the players never even spoke to him and the parents were not at all friendly… the atmosphere was just horrible. He felt it, but that didn’t push him off. Even though he had all of that against him his enthusiasm, interest and devotion never flickered once. He trained hard and played even harder!

If a 7 year old boy can overcome all of that, then I expect all goalkeepers ages 12 to 18 to do the same!

Goalkeepers like Hope Solo who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all, have ended up winning national championships and world cups! Her secret was try just one more time. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

While a soccer goalkeeper’s performance involves such physical elements as quickness, agility and a lot of power, it is often the psychological component which determines success. At every level, there are goalkeepers with good size and flexibility, and keepers who can make really awesome saves. Goalkeeping, though, demands more than physical prowess.

The pressure goalkeepers experience is different from field players. Since the goalkeeper “one of a kind” as Hope Solo calls it, they stand alone, constantly being exposed, while field players can hide if they don’t want to move or pass. Field players also have the option of making a few mistakes and getting away with them, then making up for their mistakes during the game by scoring the winning goal, or by clearing a ball off their own goal line. Goalkeepers really have no way out, no options like the field player. One minute they can be the hero, the next minute, be the player to blame for the loss. If the GK makes a mistake, there is no place to hide. If their mistakes result in a goal being scored against them, they must rely on their teammates to score to fix what they broke.

Remember boys and girls that goalkeeping is for the complete and strong minded athlete, an individual who is willing to step up to the plate and win a game by making a reasonable save or sacrificing their body for the success of their team! I remember about playing keeper at all levels, I was always known as the one everyone respected the most, because without me, my team never had a real chance to win! Thats what I kept in mind always, and it always kept me strong!