While a soccer goalie’s performance involves tons of physical elements as agility and power, it is often the psychological component which determines the road to success. At all competent levels, there are keepers with exceptional speed and great reflex ability, and keepers who can make exceptional saves. Goalkeeping, however, also demands more than all of that.
The way that each individual goalkeeper chose to deal with the pressure they experience could in most cases determine their success and how far they’ll make it in their goalkeeper career. Because of their position, goalkeepers are put under a great amount of pressure to perform without any mistake, and keeping a clean sheet. One single mistake can lead to a goal being scored which could mean the loss of the game. So, how can they deal with this kind of pressure?
Goalkeepers must be physically able and ready to perform in any moment of the game, equally important is their belief in themselves. Goalkeepers must be able to remain calm and focused and not be distracted by their surroundings or thoughts. Goalkeepers must also be brave, not fearless, but BRAVE. They need the physical required to to take a hammering to stop the ball through breakaways and incoming crossed balls, but most of all, they need the emotional braveness to face adversity, slumps, mistakes, and all kinds of setbacks, the persistent injuries a keeper will have over the years, and cope with all of that in an effective manner.
The strong mind and determination is what will separate the great soccer goalkeepers from the mediocre!
The pressure goalkeepers experience is very different from field players. Keep in mind that the goalkeeper “is an isolated athlete,” they stands alone, while field players can in some way hide if they do not want to get involved in the game. Field players can make mistakes and get away with them. Goalkeepers have no way out, they can’t get away with it. At one moment of the game they can be the superhero, the next minute… If the goalie makes a mistake, there is nowhere to hide. They can’t adjust the game after being scored on, they must rely on their teammates to score for redemption. In soccer the goalkeeper is a bread of its own!
Concentration in younger goalkeepers is the difference between making a save and not making it, making the right decision or wrong one, and most of all making the right decisions without any hesitation at all. If a goalkeeper can’t concentrate all the way through the game and have fun, then there is no reason you being a goalkeeper, drop the gloves and go on the field. That’s your time in the spotlight and if you don’t get that let it go!
Studies have suggested that strong mental pressure is the number one thing that keeps goalkeepers concentrated. The more pressure goalkeepers seem to deal with, the more effective they seem to perform and to focus.
The perfect example: My son this season was on a competitive U10 Division III soccer team. They won all but one game, there were games that he stood there watching his team score goal after goal and got zero action. Then all of a sudden he takes a shot on goal and I had to grab his attention on the sideline or he would have not even noticed the counter attack or the shot from center field. In other games he would be attacked from all directions, making up to two dozen saves. I knew and he also, that not one ball would have passed him as he was totally concentrated!
Goalkeeping is for the strong minded and the physically strong individual, someone who doesn’t back up from a big challenge, a person who is willing to step up , fight for the success of their teammates, their coach and the club! You will always be the one everyone respects the most, because without you, a strong minded goalkeeper, your team never has a real chance to win!