Nicki Swanson

Goalkeepers and Self-Talk

When on the field everyone knows the importance of communicating with other players but what about how we communicate with ourselves?

Too many times as a goalkeeper I found myself talking negative every time I missed a shot or did not make a save correctly. As a part of our personality many goalkeepers are perfectionist and tend to be hard on ourselves. Little did I know, the negative talk was not allowing me to focus on the next shot and instead worry about the shot I just missed. More times than not I ended up missing the next shot and started to become frustrated. Goalkeepers and coaches need to understand the different types of self-talk, negative, instructional and positive self-talk.

Negative self-talk may consist of you talking down on yourself saying statement’s like “That was horrible save or that was a stupid mistake.” This does nothing to help you improve your game and can lead to frustration in games and practice.

Instructional self-talk allows you to realize how your mistake occurred and what you need to do next time to fix it. Example: “ I missed the ball on that dive because I did not step forward, next time I see a similar ball I need to step forward.”

Positive self-talk allows you to “psych” yourself up and stay positive throughout practice or the game. Example: “That was a great save!” or “I can do this!”

Positive and Instructional self-talk allow the goalkeeper to recover quickly from mistakes and avoid frustration. When goalkeepers or coaches identify the beginning signs of frustration I suggest the goalkeeper to step aside for a short period of time, practice instructional or positive self-talk and then rejoin the training session. The more the goalkeeper is allowed to practice instructional self-talk the easier time they will have identifying problems with their technical and tactical game. Coaches are essentially allowing the goalkeeper to become their own coach.

This is just one very small portion of the psychological game goalkeepers need to be aware of. I will be posting more topics dealing with goalkeepers and how to improve their mental game.

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