A Goalkeeper may have all the talent and physical attributes, and excel in practice. However, when it comes to game-day, they struggle with confidence.
I know how frustrating this is for not only the keeper, but coaches and parents too. During practice, lessons, or training sessions, there is competence and potential in the Keeper. Yet anxiety, insecurity and lack of confidence impede performance, when it counts.
Help your keeper overcome sports performance anxiety and reinforce what we do here at Just4Keepers of East PA with the following suggestions:-
Help Promote a Confident attitude – The path to boosting confidence begins with teaching the Keeper how to have an attitude of empowerment. Whether they are facing PK, commanding their defense, or Facing a Breakaway, when in competition, they are making split second decisions. Knowing that they are responsible for their thoughts and actions empowers them to change what they think and do.
Encourage them to take ownership of their feelings and actions. Make it clear that they can control how confident they feel.
Gain more self-awareness – Self-awareness goes hand-in-hand with empowerment. When a keeper is aware of their abilities and limitations, they can be confident about decisions they make during competition. ‘Confidence Boosting Strategies for Young Athletes’ by Mike Edger for Sports Psychology Today, Patrick J. Cohn, a sports psychologist and founder of Peak Performance Sports, stressed the importance of teaching kids positive self-talk.
Negative self-talk, Cohn states, undermines confidence. Positive self-talk enhances self-esteem. An example would be a keeper facing a Breakaway who repeats, “It’s my ball, I got this” just as the opposition player approaches.
Fight fear – Anxiety is an inconvenient fear that emerges when you run out of answers. When it comes to keepers building confidence, fear can range from speed bump to roadblock. The key is to teach your keeper to expect and accept fear as a natural part of competition. They must become unafraid to feel fear.
Once they become self-aware that fear is natural, they can play through it. It’s the “Be scared, but do it anyway” approach.
Understand the process – If young keepers understood that practice, playing, winning and losing are part of a larger process, they are less likely to fear competition. Help them by explaining that all those repetitions in practice are part of the process of becoming more confident as a player. Lessons learned from winning or losing are equally important.
As young keepers learn to embrace the process, they become more confident in all aspects of participation.
Learn to relax – Youth keepers who learn ways to calm themselves can regulate their anxiety and remain confident during competition. In a recent blog I read, Keith Wilson, a sports psychotherapist and founder of the Wilson Center for Performance in Radcliff, Kentucky, recommended teaching children what he calls “performance exhaling.”
Performance exhaling happens when you intentionally exhale to calm emotions. Wilson suggested practicing performance exhaling daily so that it becomes natural. He gave some examples of when it would come in handy, such as facing a PK or walking out onto a field with a large crowd watching.
A relaxed player is a more confident player.
Model the behavior – One of the best ways to boost a young keeper’s confidence is for the coach to model what a confident person looks and acts like. It’s comforting for a keeper to look to the sidelines and see a parent calm and smiling.
Modeling relaxed and self-assured behavior will help the keeper build confidence. Avoid confusing setting high expectations with instilling confidence. Telling your keeper “I bet you’ll have a shut-out,” might cause anxiety.
Instead, remind them of how they have worked hard all week and looked great in practice. A catch phrase, such as “You’ve got this,” can serve as a mantra the child can use as positive self-talk.
At Just4Keepers of East PA, I regularly discuss the importance of stepping on the field with the confidence to succeed rather the the Fear of Failure. Take some time to discuss this Blog with YOUR Keeper and try to help reinforce our work and to help develop a confident keeper and person.