Over recent Blogs I’ve discussed ‘How To Develop Confidence in Young Keepers’ (Click to See Blog) and how to realize ‘There’s No Need to Fear Failure’ (Click to See Blog). To hear the positive feedback on those articles and to learn that my keepers had taken those words and put them into practice to improve is Exactly why I wrote them.
I want to focus on this Blog about how to deal with the Stress of playing this Unique position! Let’s be honest, being a keeper is a Stressful position that not everyone can play. It takes as much, if not more mental strength to be a keeper than physical and technical attributes.
As a keeper we need to deal with stresses such as:- Higher Level Opposition, Making Mistakes, Playing in Front of Large Crowds, the Feeling of Letting Our Team Down, Being Consistent Every Game and the Expectation of That, Performing to Our Highest Standards Knowing we are Being Watched by Scouts, and many more.
Just as I coach my keepers a ‘Step by Step’ approach to each particular aspect of each goalkeeping technique. (Rather than being ‘Outcome Focused’, I’d rather my keepers think quickly about what they need to do to make the save, allowing them more opportunity to make the save). I believe it is important for keepers to overcome the stress of the position by Focusing on their game ‘One Save At A Time’ instead of being ‘Outcome Driven’ (stressing about the result or the performance at a time when there is nothing they can do about that).
Instead of thinking too much about trying to impress, or a mistake made, or letting people down. I try to tell my keepers to focus on each Situation/Save as it occurs and to deal with that moment as it comes about. If they get caught up in thinking about ‘Other’ things it will distract them from the quick decisions and actions needed to try to make the save, or deal with a cross, or handle a back pass, or distribute effectively.
As keepers rise through age levels and the standard increases, it becomes more apparent that the more mentally strong and focused keepers are the ones who are ‘Making the Grade!’
Stress is a tough habit to break, but if your keeper tries to adopt the ‘One Save/Situation At A Time’ approach, they will soon see the game differently and be able to put things to the back of their minds until their ‘Post Game Review’ (Which, by the way each keeper should make part of their development).
Part of a post game review should be how effectively did the keeper achieve predetermined goals. For Example, Pre-game think about 1 or 2 areas of your game to ‘Really focus’. For example ‘How well can I effectively communicate with my team?’, and ‘How effective was my distribution with my feet?” Post game review how you thought those objectives went. Did you feel you were clear and concise to you players with communication? If not, how do you improve? Was my distribution type the correct selection for that situation? Was it accurate and was it weighted correctly? Focusing on these goals and analyzing ‘Post-Game’ will allow you to improve as a whole and will also take your mind off the stresses of the game. Focus on two ‘Goals’ per game and see how quickly those areas improve with more thought and focus.