Mental game  






Perhaps no player needs a good mental gem than a goalie – not even a striker.

Every player goes through ups and downs on the field, but the goalie is so exposed, so public, that those swings are magnified and if not handled well, can crush a goalie’s confidence.

In part, confidence is a team issue. However bad a goalie’s mistake, it’s worth remembering that the ball got there because other defenders and midfielders failed as well. So it should be part of the team culture that all goals are a collective failure, not an individual problem. The team can help by giving the goalie tangible support every time he does something good – “good save, great ball, good punch.” Chipping in to buy him a superman shirt to wear underneath might be good too.

In part, confidence is as personal issue. Goalies should go through all the confidence building steps outlined in the following section on the mental game, notably the section on building confidence. There are several tools that will make a real difference for most players, and even a confident goalie should make sure to read and absorb this section – after all, you may be confident now, but that will not last forever.

But goalies also need to develop a unique ability to shake off bad times. Every goalie makes mistakes; every goalie costs his side games; some goalies cost their side important games. Paul Robinson, England’s goalie, is famous for completely missing a kick at a gently rolling ball and watching it slide into the goal – costing his team a spot in the European Championships.

So goalies need to remind themselves of points like the following before, during, and after every game:

·         everyone makes mistakes

·         soccer is a team game

·         I’m the best goalie on the team

·         I’m a terrific goalie

·         My positioning is fantastic

·         I’m always quick to spot the danger

·         I dominate the penalty area

·         I save our team every week

It’s especially helpful to use the Reminder List to develop a series of strengthening cues that can help them brush off the bad times and remember the good. Those cues should in particular be part of your pre-match preparation.