Goalkeeping Psychology Overview
Goalkeeping Psychology covers topics that require self-reflection and these topics cannot be physically practiced, but can be mentally applied and learned over time. These topics encompass critical thinking when playing goalkeeper and can still be applied outside of matches and training. Learning to remain focused is critical in goalkeeping, especially when action is limited to the opposite goal. Showing confidence is very important for the keeper and the team. Visualizing a great save from a previous match helps build and prepare the psyche for similar circumstances during future matches. Visualizing also allows keepers to critique their performances and style.
This article complements Goalkeeper Mental Training, which summarizes the usefulness and blockades of nervousness, acceptance of mistakes, and importance of team communication.
The goalkeeper position experiences extended periods of little action. This can cause focus to drift and allow the keeper to be susceptible to a quick counter-attack. Avoiding daydreaming and mental sidetracking is a bit difficult, but can be overcome fairly easily by a few suggestions.
One way to stay focused is to talk to the nearest defenders. Compliment them on tackles and good work rate, but also point out mistakes and give tips on defending a certain opponent or opposition's style of attack. Doing this will keep the goalkeeper and defenders focused when action is at the opposite end.
Studying the opposition team and key opponents also keeps the mind focused. Take mental notes of how key opponents attack and the routes they like to run. Point these observations out to the defense as well. Study teammates also. This can help when directing punts, goal kicks, and throws. Learning the routes of teammates can help when distributing a long ball down range.
Professional goalkeepers stand their ground within the penalty box as if they are bulletproof. This puts apprehension into attackers and most attackers will not take wild chances in attempt to slip one past the goal line. Confidence comes from within and only the goalkeeper can promote an aura of confidence. Confidence is vital no matter how many training sessions, matches, and saves the keeper endures. If the goalkeeper is not confident in their abilities, then they are of little use to a team who relies on them as the last line of defense.
Confidence can be slightly boosted by appearance. Goalkeepers are the rebels and outlaws of the game. They defy the rules of "no hands" and watch over their penalty area like a sentry. Stand straight, never lose temperament, and appear unfazed when scored against. Celebrate a little after a big save, but quickly collect emotions and thoughts and prepare for another attack.
Goalkeeper jerseys/shirts are made to be flashy and dazzling, as well as gloves and cleats/boots. The rules prohibit goalkeepers to wear the same colors as teammates, opponents, and referees, so keepers can be radical with the style of their kits. Wear comfortable gear and select something that fits personal tastes. Take pride in caring for goalkeeper gloves and keep them in optimal condition as well.
Visualization forms mental images which allows keepers to reflect on past matches and training. Remembering great saves and sound judgement helps the mind prepare for future scenarios. It also builds confidence within the keeper. Remembering triumphant moments brings about positive feelings and reinforces the desire to play the position.
Young keepers too often reflect on goals against them instead of remembering the goals they prevented. This can even be said for all ages of goalkeepers. Too often the mistakes overshadow the successes, which is covered in Goalkeeper Mental Training. Overlook the negative thoughts and mistakes with successes while manning the box.