As a goalkeeper, you're the last line of defense and the pressure is always on to make key saves and keep the ball out of the back of the net. But being confident in your abilities is crucial to your success between the posts. Here are some tips to help you develop and maintain confidence as a goalkeeper:
I've said it 1,000 times and I will continue to say it; no one is going to be a bigger fan of you than you are. I know what you are thinking, this isn't as simple as it may seem. I agree with you. I spent 10 years as a professional doubting myself on a daily basis. This is after spending my youth career playing at a high-level, playing at the division one collegiate level for 4 years and winning multiple team and individual awards, and then signing at the professional level and having a career that included a championship and goalkeeper of the year honors.
At the goalkeeping position, believing in yourself and your abilities can seem like a mountain of a task most of the time. Our performances are seen through a magnifying glass because of our proximity to the goal. Mistakes often turn into goals. A lack of focus can result in opportunities for the other team. We put so much pressure on our role in the team that it erodes our confidence at times. It is a difficult cycle to break out of.
Don't rely on others to hype you up. Be your own biggest fan.
For me, one of the best ways to build your self belief is to develop a level of confidence in training that can translate over to games. Consistency in training will help build the belief in your abilities that you need to perform at a high-level. I'm not talking about flying around the goal making top corner saves that look good for social media. I'm talking about consistent repetitions that give you the confidence to take a good first touch under pressure, catch a hard shot in wet conditions, or come through traffic and claim a difficult cross. Trust in your training and preparation. Doing these things over and over again in training, and doing them well, will help build you belief in your abilities. Building good habits in training with give you the confidence to do it when the pressure is on in games.
To go along with self belief, confidence is often linked with a positive attitude. I am a huge believer in positive self-talk. When you're consistently negative with yourself then negative actions will most likely follow. This means staying optimistic and looking on the bright side, even when things aren't going your way. It's not always going to be roses for you as a goalkeeper, but how you view and frame things will have a big impact on how you perform.
The goalkeeping position is about mentality. Positivity is a mentality choice that will lead to continuous success.
A positive attitude can help you stay calm and composed in the face of adversity, which is essential for our position. As we all know, adversity is coming. Whether it is a mistake on a goal, a poor pass that puts our team under pressure, or criticism from fans; you will have to deal with it at some point. How you respond to adversity is what will define the longevity and success of your career.
How do you frame mistakes? Whether it is during a simple handling drill or it is on the big stage in front of 25,000 people. What is your mentality to bounce back from the setback? Learning how to frame your performance can really set you apart from other goalkeepers. A dropped volley in training isn't the time to berate yourself for your poor handling. Figure out what went wrong and apply the fix to the next rep. Believing in your abilities means that you know you are capable of doing better; so instead of focusing on the negative, prove yourself right and go fix your mistake.
I want you to pay particular attention to this section because a lot of goalkeepers misunderstand what preparation really means. I misunderstood what preparation was for most of my youth, collegiate, and professional career. Preparation doesn't start when you get to training. Preparation doesn't end when practice is over. Preparation is a mindset. It is what you do with your 24 hours that is going to put you in the best position to succeed the next day. Confidence comes from being well-prepared for training and games.
It means proper nutrition throughout the day. Are you eating and what does that entail? Are you getting the proper sustenance throughout the day that will keep you fueled? Too often, goalkeepers ignore the key off-the-field aspects that play a major role in on-the-field performance. I've had the conversation plenty of times with my young goalkeepers. How much sleep did you get last night? Was your lack of sleep because you were up playing video games or didn't properly plan out your homework schedule? I understand it can be tough to balance school, sports, and a social life; I played college soccer. Success requires discipline and goalkeeping is no different.
Proper preparation prevents poor performance.
Take the time to properly warm up and stretch before you hit the pitch. Review your game plan and know your role within the team. Schedule your day to get the proper rest and relaxation necessary. This will help you feel more confident and ready to take on the challenges that await you as a goalkeeper. Meeting those challenges with confidence will lead to a much more successful goalkeeping career.
It's been mentioned a number of times throughout the article but consistency is one of the biggest factors in confidence. However, it is important to understand that it isn't simply just consistently going out to the soccer field and diving around the goal for an hour. Quality and focused repetition on a consistent basis will ultimately breed the results you are looking for.
Consistency is the key to success in life.
The more you work on your skills and technique, the more confident you'll become in your abilities. Make sure to set aside time to train and work on your specific goalkeeper skills that need improvement, while also honing the aspects of your game that you feel really confident in. It's not just about reaching your goal and moving on to something else, it's about achieving that goal and setting new goals that include improving the technique you've already been working on. There is always going to be room for improvement as a goalkeeper. Sometimes it isn't so much about making huge strides in your technique; it can also be about maintaining the level that you're at.
Consistency without quality can be detrimental. Finding a good training environment that will provide you the quality repetitions you need can be a game-changer. If you can't find the youth environment that will provide you that then you have to figure out how to create it on your own. Whether it is seeking out private training or developing a plan on your own and executing in your backyard, push yourself to maintain consistency.
Being confident as a goalkeeper is essential to your success. With self-belief, a positive attitude, and regular practice, you can develop and maintain the confidence you need to thrive between the posts. Check out our FREE mental strength guide that can help you develop the skill set necessary to handle the mental side of goalkeeping. You can also come join us in an in-person training session. Our Prime Focus Goalkeeping Academy helps to develop every aspect of the youth goalkeepers game, from the technical and tactical side to the mental and physical side. Learn more HERE.