Keys to keeper confidence
By
Tim Mulqueen

It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous before a game, but keepers need to clear
their head of negative thoughts. How they go about doing this depends on the
individual.
A good goalkeeper coach learns to read his players well enough to know whether
to step in — and to know what to say. If a keeper needs a little confidence
boost, the coach might provide a positive memory: “This field reminds me of
where we beat Lions SC and you saved the last-minute penalty kick. Remember
that?”
If the keeper needs more of a pep talk, the coach might be more direct: “You
had great practices this week. You made incredible saves and snatched crosses
better than ever. You’re as prepared as you can be. Now go out there and have
some fun!”
If the keeper needs to rein in his racing mind and relax in the minutes before
the game, the coach might initiate some light-hearted conversation: “Hey, Sam,
look at the face paint on those fans!”
A keeper who thrives on intensity may be best left alone.
A keeper who struggles with self-doubt can mentally walk through scenarios such
as the following: Take a few seconds to scan the field. Imagine a counterattack
that results in a breakaway, and you grab the ball from the forward’s feet with
a perfectly timed dive. Imagine great saves and safely gathered crosses. To
clear your head, picture the soccer ball. Try thinking of nothing but that
ball. Tell yourself “That ball will be mine!”