With the goalkeeper having little to do behind a strong, coherent defence, the battle there is more about being able to stay mentally aware and keep a high level of concentration to make that important save that could mean the difference between winning and losing easy points as your team dominate. It could be said that here the goalkeeper exerts all of their energies in the mental battle of keeping alert. But with little physical activity, the goalkeeper theoretically has more energy in reserve to call upon when the opposition gets opportunities to break through and on and into the D. And as a result, the goalkeeper should always combine this mentally ‘switched on’ approach with the ability to battle no matter the easiness of a win.
Intensity in goalkeeping
It is my thinking and theory, that a goalkeeper should be intense in their concentration as much as with their physical actions. Rather than be passive and ‘react’ to the game as it happens, an intense approach will looking to take charge of all situations, as with attacking the ball and controlling your zone through voice and action, I feel a goalkeeper should actively involve themselves in the game through an energetic approach. By reacting to the game with intensity, the goalkeeper is more likely to pounce on rebounds or deal with scrambles and secondary scoring chances than otherwise, if more passive with their goalkeeping.
Excuse the examples of different sport (ice hockey), but they are very capable of illustrating and demonstrating this form of an almost ‘hyperactive’ goalie! Dominik Hasek was seen as the pinnacle of recent years, whilst Tim Thomas, whilst seemingly lacking in technique, is just as erratic at times. In the following clip, you can see a more active goalie, in the form of Pekka Rinne. Here, Rinne really pushes into shots and is active with positioning and challenging. Even in warm-ups, his movements are sharp and hands and legs aggressive in his shot stopping. You can see that this is the difference maker in a hard working and active goalie:
High energy shot stopping
But more than that, a ‘high energy’ style of goalkeeping will see the goalkeeper react instantly to a shot, with them prepared to fully extend or dive out for example, to reach into the shot as it comes at the. And afterwards, recovering straight back up to get to the next shot, once the save is made or the ball has hit the ‘woodwork’! Intensive shot stopping combines acrobatics and athleticism: getting up as soon as physically possible to deal with the rebound or secondary chance on goal. This style mixes acrobatics and athleticism, combined with a desire to stop the ball (or whatever else it is!) no matter what; a determination to never be beaten and the athleticism and alertness to be able to pull off those world-class, unbelievable saves that only the elite can achieve. If you are beaten, then you are ready to react, because it may hit the post or woodwork. The following example shows this approach of Lloris at Tottenham (in football this time!), who will extend as far as possible to try and get a fingertip save on a shot, whilst ready to get up again for the next shot on goal. Although Lloris is beaten by the rebound chance, he first extends to attempt the (which is more than amazing!) and then recovers instantaneously to try and stop the second, which he is unfortunately beaten on.
If you are intent on an energetic style, then you call almost end up in a hyper intense state. Rinne as , is often called a hyper intensive goalkeeper, making movements that can use up energy and may not always be required of him to make. Jonathon Quick also plays like this, but a Stanley cup ring proves its importance! This style of goalkeeping will require a strong stamina to be able to go the full seventy minutes (in field hockey’s case) without pause, as it puts a strong on your body and mind, requiring you to eat well and have a strong pre-season and continued approach to fitness. If the goalkeeper is facing a lot of shots (this could be in the range of 50-80 in a sport like ice hockey, but in hockey, may be up to thirty perhaps), the goalkeeper is in danger of burning out and ending up giving away goals through loss of energy, unable to keep up with the pace of the game and therefore slipping away in their battle to keep the score line down.
Other than battling to keep or earn your position in a squad (as I have written about before), the battle within the game is with stopping every shot. Here, you do whatever it takes to see and read the ball and then make the remarkable save at the end of the sequence. You have to want it, to really want to win, competitively desiring never to be beaten! In comparison, if playing behind a weak team and getting ‘shelled’ a lot, you may lose confidence in your team and your desire to win. Here, a true battler with a strong ‘mental game’, will illustrate and demonstrate the difference between looking good and playing good, with an unbeatable desire to stop every shot! In ice hockey, they call it fighting for the puck, with the goalkeeper often literally fighting through traffic to get to a shot stopping position, just like a football has to fight opposition players in his box to come and collect a cross. In screens, the goalkeeper battles to find eye contact with the puck (or ball in this case!) to set themselves up for a strong save.
The ability to battle with in a game often coincides with the mental approach to goalkeeping. Rather than being defeatist and letting a goal hamper your confidence, the mentally strong battler approaches the game with an optimistic viewpoint, content to carry on regardless, to give their all no matter the score line. Here, the goalkeeper continues to fight in spite of the score to keep their team in with a chance of scoring more goals and reducing the deficit or bringing the game to a tie. In my opinion goalkeepers are the difference maker, but the goalkeeper who battles to stop every shot is far better than the one who has little work to do and doesn’t do it well. Just my thoughts though!
Bringing intensity to your game
Intensity does not include over exaggerating movements or diving for the sake of it, it is about being proactive and aggressive with your movements; challenging with positioning and challenging shots with an attacking saving motion and such. To do this, you have to mentally ‘fire’ yourself up, motivating yourself with a desire to win and play the best you can. Spending time before a game to psych yourself up and mentally prepare yourself, along with positive self talk as they can it to build self confidence and put away self doubt about not performing well will be the difference maker as you push yourself to play at your best.
The following clip shows a goalkeeper that ‘fights’ for every shot and really battles, getting a lot of clean sheets as a result!
Ultimately, it is good to be intensity into your goalkeeping. Attacking the ball and challenging the opposition shooters confidently is going to improve your goalkeeping efforts. Tied in with commanding your area and making a dominant presence, you need to ready for those second chances on goal, to leap up onto your feet to try and get something on it to deny the opposition! With little work to do in an ‘easy’ game, you should be prepared to make up for it by involving yourself in the play and game like this that shows your desire to win.