A goalkeeper’s job is never easy and when faced with the task of being unbeatable the pressure can often be intense. Being scored on and allowing goals is part and parcel of being a goalkeeper, but it’s how you respond to that that shows how good you really are. In sport they often say how important the mental game is and with goalkeeping it is no different, if not more important. A goalkeeper’s ability to overcome adversity and bounce back shows they have good mental strength and will be able to perform at their best for their team.
Forget about it!
The best way to respond to a conceded goal is to play like it never happened. Whilst it’s fairly obviously how to forget about it, you need to do your best to put it out of your mind entirely. Ignore the urge to have a go at yourself for letting the goal be scored and work at composure and collecting your thoughts together so that you are prepared for the next chance on goal. Play like it’s 0-0 and forget about the pressure to win. Like the saying “water off a duck’s back” be cool and calm and don’t let it get to you. If you do, then negative thought patterns will sink in and affect your performance.
Whilst it is important to consider how the goal was scored, you need to leave that to the training ground. After the game you can look at how you could have stopped the goal, but for now, you need to work at not letting it get to you. If you think you’re going to lose, then the chances are you will because your heart won’t be in it! In the ‘here and now’ of a game (or trial or practise if you’re that competitive!), your priority is the next shot and keeping your team in the game.
Being scored on can easily dampen your spirits and damage your confidence. If you dwell for too long on the goal, then you are likely to hinder your chances of performing well and helping your team get back in the game. The longer you criticise your performance, the harder it will be to self motivate; negative confidence will lead to self doubt which in turn will lead to indecision and poor play which will then lead to more goals if you’re not lucky. Instead, you need to move past the event and refocus your efforts on the task at hand (of stopping more shots and goal scoring opportunities!).
Focusing on the next shot
As it’s been mentioned your priority is to keep your team in the game and to play your best, not to mull over having let a goal in! By focusing and concentrating on the next shot or attempt on goal and visualising yourself stopping it, it will help from letting your mind wander. Focus your mind on the task at hand: your priority is to not let more goals in!
Strong body language
Having seen a lot of games (on YouTube and in person!), I have noticed a habit some goalkeepers have of openly lamenting the fact they have allowed a goal. Whilst it’s good to be emotional as it shows you care (like Murray’s tears at Wimbledon), it gives the wrong impression. Looking dejected and showing signs of bad body language (even if it’s hard to see your face through your helmet!) is actually a bad idea, giving the opposition the impression that you lack confidence and don’t know what you’re doing. Instead of this, do your best to maintain a level of confidence which will provide a positive sense for your team.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to carry on your attempts at being unbeatable. Goals can dash your confidence against the rocks and if you let it get to you it will stop you playing well and ensuring you end up losing. Instead, work to refocus your efforts and carry on playing confidently. This way you can give your team the best chance of winning and the opposition won’t think they can steamroll you.