Self confidence in sports and life is essential to thrive and reach your goals. As a goalkeeper confidence can be destroyed at the drop off a hat, one goal conceded and especially in youth football the mind can be affected and filled with self-doubt. Even at the top level many professional goalkeepers have suffered from low confidence issues, as are the pressures of playing at such a high level.

Fear of failure, expectations being set to high by coaches and parents, fear of letting down parents/coaches are all pressures put on children partaking in sports. Parents and coaches who set their child high expectations can be damaging ‘Make sure you keep a clean sheet today’, ‘Don’t let them score’ can be positive words from a parents point of view but can put unwanted pressure on young goalkeepers. Straight away in the child’s mind they start thinking about not conceding and if they do concede how will that make their parents feel… Instead we can support and encourage them before a game giving them a clear and positive mind-set ‘Have a great game and enjoy yourself’ the child then starts to visualize themselves enjoying the match and starts to visualize their performance positively.

What can be done?

I believe more can be done at home through educating parents to support and enlighten there child through there child hood development and more emphasis within the school curriculum to teach the power of positive thought process, sports psychology and how the mind is such a powerful part of our make up as human beings. Also I believe the FA should have more of a presence at grass roots football matches to see how coaches implement what they have taught and address any issues to then enable them to improve their courses.

Children like adults have thoughts and emotions flying around inside our heads all day long and being able to think positively is key to our success.

As a goalkeeper coach I not only aim to develop my goalkeepers technically but mentally as well which is a huge part of becoming a successful goalkeeper. Mentoring children in an enthusiastic and encouraging way can build their self-confidence leading to better performance and laying down seeds for the child to grow.

And its imperative young goalkeepers understand how to react when they do hit a low ie concede a goal, make a mistake and add this to their foundation to address these issues in the future. Mistakes will happen and we learn from these and progress forwards to prevent them happening repeatedly. I see mistakes as a challenge on our path to success not barriers to stop us in our tracks and question our ability.

A great bit of advice I heard from Barry Richardson (goalkeeper coach at Wycombe Wanderers) was when you hit high levels of performance stay grounded and level headed and when you hit low levels of performance also stay grounded and level headed so you stay mentally in a balanced state. With this state of mind we can control our emotions and with a click of our fingers get ourselves back in to a positive mind-set which is essential during matches as a goalkeeper.

Just 4 Keepers NW London run goalkeeper training sessions in Watford, Bushey, Ruislip, Ealing, Chiswick, Langley and surrounding areas.
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