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Top 5 Mental Attributes of A Goalkeeper

Training to be that player who's the last line of defense requires more than fast reactions and being tall? It is no easy task to be a goalkeeper, but having a solid mentality helps in getting the job done.

I honestly think goalkeepers are people who are a little crazy. Our role is special, atypical, and we have a different make-up - Gianluigi Buffon

The legendary Gigi described it best. The role of a goalkeeper is a demanding one. So much so that you need to be "slightly crazy" to be one. The role requires monumental mental strength and attributes that stands apart from the outfield players. So what are the key mental attributes that you need to possess to be a good goalkeeper?


Focus & Concentration


This one comes to mind fairly easily. We have seen footage of goalies who got distracted and made horrendous mistakes that cost the team. In fact, you can find a horde of these video compilations online that accentuate the lapse of concentration. Here's one of them.

The ability to focus is essential especially in this role. While a busy game for a goalkeeper can help maintain that focus, quiet games can be very tricky. Imagine your team were swarming the opposition's goal for 32 minutes with you standing alone on the other side and suddenly a long clearance with a pacy striker propelling towards you in no time. Lack of concentration here amounts to panic and, often, a hurried erroneous decision making, which can cause the team. As such, having that ability to fully concentrate for the whole match can define the match and sometimes your career. Just ask Loris Karius.




Acceptance


There are 2 parts to this. One is the ability to accept your mistakes are part of the role. It feels harder to do so because mistakes by goalkeepers are highlighted more broadly due to his role as "the last line of defense". If the goalkeeper bring the mentality that "I need to be perfect" to the game, more often than not it becomes an unnecessary burden and it affects your approach and performances. The key is to be able to accept and learn from the mistakes to progress.


The second part of acceptance deals with the uniqueness of the role. Goalkeepers are special because of their role, additional responsibilities and training drills. It can be quite isolating to be a goalkeeper, both in training and on the pitch. You need to be a team player, and yet you stand alone on many occasions. Being able to embrace the uniqueness of this role is the key to be a better goalkeeper.


“A lot of people say goalkeepers are crazy and I agree. I think you need to be a little bit nuts to deal with the pressure and the scrutiny. You make a mistake, people remember. That’s why we’re a special breed, and why we goalies have a great respect for each other,” - Ante Covic

Resilience


Mental resilience means the ability to recover effectively from challenges. This is emphasized in sports for athletes, more so for the goalkeepers. As a goalkeeper, the stakes are high. You get the sticks more often, your mistakes are highlighted glaringly, your blunder cost the team a win etc. If you are not able to handle the constant pressure and criticism in this role, it will eat you up.


Composure


Keep calm and goalkeep. This could be the self-statement that goalkeepers needed. The role distinctly shouts "last line of defense". With that much pressure to not blunder, steadiness of the mind is crucial. Coupled with the focus attribute, composure ensures that goalkeepers make rational decisions and execute actions that benefits the team. With composure, the keeper provides the confidence the team (and the fans) needed. Composure works like an aura, it resonates with the team mentality. A "safe and steady pair of hands" (and mind) provides as such.



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Anticipation


Reading the game is crucial, especially for goalkeepers. The transitions of the modern game can be like a tsunami hitting the beach while you are sunbathing there. When goalkeepers anticipate, they get ready and react quicker. They sense the danger lurking. They know what needs to be switched on at that moment. They consider all possibilities like how Dr Strange predicts the Endgame. Such awareness provides the goalkeeper an edge that helps minimise the consequences of being caught by surprise.


And the good news is....


So now you know the key mental attributes of being a good goalkeeper. Your next question might be, can I have all of these? Here's the good bit. These are all trainable, improved and enhanced. Equipping yourself with the mental skills and mindset and you can gain that edge that you need. The best keepers have them, and you can too!

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