By: Dan Gaspar, Founder of Star Goalkeeper Academy  and international renowned goalkeeper coach.

You can have an average team with a good goalkeeper and that team is a competitive team. You can have an average goalkeeper on a good team and that team becomes very average. The role of the goalkeeper is key to the success or failure of the team. The goalkeeper is as an important player as a baseball pitcher to baseball, a quarterback to a football team or a big center to a basketball team.  However, although the goalkeeper is unique and requires specialized training methods, the goalkeeper is not better than anyone else on the team. The goalkeeper is a team member and needs to be incorporated in the overall team preparations.   The goalkeeper is the eyes of the defense and should be the commander and chief of his defensive line.  They should have a gladiator mentality. The Gladiator is extremely focused as they prepare for battle.  They have their routine and rituals. How they dress. How they prepare their moves. How they mentally get ready for the battle. When they make decisions its with conviction. No doubts. It’s with everything they have.  The goalkeeper’s personality and physical presence can dominate his/her goal area like a gladiator. The goal is their house and the goal area is their yard.  It is their domain. Anytime they train or play matches they own that real estate. What a deal! No property taxes or maintenance. It’s their play box for free. Unwanted guests should feel the pressure of the goalkeeper through their actions and verbal commands.  The goalkeeper can establish the environment within the goal area and beyond.  They do their best to prevent conceding goals and initiate the attack. It’s not enough just to make the save. They have to keep possession of the ball with quality distribution for their teammates.  Their position allows them to lead their team with verbal and physical communication.  

How do we build confidence in our goalkeepers and prepare them for the physical and mental challenges of the game?  It is all in the details.

Below is a list of questions a goalkeeper should ask themselves to prepare for practice and games.  

  • How do you get dressed for training and the match? Is it the same all the time? From putting on your socks, shin guards, shorts, jersey and your gloves.
  • Do you have a ritual you go through? Such as visualization. Have you memorized and internalized in your minds eye your best saves in detail? Do you listen to specific music that arouses your senses or calm you down?
  • How do you enter the training pitch and exist? Anything unique you do that establishes you different from the rest?
  • Are you keeping a training and match diary? Have you noticed any patterns in your performances and training attitudes?
  • Do you wear anything special during training that is significant to you?
  • What technique do you use to control your anxieties or fears? On the flip side how do you process success?
  • Does the club tape training session and matches? If so, have you asked to look at a session or two?
  • How do you greet the goal and goal box when you arrive to the pitch?
  • How do you greet the other goalkeepers and goalkeeper coach?
  • When you concede a goal how do your bounce back and get yourself ready for the next save. Remember the team is depending on you.
  • When you arrive at a new site to play your match, how do you create a comfort zone away from your home environment?  Do you select a fixed object around the field that gives you comfort and relaxes you when you need it or gives you power and courage when you need it?
  • How do you process mistakes?
    • Do you beat yourself up endlessly? Do you have the losers walk? Sluggish feet. Head down and shoulders slumped? It’s like walking around with a backpack filled with rocks! Or do you learn and grow from the mistake and get stronger as a result of that experience? Most important of all can you erase the mistake from your mind and move on or do you decide to live with the mistake forever? One thing for sure, no matter how gifted a goalkeeper is, they will always encounter bad moments and mistakes. The best secret between those who maximize their potential versus those who don’t how you handle and process the mistakes. Mistakes are part of life. How we respond to them is what will determine if we survive.

All great champions have traditions, routines, rituals and mind control techniques. Our minds is like developing your muscles, it requires repetition, repetition, repetition. It only works if you believe in the concepts. I believe in the 98 percent or 2 percent rule? The 98 percent of the athletes you can see them. They are physically present. They show up. But the 2 percent of the athletes who are able to accelerate their development not only show up like the 98 percent of the athletes. They do much more. They show up with their brain. They are eager to learn. They also show up with their heart. They love with they do. They are passionate about what they do. So, the 2 percent of the athletes are there physically, mentally and emotionally. When you combine these attributes all at once you are special. Because for these athletes everyday is the World Cup when the cross the line onto the field!

About Coach Dan Gaspar:
With endorsements from Professor Carlos Queiroz and Jose Mourinho it is no wonder that Dan has worked with some of the worlds best soccer players and coached with numorous national teams.  You can see and experience Dan's love for goalkeeping in every save at Star Goalkeeper Academy.  Visit Star Goalkeeper Academy for more information.