By Patrick Morrison
I LOVE coaching! I mean I really love to coach players with the purpose of helping them to improve their performance. There is no better feeling than seeing a player you have been working with grow, realising their potential, and improving their performance.
Like a gardener enjoying the fruits of their labour once their plants begin to bloom, a coach loves nothing more than to see his coaching work.
At present, I am working with several young goalkeepers on a one-to-one basis. They are of differing ages, differing abilities and each possess their own unique style of goalkeeping. Not one of the goalkeepers has the exact same style as the next, of course they will have similar traits, but this is more regarding the requirements of the position rather than a singular process for being a goalkeeper.
Each of the goalkeepers are strong in different areas than the others just as much they are weaker in different areas than the other goalkeepers are. Both the strength and weaknesses of my young ‘keepers would be in keeping with the strengths and weaknesses you would expect to find with goalkeepers in each of the age groups they are at.
But there is one specific weakness that each goalkeeper shares. They all have a negative self-image about their goalkeeping ability.
Whenever I coach young players, whether with teams or as one-to-one, the most common weakness I must improve is the goalkeeper having a negative self-image regarding their goalkeeping.
The three main factors I encounter is young goalkeepers comparing themselves with other goalkeepers, in some cases fully grown professional goalkeepers, burdening themselves with completely unrealistic expectations, and constantly filling themselves up with negative self-talk.
So, what is self-image? To improve self-image a goalkeeper must first understand what exactly it is. In simple terms, self-image is the personal view and/or mental picture a goalkeeper has of themselves.
It embodies the characteristics that we believe we have and includes the traits we think we have, both positive and negative. It is what we perceive to be our strengths and weaknesses.
Ultimately how we see ourselves both publicly and privately is what we call our self-image.
Self-image begins to be developed right from birth as we try and imitate who we see most often, i.e. – our parents. As the number one care givers for our children and the people that they spend most of their time with during their formative years it is crucially important that we as parents nurture our children and create an environment that will help them breed a positive self-image.
Once they commence school and begin to play organised sports, the children’s teachers and coaches must then also take up the mantle of providing an optimal setting for their young minds to grow.
It will be important for coaches to remember that you will have a direct influence on the young goalkeeper’s self-image with how you coach/treat them. “Children will never remember what you say to them, they will always remember how you made them feel.”
Having a positive self-image is important for a goalkeeper because it will have a direct effect on their performance both physically and mentally.
The image a goalkeeper sees in the mirror will ultimately decide how far they will be able to progress and the speed at which they do it. What the young goalkeeper thinks of themselves will determine how the young goalkeeper feels about themselves. If they think they are a good goalkeeper, they will feel like a good goalkeeper, and this will result in them performing well. Having a positive self-image will boost your performance whereas having a negative self-image will drain your performance levels.
When coaching my young goalkeepers, I always try and promote a positive self-image. Some ways I try and do this are as follows:
– Teach your goalkeepers to accept themselves for who they are. Ensure that they understand what their current ability is and ensure that they are comfortable with where they are at that moment in time. Reassure them that they will improve if they work hard.
– Help your goalkeeper understand who they are as a goalkeeper. Make sure they know what their strengths are as well as their weaknesses. Keep their self-talk positive and highlight that having weaknesses is also positive because it gives a goalkeeper focus.
– Teach your goalkeepers how to strengthen their strengths and develop their weaknesses. By doing this it gives them a sense of control over their progress resulting in a sense of responsibility over their own development.
– Show them how to create ‘SMARTER’ goals and review them regularly with them. Allow them to have as much if not more input/feedback as you the coach.
– Always keep your language positive. For example, there is no longer good/bad, strong/weak only trained and untrained. Saying untrained may seem negative but it explains what needs to be done to change it to trained (action).
– Create an environment whereby your goalkeepers can confront their fears. First help your ‘keepers understand what their fear is as much as possible and then recreate that scenario on the training field starting easy and then progressing the difficulty levels as they become more and more competent with that situation. Repetition and perseverance are key.
– NEVER allow your goalkeepers to compare themselves with anyone else. Create a baseline for your goalkeepers and only ever have them compare themselves with their own baseline. After an improvement has been made their baseline can be reset and future comparisons can be made against this new baseline but again it is only ever compared with their own past ability/performance.
– Teach your goalkeepers to love themselves. Teach them to love being a goalkeeper, to love how good they are at present, to love striving to becoming a better player, love making mistakes or encountering setbacks that allow them to overcome adversity, love proving naysayers wrong, to love that they have another goalkeeper competing for the same position as them. Changing their mindset on energy sapping situations will keep their mindset positive.
What we think of ourselves has a direct influence on how we feel about ourselves which will ultimately have a bearing on how we perform as goalkeepers.
Therefore, it is important to always have positive thoughts, and positive self-talk to ensure you always have a positive self-image. As the famous Descartes’ quote goes “Corgito, ergo sum!” which translates as “I think, therefore I am!”
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook: @MSoG11Twitter: @MorSchGk