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Confident goalkeeping – There’s a mountain to climb but it’s worth it.

So in previous posts we have looked at bravery, either that of communication or that needed during a game to make that catch surrounded by players and from diving at feet.  As mentioned many times before being brave and confident is hard for any player as there are many things that can affect confidence, as that is the fragility of the mind – that one little thing could be the cause of poor confidence… Or that said, it may be a little thing to you or I but a massive issue to the person in question.

We as coaches train for many different scenarios to help our Goalkeeper students, through practical or fun exercises and confidence building motivational speak. However no coach can predict or prevent what will happen in a Goalkeeper’s mind during a game. Especially in situations where your student Goalkeeper is fetching the ball out of the back of the net on more than one occasion through the match. Couple that with the unforeseen reaction of not only their own but those around them (players and coaches) and there is always the potential that confidence either is or starts to get affected.

We asked our Goalkeepers at the Academy, how they react after a goal goes in the back of the net and we had back some interesting answers. Some punch the floor, some shout and scream at themselves or their players, some just get upset. Let’s face it, it is hard for any Goalkeeper, but more so for a young student Goalkeeper as they want so much to be good at Football! Our Keepers do get upset. We have seen examples, where after say the third goal scored against them, that their heads drop and they are uninterested in the game. Yes, I understand that there could be other factors of heads dropping as I previously explored, but no Goalkeeper really likes to concede a goal. After all look at the reaction of any Goalkeeper out there who keeps a clean sheet, they are on cloud 9…

So it does seem that coaches and Goalkeepers have a mountain to climb when it comes to Goalkeeping confidence, because as already mentioned, the mind is a powerful thing. But don’t get downhearted, this mountain is scalable… Confidence can be affected, but you as Goalkeepers have the power to improve not only your skills but your confidence too (which will lead to you being a better Goalkeeper!). Remember:

  • Conceding goals happens – You can try to save everything, but there are going to be those goals that not even the best goalkeepers in the world can stop;
  • Try and save everything – At least have a go… you may only kick yourself that you didn’t try! You never know you may just actually save it;
  • Focus on developing your skills – don’t focus on keeping a clean sheet (see point 1), focus on, for example, improving your positioning or handling during the game;
  • Set realistic targets – If you say you are going to look at improving handling, don’t set yourself a target to catch every ball, that your handling will be 100% good. Try and set a target based on little improvements;
  • Know what you can improve on – It is good to acknowledge what you need to improve on as you can focus on this and more importantly feed this back to the coach, as they can then devise training sessions to help focus on these improvements;
  • Know what you did well – don’t just focus on improvements, remember to also HIGHLY PRAISE what you did well. It is great to understand what you did well because in each match you will do things right and you must remember to acknowledge it.
  • Ensure you have support – You as a Goalkeeper want to improve and those around you should be encouraging your development (especially if they are following FA standards). If you aren’t don’t be afraid to speak up or seek help. If you have set your sights on improving as a Goalkeeper, I applaud you and want you to achieve your aims of improvement. Please don’t get upset and walk away from something you want to do, get help on it and help to do it better!

Yes confidence is a mountain to climb but you have the ability to climb to the summit. Let me know how you get along on your journey up the rock face! 😉

Confident Goalkeeping – Being brave isn’t easy

Finding your voice in Goalkeeping is difficult as confidence plays a big part. Confidence can also be bravery too. Being not only brave enough to call out, but also being brave against an opposing player, either when they are running at you in one and one situations, or jumping for a ball with players around you, or making that tackle at feet, etc.

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It’s hard being brave… it’s a massive psychological hurdle to get over.
Yes they say you have to be mad to be a goalkeeper, especially when you have to dive at feet as you are always scared of getting hurt. Just ask my daughters… The youngest is 8 and she is still wary of diving at feet bur through fun exercises and games to encourage it, she is slowly improving. Whereas my 13 year old does dive at feet bravely. That this weekend she did just that, saved the ball, but has just sprained her ankle in the challenge. That said it hasn’t put her off but for others this can make them wary of making the challenge next time for fear of getting hurt.

The mind is a powerful thing! But as a goalkeeper consider this:

  • Remember outfield players too can be just as scared as you – in fact there is more pressure on them to score in a 1v1 situation as they are expected to beat the keeper. Although actually the odds can usually be in the favour of the Goalkeeper;
  • OK, injuries can happen, not just to goalkeepers but to outfield players too.
  • Often if football is played in the proper environment (such as FA standard) then it should be played to minimise injury anyway;
  • On the ‘rare’ occasion that an injury happens then the necessary help and equipment are there. To get you soon back in action; and
  • If you worried about ‘rare’ injury and wrapped yourself in cotton wool you wouldn’t have so much fun as a Goalkeeper – football should be about fun after all!

“I think you have to be brave, you know that a goalkeeper is always going to take blows. When you dive at someone’s feet, that player doesn’t always have time to jump and they bang into us” – Petr Cech.


So be brave and be strong – remember injuries are actually quite rare and you have coaches there to help you.

Guest Blog Article by David Evans, Just4keepers: Improving young keepers, not just ability but confidence

As I have posted a few blogs recently regarding goalkeeper confidence, I thought this blog from David Evans from Just4Keepers was apt. He has kindly allowed me to use this article of his, as content for my Guest Blog Slot:

Now you’ll probably have to excuse my bias here as being a professional goalkeeper coach of course my view may be a little bit one sided but let me put forward my views anyway.

So what is a goalkeeper coach worth to your team? Well if you think that a good keeper can save you 10-15 points a season it’s the difference between winning titles and a relegation dogfight!

Good keepers are worth their weight in gold and if you get one you certainly try to keep hold of them, but why then would you not have someone there to specifically improve them, keepers need to be tested daily to keep themselves sharp and only a keeper coach can do that for you. Don’t expect your keeper to stay in top form if he is neglected, left to train by himself or with his understudy while you work on overlapping full backs or attacking crosses. Keepers have not only got a physically demanding position that requires specific training not just having to stand in a coconut shy, but also a mentally demanding position that needs a coach who can put an arm round the shoulder, talk through the mistakes, the confidence dips, the torment of the position.

As a manager can you afford the time to do that for your keepers as well as 16 outfielders? I’d say it would be tough to, so why not employ a keeper coach to do it for you? Someone who understands the keeper and the psychology that goes hand in hand with the position. I’d say you can’t afford not too. Budget is tight? Then spending a little less on strikers or flair midfielders, and a little on helping your keeper could be the difference between promotion and relegation.

Think about it. Help your keeper, help you team, gain more points, win more prizes, keep your job longer. Everybody is happy.

Wishing you clean sheets and happiness, until next time.

A big thank you to David for this. Check out his blog for more great posts like these at:

Goalkeeper – Hero or Villain?

The goalkeeper position is so unforgiving and even more so under the spotlight of the highest levels of football. These keepers are expected to be absolute superstars and come under intense scrutiny when they make a mistake or not keep a clean sheet.

It could be said that it is the same for forward too at the highest level, if they don’t score the goals week in week out… However there is usually more than one forward on the pitch to share the blame. That then, there is a share of the responsibility. Although should there be a collective blame too of a defence when things go wrong at the back?

Not in the case of David de Gea, who was heavily criticised by the press following their defeat to their old foes, Liverpool. Yes, he made errors but so did his defence… This will really affect a goalkeeper already short on confidence. Hats off to Michael Owen though who has come out and defended his keeper (, as should the rest of his team and also the fans too.

This is a player who took the plaudits in 2009 after his debut in the UEFA Champions League and for his performance for Club Atlético de Madrid’s in saving a penalty in their La Liga opening game ( A player who was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson in 2011 after performing brilliantly for Spain in the Euro Under-21 cup winning team and described as ‘one of brightest prospects in the game’ ( A signing for Manchester United, that made him the third most expensive keeper in the history of football.

Can he really go from hero to villain that quickly?

It has become so apparent if you study David de Gea that his confidence is low and in need of a much needed boost. As Paul Parker points out in his Eurosport Blog that not only can you see this complete lack of confidence, that he also looks lost… Well let’s face it he has taken on a lot of criticism, and it looks like it is really affecting him.

He’s not the first high profile keeper to receive such criticism, take our previous England keepers, Scott Carson, Paul Robinson, Robert Green and David James. All criticised for a mistake that cost us international matches and competitions, that let’s face it we only ‘may’ have won, especially considering the level of the competition we would face… Did we also criticise the fact that we didn’t score enough goals?

… And why does one of the Academy’s favourite player’s, David James have to have the label, ‘Calamity James’? When as a keeper he has kept a phenomenal amount of clean sheets… It’s a shame that a few bad mistakes (with some of them being made whilst he tried to compensate for a lack of defence), meant he gets such a poor nickname.

Yet unlike David de Gea, David James now shrugs off such criticism. And if he concedes a goal, you know it has annoyed him, but then he brushes it aside and refocuses ready for the next save…

As a goalkeeper you need to have a regime to be able to move on from a mistake.

My daughter used to be bothered by letting in goals too, as she would get too heavily focussed on keeping a clean sheet. Thus, when she let in a goal her head would drop…

…So we changed her motivation and praised her on performances. Stating that should may well concede goals and not to worry… just as long as she puts in the performance and tries to improve on the areas she needs too… It has improved her as a keeper that she smiles after every match. I am just happier to see her acknowledge that she made a mistake and then to watch and see that she learns from this.

It just goes to show you the power of the mind!

David de Gea is only 21 and he has huge promise. I think we should cut him a little slack. It is unrealistic to heap pressure on one player as this is a team game after all…

As a final thought, consider David Coles philosophy: “One save doesn’t make you a great goalkeeper, the same as one mistake doesn’t make you a bad one’. Very apt! 😉

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