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Psychology

That made me what I am: a goalkeeper

Football evolves and moves match day to match day at a dizzying pace for us, the goalkeeping coaches. We finish our competition today and the following seven or six days until the next match go by in a blink of an eye. However, for those who do not play, time may not go by so fast. For the substitute goalkeeper, just as much as to any other field player, substitution is hard to accept. Fear, insecurities, the thirst… The feelings and emotions come into play, but: how does a goalkeeping coach handle it?

Mauricio Caranta, Talleres de Argentina goalkeeper, has recently come back to the first team after more than a year and a half without playing. His words and the reflection that rises after listening to them, makes us talk about an issue that we, as goalkeeping coaches, are reluctant to express: THE SUBSTITUTION.

A lot of people would say: “well said but… It’s your job! A professional that earns that great deal of money… must do it! If I earned so much money as he does… I would train 24 hours…” Isn’t it true that we heard this millions of times as an argument?

Every weekend we find ourselves before the situation in which one of our goalkeepers does not take part in the match, nor even called up. This is a reality in sports such as football, because of its own rules: a lot of sportsmen/women can not pursue their occupations every weekend even though they have worked hard for it. But, in the case of the goalkeepers, because of the nature of this position, the chance of playing may be more complicated if one is not doing it.

To manage the frustration is a daily task for us, the goalkeeping coaches, same as it must be for those goalkeepers that do not play. Frustration is the gate to adulthood and personal maturity. Personal and professional maturity do not always go hand in hand, and this is something we must keep in mind when working with young people on daily basis. This is why a proper approach of the goalkeeping coach with the goalkeeper is so important, not because the goalkeeper needs to accept a bad situation, but because we need a way to digest it and metabolize it. The difference between accept and digest has to do with the time we need to understand all we can learn from an uncomfortable situation.

The easiest attitude and the one that sinks the goalkeeper in victimhood has to do with perceiving other people’s decisions as unfair (and we are not saying that this could not happen sometimes), seeing the other as the one to blame. This leads to deep resentment that prevent the goalkeeper from looking ahead.

The first thing we must do as goalkeeping coaches is help our goalkeepers to understand that: we are in a scenario in which we must undoubtedly wait. Wait? Wait for what? We must wait for a chance to probe we have enough ability and attitude to create new opportunities.

Substitution is a wonderful chance to generate new opportunities, new challenges and ways to understand the position.

Help your goalkeepers to understand this. It’s the right approach, even though it sounds idyllic.

First, we need to understand and help to understand that there is no such thing as certainty. We could devote ourselves entirely and not having success. However, devoting ourselves entirely increases the chances of success, undoubtedly. The same happens when we say that, even though we could be well positioned and interpret correctly the situation, that does not mean guaranteed success. Why? Because the rival is playing too!

  • Should we wait looking ahead? If we keep our eyes set on the present, chances are we fall into surrender, resentment, victimhood… However, hope (or active hope) is set on a desirable future: goal achievement, goal motivation…
  • Should we wait risking? Doing the same we always do, will not lead us to different results. A famous quote says: “To risk waiting is a brave attitude”. When we’re waiting for a chance, it’s very common beginning to doubt our own abilities. Not being starting goalkeeper, or not getting the position we want, make us doubt our strength or our projects.

To risk, to try, to innovate… To leave our comfort zone lead us to our highest potential, to explore new horizons, to grow day by day, personal and in sporting terms.

  • Should be wait patiently? Important things take time. Changes take time to become real. Nobody said waiting was be easy, but some things are not up to us. The final decision is up to the manager and, as goalkeepers, we must make it as hard as possible for him/her. How? Being professionals. Not only heading to the goal as Mauricio says, but supporting the team in good times and in bad times, helping the youngest ones, being happy for the teammates… Making TEAM.

Finally, I would like to quote a coach of mine that once told me very wisely:

Do you want to know which is the only key to end up playing? To play in the first team?

Picture yourself in the future, “grow a pair”, arm yourself with patience and, above all, make it difficult for me. Earn it from the work, the effort, the professionality… And one thing is sure: all you give to football today, football will give it back to you sooner or later.

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