On this blog, you will get few key ingredients to give you a guide, map, GPS, a direction towards mental toughness. However, these are NOT “magical pills” but it will help you get started the right way.
Have you ever wonder why some goalkeepers are inconsistent in their games or practices? For example, a good game today but next week you have a bad game or a good season and bad season. Are you a goalkeeper who ALWAYS WORRY about what others (mom, dad, coach, friends etc) might say about your performance? Are you always worrying about making mistakes during games or practices? Do you struggle to get “in the game or in the zone”? Do you complain about everything during practice or games? Do you “SECOND GUESS” yourself frequently during games?
If so, it is time to start thinking about your mental toughness!!
These 3 steps are common facts from athletes /professional goalkeepers who I’ve personally trained in the last several years. Plus my personal experience playing professionally from a young age has certainly helped understand the ups and down of the mental toughness journey.
During our training, I analyzed great points that any individual can use to become mentally tough not only in sports but in the everyday life but you must have the correct MIND SET to be mentally tough.
Many of the athletes I have trained are coming back from major surgeries and other are goalkeepers who are still looking to stay competitive at the professional level. Here 3 key steps they commonly used to help you understand mental toughness.
BEING HONEST TO YOURSELF
- Why do you play soccer for fun or to compete? there is a big difference…
- Are you a goalkeeper because you are trying to please your parents, coach or friends or are you just playing in goal because you are not a good field player?.
- Are you a goalkeeper who TRULY WANTS to play in college or beyond or is this more about your parents or someone else dreams instead of yours or is this about BRAGGING RIGHTS?
- If you are a goalkeeper who’s not tall, can’t jump and have NO speed, will you be able to really play in a Division I school or even professionally?
The point to these questions is to find the true meaning of your life, be honest and realistic about what you are trying to accomplish. Otherwise, what is the point of doing anything in life? But more importantly, you will struggle to find peace of mind and you will forever struggle to be mentally strong if you cannot simply be honest to yourself!
LOVE BEING UNCOMFORTABLE
There are a huge number of goalkeepers who can’t find consistency. Some say they simply “didn’t have a good day”. Whatever it is, we simply can’t go on using the “good day, bad day” excuse forever because the day it will REALLY matter such as, try out, playoffs, showcase etc then the “good day bad day” excuse will not work, only a good performance will count.
I cannot imagine a NAVY SEAL or SPECIAL FORCES military member saying, “I had a bad day today”. If they have a bad day, they will be gone forever.
To find consistency, it starts at practice or training…Your training MUST be intense and out of your comfort level. If you can train this way, your mind & body will learn to perform well under stress. Furthermore, There are many goalkeepers or athletes who perform very well in training but struggle in games, that’s because they do NOT get a training that brings the best out of them. In fact, they normally work under the “feel good” training or training which is very “ROBOTIC” and constantly doing the same things which goalkeepers go through the motions.
Also being uncomfortable also means to hear what you NEED to hear not what you would LIKE to hear.
For example, criticism: some athletes, goalkeepers or including PARENTS cannot hear honest criticism. They are simply not equipped to hear a coach say that they need to go to a lower level or they are not good enough to be part of a certain level team. Some goalkeepers and parents view FAILURES as a bad thing when in fact, FAILURE can potentially build CHARACTER.
We also have athletes who will ONLY put out energy or effort when things going great. But the moment they sense stress or they feel like they are losing they will not work as hard or they simply quit working to their fullest potential. Generally, this happens to athletes who are mentally WEAK and goalkeepers who are only taught to do enough to survive. This is a very clear sign of many problems to come.
Just learn & love being uncomfortable as much as possible to gain a true path to mental toughness.
Being humble is NOT a sign of weakness, it is a sign of true confidence.
I have personally met young goalkeepers who’ve reached a certain “status”, club or level in their short amateur careers and immediately become the most arrogant players around. Some of them act as if they’re the ONLY great goalkeeper in their area, when in fact, there are so much more!
Being humble, allows you to be open up to NEW ideas, concepts, and criticisms. It even lets you see your future endeavors realistically. Humility also helps understand your own personal limitations & struggles, which is an important step to reach your fullest athletic potential. Just remember, arrogance has NOTHING to do with confidence.
These 3 ingredients are an important part of so many professional goalkeepers that I personally met and trained over the years. Being mentally strong means that you keep going with there is NOTHING LEFT to give. If you only pick and choose the battles that you think you will win and run away from the others then you have LONG ways to go to become mentally tough.
Simply analyze these few steps, apply them and see where it can take you. Being mentally strong will not occur overnight but your mental training must start soon to stay competitive in the modern game or even in your personal life.
International Goalkeeper coach, MS Sport & Health Science Certified by The National Academy Of Sport Medicine
Source: Z Pro Futbol