Goalkeepers – Does your warm up have to be perfect for you to feel confident

Sports Psychology Tips: Goalkeepers – Does your warm up have to be perfect for you to feel confident

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Many goalkeepers feel that they must have a good warm up to start a match well

Does your confidence level dip if you have a poor warm up?

I’ve noted over the years of supporting goalkeepers that this is a common mental game challenge that they have.  They go on to judge the quality of their warm up before a match and make the assumption that a poor warm up means they’ll start the game poorly. 

If you make a mistake in the warm up how does it affect you?  If you drop a cross or let some relatively easy shots in – how do you feel?

Often goalkeepers who worry too much about the warm up, go on to start a game tentatively, doubting themselves.  They get stuck over-thinking and worry about more mistakes happening in the game, especially in those opening exchanges.

“It’s happened in the warm up, so it’s going to happen again soon” is what they’re thinking which let’s face it is an over generalisation, in part caused my matchday nerves, and is a quick way to hand over an advantage to the opposition.  

Your reaction to your warm up will dictate the mindset that you approach the game in.  By thinking that you aren’t in a good place or don’t have it today you are falling into the trap of being reactive.  

What is reactive confidence?

Goalkeepers who have reactive confidence will let things happen by chance and don’t have a way of ensuring they approach matches confidently.  Their confidence will yo-yo frequently from match to match or training session to training session.  They fall into the trap of doubting themselves often and allowing negative thoughts to stop them from playing to their potential.  Being proactive about your confidence and mindset is a much better approach and will help you feel more in control in those early moments of a match.

What is proactive confidence?

The world’s best goalkeepers such as Manuel Neuer, Jan Oblak or Ederson, have an inner trust in their ability to perform well on the biggest stage and during huge high pressure moments.  They understand what they need to do in the build up to a match to feel good about themselves.  They know what extras they need to be doing to feel confident.  Their training and gym work is organised in a way that they go on to believe in themselves.  

Does the way you train or warm up set you up to feel confident before matches?  Or do you just do as you’re told from your coach or manager?  Or maybe it’s not something that you have considered before.

Top goalkeepers also work on their mental approach on a regular basis too, considering it as equally important as their technical ability, fitness or agility.   By being aware that they must work on their mental game they are being proactive about their confidence levels.  These goalkeepers find 1-2-1 work with Sports Psychologists hugely beneficial where they understand in detail how their values, motivations, expectations harm or enhance their confidence.  They use visualisation proactively to feel better about themselves and their goalkeeping skills.  Their self-talk is monitored and restructured when they catch themselves getting in their own way.     

3 Mental Game Tips for Goalkeepers

If you’re a goalkeeper that reacts to the quality of your warm up and allows it to dictate how you start a match take note… 

  1. Are you aware of how you play at your best?  What level of intensity do you require to get the most from your talents?  Are you like many goalkeepers who need to be psyched up before a match or are you one of many goalkeepers who prefers to relax and be calm?  Understanding how matches influence your adrenaline levels and the way you perform is crucial when considering this.  It can then dictate what type of music that you should listen too on the journey to matches.  Upbeat motivational music or chillout music.  It can also help you recognise if you need a little time to yourself to gather your thoughts or whether you should be the life and soul of the party around your team-mates.
  2. Confidence is built on many months and years of training, experiences and preparation not on a slip in the warm up or a dropped cross.  Catch yourself if your inner self-talk is unhelpful in the warm up or at the start of a match.  Coming up with a mantra or some self-talk words or phrases is a good approach to help you.  Statements such as “I’ve put in the hard work” or “I’m really fit and agile” can be helpful especially if you put them in your kit bag as a reminder or on your phone.
  3. Lastly, it’s worth remembering that a warm up is a warm up.  It’s not the real thing.  You’re a human being and everyone at some given time will have had a poor warm up.  It doesn’t mean that when the whistle to start the match is blown that you will perform badly.  Also, if you feel your heart beating or nerves before a match, that’s a good thing.  It means that you want to do well which is perfectly natural.

Feel free to forward this blog to other goalkeepers, coaches or parents who you think would find it helpful.

Or if you enjoyed this article.  You may also be interested in downloading THE FOCUSED ATHLETE CHECKLIST which highlights different ideas that goalkeepers can use to integrate mental skills training into their daily routines and habits.  By doing so, it will help you perform more confidently. 

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Global Sports Psychologist located near Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and willing to travel Internationally.  

Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence and Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub.  With over 10 years experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, quickly.  

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

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