How To Overcome Self-Doubt When You’re A Goalkeeper

Sports Psychology Tips: How To Overcome Self-Doubt When You’re A Goalkeeper

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Self-doubt can erode confidence if you let it

Can you be too hard on yourself when you’re in goal in a match or afterwards when assessing your performance? 

We are naturally wired to think negatively, yet too many of these thoughts are guaranteed to erode your confidence and make you start many games 1 or 2 nil down.  Being able to manage your thoughts is essential if you are to command your area and keep lots of clean sheets.  

So firstly to get a handle on your thoughts, I’d like you to make a note of some of your worries and doubts that you have about your goalkeeping.  Explore different areas of the game when you do so and the skills required to be a great goalkeeper; taking crosses from corners, shot stopping, 1-2-1’s, playing the ball out from the back, dominating your box, goal kicks….  

And make a note of your top 3 doubts that trip you up a lot.  

We’ll then look at how you go on to manage these doubts, as this is hugely important if you are to banish them from your mind.

This concept is called cognitive reframing. It means that as a goalkeeper, you’ll be better qualified to see your performances from a different perspective.  So it can help you feel much more confident, which is what it is all about!

So go on I encourage you to the next 3 steps and reframe your doubts:

1. Think back to a recent performance when you doubted your ability. List a self-doubt that you had at that time.

2. Note down the doubt as if you are saying it out loud to someone. Here’s a general example:

Doubt: “I worry about taking crossed in case I drop the ball and cost the team a goal.”

3. Reframe and/or challenge each statement. Turn each doubt into a statement of confidence:

“I’ve worked really hard in training, my handling on crosses has been excellent.  I can do this…”

For some advanced strategies


Make a note of these new statements on some paper or card and place them in your kit bag or in a pocket.  When you’re training or in matches remind yourself by taking a look at your notes.  You can also, in your mind and out loud, practice rehearsing these new statements of confidence until you can easily call them up on demand in matches when you’re under pressure.

A little reminder

It is important for you to look to apply this strategy when you train and in matches if you want it to stick, it won’t magically just take hold.  The brain is a muscle, just like your biceps or triceps.  Practice makes permanent as they say!


So when you recognise that you are doubting your ability, use this reframing strategy to challenge your thinking and banish self-doubt.  This mental game strategy can make a big difference stabilising your confident by reducing the amount of unwanted thoughts going through your head.

Please note that as a team we work with a lot of footballers across the globe using ONLINE VIDEO TECHNOLOGY (ZOOM, SKYPE, FACEBOOK or WHATSAPP) on a 1-2-1 basis to help them improve their levels of confidence, resilience and mental toughness.  Feel free to get in touch if you’d like to know more about how we can help you.

If you’re enjoying reading my sports psychology blogs, please do forward them on to other players, coaches, or parents who would appreciate them.

You can also join our online community – THE SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY HUB – for regular Sports Psychology tips, podcasts, motivation and support.

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Sport Psychologist located near Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and willing to travel Internationally.  Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence.  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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