As goalkeepers it is crucial that we learn how to manage the mental side of the game. It is said that the most dangerous place on the field is in between the goalkeepers ears. Our brain can be our biggest advocate or our worst nightmare. Here are three habits to form that will lead to remarkable mental toughness.
1. Put aside things you can't control.
Mental strength is no different than muscle strength- no one has an unlimited supply. There is no benefit on wasting our mental strength on things that we can't control.
Instead, do what you can. You decide how much of yourself you are willing to give at practice, how hard you are going to work, how smart you are going to work. Make sure you leave no stone unturned. Prepare, prepare, and then prepare some more. Ask questions of your coach, ask for clarification on set pieces, team defending principles, and tactical game plans. It is a waste of time to spend mental energy on weather, referees, coaches opinions, and loud parents. Focus on your play. Focus on what you need to do to ensure you and your team find success.
2. The past is valuable for development.
The past is an invaluable tool for us to use as goalkeepers. Experience is how you learn. You make decisions and you learn from the outcomes. Each scenario will be slightly different, but learning from each opportunity gives you the ability and confidence to be prepared next time you face it. Learn from the past, then let it go.
The past is just training, it doesn't define who you are. All you can control is the next play. Don't allow one mistake to turn into a bad game, a slump, or a bad season. Revisit your play after the game, analyze, learn, and be better next time.
3. Don't get caught up in complaining, whining, and making excuses.
Your words have power, especially over you. Whining about your problems always makes you feel bitter, angry, and resentful.
So if something is wrong, don't waste time complaining. Put that mental energy into making the situation better. Fix it now. Don't talk about what's wrong. Talk about how you'll make things better, even if that conversation is only with yourself. This will help you find new ways to stretch yourself, become a stronger leader, and take more responsibility for your own personal success.