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Psychology in goalkeeping: Keeping a calm head in a hectic environment

16 Nov 2023

Enter the world of goalkeeping and discover how important psychology is to success on the soccer field. Learn how to deal with pressure, stress and maintain concentration throughout the game. This article will provide you with valuable sports psychology tips to help you perform at your best on the field.

The importance of psychology in goalkeeping

The goalkeeper is one of the most important players on a team. The essence of his game is not just trying to catch the opponent's ball. From his position, he has a much greater overview of what is happening on the pitch, which allows him to instruct the other players on the team. He puts defenders in the right positions to provide ideal cover. Not for nothing is the goalkeeper called the soul of the team. In addition to his physical prowess, he must have the mental resilience that allows him to remain calm and help his teammates. In order to perform his role well, the goalkeeper should be able to turn to a sports psychologist if necessary.

How to manage pressure and stress on the field

As the last line of defense, the goalkeeper shoulders a lot of responsibility for the outcome of the game. The shots flying at his goal can be intense and unpredictable and he has to decide quickly how to deal with the situation. However, he also plays an important role in the midfield, allowing his team to change positions from defence to attack immediately. What helps goalkeepers manage stress on the field?

  • Like any athlete striving for performance, a goalkeeper must not lack confidence and belief in his qualities. Any hesitation or feeling of insecurity can have a negative impact on the goalkeeper's concentration and consequently on the outcome of his efforts to catch the opponent's shot.
  • Physical training and maintaining fitness brings important agility and dexterity to the goalkeeper, as well as the ability to act quickly under extreme pressure.
  • Setting a clear goal also helps control the goalkeeper's mind effectively. It is not just a task to intercept a shot, but to define all the specific goals on the field, view them positively without fear or anger, and build a positive mind. In the event of a mistake, to be able to "bounce back" and continue to focus on performing at your best.

The importance of maintaining concentration and peace of mind

Compared to other players, a goalkeeper has different skills, physical and mental attributes. In particular, we are talking about mental stability and the ability to concentrate throughout the match. Since the football performance of the whole team depends on him, he should be the calm centre of the team.

The goalkeeper must concentrate on every moment of the game, which includes monitoring player movement, estimating shot paths, and reacting to changes in the action. He should be able to read the game perfectly and keep his attention until the last whistle without any distractions.

How to calm your mind: Psychological Tips and Techniques

Backers often find themselves in direct conflict with the pressure, expectations and demanding events on the field. In addition, they are expected to perform physically accompanied by mental well-being. Let's take a look at methods for managing stress and maintaining optimal concentration on the field and before the game.

Relaxation and breathing techniques

No player has to go far for the best stress reliever. It is the breath. When stressed, we often breathe superficially and inadequately. Deepening our breathing can easily lead to stress reduction and tension release.

Mental preparation before a game

Prepare your brain for success using visual techniques. Before the game, try to imagine a specific, and most importantly, positive scenario and goal to help boost your confidence. Players achieve even better results with the help of imagery, the experience of which is created based on multiple sensory perceptions. You can't go wrong by repeating positive affirmations. Many find it soothing to perform regular rituals in preparation for a match. For example, relaxing and stretching your muscles to soothing music.

Practical tips for keeping a calm head during the game

  • Focus on the present moment to keep your mind calm and not too distracted. Focus your attention on the current activity and on your feelings. Adjust your breathing to be calm and even. Don't dwell on what might happen or what mistakes you have made.
  • Create a communication language with your team to use to communicate and support each other during the game.
  • In the event of a mistake, don't get frustrated, but try to accept the mistake and focus on the next action.
  • Use breaks and rest periods to catch your breath, relax your muscles and restore your energy for the next game.

Sport Psychology in Soccer Goalkeeping

Keeping a cool head on the soccer field requires regular practice and patience. Mental skills training is just as important as physical training and can lead you to better performances.

Role of the sports psychologist

A person who chooses any sport puts a piece of his or her personality into it. Therefore, the position of a sports psychologist is very important. Different sports in their own way influence the character and personality of an individual through physical activity coupled with other aspects in the form of performance and cooperation with teammates. And it is largely character traits that determine how an individual will behave and what performance he or she will give at any given time.

Sport psychologists seek to improve athletes' performance with the help of mental training. Based on relevant methods and research, they look for areas of deficiency and then work to improve them. While a football coach teaches players how to handle the ball, a sports psychologist advises on how to deal with emotions.

How psychology can help goalkeepers

Football psychology plays a key role in the world of football today. There is a lot of emphasis not only on fitness and skills, but also on the mental and psychological side of the player.

Because of the great responsibility in a match, goalkeeping psychologists often focus on concentration and discipline in tactical tackles. They teach them to manage stress and emotions, which translate negatively and positively into the player's performance. There is always a need to find an adequate threshold at which motivation to perform occurs. They create positive communication with the goalkeepers with their teammates. Last but not least, they work on the player's overall mental capacity to meet all these requirements and be resilient to external influences.

Psychology of penalties? Yes.

Strange as it may seem, the psychology of penalties also belongs to the field of sports psychology research, and it was sports psychologist Vaclav Petras who analyzed the process of penalties and its effect on the psyche of the goalkeeper and the shooter.

According to him, the goalkeeper's behaviour during a penalty can look comical at times, trying to distract the shooter with various movements, be it jumping, waving, running... However, his dynamics actually have an effect on the shooter's psyche, as he exposes him to less predictable conditions with his gesticulations and movements. The attention of the player focusing on the ball while thinking about the shot is at that moment simultaneously shifted to the goalkeeper. Thus, concentration is disrupted and, in addition, the player cannot influence the goalkeeper's behaviour. As Petráš advises, the shooter should focus his attention on things he has control over. Set the goal, deepen the breath and increase his concentration on the shot.


Sport psychology plays an important role in the field of football. It offers a large number of techniques and strategies to work with the goalkeeper's mind and keep it calm. A player's psyche is constantly influenced by a variety of factors. Regular and intensive mental training is required for an individual to achieve optimum mental well-being and the art of emotion regulation.

The development and practice of football psychology is steadily increasing. Hopefully, then, we will see further development of this much needed and indispensable field, which largely influences the performance and success of goalkeepers in the world of football. It doesn't matter if you are starting out in football or a seasoned professional, keeping a calm head remains the key to goalkeeping mastery.

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