Sport Psychology for Goalies

In some ways, being a goalie is like playing an individual sport within a team sport. You are an integral part of the team and benefit from stepping-up as a leader of the defense. And yet, a lot of the time you are alone, on your own little island in the goal. You are the last line of defense, which can be a daunting task.  Each time you make a save, play continues, you have to be ready for the next shot, and you may not even remember that save when you reflect on the game later.  Each time you miss a shot, play stops and you often replay that missed shot in your head- this makes it easier to think in a negative way and dwell on your mistakes, while it’s more difficult to see the positives in your performance.  Add to this that you have so much more time to think than any other player.  Sport psychologists often advise you to think less, get out of your head, and stay in the zone.  Well it’s certainly difficult to do that given that the ball is on the other side of the field for a large portion of each game.  Your mental game is essential to your success and the uniqueness of the position brings about its own challenges.  Here are a few tips to help:


Act Confident

-       Be a presence in the goal and keep your head up

-       When you act confident, you feel more confident

Use a coping mantra

-       Something you say to yourself that makes you feel positive and confident in the goal

o   For example: Calm and confident, I’ve got this; Stand tall, step to the ball

Choose a simple focal point

-       In practice, focus on one specific goal for each drill

-       In games, choose one or two unifying things to focus on that help bring it all together to meet your ultimate goal of making the save- give yourself something to focus on that is 100% within your control.

Imagine pressing the reset button after each goal

-       Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and picture pressing a reset button

-       Each shot is a fresh opportunity to step up

When the ball is on the other side of the field…

-       Focus on watching the game as it’s going on at the other end of the field

-       Focus on something positive to avoid getting too in your head during these times

-       Take a few deep breaths

-       Start communicating with your team and get into your ready position as soon as the other team has the ball- this allows you to get back in the zone before the next shot