When it Really Matters, During Big Matches are you Mentally Tough?

Right now, we are entering the business end of the football season.  With Manchester City looking to be the only team to win the quadruple – though Tottenham this evening and Liverpool over the course of the next few weeks will have something to say about that.  If Manchester City are going to be successful, their goalkeeper – Ederson – will have be right on his game during the remaining matches and display all his technical and physical qualities, as well as a huge degree of Mental Toughness.

For you I wonder – if you spent time to develop your Mental Toughness how much more could you achieve?

I’d like you to think of a time when you got in your own way and a mental factor negatively affected your performance…. may be a ball came into the box and you hesitated for a split second then came for the ball too late and a striker nipped in, in front of you.  You then went on to struggle with different parts of your game for the rest of the match because you couldn’t stop thinking about your error….

Or possibly you get too nervous before a big match and go on to sometimes wish you were on the bench.

In the build-up to and during important matches so many mental factors can affect your performance.  When supporting highly skilled goalkeepers many speak about the benefits of training the mind:

  • Increased trust under pressure
  • Better concentration
  • Improved motivation in training
  • More effective communication…

Many goalkeepers may believe these skills to be hugely important, yet training the mind is the most neglected aspect of a goalkeepers training.

Goalkeepers that don’t engage with sport psychology cite:

  • A belief that it won’t help them
  • Wrongly assume that you must have problems to work with a sport psychologist
  • Don’t have the time or money
  • Worry about what others may think of them

David De Gea, arguably one of the best goalkeepers on the planet, realised he needed to find a mental edge a few years ago to fulfil his potential.  He had a great deal of self-belief however he recognized his game wasn’t as good as his vision of it and that as well as improving technical and physical attributes to succeed in England he understood developing mental skills to deal with the undoubted pressure of playing in goal for Manchester United was essential.

How could Sport Psychology help?

Often goalkeepers recognise that, it’s good to talk with somebody who probably knows how they are feeling before a match.  Maybe you’re a keeper who gets very nervous or focuses on the wrong things.   A sport psychologist may help ground you and help you get back to the present moment using different tools in their toolkit.  They’ll also likely to have put together with you a focus plan for matches, so that you can systematically work your way through the plan to aid your confidence going into a match.

To Develop your Mental Toughness why not try these tips:

  1. Identify 1 mental skill that if you developed could take your game to the next level
  2. Create an action plan to improve this skill in practise
  3. Identify distractions that negatively impact on this skill
  4. Create a focus plan to ensure you regroup quickly
  5. Visualise yourself being distracted and refocusing immediately

Feel free to get in touch if you wish to improve your mental toughness and achieve your goals, fast.

You can also take a Mental Toughness for Goalkeepers Quiz for some more helpful tips.  CLICK HERE



David Charlton

HCPC Registered Sport and Exercise Psychologist

T: +44(0)7734 697769

E: info@sport-excellence.co.uk