Staying Focused at Goalkeeper: Imagine that Anything Can Happen

As a Goalkeeping coach, I love teaching physical skills that are done in close proximity, because of the beauty in the micro-movements and technicality of body position when it comes to the goalkeeper: footwork, catching, and blocking, and kicking


But what about those lonely times when it seems that the ball is a world away?

I listened to this podcast recently titled, The Loneliness of the Goalkeeper. 

In an interview referenced in the piece, Bob Wilson, Arsenal legend from the “Golden Age of Football”, was asked how to he stayed focused in the game when playing behind 10 of the best players in the world and may only have to make one save in 90 minutes. He replied:

“Do you remember the bionic man? When the ball was at the other end of the field, I imagine that guy on the ball, the opponent, was Steve Austin. So, he could turn around at any part of the pitch, 60 yards away, 70 yards away, 10 yards away, and strike a ball towards my goal.”

When I was a kid, we all wanted to be the bionic man, and today actually am! I’m fit with a a Smith and Nephew model hip, thank you very much.

 Unfortunately, it hasn’t given me “6 million dollar” qualities, though I’m happy to be pain free when I demo.

My miracle of medicine aside, it is important as a goalkeeper to stay focussed.  Imagine that anything, ANYTHING, can happen, even a man running at 60 miles per hour.  

In your head, even predict possible scenarios  like radio announcers Alistair Brownlee and Peter Jones “Number 9 has the ball. Oh! Beautiful step over!  He beats his marker, and in the gap. But, Oh!  Keeper off his line and cleans it up.” Or, “It’s long ball down the middle.  It looks like it’s going over the defense.  The 11 is applying good pressure, but easily cleared by the well-organized defense.”   

Happy Goalkeeping!

Stephen Swanger

Goalkeeper coach, Tacoma, Washingon


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