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Goal Setting: Beware the Role Model

For goalkeepers at every age and level, goal setting is a crucial component to their development. This piece will address setting goals at the individual level, leaving aside ‘team goals’ for the moment. While becoming motivated may require effort and attention, staying motivated can be much more difficult. In confronting big questions, you force yourself to visualize ambitious and reachable goals. Do I enjoy training? Where do I see myself in 5 years? Do I believe I’m ready to compete at the next level? Tough questions but addressing them allows goalkeepers to formulate their own path ahead. 

In order to be successful as a goalkeeper, you must become accustomed to setting both short- and long-term goals. Short-term goals allow you to get motivated every morning when you awaken. While we’re currently in the summer months before the Fall season, one such goal might take the shape of completing your team’s fitness requirements. Every day you can take measurable action toward that end. Whether on the run or on the bike, it is a clear target. Since programs tend to differ regarding the importance they place on goalkeeper fitness, you can set the target yourself and work to achieve your goal by the Fall. 

Long-term goals can help keepers maintain their motivation through long periods of time. As a freshman in high school, for example, you might enjoy the idea of competing at the college level. This vision is simple enough to always refer back to whenever you face adversity. It can help answer the age-old question, ‘why am I doing this?’ Creating solid goals down the road will build the mental strength required to compete at very high levels.

One term that surfaces frequently in discussions about goal setting is ‘role model.’ While calling someone a role model is still meant to be a compliment, there are applications that can be dangerous for a goalkeeper’s mentality. It may be a good idea, say, to look up to David De Gea. He’s one of the best goalkeepers in the world at the moment and carries many positive attributes. The danger, however, comes when a youth goalkeeper seeks to replicate the path to stardom. It is near impossible to mimic a goalkeeper’s rise to elite status. No two goalkeepers are the same or travel the same path, and by assigning big stars the label of role model, you are only setting yourself up to fail.

Living a vicarious life through someone else should be avoided at every level. Young keepers especially need to create their own path and take responsibility for themselves first and foremost. Putting trust in a role model will abdicate that responsibility and leave you prone to excuses and complaints. Instead, set clear short and long-term goals in order to see your dream realized. 

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