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Required Optimism

Goalkeepers occupy one of the loneliest positions in sports. As a goalkeeper, you constantly face two realities. One, you belong on a team of like-minded individuals working together to achieve various goals. Two, you are isolated in a certain space on the field with particular rules that only apply to you. As a result of these competing realities, goalkeepers are often left with nothing but their own thoughts for large stretches of 90 minute matches. It is for this reason that the psychology of a goalkeeper deserves more attention. 

One’s ability to carry a positive, optimistic mindset is under appreciated when it comes to goalkeeping. Your mindset informs your behavior, which in turn will inform your overall performance. Writer and public speaker Jon Gordon frequently refers to his ‘No Complaining Rule.’ Simply put, you can enhance your mindset and outlook by erasing complaints from your spoken word. The more you voice complaints, the more you validate those complaints as accurate representations of a given situation. 

A simple test to gauge your level of optimism involves just checking yourself in training or in competition. How often do you voice complaints? How do you react to another’s complaining? It is important to recognize this fault in both yourself and in others. Often masquerading as realism, people with a negative mindset are skilled in convincing you that, as an optimist, you are not being realistic, and thus should not be taken seriously. 

The next time you are in training, test yourself to measure your level of optimism. How do you respond to adversity? How often do you complain about this drill or that drill? How do you receive criticism? You’ll be surprised at how much more enjoyable and rewarding training sessions will become once you arrive at higher levels of optimism.

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