mental resilience

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This blog will give you a few key ingredients that will be your guide to how you can maintain or strengthen your mental resilience. However, these are NOT “magic pills”, but will help you to get started in the right way.

Have you ever wondered why some goalkeepers are inconsistent in their matches or training sessions?  For example, a good game today but next week you’ll have a bad game or a good season and a bad season.

  • Are you a goalie who always worries about what others (mum, dad, coach, friends etc) might say about your performance?
  • Do you worry about making mistakes during matches even before the match has started?
  • Do you have trouble managing your teammates due to a lack of confidence?

If yes, then it is time to start working on your mental resilience!

For this article we would also like to thank our Sports Psychologists who work every day to let top athletes get the most out of themselves.

During the trainings and competitions the psychologists have analysed several points that everyone can use to boost your mental resilience, not only in sports but also in everyday life. For this you need to have the right MINDSET so you can pick it up and keep applying it.

BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF

The first question you should ask yourself is why do you play football, is it because your friends needed another goalkeeper and you didn’t want to disappoint them or to compete with other goalkeepers to play as high as possible? There is a big difference…

Are you a goalkeeper because you want to please your parents, coach or friends, or do you only play in goal because you are not a good field player?

Are you a goalkeeper who wants to play for fun or is it more about your parents’ or someone else’s dreams instead of fulfilling yours?

If you are a goalkeeper who is not big, cannot jump and has no speed, will you really be able to play at a professional or even a high level?

The point of these questions is to find the true meaning of your life, be honest and realistic about what you are trying to achieve.  Otherwise, what is the point of doing anything in life? But more importantly, you will struggle to find peace of mind and you will forever struggle to be mentally strong if you can’t just be honest with yourself!

LOVE TO BE UNCOMFORTABLE

There are certainly many keepers who cannot find consistency. Some say they just “didn’t have a good day”. Whatever it is, but we can’t keep using the “good day, bad day” excuse forever because on the day that REALLY matters like, the final of a tournament, the championship game or even a test practice with your favourite team, then the “good day bad day” excuse won’t work, only a good performance is what matters at that moment.

Imagine a NAVY SEAL or SPECIAL FORCES soldier saying, “I had a bad day today”. If they have a bad day, they will be gone forever.

To find consistency, it starts with practice or training…Your training MUST be intense and outside your comfort zone.  If you can train this way, your mind and body will learn to perform well under stress. Furthermore, there are many goalkeepers or athletes who perform very well in training but struggle with their mental resilience in matches, this is because they are not getting training that brings out the best in them.

They actually finish these training sessions under the “feel good” feeling or a training session that is very “ROBOTIC” and constantly does the same things. So they know what is expected of them, which of course is not the case at all during a competition. You are presented with different situations that you just practiced differently during training.

Mentale weerbaarheid is luisteren en aanvaarden van kriktiek
Being uncomfortable also means that you hear what you need to hear and not what you would like to hear.

For example, criticism: some athletes, goalkeepers or even PARENTS cannot hear honest criticism. They are simply not prepared to hear a coach say that they should go to a lower level or that they are not good enough to play on a certain team.  Some goalkeepers and parents see failure as a bad thing, when in fact failure means that you can build up your CHARACTER and show your mental toughness by demonstrating with your hands that maybe this coach was wrong.

Then there are the athletes who only show energy or commitment when everything is going well. But as soon as they feel stress or the feeling that things are not going as well, they will not work as hard or they will simply stop working to their full potential. Generally, this happens with athletes who have a weaker mental toughness and with goalkeepers who have only learned to do enough to survive. Again, be honest with yourself, because life is not made to have only positive moments. So be prepared for these lesser moments, otherwise you will certainly notice later how your mental resilience is doing!

Learn and love to be uncomfortable as much as possible to find a real way to mental toughness. It is often not an easy situation, because who wants to be uncomfortable? Nobody, but they are moments where you have to get outside your comfort zone and learn to stand up for yourself.

BE HUMBLE

Being humble is NOT a sign of weakness, it is a sign of self-confidence.

I have personally met young goalkeepers who in their short amateur careers have achieved a certain “status”, club or level and immediately become the most arrogant players around. Some act as if they are the only good goalkeeper around, when in fact there are so many more!

Being humble enables you to be open to new ideas, concepts and criticism. It even allows you to see your future endeavours realistically.  Humility also helps you to understand your own personal limitations and difficulties, which is an important step in reaching your full athletic potential. Remember, arrogance has nothing to do with self-confidence.

These 3 ingredients are an important part of so many goalies. Being mentally strong means that you keep going when there is nothing left to give. If you only pick the battles you think you can win and run away from the others, you have a long way to go to become mentally strong.

Just analyse these few steps, apply them and see where it can take you. Being mentally strong will not happen overnight, but your mental training must start soon to stay competitive in the modern game or even in your personal life.

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