For many of us, the new football season has already begun or will certainly begin again in the coming weeks. However, we must be aware that the lower intensity of training and no matches in the new season may well play a significant role in the injury suffered by many players.
Suffering an injury is never fun, but as a goalkeeper there are often a few more disadvantages than if you were to suffer an injury as a field player. Every goalkeeper knows the phrase “never change a winning team” and sees it flash by when he realises that rehabilitation will be necessary for a longer period of time.
Therefore, good mental guidance from parents, partner and yourself is of enormous importance. Here are some of the things you can do as a goalkeeper when you are sitting on the sidelines watching your teammates give it their all to get the win.
Some thoughts from an injured goalkeeper.
While the position of goalkeeper can be quite lonely anyway, an injury can lead to feelings of isolation as you are no longer involved in team activities.
An unwanted feeling of envy can arise towards the player who has taken your place if you are injured. Envy is an uncomfortable emotion and is often accompanied by shame or guilt. Injured athletes should know that envy can be a part of their experience, especially when an injury is serious and long-term.
Some studies even point to symptoms of post-traumatic stress after an injury (O’Connor Sr., 2011). The fear of not being injured again can also lead to overdoing rehabilitation exercises, which actually hinders the recovery process.
Fear of lack of skill
Coupled with the fears above, goalkeepers may fear that they will not return to the same level as before the injury. If this happens, the goalkeeper may wonder if it is worth the hard work and struggle to compete for first place again. You want to become number one again, don’t you? So then you should have no doubt that you can reach the same level again and maybe even come out stronger than you have ever been.
Fear of getting injured again
Injured goalkeepers often feel vulnerable after being injured. This can affect the techniques you use in your goalkeeping. You should be aware that you can always be injured, but when the doctor gives you the green light to play again, they will be 100% sure that you are fully rehabilitated.
When a person’s source of pleasure is taken away by an injury, it is not surprising that their mood is affected.
Self-esteem is often related to the identity you have on the field. A good goalkeeper is a leader, confident and an important part of the team. This identity can be put to the test by injury.
Feeling of relief
In some cases, when a goalkeeper has been under great pressure and stress to perform, being forced to take a break because of injury can provide an unexpected sense of relief and even joy, even if one is not aware of it. However, the relief can be a source of conflict for the goalkeeper, and he/she may not be able to simply enjoy it. On the contrary, he/she may feel guilty about having such feelings and try to hide them from others, especially coaches and teammates. As one author puts it, an injury can “act as an ‘honourable discharge’ for [athletes] who seek an excuse to leave their sport” (Peterson, 2009, p. 230).
Here are some strategies that have been shown to help players with injuries.
Visualise healing one’s body and seeing oneself back on the playing field.
Writing down emotional content related to one’s injury. If done consistently and dedicatedly, this can be a useful way of dealing with the many emotions experienced when injured. It can also be a great resource for the athlete in the future, should a new setback occur, as it can serve as a reminder of how he/she got through difficult times.
As with regular training, setting and keeping track of goals can be a beneficial strategy when injured. Goals should be reasonable and realistic and take both a long-term and a short-term view, so that progress can be continuously monitored. Flexibility with goals and their achievement is especially important in injuries, as the progress of rehabilitation is often unpredictable.
Recognising feelings and reality
Recognising some feelings as described above and acknowledging them is important. Ignoring these feelings and trying to be distracted from facing these realities is not beneficial. (O’Connor Sr., 2011).
In many cases, working with a psychologist can be helpful when one is injured and the emotional ramifications are significant. Support from coaches, parents or partner is also crucial, but there are times when a coach or family member is too close to the situation and outside help is warranted and most likely to help.
Find a way to stay connected to the sport and/or find an alternative outlet
If you manage to become a spectator or coach for teammates during your free time, this is sometimes a good way to stay involved. However, depending on your emotional value, it may be too difficult. It is also important to engage in other activities and be social with non-athletes. In other words, try to use your social contacts to engage in non-football activities and expand your horizons, it is the ideal time to do so.