The Psychology of the Pre-Game Warm-Up

Welcome to the Goalkeeping Newsletter.  Today’s topic deals with the psychology of the pre game warm up.

The technical and tactical sides of goalkeeping are important.  The psychological sides are just as important (and possibly even more so).

As a coach, when the teams are warming up prior to a game, I want to watch my keeper but I will also watch the other teams keepers.  If I see bad technique, poor footwork or an overall lack of athleticism, I’ll make note of this and make sure the team I’m coaching is aware of this and encourage them to shoot whenever possible because it looks like the keeper position is a weakness.  If the keeper looks like they have good technique, good footwork and is athletic I most likely will not mention the keeper at all.  Based on this alone, I know if the keeper I’m coaching works hard in warm ups, shows proper technique, footwork and attitude, there is a good chance the opposing team will notice this as well.  This means that encouraging the keeper warm up with a peak performance will not only allow them to prepare better but also might make their job easier.

In my opinion, the keeper should “cherish” the 18 yard box.  It’s a privelege to be in a game and in that area.  Because of this, I have the initial part of the warm up done outside the 18 (and preferably outside the field of play.  This would include their dynamic warm up, the sitting, kneeling and catchers position progression and the first stages of diving from a standing position.  My reasons for this include the following:

  • The 18 yard box, and more specifically the goal area, frequently is the most worn out area of the field so why do I want to cause more damage than has already been done?
  • The 18 yard box, and more specifically the goal area, is an area where I expect keepers to be completely focussed at all times.  I don’t want a keeper sitting down in the 18 or kneeling or lying around unnecessarily.  The 18 is where I want them to be “all business”.
  • The 18 yard box is an area I want the keeper to own.  I want their teammates to know this is the “keepers area” and should be respected at all times.  In the same way that I want the keeper to be focussed whenever he is in the 18, I want the team to see that from their keeper.

As a coach, unless I’m serving balls, I don’t want to be in the 18.  If I want to talk to the keeper, I’ll pull the keeper to the side or behind the goal to talk to the keeper.  This is a case of it being important for the keeper to understand they are in charge in the 18 and not the coach.

Near the end of the warm up, if the team is doing some shooting, I’ll allow the keeper to take a few shots but make sure they understand this is not a shooting drill for them so they can use it as a warm up but the objective isn’t for the keeper to get peppered with shots.  At one point in my coaching I would have the keeper go after every other shot (so they could work on positioning and shot blocking and not worry about rapid fire saves) but the problem with that is I don’t want the keeper seeing the ball going in the back of the net over and over.  Instead, I prefer to have them take a few shots, make the saves and then always end on a positive.   If the keeper wants to be in goal for 5 shots and the 5th shot goes in, they stay in for a 6th so they can end on a positive.

There are a lot of small things to help with the psychological makeup of the keeper.  The big thing to remember is with a goalkeeper, perceptions are very important.  They must feel they are ready.  They must feel they are in control.  They must feel they are “the man”.  Also, the opponent must feel the same way.  We want the opponent to worry about the keeper and not the other way around.

Some keepers don’t like to warm up.  Some don’t care how others perceive them.  For me, those keepers probably wont make it playing for me.

Just some thoughts

Have a great day!


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