At some point in your GKing career, you will be on a team that loses....regularly. It's inevitable. You'll have a losing season. So how does a GK deal with this?
As we witnessed last night in our US Men's National Team defeat to Canada. Let me write that again......our US Men's National Team defeat to Canada; our National Team is in the midst of a losing crisis. So, how do Zach Steffen, and the other National Team GKs approach this crisis? Do they panic? Do they give up? Do they pack-it-in? Or do they "bear down" and work harder?
As a GK Coach who has, unfortunately, experienced losing seasons, I choose the "bear down and train to get better" method. It's not easy, and many times it doesn't guarantee the desired results. But it does help the GKs forget the past, clear their mind(s), and concentrate on the next match, and really, that's what GKing is all about....making the next save, dealing with the next shot, serve, or break-away.
You've probably heard me say before, that GKing is a journey; and the way GKs learn is through failure (conceding goals). The GK Coach has to be objective in his/her approach to training/preparation after a loss, or string of losses. The GK Coach should work with the GKs in identifying the problems that occurred, and how the GK dealt with them. If the GK is fully at fault for a goal, then the Coach needs to honestly analyze the break-down, and then present training options to "fix" the mistake/problem before the next match. This is not always easy, but if the GK coach has developed a solid rapport with his/her charges, no offense is taken by the GKs, and no disappointment is conveyed by the Coach. (Easy to say, harder to do,by the way).
Then, after match analysis is complete, we work in training on keeping the GKs sharp, preparing for the next opponent, and figuring the best way to give our team the best chance to win the next game. Sometimes that may mean switching GKs. Now, the "number 1" will never be happy with that, but the GK Coach needs to share honestly with the GKs, as well as reasoning with the Head Coach as to the recommendation for a GK switch. Remember, the ultimate decision for all team dynamics is made by the Head Coach, but the GK Coach needs to succinctly lay-out his/her reasoning for which GK gives the TEAM the best chance of winning the next match. After all, the next match is always the most important match of the year.
Dealing with losses is not easy. Dealing with losses is not fun. But if we as GK Coaches have any chance to changing a losing trend, we need to be objective, we need to be honest, and most importantly, we need to be "All FOR" our GKs as we struggle through the tough patches.
May the ground beneath your dive be soft. May your goalposts be 3 feet wide. May the opposition shoot everything right at you.
All the Best--EV