…Or playing in goal…
I have played in goal five times this season with varying success.
0-0 away to Urbanspor (6th in the league)
8-2 loss at home to relegation rivals FF Friedenau
5-3 loss at BSG (5th in the league)
2-1 loss at Bosna Hercegovina (top of the league)
6-3 loss yesterday at Biber Spandau (2nd in the league)
Our proper goalkeeper has been injured since November, and the other two goalkeepers we have don’t play very often. As the team is in the middle of a relegation battle, I told the manager that I would do it for the rest of the season, if needed, but from next season I wanted to return to being a ‘real’ player.
I had played in goal for a few years for a few five a side teams back in England. I’m actually a defender, but I think I donned the gloves due to us not having a goalkeeper one week and enjoyed the opportunity to throw myself around like some kind of hyperactive cat. Five a side skills don’t really compare to those needed to play eleven aside, however. Unfortunately.
In terms of saving shots, I think I am quite good. It’s the other bits I have problems with. The bits that mean you don’t have to save shots.
Positioning is pretty easy in five a side. You have your own box, which you have to stay in and no one can enter, and the goal is maybe 2 feet high (60cm) and 10 feet wide (3m). Being 5’11’’ was never a problem in five a side, but I feel a lot more exposed in a full-sized goal. And that is before I even venture off my line.
Indecisiveness is also a problem. In my games in goal, a lot of balls have been played over our defence, and, as a rule, I won’t come unless I have seen the ball bounce, so I can work out where it is going. I’m always in two minds, which leads to indecisiveness. In five a side, you can’t come out to deal with these passes (plus the ball can’t be played high), so it is not an issue.
Concentration is my final problem. It might not look it from some of the scores above, but there are long periods with very little to do. When I play as a defender, I relish the chance to not have to do anything, and the same is true to a certain extent when playing in goal. However, I find my mind wandering quite often in games when stood watching. I spend most of the game worrying about what I could do wrong at any given moment, and going over my mental checklist (stay on your toes, check where the goal is, etc), and it is hard to keep that up for the full game. It might not look like it, but playing in goal in real football (11 a side) is mentally very tiring, and it is quite easy for the mind to switch off temporarily.
I actually don’t practise playing in goal at all at training, partly as for the last few months we have pretty much only done passing drills, partly as I don’t want the manager to start looking at me as a goalkeeper instead of an outfield player, and partly as our home pitch is really hard (our league plays on Astroturf/all weather pitches of varying quality), meaning my knees and elbows hurt for up to two weeks after home games.
I don’t want to say that I don’t like playing in goal, as some parts of it I like. The diving around like a child is still fun, despite my advancing years. But the mental challenge of playing in goal is completely different, I would argue, than that of playing any other position.
The downside is that our normal goalkeeper, who is really good (and smaller than me!) is out for the season, and we have three or four must win games coming up against teams around us from April 30th. If I am still in goal, hopefully I will have a set defensive line in front of me (I have never played more than one game in goal with the same defence), and I will have nothing to do.
It may be stressful, but it’s worth it if we win.