Every once in a while, when watching or playing soccer, a moment of absolute expectancy will arise. It’s the moment when a foul is called within the perimeter surrounding the goal box.
The penalty for such a foul is a free kick from a mere 12 yards away from the goal line. The odds are not in the favor of the goalkeeper.
I started playing goalkeeper during my chubby middle school years, mainly because it seemed to entail the least amount of running. By the time I entered High School, I had slimmed down and fallen in love with the position. When my goalie coach, Coach Palmer, would practice penalty kicks with me, he would advise me to simply pick a side and dive with all of my might. If I thought the shooter was going to kick to my right, I should prepare to dive to my right even before he took the shot. If I guessed correctly, I’d be able to stop the ball. If not, people would know that I was fully committed. He’d remind me that the pressure is never on the goalie, it’s actually on the shooter.
If he misses the goal, he’s a bad shot.
If I save it, I’m a hero and he’s a bad shot.
If he makes it, and I gave a valiant effort, no one will fault me.
There was a certain peace of mind that came with knowing that I was either going to be just fine or a total hero and the shooter would either meet expectations or be a total failure. In fact, before penalty kicks in college, I would regularly shake the hands of my opponent and remind him, “…the pressure is on you.”
If you’re bold enough to stand on the goal line–to create or develop new ideas in a world that will take countless shots at you–remember that people know the odds are against you. But, the pressure isn’t on you to always protect the net, it’s on you to pick your side and dive all in.
The more you practice, the more you’ll learn to read the ball and the better you’ll be.