Football players unapologetically shout and bicker between one another. And it’s not necessarily the sign of bad team spirit. In fact, constructively criticising and motivating your team mates to play to their best ability is healthy — provided it doesn’t seriously damage anyone’s self-confidence.
But why exactly do we regularly see goalkeepers going berserk at their team mates? Why are keepers so much more intense than the rest of their team? Are keepers mentally sound, or just completely crazy?
Whenever I see a goalkeeper berating their defence during a game, I completely get it. I fully understand what’s invoked that level of anger. But if you’re an outfield player then here’s what you need to learn about goalkeepers’ anger…
1. High Stakes
Responsibility on the football pitch becomes increasingly more serious as you work back from the strikers. Defenders have it bad; goalkeepers have it worse. With so much at stake, keepers are entitled to blow off some steam.
Think about it: what do attacking players really have to complain about?
- Mislaid passes? Poor crosses?
- Being caught offside (when they usually were)?
- Not scoring (when they should have)?
- Not being the one to take the (fun) free kicks or penalties?
Its all child’s play compared to what the keeper has to deal with. Nothing’s that trivial when you’re in goal.
Yes — all players have key responsibilities. But no player, apart from the goalkeeper, has zero protection from behind. So it’s understandable that keepers vent when their team mates offer less than adequate protection from in front.
2. Blame & Accountability
Goalkeepers are constantly made aware of their mistakes — and the magnitude of them — from fans, pundits, players, and managers. They’re reminded of those errors through goals conceded, and games lost.
“The keeper is the last man in the line of defence… so it’s their fault, right?”
Unfortunately that’s the way it’s seen. The goalkeeper becomes an easy scapegoat for anyone else involved in an error. And to make matters worse, a weak team performance will tarnish a keeper’s pride and reputation more than anyone else’s.
So it’s unsurprising that keepers seize that rare opportunity to pick other players up on their errors — shouting to the top of their lungs, at times.
Being accountable for errors makes it difficult for keepers to mentally recover. It’s lead to the downfall of many great professionals such as Paul Robinson, Joe Hart, and Loris Karius. This underlines that all successful keepers must condition themselves to accept the blame and move on — even when it feels unjust.
3. Risk of Injury
Another reason that keepers often vocalise their frustration on the pitch is that there’s a high risk of being hurt in doing their job.
During games the adrenaline kicks in — which kills the pain. But the reality is that keepers are likely to get injured from time to time. So when weak/sloppy play calls for a potentially career-damaging recovery save, keepers tend to get a little bit wound up!
Professional keepers, and footballers in general, have a lot riding on their fitness levels. It makes sense they wouldn’t want their livelihood unnecessarily jeopardised. So to protect themselves, they’ll ‘urge’ their players to liven up.
4. Pressure & Stress
Goalkeeping is mentally enduring. So while football is supposed to be enjoyed, there’s no doubting that keepers feel immense pressure and stress along the way.
High levels of effort, concentration and intensity are needed for keepers to thrive. Unfortunately it’s not that easy to simply switch off the “beast mode”. As a result, goalkeepers will often come across brash in their outbursts during games (to say the least).
5. Being the Communicator
Finally, the goalkeeper has the right to boss their team around. It’s their role.
I describe keepers as the “default team captain”. They have the best view of the game, and they’re the only player on the pitch with enough energy over the entire match to provide instructions and encouragement or to their team.
Shouting at your own team sometimes tows a thin line between friend and foe. But outfield team mates will ultimately come to respect their dominant goalkeepers; it’s what they want. Ironically, being tough and bossy out on the pitch tends to elevate your status within the team rather than make you the villain.
Keepers do have an ability revert back to their true self after the final whistle. So, perhaps, that split calm/intense personality switch indicates a bit of genuine craziness after all!
The following video touches on a lot of the areas I’ve covered in this article, and provides an excellent insight into the reasons why so many keepers get angry during games.
All winning teams are built around dominant, resilient characters. Becoming one of them is mandatory when you’re a goalkeeper — for both your survival and success. So don’t be scared to speak up during games. Just be constructive… and try to keep a cool head.