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By Nathalie Garcia, Bewolfish psychologist specialized in sports psychology and coaching with experience in high-performance sports psychology; former athlete. 

In most team sports, knowing how to correctly face the one-on-one against the goalkeeper is basic as it is a common practice in matches. A situation of these characteristics may influence the final outcome of the match. Knowing how to successfully face a one-on-one is especially relevant, but not only, for those players for whom the counterattack is a key practice of their game.

“First, you must be quick

and precise in making decisions”

Sometimes, a one-on-one against the goalkeeper can be the fine line between a victory and a defeat. Which, probably, adds pressure to the player thus hindering the execution and the options to score. For this reason, below, we give you three mental keys to increase your chances of success in the one-on-one.

1. Be quick in making decisions

First, you must be quick and precise in making decisions. The best way to work the speed and success in the finalization of a one-on-one against the goalkeeper is to train the decision making in a continuous and conscious way. That is, to know what possibilities of finalization you have (because you master them in a technical way) and in which situation it is better to use each of them.

In order to improve in the one-on-one against the goalkeeper, you can record when you have used each finishing technique, if you have used them in the right situation and if the execution has been good or you should work it more. This registry will allow you to improve because you will be constantly adding experiences to the decision-making process and it will make the process much richer. In addition, by working it continuously in training and matches will make you faster in this process.


2. Be focused on the relevant and omit unwanted stimulus

On the other hand, you must be totally focused on the relevant aspects to be as effective as possible. In order to be prepared, you must always look at the position of the goalkeeper, the position of the rivals (those who chase you and the one against whom you will initiate the action with) and the distance and angle of the goal with respect to your position. Moreover, it is equally important to omit any other stimulus that may distract you from the one-on-one, such as the audience’s screams.

In order to focus on what is relevant, you can use the self-instructions, that is, small keys that we routinely use to execute a concrete action. For example: “I only have to look where the goalkeeper is (it is closer to the right side of the goal), decide how to dodge it and where I will shoot (I shoot close to the left side of the goal, downside)”.

3. Have self-confidence

Finally, we must act decisively. Therefore, it is necessary to have self-confidence in your ability to successfully complete the one-on-one. If you make the right decision and have been concentrated on the relevant aspects, but you are invaded by doubts about whether you will succeed or not, you will lose time and probably fail because you will give the goalkeeper time to prepare and stop the ball.

To achieve self-confidence in the one-on-one, you must train all your finishing techniques until you master them. The more times you put them into practice successfully, the more confident you will be to use them when it comes to the truth. A useful tool to gain confidence are the visualizations. If you imagine yourself solving this type of situations successfully, you will feel more confident when you have to perform them in the game.

“With dedication and practice you

can develop a great ability to overcome

the one-on-one against the goalkeeper”

If when reading these lines, you feel that you need to improve some of the aspects discussed above, do not panic. You already have the knowledge, with dedication and practice you can develop a great ability to overcome the one-on-one against the goalkeeper. If, instead, you already use some of these strategies, congratulations! This means that by working and adjusting small details you will be a great attacker.

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