6 Precise Things That Only Goalkeepers Will Understand
I don't have TikTok. I don't particularly like TikTok. But every now and then, a TikTok pops up on my Instagram or Facebook feed that piques my interest. Usually, it's something along the lines of "Three things that only (blank) will understand."
The blank could range from anything from JV soccer players to baseball outfielders. They frequently draw me in only to be completely devoid of any substance, and I am always left disappointed.
This list isn't one of those shallow TikToks; this is what I want those shallow TikToks to be. If you are a goalkeeper, you probably will not relate to most of the items on this list. If you are a keeper, this list will be a refreshing take on a genre that lacks meaningful content.
6 Very Specific Things That Only Goalkeepers Will Understand
Jamming your fingers on the easiest shots
You get set for the shot, preparing yourself for the most vicious, dipping effort you've ever seen. Instead, it's a lollipop — a nice soft strike headed right for your chest. You're caught off guard; your hands instinctively shoot out, only they're much too early. You feel a searing pain as the ball jams your extended fingers. The ball momentarily drops to the turf before you quickly pick it up.
No one else notices, but two of your digits feel as if they're on fire. You can feel them swelling up inside your glove as the range of motion quickly becomes nonexistent and you attempt to shake away the increasing discomfort. You saved the shot, but now feel incredibly stupid and slightly embarrassed, even if you're the only one that knows what actually happened.
Blasting punts or goal kicks because you feel like it
Sure, you have a defender open short and your coach wants you to keep possession, but the wind is at your back and you're slightly perturbed with your teammates at the moment. So you give the ball an almighty boot. As you watch the ball fly through the air, you could care less about who wins possession, just that you kicked the ball as far as you possibly could.
Defenders who always block your view
They think they're doing you a favor as they courageously sacrifice their body by jumping in front of shots. Yet, they always do so directly in your field of vision, drastically reducing your ability to react to shots. All of their efforts are canceled out because they can't stand three feet to the left or right.
Shots (almost) right at you are the hardest to save
I believe it was the great Henrik Larsson who once noted that when he shot the ball, he often aimed for areas near the keeper rather than the corners of the goal. He directed shots between the keeper's legs and to either side of their limbs, above their head and under their armpits. Shots in these so-called grey areas look easy to block but are deceptively difficult to react to.
Your arms feel simultaneously too short to reach the ball yet too long to stretch out quickly. Your eyes see the ball traveling toward the space between your feet, but your legs can't react quickly enough as you find yourself in a goalkeeping purgatory.
Never shaking hands or touching hair/face with your gloves on
They don't always want to admit it, but every goalkeeper's gloves are gross. At a certain point, the gloves stain your hands with an impervious smell that still reeks after multiple washes.
The constant flow of spit sent to your palms creates a sticky surface ideal for catching the ball. Add in sweat, dirt and the foam on your gloves becomes covered with a certifiably disgusting substance. It makes sense to not shake hands with gloves on.
When the ref points for a goal kick even though you made the save
The shot comes in from the edge of the penalty area. You dive full stretch and the ball knicks inches wide off the tip of your middle finger. You convince yourself that your all-important touch prevented a goal, but then to your surprise, the referee points for a goal kick.
You want to scream at the top of your lungs: "I saved it! I saved it!" but everyone else seems to have forgotten what just transpired. If it's during practice or a pick-up game, you toss the ball toward the corner flag so everyone knows that your finger pushed the ball past the post. In a real game, you give a little smirk and keep your mouth shut.