Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Season review: Cowling not as resurgent as hoped

How does a goalkeeper capable of earning clean sheets in the Premier league, 'stopping the rot' in relief of another goalkeeper having their season implode, only to move down a division to be part of a squad that ends up getting relegated during that same season? That's the question that hangs around the situation of one of the most historical national league clubs getting demoted in the West conference. With other teams digging their heels in to stop the same fate occuring, it was a battle to the last for a number of teams in the West division.

Whilst it may come across like a turncoat of the GK Union bitching about elite players, this does stand out on a technical level of analysis with the 'mental game' in mind. Especially considering that Cowling has had the luxury of playing behind a strong team (little work to do not relative to a goalkeeper's performance). Cowling's confidence 'in between the sticks' has always stood out in the national league. His puffed out chest, his air of self confidence and oozing self belief. He is a lot like Max Weinhold (German Olympian) in this respect.

And belief is crucial to a goalkeeper playing well - crucial for the team in front of them. And their consistency over a season; whether a bad loss effects them or not going into the next game etc. Peter Shilton for instance swears by the need for the goalkeeper to be 'full of it', with a lot of goalkeeper coaches encouraging a real intensity to the goalkeeper's mental approach to playing, with the need for goalkeepers to be confident in their shot stopping; the two linked intrinsically.

Unfortunately for Ben and Havant, this was a regular sight this season just past.

Compare all this to Simon Mason and his performances which pretty much ensured the survival of the Surrey side. Just so in a surprise win over Havant playing away (in which the photo above was actually taken). Whereas Mason kept struggling on and battling away no matter what, Cowling sometimes seemed to lose the thread of consistency as his confidence crumbled.

It's easy to forget the team role of goalkeeping in hockey, a team sport! If the goalkeeper gets too cocky, they can believe themselves to be above the team and their team mates, even if the defence is arguably a reason for their success. And similarly, if they stop believing in themselves, their defence can end up going the same way. As they say in ice hockey, a goalie should 'carry his team'. Goalkeeper is a self sacrificial sort of mentality and position. Goalkeepers need to bleed for their team mates, to go all out, to do whatever it takes. And have that competitive edge. Without this, you can guarantee that the season won't go well.

In an objective world of analysis, goalkeepers would be critiqued on this and also coached on this incredibly important aspect of the game. Of course, athletes are still human, but for this level of sport, the goalkeeper has to take on the responsibility for their own game and their confidence levels. If these drop, they need to restock, refresh and start believing in themselves again to get out of a 'slump'.


  1. Could it not be the team in front of him?

  2. Oh for sure, unfair to put the weight of expectations on a goalkeeper to win without the team doing their part. Just noticable that he 'got his head down' a few times versus how self assured he normally is, which was a shame. From experience just feel that if the goalkeeper competes and 'bleeds' for their team, the squad will rally round them. He would have had to play 'lights out' all the time for the team to have avoided relegation and did have some MOTM games, but felt he needed a bit more fight about him...