Thinking too much? It’s not all it’s cracked up to be – especially if you’re a goalkeeper who relies on instinct as much as strategic planning to do your job.
Lawrence Thomas, Melbourne Victory’s shot-stopper, admits that overcomplicating things – paralysis by analysis, as it’s sometimes referred to – can be counter-productive.
He believes, having enjoyed his first full campaign as Victory’s No.1 goalie, the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) can often pay the most dividends, particularly for goalkeepers.
“For me this season, my first full season as a No.1, I am fairly happy I have learned along the way. I have made mistakes but, overall, I have had a fairly solid season,” Thomas said.
“I do think I have improved in every aspect of the game. I was talking to Deano [goalkeeping coach Dean Anastasiadis] about this. As you play more, you simplify the game.
“Some of my problems as I was growing up as a young goalkeeper were that I was thinking too much about the game, being a bit erratic.
“Simplifying the game has helped and mentally I have improved a lot purely by reacting to what is coming in on you; not being too eager to come for crosses, to make saves, or trying to play a difficult ball when a simple ball is on.”
It’s certainly worked for Thomas and Victory, as Kevin Muscat’s team has the second-best defensive record in the league this season, having conceded 31 goals – just over one a game.
Only Sydney FC, the runaway league leaders, have conceded fewer, just 12 in their record-breaking run.
Still, as Thomas and his teammates prepare to finish the regular season by hosting Central Coast Mariners on Friday night, he insists that the title is there to be won.
“Two years ago when we played them [in the grand final Victory won] there was similar talk about how strong they were. It’s not done or dusted at all,” he said.
“They deserve to be where they are. We have lost three times against [Sydney], but if you come into games or seasons fearing others or expecting them to finish top then you are at the wrong club.”