Paul Robinson Forgot About The Law of Dominance
August 23, 2007
There has been much talk about Paul Robinson’s blunders against Germany. While there has been blunt criticism of the goalkeepers ability, there has been strong support from team mates which is a good thing for Robinson. In goalkeeping nothing is certain. We can blame and point fingers as much as we want, but it does no good. In the social sciences there is something called a “Dominating decision rule”, and it points to some striking points as to how goalkeepers can make better choices in uncertain or pressured situations. Following are some tips that you can utilize to help maximize your goalkeeper performance under pressure:
Decision theory is a great way for the competitive goalkeeper to help maximize the way they approach certain aspects of their game. Whether it be to stand back and command your defense instead of attacking a cross, or, coming off your line instead of staying on it (the decisions are limitless).
So what is decision theory as it relates to goalkeeping? Simply it means, identifying the right action to take when the goalkeeper is fully informed of the situation around them, and are able to compute the decision with perfect accuracy, and be fully rational when they make their final decision.
Pascal spoke of a phenomenon called “choice under uncertainty”. This rule (in goalkeeping terms) means that when faced with numerous decisions in a competitive game the goalkeeper should determine all possible outcomes, weigh up the negatives and positives and go with the decision that will provide the best possible result (ie. a save).
So, in a perfect world, Pascal’s rule is relatively hard to action, as the decisions that need to be made by the competitive goalkeeper during an attacking situation are usually instantaneous or split second. The maxim for goalkeepers here is to act first, think later.
To make matters more complex, the goalkeeper faces something called “paralysis of choice”. What we mean here is that when faced with more than one choice under pressured situations, the goalkeeper will make poor decisions or no decision at all.
Be Better Informed: This resonates to how the goalkeeper communicates with their team mates. It also comes down to an analysis of your own strengths and weaknesses. Making a concentrated effort to do communication drills during training is important. While at a personal level, repetition with training drills and possible video analysis of performance will help maximize the way a goalkeeper visualizes certain scenarios, and allows them to act more efficiently when these scenarios are played out during competition.
Make The Decision: The above points will help the goalkeeper to better be able to make the right decision at the right time. The dominating decision rule works when the decision the goalkeeper makes is sometimes better, and never worse than the decision previously made. This points to the fact that more repetition and preparation is needed by the goalkeeper for their decisions to be effective, and help maximize their ability during pressured situations.
Be Rational: Effective decisions are rational ones. Rational decisions resonate in every aspect of your life. Acting under pressure too early, without rational thought during a competitive situation can lead to some of the same blunders that were experienced by Paul Robinson. Therefore, being calm under pressure is vital to success in every situation that the goalkeeper faces.
It’s a great thing to see David James heading back into the role of England’s No 1, whether he takes advantage of it, time will tell. All in all, make sure that you remember the law of dominance, and the way to make decisions effectively when under pressure in a competitive situation.