Rachael Lynch is a stalwart of the Hockeyroos, having made her international debut back in 2005. The goalkeeper was a 2016 Olympian, and came to notice in Rio when her uniform was stolen before a match, and then her clothes during the match.
She chatted with Inside Sport about the mindset of the goalkeeper, dealing with the pressure of the position and the importance of balance, both on the line and off the pitch.
“I’m trying to change the stereotype about goalies. My theory is: everyone else is standing in the way of that same ball, but they don’t have any protection on. Historically, I’ve had way less injuries than everyone else, so I figure we goalies are the smart ones.
“The psychology of position is quite interesting; you could do a whole PhD on it really. For me, I’m at a point where I can critically review myself and understand what’s a good goal and what’s not, and what my mistake was and how I can improve it. But given that I’ve done a lot of coaching, that’s the hardest thing to teach to kids – how do you teach a 10-year-old it’s not their fault all the time? If it goes in the goal, you think the goalie should’ve stopped it.
“I love the pressure. I enjoy that part of it, and I think I thrive on it. But it takes some time to learn the skills – if the goal goes in, how do I get back on track? I think you definitely have to embrace it. You’ve got to want it to come to you rather than stand there and hope it doesn’t. When we go to penalty shootouts, I think that’s a strength of mine, because it gives me an opportunity to show what I can do.”
“It was so bizarre, because security was fantastic there. It was the last item I put on, which was my smock. I didn’t realise until I put it out it was gone. I knew there was a backup, because our manager keeps it. But I didn’t run onto the field thinking it would happen again.
“I had an $800 watch sitting there, and yet they chose to steal my uniform and my clothes. But we won that game, and it was funny how that little distraction was a good thing. It was a pressure game, and it was one of my better games of the tournament. It took my mind away, having to run around trying to find a uniform.”