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Book Review: "Graduation" by Richard Lee

Written By Justin on Thursday, February 2, 2012 | 7:44:00 PM

There are a good many interesting player autobiographies out there, and there are dozens of useful sports psychology books as well. As far as I know, however, Brentford goalkeeper Richard Lee has written the only book that is both. At once a compelling story of his 2010/11 season, it is also replete with the results of his years of serious scholarship in the fields of psychology, the human mind, and Neuro Linguistic Programming (in which he recently gained qualification). It is, therefore, both entertaining and immensely useful for any active goalkeeper.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I should state that while I've never met Richard, we've been email pals for awhile now. I wrote about him for Goalkeeper Magazine and he has used a few of these blog entries for his GKIcon site. I'm enthusiastic about his book entirely on merit, though.)

You may know a little about the drama of Richard's first season at Brentford, particularly the penalty saves. Richard saved approximately 126 penalties last season. Not really, but it almost seems like it, in shootouts against Everton, Leyton Orient, Birmingham, and Charlton. Rich gives us insights into what goes through his mind when facing penalties:

"People always say to me: 'Penalties must be so nerve wracking.'
Honestly? Not at all. This is as big an opportunity as I get--
to be a hero for a night."

Richard's season is the proverbial up-and-down roller coaster ride, beginning in August as third choice and going through the drama of penalties, a managerial change, injury, and reflection. Whatever level you play at, it's easy to relate to the highs and lows that are part of any campaign.

Sports psychology can sometimes be a confusing mass of contradictory, feel-good slogans. Happily, Richard trammels in none of that. He introduces various elements in clear language, and even if you don't catch it all throughout the book, there's a chapter near the end that lays out his entire methodology from start to finish. An example:

Powerful Physiology:
Physiology can play a huge role in you own thoughts, feelings, and actions.
The simple act of sticking your chest out can make you feel better about yourself,
so when feeling down, arguably the first port of call would be to improve your physiology.

Goalkeeping is all about learning. Be a sponge for knowledge. There is no one single "correct" approach, and Rich isn't trying to sell you one. But there is a wealth of knowledge in these pages, the result of all the courses and studying he's done, that can help any athlete perform to the best of their ability. There aren't many things in this world designed to help prevent goals being scored in football. FIFA is against us, the laws of the game are against us, and even the laws of physics are sometimes against us. Richard is on our side. Get his book here and read it.


Greg said...

Great blog JB. Richard seems very cerebral and intellegent. I am sure the book is a fantastic read.

Justin said...

Yep. He's so bright that I'm not entirely convinced he really is a goalkeeper. He may have hired an actor to play one...

Adie Creamer said...

Very good read. I worked with Richard at Watford and GK Icon. Very thoughtful and personal.He is a excellent example ofhard work and positive thinking.

Justin said...

Thanks Adie, I couldn't agree more.

Pistol said...

Justin, Have you are have you ever thought of writing a book about goalkeeping??

Justin said...

Thanks, I'm putting the finishing touches on one, in fact. Not so much a how-to as there are lots of good ones from people more qualified than me. I've posted a couple of chapters here as teasers - here's the first:


Pistol said...

Thanks Justin, looking forward to it!

KariOrn said...

Very nice, i remember him in the premier league with Watford, he was a very good goalkeeper, i bet the book is good as well