THEY are forced to spend their lives walking a razorwire between success and failure.
Accept that even the slightest error could prove catastrophic. Grapple with the consequences.
Little wonder, then, that most goalkeepers possess a masochistic streak.
Sheffield United’s Danny Coyne believes he has discovered the perfect way of coping with the psychological and physical pressures of his position. And, predictably, it involves plenty of pain.
“I do at lot of boxing in my spare time,” Coyne told The Star last night. “It’s something I enjoy and really helps with my job.
“When you think about it, there are so many similarities between boxing and goalkeeping.
“They both demand a high degree of mental discipline. Controlled aggression if you like.
“Then there’s the importance of hand eye coordination, sharp footwork and also having good core strength.”
Coyne, who joined United in November to provide cover for George Long, boasts a wealth of experience having represented Tranmere Rovers, Grimsby Town, Leicester City, Burnley and Middlesbrough before arriving at Bramall Lane.
The former Wales international’s interest in the Noble Art traces back to his time at Blundell Park and continues to this day.
“I started doing sessions with a guy in Grimsby called Stuart Fleet,” Coyne continued. “Now I go to a place in Chester because it’s closer to my home.
“Steve Goodwin is the trainer there and he’s worked with the likes of Robin Reid and Michael Gomez so he really knows his stuff.
“I enjoy watching the lads from there fight. Michael Doyle (United’s captain) is a big boxing fan and really knows the scene.
“But, I’ve got to admit, I don’t really go out of my way to watch it like he does. If it’s on the television then I will but, for me, it’s more about that camaraderie, supporting the boys from the gym and staying in shape.
“Steve is great with me. He knows what the score is and really helps out.”
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s League One fixture with MK Dons, which could see second-placed United wrestle top spot from Doncaster Rovers, Coyne revealed a similar admiration for Long’s talents.
The teenager’s performances since replacing the injured Mark Howard have prompted some to suggest he could soon follow team mate Harry Maguire into the England under-21 set-up and meant Coyne, aged 39, has spent the past four months keeping a watching brief from the bench.
United’s rearguard has not been breached since Stephen McGinn swept home a long-range free-kick towards the end of last month’s visit to Shrewsbury Town. Dons, though, will prove tough opposition having dismissed Rovers in emphatic fashion three days ago. Strikes from Izale McLeod, Daniel Powell and Stephen Gleeson saw them climb to 12th.
“I can’t speak highly enough of George,” Coyne said. “He’s a terrific lad, a terrific footballer and if he carries on in the same vein then he’s destined for a really successful career.
“The great thing about George is that he’s so grounded. He’s willing to listen, learn and he’s always picking people’s brains.
“I’ll try and pass on whatever knowledge I can because, as far as I’m concerned, that’s an important part of my role here.
“And I’ve got to say that Darren (Ward, United’s goalkeeping coach) has been different class with him too. George couldn’t wish for a better teacher.”
Coyne added: “I’m ready to come on and play a part if I have to. It’s not an issue because I’m in good condition and I’ve done it plenty of times before.
“You prepare for every match as if you are actually starting and then, if you do come on, you just flick that mental switch and go into the mode.”
With Howard yet to shake-off the after-effects of the muscle problem he sustained at Leyton Orient earlier this term, Coyne’s rolling contract could yet be extended until the end of the season. “I’m loving it here,” he said. “I know Chris Morgan from playing against him and quite a few of the lads from Middlesbrough.
“It was one of them, Tony McMahon, who first called me when the chance came up and although I couldn’t sign straight away because of finances, the gaffer (Danny Wilson) kept me in the loop and was always straight with me. He’s been different class too.
“I’ll help in anyway I can because this is a great football club with a great reputation and following. And, one of the first things I noticed, is what a great spirit there is behind the scenes. That’s half the battle.”