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Expectations & Reality

I am sure everyone who starts their hockey life as a goaltender, expects he/she will move along the goaltending pathway year after year until they have a legitimate shot to play professionally or at National team level. 

It is an unfortunate part of the game that, for some goaltenders, those expectations meet the realities of the situation at some point.  Perhaps it’s not making the travel team, competitive team or being cut at a training camp.  And that creates the doubt that it might not happen. 

This is when goaltenders, parents & coaches need to take a proactive approach to the situation.  It is not the time to throw in the towel.  And, a well thought out plan will keep everything on a positive note. 

The goal always should be to “play at the highest level possible based on one’s skill set and physical capabilities”. 

Now let’s a minute to think about one approach the situation when you meet that “bump” in the road. 

First, everyone involved whether goaltender, coach or parent, needs to be HONEST.  For all it simply means putting aside bias & accepting, now, exactly where you fit. 

For the goaltender, you need to discuss with a trusted coach, how your present skills compare to those needed to move up the next step along the goaltending pathway (PW to Bantam, Bantam to Midget, Midget to Junior and so on).  By focusing just on the next level (whatever that is) and not looking beyond, you are bringing the conversation into a more realistic mode.  This conversation about what needs to be done & why it needs to be done is necessary.  That, plus a plan for continued improvement, will be critical to maintain your motivation & focus. 

From there, the ball (puck) is really in your court.  You must provide the effort, motivation and hard work with coach & parents providing direction and support. 

In any event, all involved must understand how steep the climb to the top really is. The numbers who "make it" are extremely small by comparison to those who start out. The hockey pyramid is very wide at the bottom but becomes so much smaller as it nears the top.  Hockey is now a global sport and once you leave Minor or Youth hockey, competition for spots on high level teams could come from almost any corner of the planet.

At this point as well, I suggest to all parents and goaltenders go and see games at the next level above where you/your son/daughter presently plays.  Sit at the side of the rink as close to the boards as you can.  There you are going to get a sense of the speed of the game and how quickly the puck moves, how hard the players shoot, how skilled they are at executing fakes, how quickly goaltenders must react and be able to read situations and on and on.  When you do, I think you/they will find it is a real eye-opener. 

At any rate, it should point out the gap between where you are and where you want to be as it relates to skill.  Hopefully this will be the motivation factor that spurs you on. 

And, finally, I point out, it is not always about skill.  A POSITIVE ATTITUDE, EXCEPTIONAL WORK ETHIC, A COMPETITIVE SPIRIT, BEING COACHABLE, A DESIRE TO IMPROVE EVERY DAY & BEING A TEAM PLAYER are all attributes that are meaningful to coaches at every level. 

Many times, it is the goaltender who possesses these intangibles who will improve & move up the chain more rapidly to the next level. 

There is never a good reason, not to put your best effort into being the best goaltender you can possibly be, every time you go out on the ice, at whatever level you play.

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