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Pre-competition Preparation

Pre-competition Preparation
Game day preparation is vital to the success of a goaltender, especially at a high caliber level of competition.  To neglect this important area is to jeopardize your potential to play at your best.  Proper preparation will give you a sense of control over the things you can control (emotions, reactions, attitude etc.) which in turn will give you confidence and you will go into the competition feeling at ease and comfortable. 
Prepare for the opposition 
1.  Through your own experience or by viewing video or statistics, determine “players to watch” on the opposing team.  This prepares you to deal with the better players on the opposing team because you know who they are and their tendencies.  (usually the “better” players are the “better” players game in and game out) 
2.  Again, through your own experience, or simply ask your coach, determine how this team gains entry into your zone. (wide rim/dump-in at the blue line or puck possession zone entries) This will help you to look for the cues to read the play better as it develops inside your blue line.  It will also influence the need for communication between you & your defense & how you work puck retrieval situations 
3.  Similarly, you want to learn the opposition tendencies once they penetrate into the defensive zone.  In puck possession zone entry situations, do they like to generate scoring opportunities off the rush or take the puck deep work the play from there?  Is there a pattern to their play when they recover a dump in? How do they set up in power play situations? Having even just a little knowledge of these things improve your chances for success. 
Prepare your mind 
Breathing: take 5 minutes and work on your breathing (this helps calm your mind and relaxes your body) 
Inhale for a count of two… hold the breath in for a count of one… exhale gently, counting out for four…  and finish by holding the breath out for a count of one. Keep your breathing even and smooth. If the 2-4 count feels too short try increasing the breath lengths to 4 in and 6 out, or 6 in and 8 out, and so on.  There are many variations of breathing exercises so try several & use whatever works best for you. Controlled breathing is also beneficial during the game whenever you feel nervous or to settle yourself after a goal is scored. 
Visualization: 5 – 10 minutes of visualization work will effectively bring you into “game mode” 
Find a quite spot without distractions.  Create a mental image (visualization) of different game situations in your mind as though they were happening, and you were   looking at them through your own eyes. (watch the puck coming at you and hitting your equipment, or you catching the puck or controlling the rebound. In other words, you are successfully making the save. Try to do this for 5 - 10 minutes.  It will be difficult at first and perhaps you will only be able to concentrate for a few minutes.  But as you practice more you will be able to concentrate longer. 

Visualization is the single most important, not technical tool of the elite athlete 
(visualization and breathing exercises can and should be practiced several times per week away from the rink) 
Physical Warm-up (typical) 
1.  Dynamic stretch / warm-up (10 minutes) 
2.  Technical movements include quickness and agility exercises (5 minutes) 
3.  Hand/eye drills with tennis balls or “reaction” balls either alone or with your goaltending partner.  (5 minutes) 

First couple of minutes – skating & movement drills (saves & crease movements, slides – do outside the crease) then team warm up (discuss with your coach & team mates the most effective warm up for you) 
Focus on the process of the warm up and not whether a shot goes by you and into the net   
Pick one or two self-reminds to take with you into the game.  Here is a quick list of some self-reminders you might use: 

- track the puck into and away from your body 
- focus on getting into position quickly on passes 
- re-position quickly on rebounds 
- set my feet before every shot 
- fight to find pucks in traffic 
- be patient 
- be under control (physically & emotionally) 
- help my “D” by communicating with them 
- get out & handle all pucks that are near the net 
- battle for every puck 


Consistency = Success
Best Practice "Practices"

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