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What is your "Net Presence"?

 What is your “Net Presence”

First impressions are important.  And your appearance, your reactions & body language are an important part of projecting who & what you are as a goaltender. 

Make no mistake, aside from the skill level, recruiters, scouts & coaches take a keen interest in how you "present" yourself and your "net presence" affects their perception of you.

Do you play super aggressive, over-play shots & continuously scramble and chase the play? This gives the impression that you may be in a “little over you head” and really do not possess the skill to play at this level.  Or, that you lack a sound technical base & that your whole game is based on being reactionary. (tough to have consistent success playing this way) 

Are you a goaltender who never leaves the blue paint of the crease not even daring to go out and stop rimmed pucks?  So, are you lacking confidence, skating skills or are you a very passive personality?  Again, this posture sends a definite message to those watching. 

Do you, at times, appear disengaged or disinterested during the game. (Wow!  What is the message here?)  Perhaps that is your way of dealing with pressure.  But observers will wonder, is that his/her “normal"?

So, let’s look at a couple of points.

1.Remain calm & focused after mistakes or goals scored
2. Keep shoulders back & head up to appear confident, ready, and capable
3. Show emotion after a goal, if you want, but be under control

If you are serious about this, you might do well to view a self video and see how you stack up against other goaltenders in that regard.  Or, elicit the help of an unbiased, reputable coach to give you an honest opinion of just how you project yourself in the net.

Perception is reality - to the observer.  Remember, no matter where or when you are playing, there most likely is someone (coach, scout, recruiter, or friend of) watching.   

Never underestimate the importance of your "NET PRESENCE".

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Will you be better tomorrow than you are today?

What are some of the “extras” you can do at the rink & beyond that will translated into improving your play on the ice and give you a better chance at winning?

Probably, if you asked 10 people, you would get 10 different answers.  However, it comes down to some very basis rules of thumb that, although, require a lot of discipline, will pay instant rewards

- eat nutritious foods.  Food is fuel for your muscles; no fuel, no energy

- get the correct amount of daily rest.  Same as food; no rest, no energy
- never skip or “tank” a workout.  What you don’t do today will come back to bite you in the future

- prepare thoroughly pregame & pre practice.  Pre-game/practice routines are invaluable to not only instill confidence, but get you in the correct frame of mind to compete &/or learn

- diligently work on your skills to perfect your game.  In practice, focus on the mechanics & movements of the skill & don’t just go through the motions.  Practice is not a social

- never take a "night/day off" at practice or game.  Work harder in practice today than you did in your last game, work harder in your next game than you did in your last practice

- keep an open mind to advice & correction.  Not to do so, could deprive you learn of another “tool” to improve your game

- be a "student" of the game; always in "learning" mode.  The day we know everything about goaltending is the day we stop learning and when you stop learning, you stop improving

- watch hockey! There is no better way to understand the game & how it affects your game, than to watch it being played

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Getting your BEST game results

How can you give yourself the best chance at the game results you want? 

Playing a great game is not centered around a couple or one big or “impossible save” that stands out from everything else.
It is the sum of a series of smaller details you control that will put a positive spin on your game, even if your team doesn’t necessarily put up 2 points in the win column.

Sometimes you’ll do everything right (or almost everything) and still not win the game.

Here are some suggestions on how YOU can give yourself the best chance to get those 2 points. 

1. remember, you will never play a "perfect" game.  Set your sights on playing an "excellent" goalie ever played a perfect game.  (And, anyway, who needs the added pressure of being perfect)

2. game time is not the time to improve your skills, that is what practices are for.  Trust that your work in practice will give you the best opportunity for game success

3. it is okay to make mistakes.  Every game is full of them.  Park and forget them until the game is over

4. don’t worry & get distracted if your technique is not quite where you'd like it to be on that day.  Everyone has “off” days 

5. share the don't have to win the game all by yourself

6. focus on the goal(s) you have set for the game, not on the score

7. stay positive. Think about being successful

8. do whatever it takes to play well, even if it is "ugly" or not quite up to your usual standard. Sometimes you just must play "ugly" to win 

9. keep your thoughts simple. Don’t over-analyse.  You will only psyche yourself out

10. when on ice, focus on your performance as an athlete, not the score, mistakes or goals that go in

11. play for the team, but TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR PLAY

12. don't worry about what others may think about your performance, there will ALWAYS be critics

13. don't ever assume you know what others, or your coaches are thinking; 9 out of 10 times you will be wrong

14. take the game seriously, but have fun 

15. don’t blame others or beat yourself up if you lose. That is the EASY WAY OUT.  Figure out the areas of your game where you might have been better & GET AT IT!  Even if you won, there are always parts of your game you can improve on.

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Didn't make the team.....What after?

Didn't make the team?

Make it a new beginning not an end with a 
NEW ATTITUDE & renewed motivation
Reflecting back on the tryout period prior to the season as we enter the first couple of weeks of hockey season, it is safe to say these were some very anxious moments for goalies (and parents too)
And, some of you didn't make the team you tried out for. Believe me, I've seen it happen numerous times including a couple of personal experiences & I must admit it wasn't the the most pleasant of times.

So, today, I thought I would pass on some advice which, I hope, will motivate you to begin the process of improving your chances next time.
I know the first question that comes to mind, when you get the bad news, is WHY?  
Truth is, sometimes it doesn't make a lot of sense, even when you get the answer. (if you get an answer)  Maybe it was just that the competition was tough (a lot of exceptionally good goalies in your age group) or you didn't perform up to the expectation of the coaches or your skills were lacking.  Or maybe, "politics" came into play.  Maybe it was your demeanor, how you presented yourself in the net.  Maybe the coach thought he would give a second year goaltender(s) the opportunity, or the coach just felt more comfortable (confident) with the other guy (or girl).

You can't hang on to the thought that the coach didn't like you, or they didn't see you at your best, or you should have been selected because you allowed fewer goals than the other goalie(s) .  

Whatever the reason, you must move on.
Understand, that, unless we do fail from time to time, we will never become the best we can be.  Most top end athletes (goaltenders) will tell you that they failed numerous times during their rise to the top, and these failures were the motivation that really drove them to become successful. (check out the Jordan Binnington story) They learned from the failing experience and were able to "move on", understand their deficiencies, and vowed to work diligently on those deficiencies to make the necessary corrections and improve.

And, so, failing is a necessary part to improving your game.
The question is, what are YOU going to do about it?
The first thing you need to do is take a hard, honest look at your game and identify the parts that need improvement   
Although you may attempt to do this yourself, I suggest you enlist someone whom you consider to be an unbiased, experienced coach to review your game with the use of video or observation.  Just remember, they will need to be brutally honest and, so, you may hear things you don't want to hear. However, if you REALLY want to improve, then the need for honesty.

During the initial review process, 3 or 4 areas for improvement may be identified.  Once, identified, develop a plan and commit it to writing.  This will provide direction and keep you on track, plus allow you to measure how you are progressing at a future point in time versus where you began.  You will likely have to do this several times during season, similar the approach used at the professional hockey level.

I suggest that you include your parents in the plan.  They can act in a supporting role where necessary. But remember, the puck is in your rink. It's 
YOUR plan and not the responsibility of Mom or Dad or a coach to lead you along.  They supply direction and support only.  YOU must provide the motivation, dedication & hard work.  
If you truly WANT (not wish, like to, would be nice) to be a top end, above average or elite goaltender then you need to put in the work, provide the self-motivation and DEVELOP THOSE GOOD, PERSONAL HABITS necessary.

There is absolutely no substitute. There is no "magic formula"  You must put in the time and the work.

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Tracking puck movement behind the net

The most important factor when the puck is being carried behind the net is to maintain eye contact with the puck for the greatest amount of time that it is there.

Generally, goaltenders will stop watching the puck once it passes the post on the short side & begin to move in the direction the puck is being carried without bothering to maintain any type of eye contact with the puck until they arrive at the far post.

In other words, the goaltender is “guessing” that the puck carrier will continue moving the puck in a forward direction behind & around or beyond the net.  And this really is a “guess”.

Simply, because, this does not consider the other 3 options at the puck carrier’s disposal:

1. the puck carrier can stop at some point behind the net & with a quick set up, make a pass out to a supporting partner on either side (result = panic: since goaltender is committed to one side of the net & has no idea where the puck carrier or puck is, he/she ends up turning his/her head from side to side in an attempt to determine where the attack will come from)

2. the puck carrier can make a back pass to a partner who is below the goal line & trailing the play (result = trailing partner steps out over the goal line & jams the puck into the open net near side or plays “catch” with the passer forcing the goaltender to bounce from post to post & completely out of position for any type of scoring attempt)

3. as he reaches the mid-way point behind the net, the puck carrier can make a back pass to a supporting partner who is already above the goal line on the same side of the net where the puck carrier started (result = easy tap in goal 9 times out of 10)


So, here is one method to "effectively" track puck movement behind the net.


The first point I want to make here is “don’t panic”!  Remember, generally you will have more time than you realize especially, if you maintain excellent eye contact with the puck.

In this scenario we have chosen, the goaltender has positioned him/herself in an RVH (or for younger, less experienced goaltenders in an integrated post position on his/her skates) on the blocker side post as the puck is being moved below the goal line towards the net on the goaltender's blocker side. 

The goaltender should hold this position on the post until the point where the puck has moved past the blocker side post inside the frame of the net.  Now the goaltender moves his upper body away from the blocker side post but keeps his/her skate blade/pad in contact with that post and eye contact on the puck.  At this point the goaltender will be positioned on the goal line & approximately MID-NET.

When the goaltender can no longer see the puck over his blocker side shoulder he should continue to HOLD THAT SAME MID-NET POSITION, turn his head & attempt to pick up the puck location over his trapper side shoulder.

If the puck carrier has continued his path forward with the puck, the goaltender should just simply use his/her trailing leg (the one still in contact with the blocker side post) to push off & engage and seal the trapper side post and the ice.

On the other hand, if the goaltender cannot locate the puck position over the trapper side shoulder, he should KEEP HIS POSITION & turn his head back to the blocker side & attempt to locate the puck on that side.

If the puck carrier has stopped & set up behind the net, the goaltender can still maintain eye contact on the puck simply by leaning a little more to one side or the other and reacting to what he does. Although, not totally integrated to either post, the goaltender's location still leaves him/her in a very, very favorable position to gain angle on a pass out to either side of the net or deal with a wrap around attempt. 

If any type of back pass has been made the goaltender is still in a favorable position (MID-NET) to react to either of the back-pass situations described above because the goaltender is just a short push away from being able to quickly and effectively integrate with the post and seal the ice and/or gain angle against the scoring attempt.

We suggest this method is equally effective in situations where puck movement is similar but, where the goaltender chooses to remain on his/her skates and to not move into an RVH position.

(although we have used puck movement from blocker to trapper side of the net, the same method can be used for a puck being moved in the opposite direction)

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