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Goaltending Keys to Success

This is the time of the year (mid-season) when most goaltenders look back (or should) at what they have accomplished to date; whether they have met our development goals, and, at the same time, begin to set goals and training objectives for the second half season. Although the following has been taken from a business model, we think it can easily be applied to goaltending. Keep these in mind as you move forward into the New Year. 

Here are a some keys to success:

1. Don't blame others for your problems. Rather, accept personal responsibility and move forward correcting the things that are within your control and accepting those that are not 

2. Don't engage in endless self-analysis and always questioning your abilities and self-worth. No one every enjoyed success dwelling on negatives

3. Have written goals with deadlines and a plan of action to accomplish them. There is something magic about writing things down

4. Manage your time effectively. You only have so many hours each day to accomplish what is important to you. Don't waste time

5. Don't keep repeating the same behaviour and expecting different results 

6. Take some time every day to celebrate you achievements (privately or otherwise)

7. Take the steps necessary to maintain a high level of energy - both physical and mental. Nutritious food, lots of rest, regular goaltending specific work outs & hydration

8. Don't give up to soon. Some of the world's most successful people are those who are the most persistent 

The key to positive results is to know yourself. The better you know yourself; your strengths, your weaknesses, your goals, what you are learning from your experiences, the more positive your development will become.

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10 New Year's Goalie Resolutions

"10 Goalie New Year's Resolutions"

1. I will work hard to develop my "goaltending skating" so I can move quickly & easily into position in time to stop every shot
2. I will give my best in every game and never leave any game wishing I had worked harder
3. I will build my mental toughness so I do not get discourages by bad goals
4. I will improve my practice habits. My play in games will mirror how I practice and I will develop my best game habits in practice
5. I will accept responsibility for my play - good or bad
6. I will not lay blame with my team mates for goals that are scored even if they made the mistake
7. I will be a student of the game and always look to improve & work hard to develop my goaltending skills
8. I will be disciplined both on & off the ice and maintain emotional control at all times
9. I will practice good pre-game preparation so when I step on the ice, I am ready to compete
10. I will compete for every puck and never give up on a shot, no matter how impossible it might seem to stop it

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Differentiating Yourself

In our last blog we talked brought up the topic of "net presence" and the impressions goaltenders give by their on ice demeanour. And we offered up a couple to tips as to how you might check on your own "net presence".

Today we are going to take a quick look at how to differentiate yourself from other goaltenders in your league/division and stand out from the crowd. Here it is worth repeating the comment often heard from recruiters and scouts...."at some point in time, they all look the same". So, here are just a couple of things that can help you not "look the same".

Become a better all round athlete - most pro goaltenders today are excellent athletes and some such as MA Fleury, Jake Allen, Jonathan Quick & Pekka Renne are exceptional. Being a better athlete will also improve your overall technical skills

Become better at puck handling - a goaltender who can handle wide rims and dump-in shots efficiently are worth their weight in gold and are a coach's dream.

Battle harder - put 100% effort into covering every loose puck; make the impossible save at least once per game

Calm & focused - remain calm and focused when confronted with adversity or when things become chaotic. No emotional ups & downs

Consistency - keep your play consistent throughout the entire game and from game to game

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Your play "sucks'

Frustrated when goals go in or you don't play up to your own expectations?

Here are a couple of things you might want to think about:

a. No one ever improved by "beating up themselves" internally. Negative thoughts DO NOT produce positive results. And, you are the only one who can control that "tiny, negative voice" inside your head. Every time a negative thought comes into your mind, REBOOT THE COMPUTER, and move on to something positive.

b. You will never play a "perfect" game. Your aim should be to play the best you can and help your team win, That is the bottom line. So, shift your focus away from the "you" and just do your job..stop as many pucks as you can, and continue to work to improve

c. Forget about statistics. Any coach, recruiter or scout worth his/her salt will tell you that statistics (especially goaltending statistics) never really tell the true story even at the Pro level because of the circumstances under which the goals were scored. (Quite frankly, who is going to remember that your save percentage was .914 during your last year in Bantam, High School etc. & secondly, who really cares)

d. One period, one game, one season does not define you as a goaltender. Your Hockey goaltending identity is made up of all the years you have played as you move up in age and playing level. You will not be cut from any team tryout because you had a couple of, so called, "bad games" in Pee Wee

e. Focus on the process of developing into a well rounded goaltender who has ABOVE AVERAGE TECHNICAL SKILLS, PLAYS WITH CONSISTENCY, IS MENTALLY TOUGH, BATTLES TO STOP EVERY PUCK NOT MATTER WHAT, WORKS HARD ON & OFF ICE AND HAS A POSITIVE ATTITUDE. Developing as a goaltender is a journey. It has many ups & downs. Mostly how you deal with those ups & downs will determine how far you travel

f. At the end of the day, don't be upset by the results you didn't get for the work you didn't do. IF YOU DON'T PUT IN THE TIME, DON'T EXPECT TO BE REWARDED

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What is your "System"?

Beyond a certain level in hockey, all teams employ "systems". They are comprised of various defensive, attack & containment strategies designed to give one team an advantage over the other and subsequently produce a winning result. And again similar to "game plans" which we touched on last time, goaltenders have very little, if any, involvement in a team's "system".

So, does that mean that you, as a goaltender, should not have your own "system". Absolutely not.

Besides the obvious need for continuing technical and tactical skill development and improvement in areas where you have shortcomings, you really should have a systematic approach to your game outside the ice surface. Here is what we think a typical "system" might look like:

1. Stretch 6 days per week including before and after games and practices
2. Use a proven pre-game preparation prior to each game
3. Follow an in season off-ice training program – as prescribed by the team or a trainer/coach
4. Perform relaxation techniques (deep breathing) – 10 to 15 minutes every day
5. Practice mental imagery – before each game and at least two to three other time per week
6. Set a goal(s) – for each game & practice
7. Record practice notes (what went well, what didn't) after each practice
8. Record game notes (what went well, what didn't) after each game
9. Set medium and long range performance goals for your personal development

Perhaps there are some other things that could be added but these should be the very least if you are truly interested in path that leads you to play at the highest level based on your particular skill set.

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