Goalie – Its a mental thing Part 2

While reading this, you may think I know nothing about anything, but I can assure you, you may be right.

Quick recap, Never played organized hockey before, only started last year since coaching my daughter in net and thought I better put my money where my mouth is. Love the position and am glad I made the plunge. Now to the rant……

My daughter’s private goalie coach who I have gotten to know over the past several years and who also coaches me has mentioned before, when it comes to head coaches they don’t know how to coach a goalie. What they need is a target in net for their forwards so they can work on attacking skills and drills. They need a goalie to stop pucks (cause you know, goalies only have one job), but they rarely know the mentality and mechanics behind being a goalie.

When it comes to kids, too many times during games do I hear coaches yell out “GET UP, GET UP!” to their goalie after they are down in a butterfly. I’ll give you a clue here, the “butterfly” is a style of goal-tending. It is a popular style that is taught A LOT now-a-days. The process of recognising when to get back up or when to stay down comes from experience and confidence.

I’ve also heard my own daughter be told right after a loosing game “We are going to work on <blah blah blah>” Instead of, “Hey great game, tough loss, but you made some great saves, we are all going to get ready to work hard next practice” If you are not the goalie coach and have not worked with that goalie developing that goalie’s skills, don’t try and reinvent the wheel. You are just going to potentially undo someone else’s work and guaranteed, that child is already leaving knowing that they did not perform. Focusing in on the negatives right after a game makes things worse.

That brings me to the continuation of Part 1 of this post. The mental aspect of the Tendy position. As a player, if you go into a game with feelings of the opposing team being better than you, or you remember a certain player on the other team that burnt you the last time, you might be able to take solace in knowing you have a good line mate this time around, or you have more players now than last time. You have a team surrounding you on the ice and on the bench. Teammates that can comfort you, joke with you, or you can come up with a plan if something didn’t work on the last shift.

I’m not saying at all that a goalie is not part of the team, but as a goaltender, you are the “last line of defense”. You are of course somewhat physically isolated from the rest of the team, its you, the net and that deadly red line. Agree or disagree, as a goalie, you do feel somewhat alone on the ice and you do feel that the scoreboard is a direct reflection of your ability. I’ve seen it in my daughter over the past four years and I’ve felt it myself over the past (almost) two years.

Imagine that with a lot of time to yourself to reflect on the last play, the last attack, the last save……the last goal, its hard not to get into your own head and think too much. Often, you have to try not to get too worked up and focus on the developing play rather than the what just happened. Now imagine your a kid who loves the position, but you don’t have the mental capacity to know you need to calm down, instead you hear your coach yelling from the bench. Your not sure what he is saying, but you know its directed at you. Nothing good comes from that. Nothing.

Even as an adult its hard not to get too wrapped up in what went wrong, In my case: Why am I not getting better? What just happened? What the heck am I doing out here??? I play in the ASHL league, we are doing better this year than last year, but we’ve had those games where I doubted my decision to be in net. I also play every Wednesday night with the same 16 or so guys, “Pickup” style. Usually I get peppered with shots and loose by a margin of double…into the double digits too. But it’s pickup and the score isn’t really a reflection of anyone’s abilities….riiiiiight. Last week Wednesday, I went in focusing on closing up my 5hole. Tried to remain calm, relaxed and just go and have fun. The game ended in a staggering 22:5 win and not a single 5hole goal from me. The point is, sometimes you need to celebrate the small victories, even when no one is watching. Don’t let the game get into your head instead focus on the next play or the next game. Be aware when your coaching a goalie or you have a goalie son or daughter, they know when they’ve bombed. Focus less on the bad and celebrate the good.

Just my 2cents.