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GOALTENDING:  ATTAINING THE NEXT LEVEL

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GOALTENDING:  ATTAINING THE NEXT LEVEL

Many goaltenders believe that because they are standouts at the level they play at, it will be easy to succeed at higher competition levels. This is a false assumption. In today's society where people figure that the world owes them a favor, many athletes feel that because they "worked hard" they are entitled to playing time. Few athletes are willing to make sacrifices for merely an opportunity to try and succeed at the next level. Well folks, every goalie should be working hard, but there still may be goalies out there who are simply better. Having a good work ethic enables you to reach your potential, but it still can't prevent a more talented goalie from taking your job.

What should a goalie try to do to be in a position to take advantage of opportunities that come his or her way? The best attribute a goaltender can have in a coach's mind is consistent quality. At elite levels, all goaltenders can stop the puck reasonably well. However, it is the little things that a great goalie does that differentiates himself from the mediocre masses. Does the goalie accept being scored on too easily or does he find ways to prevent the same situation from producing a goal? Does he try to keep rebounds away from the opposition in practice or does he merely get in the way of the puck and give a rebound little attention? Does the goalie have more than one way to play the same scoring opportunity or does he make the same move all the time? Does the goalie communicate effectively with the defensemen or is he frightened by the sound of his own voice? Do passes find their way through the crease to open slot shooters?

Off the ice, is the goalie an athlete? Does he or she understand what a serious weight training program for hockey is all about? Hockey fitness training is totally different than other sports or recreational activities. Does he have a well-balanced training program that works and rests the muscle groups properly? Has the goalie been tested for body fat? Is the goalie doing distance running instead of sprint training that would create more explosive leg power around the crease? Is the goalie training year-round or only in the off-season?

Nutrition is important for elite athletes. You could drive a Ferrari, but if you feed it watered-down gasoline, the car will get the knocks. If a goalie's nutrition is solidly placed in junk food, he or she will constantly lack energy. The extra pounds from a fatty diet affect mobility around the crease. A proper diet high in carbohydrates will provide long-term energy during workouts.

Solid nutrition combined with a good fitness program maximizes a goalie's skills. Elite athletes know that if they are not in condition for their particular sport by exercising in a specific manner and eating correctly, their ability to perform at a higher level is affected.

To be successful at the next level, you must be extremely focused. When someone pays to see you play, they don't want to hear excuses about your performance. If the coach doesn't understand you, you're breaking in new equipment, you had a fight with a family member or you're sick as a dog, NO ONE CARES! If Wayne Gretzky, has a poor showing because he was sick, the fans don't care, they're mad they wasted their hard earned money! At elite levels, no one wants excuses! If you can't handle the pressure of people expecting you to perform, don't expect to succeed at an elite level. The best goalies avoid distractions that get in the way of the job at hand. Focus equals concentration. If a goalie is easily distracted or has excuses for everything, he will fail.

Attaining a high level of play is not easy and carries no guarantees. You can work your butt off and still never make the big time. Life is like that. However, when you don't take risks or face failure eye to eye, your are not living life, but living a lie. You will not be assured of being successful at all you do, but if you don't try and take risks, you don't grow as a person. Never believe your own press clippings. There are goalies you don't even know in Portland, Maine, Chicago, Illinois, Miami, Florida, San Jose, California, and Anchorage, Alaska that have the same aspirations as you. What preparation you do to make yourself the best you can bet will determine whether you can create an opportunity to beat out the competition. How bad do you want it?

This article was contributed by Fred Quistgard of Quistgard Goalie Training

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