Playoffs??? You’re Talkin’ Bout Playoffs?????
By Fred Quistgard
It’s coming towards the end of the
season and your team is in the fortunate position to be in playoff
contention. Congratulations to you and your team….now what are you
doing to plan for them? Hopefully, way back at the start of the
season you set some beginning, mid-year and end of year goals for
yourself. With warm weather on the horizon, it’s time to set your
final goals for the season. So how do you go about getting ready for
Fine-Tune Your Game
Hockey season is long as we know all too well. It’s hard to maintain
perfect form for 8 or 9 months. That being said, your season is
winding down so it’s time to tweak any sloppiness that has crept
into your game. Usually it’s the “little things” that cause problems
in goaltending. Maybe you’ve been a little lazy about challenging
shooters. Maybe you’re resting your catching glove on your leg pad
instead of keeping it up and ready. Maybe you are assuming your
defensemen are mind readers when you clear a rebound away from the
net. Go back to basics and try to play as flawlessly as possible in
practice so it carries over into your playoff games. Remember, all
it takes is one sloppy play to cost you and your team the playoffs!
Consistent, correct techniques will minimize the disappointment of
giving up a goal you know you should have had.
Your Opponents Tendencies
Does the opposing team
have a sniper who loves to drive the net and get the goalie to move
off the angle too soon? Practice that situation so you are familiar
with that move and can handle it without even thinking about it.
Does the opposing team love to play dump and chase? Work with your
defensemen on great sets and passes off dump-ins. The smoother and
more automatic your exchanges are, the less time the opponents have
to set up their forecheck. Does the opposing team like to screen the
goalie physically? Have your teammates treat you the same way in
practice so you can learn to keep concentrating instead of being
distracted by the behavior.
Refine Your Crease
There was a tag line for an old deodorant
commercial that stated “Never Let Them See You Sweat”. This is very
true for goalies. If you look nervous, the other team will be all
over you at the drop of the puck. Play with controlled
explosiveness. In other words, be patient enough to keep from
retreating or moving laterally too early, but when you have to get
somewhere, you look like a rattlesnake striking. I’ve always said
that a rattlesnake or cobra is the mental image you want to have for
yourself. The snake stays coiled and patient until their prey
wanders too close, and then BAM, they strike out and go for the
kill. Look like you expect to win and don’t let them see you sweat!
Take some quiet time
to visualize the upcoming playoff game. See yourself stoning their
best player on a breakaway. Visualize a pad save as a player drives
the crease. Picture how you plan to challenge their shooters. Mental
visualization is a powerful tool to open your mind up to some
positive outcomes. If you’ve already visualized how you can win, it
will be familiar when the real puck drops.
This article was contributed by
Fred Quistgard of Quistgard Goalie Training