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Playoffs??? You’re Talkin’ Bout Playoffs?????

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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 the playoffs?

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.

Know 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 Presence

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!

Mentally Rehearse

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


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