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So You’re Beginning Another Season……

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By Fred Quistard

Okay, it’s the Fall and the leaves are beginning to turn, thoughts of those warm, sunny days on the beach are beginning to fade as the temperature slowly drops its way towards hockey season. You are excited about the first drop of the puck and getting comfortable with your new team. This is a perfect time to take stock of your goals for the season and plan steps it will take to achieve them. Well, here are a few thoughts I’d like you to think about as you begin your season-long adventure:

Accept Constructive Criticism, but Only Use What Fits Your Style of Play

Many people (coaches, parents, friends, teammates, referees, snack bar workers) will have an opinion about your game. You should have an open mind to listen to what they say. Ultimately, it is YOUR choice what you choose to pull out of your “tool bag” when you play goal. I have always believed in teaching concepts that apply to ALL styles of play. Things like attacking space, understanding shooting options, reading plays, body control and efficient save techniques are applicable whether you play a butterfly, hybrid or blockage style of goal. If someone is forcing you to play a way that you believe is not correct, then you have to stand up for what you believe in. You should be open to learning new “tweaks” to your game that can take you to another level. As you move up into higher levels of play, it’s often the “little things” that can elevate your game or prevent you from achieving your potential. Pay attention to details, keep learning but follow your instincts because no one but you can determine the choices you make when you play.

Try Not To Get Frustrated. Failure Is A Part of Getting Better!

I’ve seen my share of angry goalies over the three decades I’ve been coaching goalies. News flash: You will get scored on now and then. You will not go through your career with a 0.00 goals against average. Now that you know that it is impossible to be perfect, learn to view goals against you as a chance to grow. If you keep getting beat top shelf glove or through the 5 Hole, there is a reason for it. You can swear, break your stick over the cross-bar and have a lovely temper tantrum, but there is a rational reason why it happened. If a trend is developing, find out what “tweaks” you can make to correct the problem. Maybe your glove is too far behind your body or your back shoulder is not turning in the direction of the top shelf shot. On 5 Hole shots, your back may be too straight or your hands too far back to maintain a tight seal between the knees. You can be emotional for a moment, but then get rational to figure out why the goal goes in. In the 2011 playoffs I saw Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard get beat top shelf glove by a Phoenix forward from the bottom of the left face-off circle. A few minutes later, another player took the same shot from the same location, but Howard changed the angle of his glove hand and made the save. That is a terrific in-game adjustment made by an observant goalie.

Drills Have a Purpose for Goalies Too! Don’t Be a Puck Receptacle!

If you just mindlessly hang out in the net waiting for shots to come, you are totally blowing your practice. Every drill (even the boring ones) can have a goaltending purpose. Yeah, I know breakout drills can be dull. However, if you seriously practice your sets, quick outs and passes during the dump-in aspect of the drill, you may not have as many giveaways in games when the opponents are fore-checking your D. When you are taking long shot warm-up drills, are you paying attention to where the rebounds go? A lot of goalies put the rebounds right back into play or swat them on auto-pilot to the same exact spot after each save. It won’t take a rocket scientist on an opposing team to figure out where to camp out for your rebounds. No matter how hard it is to be “in the moment” in each drill, try to do it anyway. If you are used to training with a purpose, you will be a consistent, solid goalie in games.

Enjoy the Journey to Appreciate the End Result

No matter what the field, all successful people have one thing in common: perseverance. Vince Lombardi once said that “inches make champions”. His point was that if his offensive line could keep creating one more inch of space for his running backs, those inches would add up into yards as the season went along. Goaltending is very similar. You can’t just expect to be an all-star without paying attention to the incremental improvements that must happen along the way. You must overcome temporary failures, believe in yourself when no one else does, take charge of every detail of your game and enjoy the moments that ultimately lead to your end goal.

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