In any hockey game there can only be one goalie in net for each
team. The road to a starting goalie position may be rocky for some
and smooth for others depending upon the situation. There are
definite attributes or characteristics that set apart the elite
caliber goalie from the backups. All goalies must understand how
much sweat it takes to stay ahead of the competition and comprehend
that they must keep learning new techniques to keep up with a
When goalies are playing in youth leagues, there is little
competition for jobs. If the goalie is the only one on his or her
team, he can get very complacent. The goalie may have an extremely
low goals-against-average which makes parents, coaches, or teammates
believe that he is the next coming of Patrick Roy. The only drawback
to the hoopla is that the goalie may only be facing 5 shots a game
and the shooter can't lift the puck. The goalie thinks he is
terrific and feels "entitled" to the starting job at the next level
of play because he had great stats the year before. Once you start
to believe your own press clippings, your downfall is imminent.
The first step towards earning a starting job is to realize that it
must be earned. Too many people in our society want rewards handed
to them because they feel they are entitled to them. The world does
not owe us any favors. Just because you once showed some talent
doesn't mean a coach will fall down and kiss your feet to beg you to
play for him. Attitude means everything.
A good work ethic will allow a less talented goalie to beat out a
goalie with more raw talent. There are multitudes of talent rich,
but, attitude poor goalies that never see the ice time they want.
These head cases are quick to blame the coach, the defensemen, the
positioning, the moon, or the fans for poor performances. If you are
always looking for excuses for goals against or losses, you are not
starting goalie material because you don't have the guts to look at
your game honestly. Goalies are leaders and if you are always
blaming someone else for your misfortunes, you don't have the
character to handle responsibility of a starting role.
Are you selfish? Do you put your needs before those of the team's?
Some goalies are more concerned with their save percentage or
goals-against-averages than they are about contributing to win
games. Some of the best goalies in NHL history have had high
goals-against-averages, but, great winning records because they made
saves at key points in games without worrying about how many pucks
have already gone in. Would you rather win 7-6 or lose 1-0?
To stay ahead of people who want your job, you must constantly be
willing to learn and improve yourself in physical and mental aspects
of the game. If you are complacent, other goalies who aren't afraid
to try new things will pass you by. Do you do the same moves all the
time to the point that you become predictable? Can you accept
constructive criticism without becoming defensive? Do you play as
hard in practice as you do in games? Are you in solid athletic shape
or do you spend your days as a couch potato when you could be
getting real exercise? Hockey alone won't make you an elite athlete,
but, if you are an elite athlete, you will have a greater chance of
becoming a great goalie.
How well do you handle adversity? If you have a bad game, do you
sulk and go into the tank? A starting goalie should be foaming at
the mouth to get into the next game to show that it was just an off
night and nothing more. In a close game, are daring the opposition
to score, or praying that no one will shoot at you? Great goalies
want to be the last line of defense. They thrive on pressure and
love to be in the net with a game on the line. Great goalies don't
even like their teammates to beat them in practice, let alone games.
To earn a starting job, you must expect to work hard to beat out the
other goalies. Once you gain the job, you must work hard to keep
anyone else from gaining on you. Be a positive influence on your
teammates, be the first on the ice and the last off, bust your butt
in all drills and expect to make the big saves against all opponents
no matter how weak or strong they are. Use all setbacks as temporary
and strive to improve. This type of attitude will put you in line to
earn the right to be the top goalie on your team.
This article was contributed by
Fred Quistgard of Quistgard Goalie Traini