Top 5 Most Common Developmental Mistakes We See In Goalies
1) Pulling hands back when making a save
When goalies drop to the butterfly and they “scoop” their glove or pull their stick close to their pads, it opens up a lot of holes and significantly decreases the “angle to the puck.” Because the puck is shot from the ice up, the more you move away from the puck, the more room it has to travel. With good balance and “attack” or confidence, goalies can eliminate many goals that go in over their glove, blocker, or past their shoulders.
2) Not fully tracking the puck into the body
When the puck is being shot at a very fast speed (also, when it leaves the stick quickly), it is sometimes hard to keep your eyes on it. All too often I see goalies making saves without tracking the puck and relying too much on their peripheral vision. When goalies learn to keep their full focus on the puck, more saves are made. It is key to track the puck with your full awareness from the stick to your body. As simple as it sounds, keeping your eyes on the puck may be the best thing to do in nearly every situation.
3) Ignoring stretching
Children’s muscles are naturally more flexible than adult muscles. When you’re young, showing up to the rink and getting dressed 10 minutes before practice is a piece of cake. As we age, this becomes more difficult and our muscles become tighter and more susceptible to injury. Older goalies often realize the importance of stretching in rehab or after an injury. I strongly believe in educating young athletes on the importance of stretching and “prehab.” As they say, if you’re not thirsty you should still drink water. Well, if you feel flexible, you should still stretch. A great way to stretch your muscles before and after a game/practice is to use a foam roller. Find out how to choose the right foam roller for you.
4) Lack of mental preparation
Maturity is part of being a good goalie. Simply, the more mature you are, the more you have experienced. Being a goalie requires a firm understanding of different complex “scenarios” on the ice. It takes a long time to mature as a goalie. It wasn’t until I started paying attention to the mental side of the game that I began feeling more “in sync” with the game. When you only react to what is in front of you, there is not consistency. Visualization and imagery are the best tools to being fully prepared for the game. Often times with young goalies, there is not enough emphasis placed on practicing the mental side of goaltending. Mental “toughness” it is a separating factor of successful athletes. If you want your body to perform consistently, train your mind to be equally as sharp. A great book to read for parents and athletes of all ages is Mind Gym by Gary Mack.
5) Too concerned with yesterdays game
This may be the toughest lesson for a young goalie to realize. I remember very clearly having discussions with my father about our “grand plan” for becoming a professional goalie. We discussed what we thought the right plan was and how I would attain certain goals like playing Division 1 college hockey and the NHL. If I had a bad game growing up, I felt like the world was coming to an end. I took losses very personally because the game meant so much to me. No goalie is alone in this. We can find fault in our decision for every goal and as we get older the losses become a bigger pill to swallow. It is how we choose to move forward from these losses that make us the athletes that we are. It is important to establish a responsibility for you possible missteps, but it is equally if not more important to take what you learned from your loss and apply it towards improvement. The lessons my childhood losses taught made me into a Division 1 goalie and a professional. Yes, your child will experience failure if they play goalie, that’s an irrefutable fact, but what will help them deal with the losses is looking towards the bigger picture. Play hockey because you love the game. Do what makes you happiest. Some days you might not save a single puck and it happens to everyone. The game has a funny way of taking you down the road it knows you need