Click on the link above to watch Osgood’s interview from this morning about his goaltending. All goalies should strive to have his mindset.
“Focus on the proper things…”
Meaning – During games, focus on being prepared before games, making saves and playing to the best of your ability. Don’t worry about things you cannot control such as the fans, referees, poor play of your teammates. Getting upset about any of the above only distracts from your only job, stopping the puck.
During practice, focus on improving all parts of your game. Work on movement, save selection, rebound control and recovery. Don’t worry about what your teammates are, or not, doing that may distract you from your job. You play as you practice.
“When I’m out there I just enjoy it and have alot of fun…”
Meaning – Hockey is simply a game. No more, no less. Regardless the level of competition or importance of a game, it is to be enjoyed. This past season I had to remind the Thunderbirds U16 AAA goalies I coached (including at Nationals) they were there to work hard, compete to best of their ability and HAVE FUN. When a goalie is enjoying themselves on the ice, they are more comfortable which typically leads to better play and results.
“Not take anything too seriously including myself…”
Meaning – See above notes on the game being fun. In addition, all players need perspective. There are more important things to life than hockey. Many times I have told players who were stuggling with something within the game “Imagine coming home from being fired at a job and having a family to feed with no prospects of a new job? That’s stress – what you have is a small problem within a game.”
Hockey prepares young players for the real world. If things are not going your way, work hard to correct it but always keep in mind you are only playing a sport.
In addition, no matter how good you are (or think you are), keep a level head. Don’t think you’re above or too good for anything.
“Nothing out of this comes easy… have fun with it…”
Meaning – In the world of sports, there may not be a more demanding job as goaltender in hockey. Many years ago, the great Jacques Plante said, “how would you like it if at your job, every time you made the slightest mistake a little red light went on over your head and 18,000 people stood up and screamed at you.”
Like the real world, only dedication and working hard (as well as smart) brings success. Nothing comes easy. As well, all goalies should view struggles as opportunities to improve themselves and then enjoy the process knowing they will become better.
About making adjustments – “because I wanted to get better and play as long as I could.”
Meaning – All goalies should be willing to keep an open mind for new tactics and incorporate into their game if it will improve them. Human nature resists change. But, surprisingly, the game of hockey is changing at a rapid pace. For example the butterfly tactic was the most effective save technique until three years ago. Goalies got into position, dropped into butterfly and allowed the puck to hit their body.
But… with the rule changes implemented two years ago, shooters are experiencing less interference so they have more time to shoot. Now shooters are more accurate. Goalies unwilling to become more patient before moving into their save were getting lit up.
Now, those same goalies are learning to be patient or not playing competitively anymore. Always be willing to consider new techniques to improve your game particularly if what you are currently doing is not good enough.
“Muscle memory… I just do things without even thinking about it now”
Meaning – Proper goaltending training is repetition in nature which leads to muscle memory. A movement, technique or tactic needs to be repeated over and over and over in practice/training. Why? So when it matters (i.e. game time), you don’t need to think – just simply react with the proper movement. Hockey is too fast to take the time to think what you have to do. As they say “read and react.” Notice it is not “read, think and then react.”
“I was always prepared and made sure I was so when I got the call I didn’t second guess myself”
Meaning – Osgood is referring to when he was the back-up to Hasek. Instead of sulking and worrying about whether the coach/players liked and/or trusted him, he worked everyday because he knew his chance would come. He knew to be ready because his chance would come and if he played poorly, it would be back to the bench.
Many back-up goalies never become starters because they’re convinced they’re getting a raw deal from the coach and/or team. These feelings leads to confidence problems (death for goalies) and unfocused practices/training because the goalie is focused on himself and not his play and team. Finally when given the chance, they don’t perform up to expectations because of their unfocused mindset.
Being prepared comes back to “focus on the proper things” from earlier in this entry.
“I just watch the puck…. I have to stay real focused, stay big and try to stay out of my net… and cover as much net as I can”
Meaning – This is the goaltending in a “nutshell” The psychology, the body positioning, depth and angle – all important in stopping the puck!