Goalie’s Mental Game a Priority for Personal and Team Success

March 31, 2009

pogge1Linked below is an article from Canada’s National Post about Toronto Maple Leaf’s rookie goalie Justin Pogge and his struggles in the NHL which can be linked to his weak mental game. Although this deals with an NHL goalie, much can be learned by goalies at all levels as it applies to the position in general.

As Brian Burke is quoted-

“…whether you can be a starter and that’s mental. Can you handle the pressure? Can you carry a team on your back? Can you not allow a soft goal in the third period? That’s where most goalies fail.”

 Article – http://www.nationalpost.com/sports/story.html?id=1444588

Mental weakness comes in many forms during competition including –

  • runaway nervousness
  • intimidation
  • poor concentration
  • negativity
  • lack of confidence
  • inability to let go of mistakes or bad breaks.

Any of the above will create problems for the goalie, his team, and prevent the goalie from ever reaching his full potential. If the team cannot count on their guy between the pipes there is little future for either of them.

pogge-down2As much as a goalie works to succeed on other parts of his game (technical, tactical, conditioning, etc), he must dedicate time to the mental as well.  Does that mean he needs to meet with a sports psychologist? No, not in the least bit.

There are several inexpensive, or free, alternatives to the sports shrink. Consider striking up a friendship with a more experienced goalie and/or work with a goalie coach who has played the game. Both should be able to provide insight and advice while acting as a sounding board to the struggling goalie.

As well, there are numerous websites (see Google) and books written about sports psychology that are easily understood.

The best sports psychology book I read happened to be based on hockey. Dr. Saul Miller’s Hockey Tough (http://www.amazon.com/Hockey-Tough-Saul-L-Miller/dp/0736051236/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1238555025&sr=1-2) provides insight to many sports perfomance issues with excellent solutions.

If you can’t find a copy of Hockey Tough look for a used copy of Miller’s The Complete Player: The Psychology of Winning Hockey (http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Player-Psychology-Winning-Hockey/dp/0773762213/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1238555025&sr=1-1) which is out-of-print and was replaced by Hockey Tough.

Regardless of what level the goalie is playing, from Squirt to the NHL, if they can’t control their mind and emotions, their career will fall short of where they are trying to get. Any goalie serious about becoming better needs to dedicate time to improving their mental make-up.

Make sure to keep checking back to this blog as I have been granted permission by Dr. Miller to post some of his exellent advice.

Back to the article, will Pogge become a starter in Toronto as projected or will he spend the rest of his days in the minors? His talent gave him the opportunity to play in the NHL but only his mental game will keep him there.


Advice for Playing the Breakaway from the Pros

March 31, 2009

NHL.com posted a great article for all goalies to read – “Goalies Advice: Watch the Puck, Not the Moves” – about how to play shootouts (i.e. breakaways).


Martin Brodeur suggests the following: pay attention to shooters tendencies while watching them play other teams (i.e. scout), focus only on the puck when player is approaching, and force the shooter out of his comfort zone.

On puck focus – “He (the shooter) can do whatever he wants to do all the way down the ice because it has no bearing on what he’s going to do when he shoots the puck. As a goalie your shootout starts alomst from the hash marks or top of the circle. That is really where your challenge is, instead of watching him go fast or slow…”.

On shooter comfort zone – “It’s patience and trying to know what he’s going to do before he does it. If you take it away, now he has to go to option two, and within a couple of seconds to go to option two, you better be right. And option two isn’t usually as good as option one.”

Marty Turco adds unpredictibility is also key.

turco“The other guy (shooter) doesn’t have a clue what I’m going to do, and I don’t really know, either. That’s a good thing, and the instinct to never give up shows through. I’ve been downright beaten, guessed the wrong way and still happen to make maybe half the saves. They say lack of style and instincts hurt, but it helps in a split-second situation.”

Read the entire article here – http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=415959

Watch NHL Top 5 Shootout Saves from 2008-09 Season

When Things Are Going Bad

March 30, 2009

Another installement from sports psychologist Adam Naylor talking to goalies about when things are going bad it may be hard to keep a positive mindset. If a goalie is struggling to keep positive under adversity, he suggests  “productive” thoughts to get back to the path to success.

Lerg Provides Lesson in Overcoming Odds

March 29, 2009

lerg-trophyVideo story of Jeff Lerg, starting goalie for the Michigan State Spartans for the past four years, and the adversity  he has turned aside to be one of the best Division I goalies for the past few years. No matter the obstacles, winners like Lerg demand the best from themselves and consistently work to prove doubters wrong. This mindset is the path to personal success and a source of inspiration towards teammates.

Press Release: Rocky Mountain Elite Goaltending Summer Camp 2009

March 29, 2009



Goalie Masks by NHL Team

March 26, 2009

Sports Illustrated posted pictures of every NHL goalie this season (aside from call-ups from the minors).


There are many great ones but the best of the bunch –


Theodore (Washington)











Smith (Tampa)











Harding (Minn)

Saves of the Week (03.24)

March 25, 2009

Another week of fantastic goaltending with Jonathan Quick from LA making two saves featured in the Top 10. Of course, the last save from Marty Brodeur in the game he surpassed Roy as the King of Goaltending rounds out the Top 10.