Linked 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.”
Mental weakness comes in many forms during competition including –
- runaway nervousness
- poor concentration
- 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.
As 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.