Excellence in goaltending is partly a function of a goalie that is able to effectively get his mind and body to work together. Simply put, there is a smooth, coordinated function between thought and action. As discussed in the previous post (Manage Your Mind), negative thinking will inhibit performance.
Well, how can a goalie integrate his mind and body to reduce the negative thoughts and feelings? As with most things in life, this is easier said than done but is the key to efficiently operating the mental TV and becoming a better goalie. Understanding how to create the powerful feelings and positive productive thoughts will enable the goalie to create a state in which they can perform their best.
The first step is for the goalie to take responsibility for managing his mental TV by creating positive feelings and focus. Of course this can be a difficult concept for a young goalie to understand (control over his mind and feelings) but it is vital for success.
According to “The Complete Player” from Dr. Saul Miller, the complete player (goalie) takes responsibility (think “response-ability) for managing his mind and utilizes two basic mental training tips to help manage feelings and focus. They are:
- Have a clear focus, keep it simple; and
- Use breathing techniques to create positive feelings and change channels on the mental TV.
The remainder of this post deals with #1, getting a clear focus while keeping things simple. The breathing tip will be addressed in the next Goalie Management 101 post.
Clear focus must begin with clear goals as energy is directed with help from goals. In his book, Miller recommends several types of goals and that they should be written down and repeated often and aloud.
First, the goalie needs to set long-term or career goals. “Playing in the NHL” is not a productive, nor realistic, long-term goal. It’s great to strive for the NHL, but, there are too many circumstances uncontrolled by the player that will prevent him from making the professional ranks. More productive is setting goals with perspective addressing why the goalie plays or the level of competition the goalie wants to play in the next two years may be more productive. A great example for a preteen or teenager is “Earn a position on the AAA team.”
Secondly, goals for the season need to be defined. What does the goalie want to do this season? Maybe a 90.5%+ save percentage at end of season? How about working every week to improve playing the puck outside the net?
Once these three or four goals are set, the goalie needs to define what needs to be done to make the goals realistic? In order to get to a 90.5% save percentage, for example, does the goalie need to work on being more aggressive? Would improving movement, the ability to read plays, and/or controlling rebounds help the goalie achieve his goal? If so, these need to become goals in-themselves and a plan to work on those needs to be established as well.
Lastly, immediate goals for next practice or game must be set that reinforce the goals set for the season. No serious goalie should start a practice without a defined skill or tactic he is working on throughout the session. Simply standing in net as a target competing for saves is not enough.
In coaching goalies in a team setting (Midget U18AAA), I periodically skate up to the goalies during flow drills and ask what they are working on for the day. Let’s say they better have a quick, concise response. It’s not up to the coach to define what goalies are working on during a team practice. Coaches can consult and help implement, but, it is up to the goalie. Otherwise, who’s goal is it?
As Miller writes, “being the complete player is about having a clear direction. Working hard, and following through. It’s also about having a winning attitude. It’s about being committed, confident, mentally tough or resilient, and having a passion for the game.”
The clear direction comes from having concise goals and following through.
Next Goalie Management 101 entry will address breathing and it’s ability to assist in creating positive feelings that will help change the channel on the mental TV.