The first principle in a goalie managing his mind, according to Saul Miller is the mind is like a TV: thoughts are controlled by the individual so if we don’t like what our mind is thinking, simply “change the channel” and focus on positives. When a goalie controls his mind and uses positive power thoughts, his performance in the crease will improve.
There are three kinds of power thoughts: feeling thoughts, strategy thoughts and affirmations.
Feeling thoughts are simple statements a goalie can think (examples below). As the goalie thinks of the phrase, he needs to allow himself to feel or experience the thought (very important). Before, or throughout a game (while puck is the other end or a stoppage of play) the goalie should repeat this phrase in his mind and then actually do something to physically experience the phrase.
Below are some examples of thoughts and actions to experience the phrase.
- “Quick Feet” – drop to knees and alternately kick legs out in full pad extensions as well as quick movement around the crease using all of the goalie specific movements.
- “Smooth Movement” – skate in and around crease using all specific goaltending movements (scull, shuffle, t-push) in controlled smooth manner. Particular attention needs to be paid to the movement of the feet from pushing off to stopping.
- “Battle” – quick movement from goal post to top of the crease’s arc and back to post to simulate quick passes during an offensive rush by the other team.
- “Compact” – use goaltender specific movement around the crease making sure stance is compact (elbows in), knees are bent, chest is upward, and stick is always covering the 5-hole. Openings within the 5-hole resulting from movements should be quickly closed (no dragging legs from pushing off).
For more experienced goalies, adding additional statements to each power thought improves performance even further. For younger and/or less experienced goalies, keep it simple.
The second power thoughts are referred to as “strategy thoughts” which are used to sharpen on-ice judgment and stay focused while simplifying the game. Also known as “ABC’s” these are used to define the basics of what needs to be done in different scenarios.
Each goaltender can create his own “ABC’ for general overall performance and different game scenarios, and, of course, they need to be based on good habits and strategies.
An example for general overall goaltender performance is retired NHL-great John Vanbiesbrouck’s quoted in Miller’s “The Complete Hockey Player.”
A. Good Position – aggressive, square to shooter, anticipate
B. Focus – keep puck focus during entire game including breaks. Use breaks in play to re-charge rest and refocus instead of socializing with teammates.
C. Faith and Calm – maintain composure regardless of what happens, nothing upsets.
For specific game scenarios, goalie should develop an “ABC” for situations he struggles in. Example is the breakaway-
A. Aggressive – Challenge shooter, get to initial position above crease arc
B. Patience – keep on feet skating towards crease, watch for visual cues of shooters intent, don’t commit – wait for shooter to make move
C. React– move with shooter, get to post in deke
To create “ABC” the goalie needs to be clear what he wants to do on the ice. Clarity needs to be simple power thoughts and should be able to bring an image to mind just by saying the thought. It begins with thinking of different situations, writing down what needs to be done, and committing to memory. The “ABC” are important keys to developing a clear focus which allows for greater success in the crease.
The last of the power thoughts are affirmations. These are positive statements a goalie can repeat to receive strength. They increase attitudes, identity, and confidence. Affirmations can be in the first (“I am…”) or second (“You are…”) person, need to be powerful, and repeated frequently.
Examples of affirmations are:
- “I control my crease”
- “I battle for every puck”
- “I have a quick glove”
- “I’m a force in the net”
- “I love to be the difference for my team”
- “I’m quick as a cat”
- “You’re mentally tough”
- “You can’t be beat”
- “You are a winner”
- “You’re unbeatable”
It may require time for the goalie to implement each kind of power thought but he should aim to use all three. Once incorporated, power thoughts will improve a goalie’s performance immensely in a short amount of time.
Next Goalie Management 101 entry will deal with mental imagery