From The Crease: Maintaining Composure

By Dave DeSander (guest writer) -

As a goalie, you have the difficult task of playing the entire game. Not only does playing the entire game require physical demands on the body, but it is also highly stressful and taxing demands of mental composure. It is this mental composure that will very likely be the determining factor in why you will win or lose the game.

While many good goalies possess all of the physical qualities to perform in practices and games, they often lack the essential and necessary quantitative skills that will allow him/her to succeed. These goalies that only possess the physical skills are commonly the back-ups on most teams. They typically perform well in practice, but are inconsistent with their play when the puck drops in the game. Without both physical and mental strength, and the ability to maintain consistent mental composure, you will eventually play yourself out of the game.

Here are a few tips that will allow you to learn how to build and maintain composure during your games:

  • Learn to play in the “present.” Mitch Korn, goalie coach for the Nashville Predators taught me to flip “the switch” on my mental concentration by focusing on “the present.” Forget about possible outcome and situations, goals against, mistakes, etc. Your only focus should be on the “next shot” in the present situation.
  • Develop the ability to push out distractions that could affect your present mindset. These distractions could come from off-ice incidents or on-ice within your team. Good goalies possess the ability to focus on the present by forgetting about everything that could hinder their performance.
  • Learn to forget goals against. Quickly analyze the play, how the goal was scored, then forget it. The goal has been scored (nothing you can do now). Now is the time to re-focus on the “next shot” and play in “the present.”
  • Donʼt get “too high” on yourself when you make high light real saves. As a goalie, it is your responsibility to come up big in games when the pressure is on. Donʼt chirp or become cocky when youʼre having success. Learn to maintain your composure by treating the save as routine (as if youʼve made the save a 1000 times before).

When the goalie develops a calm and focused demeanor, he is allowing himself the ability to maintain his composure. Once the goaltender has a clear grasp on handling himself during chaotic events within the game, his composure and confidence will carry like osmosis onto his teammates. And once youʼve won the mental game, you can allow your physical skills to carry your team.