Elite Goalie Mindset
You Can’t Think and Make Saves at the Same Time
You’re playing great and your team is winning, 1-0, with 3 minutes left in the game. The opponents are attacking hard, and you’re in the zone.
You make a great glove save and the ref blows the whistle.
Faceoff is to your right.
They call a time-out and you skate to the bench to get some water.
Now you have time to think…
This is the moment that good goalies are separated from GREAT GOALIES.
What thoughts are going through your head?
Stop to think about that.
This may surprise you but great goalies DO NOT THINK about the score, or the time remaining, or the importance of the game, or anything!
To paraphrase Yogi Berra, “You can’t think and make saves at the same time.”
Great goalies build great habits in practice, and when the game arrives, they let go of judgment and just play.
Let me explain.
When you get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, you can easily navigate around the doors and furniture and arrive at the toilet without ‘thinking,’ right?
That’s because you’ve done it thousands of times and your brain and body automated it.
You’ve automated countless things in your life, like brushing your teeth, walking, and tying your shoes. You don’t need to stop and think; you just do them!
You can (and should) do the same thing with goaltending! You can create great habits in practice and engrain them through repetition. Lots and lots of repetition!
As a goalie, this is when we play our best – when we’re not thinking and our natural instincts take over.
Remember the last time you were in the zone? You weren’t worried about the score, you were just playing, and playing great!
The zone isn’t some magical or random event. You have simply automated your game and your great habits are taking over.
Here are three things you can do TODAY to play with the mindset of an elite goalie:
1. Trust Your Game
You work hard every single practice to reinforce the best habits possible. Your habits are what make your game, so if you want to trust your game, make sure you’re constantly forming great habits.
Just like studying for an exam, once the exam starts, nothing more can be done. Do all the hard work up front and trust that you’re ready.
Three simple but important habits are:
- Efficient Movements
- Be Set
- Track into the Save
Know that you’ve automated these habits and, by trusting them, you allow them to take over. By trusting them, you eliminate all distractions and uncertainties so you can play your best.
2. Focus on the Great
Focus the majority of your energy on what you do great.
We all want to improve. Most people focus on what they’re doing wrong and try and fix that. There is certainly some value in this strategy, but it’s even MORE beneficial to focus on what you’re doing well.
Numerous studies and research prove that we become better by optimizing our strengths rather than fixing our weaknesses. In fact, if you keep building on your strengths, you will improve much more quickly than trying to improve your weaknesses.
As a goalie, you have your own unique strengths. Focus on these strengths and continue to build them up. If you think of your favorite goalie, they’re probably below average in something, but they’re still unreal! They’re unreal because they’ve built a particular strength to be world-class. You can do the same.
I recommend that all my goalies write down FIVE great habits, movements, or saves they made after EVERY SINGLE PRACTICE!
- Great save on two-on-ones
- Great attitude to start practice
- Tracking was excellent today
- Did 5 minutes of extra crease work
- Recovered to the post on all rebounds
3. Expect the Save
As a good goalie, it only makes sense that you should expect to save every single shot that comes at you, because, statistically, that is what’s most likely.
A good goalie will save 90+% of the shots they face. If you make saves 90+% of the time, you SHOULD BE CONFIDENT that you will save each puck! You should expect to save almost every single puck.
In baseball, if you hit the ball 30% of the time, you’re a hall of famer. And you’re saving 90+% of shots – you are great!
If you do get scored on, forget it. Seriously, forget it. Odds are, you’re way more likely to save the next one than not. Expect to save every shot and you will be much more likely to do so.
Never Underestimate the Power of Your Mind!
Your mind is unbelievably powerful. Use it to your advantage! This is an introduction to the mental game and practicing these habits will greatly improve your performance.
Make a daily practice out of trusting your game, focusing on the great, and expecting to make the save!
Thank you for reading! More questions? You can write me directly at Coach@GoaliebyGarman.com.
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Want another great tip to assist your Elite Goalie Mindset? Check out my story on the most pressure-filled situation I ever faced! Talk to Yourself, Don’t Listen to Yourself.