5 Key Habits of a Great Goalie
If you already read Elite Goalie Mindset, you know that you can become a much better goalie by trusting our game, focusing on the great, and expecting to make the save. These are all HUGELY VALUABLE mental skills for a goalie.
To be a good goalie, you also must develop your technical fundamentals, such as becoming proficient at skating, sliding, pushes & stops, butterfly, reverse VH, and all of that good stuff.
All good goalies must have a good technical foundation to their goaltending. However, you can separate yourself, and go from good to great, with your Elite Goalie Mindset and mastering these 5 Key Habits.
1. Calm and Confident Approach
If you’re like me, you’ve gone into a game (or even practice) that was important for whatever reason, and you were tense. Your body was rigid and you tried to “grit your way to success.”
I used to think that I needed to try HARDER. I could feel my breath held and my body totally tight and tense. This never ended well. Goaltending requires a degree of fluidity. Your body needs total freedom to make saves.
As you learned in Elite Goalie Mindset, you play your best when you’re not thinking. The game happens TOO FAST for you to cognitively process everything, so you need a clear mind to be ready to MOVE and MAKE SAVES.
Overthinking, fear, and doubt introduced tension to my body. I reminded myself to be calm and to be confident in my habits that I developed. If your body is ready, you’re ready.
2. Track the Puck
If you can see it, you can save it.
Truly, by developing great habits, you can become such a good goalie that if you can see the puck clearly, you WILL stop it. Make sure that your stance allows you to see the puck. And make sure that your eyes lead all your movements. The less variability in your eye-level, the less variability you will have in your game. Or, the more consistent your performance will be.
I believe that optimal tacking or “head trajectory”, is truly a game changer for goalies. I’ve had the good fortune of working one-on-one with the pioneers of this concept and the effects are incredible. Your head and body trajectory will affect every aspect of your game and give you the best chance to save every single puck.
Be sure to check out Lyle Mast at OR Sports for more details.
3. Core Engaged
As alluded to in Habit #2, Track the Puck, your body and head must be in the right position to most optimally track the puck. That particular position requires an engaged core. Try this, get in your butterfly (without gear is fine) and then start leaning your upper body forward, until you feel your core activate and engage – this is ideal for your goaltending.
Your “core” is the connection between your upper and lower body and your core is the foundation for your mobility, strength, and speed. By playing with an engaged core at all times, we eliminate delay and inefficiencies in our movements. In goaltending, every little milliseconds matters.
When your core is engaged, your head can be ideally positioned and your movements can be as efficient as possible.
There are many drills and concepts we teach so you’re always optimally seeing the puck and giving yourself the best opportunity to stop it. Like any habit, this takes consistent work and attention to details.
4. Be Set
This seems simple, but it’s incredibly difficult. To be “set” means you are totally balanced and ready to move into a save or ready to move to a new angle to get set again.
The MAJORITY of goals go in, because a goalie is NOT set. The game happens incredibly fast, and the puck moves upwards for 60 – 70 miles an hour at most competitive levels. Your body has to keep up with this speed! No wonder it’s so challenging.
I’m not a big fan of “reaching” or “diving” saves . They are not easily repeatable saves. When a goalie dives back and makes a save with his stick paddle, it may look cool, but it’s incredibly lucky.
Great goalies can’t rely on luck. As a GREAT goalie, our goal is to give ourselves the best chance to make the save EVERY SINGLE TIME. To make more saves, we must be SET ON THE PUCK at all times!
To be set, we need to have great crease management, skating ability, and an understanding of optimal positioning, and angles.
5. Focus on the Good
We focus on Reinforcing the Good in Elite Goalie Mindset, but we need to do it physically too!
Here is how we engrain our great habits. Not a highlight reel save but a REAL PERFECT SAVE.
This is the 5 Key Habits in action: you’re playing with a clear mind, you’re tracking the play with your core engaged, which allows you to be set to make the save, and you track it in to your perfect save.
Visualize all those little details vividly and ingrain them in your mind. Numerous studies and research have proven that those who VISUALIZE something are much more likely to achieve it.
However, we must understand a very important concept, we want to focus on and visualize the process even more than the result.
The process is something that we have control of, like the first four habits; take Tracking the Puck for example. By committing our attention and focus to this, we can accomplish the goal of tracking the puck. An example of a result could be a shutout, but, really, we have NO control over this. We can play the best game ever and still give up a goal.
There is no real proof that visualizing results help us, but there are numerous studies and research that prove visualizing the process does improve performance. VISUALIZE THE PROCESS. Visualize every little detail that goes into the result that you want!
If you are visualizing all the details that go into a save (process), then you are much more likely to get that!
When you make a great save in practice, exactly how we’re teaching here, stop and savor it, even if only for a quick second. Remember how it felt and what you did and build off of that. The more that you reinforce the action immediately, the more ingrained it will be in your mind making that save more automatic in games.