Hey goalies! Coach Dana here with AdvantEDGE Goaltending and I am bringing you the 5C’s of Goaltending. These five qualities can be practiced and improved upon with the proper resources and mindset. It is no secret that goaltending requires a lot of mental training because the game is equally physical as it is emotional for a goalie. Some coaches may even say that goaltending is more of a mental game than a physical one.
How do we get better at the unique skill set that is required to be an elite goalie? Check out plenty of free resources on our site, Youtube, and Facebook. Also, If you are a fellow female goalie, you can join our private Facebook Group GALtenders Unite!
Train your mind by focusing on these 5C’s: Confidence, Calmness, Consistency, Coachability, and Competitiveness.
Do you want to know more about each of these qualities and how you can start improving them today? Open your mind and read on!
In order to be an elite goalie you have to have confidence in yourself. In order to build confidence you need to address confidence/security issues both on and off of the ice for improved performance. Not sure how? We have a plan for that: mindful practices, quality repetitions, expanding your comfort zone by improving play reading and fitness, and implementing mental training into your routine.
We are fortunate to work with the best in the business with Inner Mind Sports and encourage all goalies to get their ’95 Lessons of Mental Training for Goalies’. Coach Lorie has spent the past 40+ seasons working with goalies and athletes from amateur to pro all over the world. One of her main principles is to remember that Confidence is NEVER lost you just have to rediscover it sometimes. Check out this episode on their Spotify channel for ideas on how to find that confidence again!
Goalies are often called upon to perform at their best during the most stressful and pivotal moments of a game. Shoot-outs? Overtime? Penalty kills? Odd-man rushes? Breakaways? ALL scenarios where as a goalie you want to come up with that big save and swing the momentum for your team. So, how do you get your mind right to be able to do that when you feel those butterflies and your heart starts to race? Learning to control your breathing is perhaps the most basic way to calm your mind and body in the moment. Here is an awesome quick video that I made explaining ‘Box Breathing’, which is a method that I use a lot:
Another proven method is to have a pre-game routine that includes positive imagery. Here is an example of a great one from Coach Lorie of Inner Mind Sports.
This is the kind of thing that can separate a good goalie from an elite goalie. Everyone can show up and have a solid game once in awhile, but can you show up consistently for your team? Whether you are playing the toughest team in the league or the easiest? Whether you are on the road or at home? Whether this is your fourth game of the weekend tournament or your first? How about external factors: can you handle not getting your pre-game nap, traditional pre-game meal, or any other adversity that we may run into on game day? Life happens and no matter what is going on outside of that sheet of ice, your team and coaches are depending on you to be consistent while on it.
So how can we improve this? Practice practice practice! Practicing with QUALITY reps and addressing our weaknesses are keys for building consistency. It is one thing to double down on your strengths or stop hundreds of low quality scoring chances, but what you are doing to address your weaknesses and deal with high threat situations is going to make all the difference come game time. If you have a ‘coach’ that likes to rip slappers, deke like Charlie Conway, not give you proper warm-ups, and not address what YOU need for YOUR game, then you need a new coach. If you can’t get a different coach, are stuck in a less than ideal situation with a team, or don’t have a coach at all, then you need to control what you can control to get better daily.
Here are some things that you can do starting right now that are consistent and reliable. Taking every opportunity to work on what you need improvement on are all ways that you can improve your consistency:
1. Reviewing game tape
2. Hand-eye drills off the ice
3. Having a pre-game warm-up routine (sped-up video)
4. Having a recovery routine
On the topic of coaches, it is important that as a goalie you are coachable and can take criticism. I remember my first regional summer camp as a kid. I was 14 and had just completed my second season of hockey and I was so passionate and so hungry to stop the puck that I didn’t think it mattered how I did it as long as I did. I had a small picture view on what I needed to improve my game. A college goalie coach at the camp came up to me at evaluations at the end of the week and expressed that I needed to be more open to criticism and more coachable. He told me that I was very skilled, especially for being still new to the position without formal training, but if I stayed closed-minded I would never achieve my goals. I was upset and hurt and thought, “What does he know any way?”.
Well, it turns out that he knew enough to be a goalie coach with a high level NCAA D1 team and he knew enough to stick around as a coach at these regional camps. The following year I came back to camp in the summer with an open-mind and willingness to learn. I changed my view from simply results-focused to process-focused. What this means is that I was able to swallow my ego and realize that just because I was stopping the puck doesn’t mean that I had nothing to learn from the scenario or drill.
That summer I earned ‘Most Improved Goalie’ and I still have the Christian stick that I was given brand-new hanging up in my garage now 25 years later. It is a reminder to be humble, open-minded, and willing to learn. This is a lesson that we all need to take with us throughout all walks of life. School, careers, relationships—there is always something to learn and gain to improve us as humans and contributors to our goals.
You can’t teach compete. You either have the hunger to improve and be the best that you can be or you don’t. I would much rather work with the kid with less ‘raw talent’ that wants to stop every single puck and get to the highest level possible than the kid who has all the talent in the world but doesn’t want to apply themselves and chooses to coast through. I tell the goalies that I work with this all the time: if you are passionate and have a high compete level for hockey then I will do everything that I can to guide you and get you to your goals. However, if you are not in that place competitively and mentally for hockey, then I want to encourage you to find what you ARE passionate about and chase that.
Few things get me riled up more than seeing parents pigeonholing their kids into goaltending because they’ve already “invested too much money” or think that their kid has “a real shot at a scholarship if they just stick with it”. I do not want to be a part of a system as a coach that tries to force kids to compete for something that doesn’t drive them.
I started hockey at the age of 13 and had very limited training aside from summer camps and one season with a goalie coach. I made NCAA D1 hockey at the age of 17 and then transferred to NCAA D3 hockey to play three seasons as a starter for the then brand new Adrian College women’s hockey team. I am still as passionate about my play and helping goalies get to the next level as I was when I started as a goalie, now nearly 20 years ago. THIS is my passion and I seriously LOVE the game, the process, the position, the history, and the experiences. My biggest life advice is to find what you are competitive and passionate about and pour your all into that.
Stay tuned for more articles and feel free to reach out to me with any questions!
– Coach Dana