Sunday Q&A #3
Q: My son has playoffs just around the corner. He’s been putting extra pressure on himself and in turn, has been having some tough practices and a very rough game this past weekend. With the games coming up that are so important to him and his team, how do we get him to stay calm?
A: This is a great question. We as goalies magnify big games or situations because we feel the pressure to succeed and please those around us. The key is this: IT’S JUST ANOTHER GAME!
Nothing changes, and you have to enforce that in your mind. Goalie minds tend to stray to the negative “what if” scenarios. What if they score early!? What if we lose?! What if my parents and teammates are mad at me?!
Any time you feel this, have a trigger in your mind. Take some deep breaths in, and out. Mention some pre-determined key words in your head that will take your mind to a safe place.
The most important thing is to practice leading up to playoffs, like you would in an important game. Give a bad goal up in practice? Don’t think about it. Prepare to make the next save and forget about it.
Practicing like you play, both mentally and physically is the key to being a successful goaltender. Pay no attention to the officials, the other team, the parents and fans in the crowd, or anything for that matter that won’t help you stop the puck. Remind yourself, It’s the same puck you’ve stopped thousands and thousands of times.
Treat the butterflies and nervous energy with acceptance, as opposed to a hinderance. You should be a little nervous. It means you care and want to perform well! Find a routine that keeps your mind from wandering and stay there. It will take you far.
Breathe. Relax. Have fun.
You’ve prepared for this all season, and your entire career. You know what you need to do. I tell my junior and college guys these 3 keys before every game:
See it, stop it, control it.
Keep it simple and enjoy doing what you love!