Goaltenders – Playing on the Edge

Anyone who has played, coached or worked in hockey knows that being a goaltender is different from any other position in any other sport. All eyes are on you to not make a mistake. Perfection is the goal, yet is seldom obtainable. You are measured not by how many times you succeed, but by how many times you fail. A starting goaltender will often play 80-90% of his or her teams minutes over the course of a season.

For these reasons, goaltenders have to be able to welcome and invite pressure. They have to embrace the challenge and learn to play on the edge. The mental game is the heart and soul of the position. It is a fine line between being sharp and being jittery, between being calm and being too relaxed. The “Edge” for every goaltender is going to be different, but every goaltender must find that edge where they are mentally and physically at their peak. Every successful goaltender I’ve ever worked with has known their edge and how to get to it without going over.

What is the “Edge?” It’s the point where “I don’t care if I give up a goal” meets “You’re never going to score on me.” It’s where “Holy crap I have to play great for us to win” meets “I’m the best goaltender in this league.” The “Edge” is the intersection between serenity and anxiety, a state of hyper-alertness where you can confidently welcome new challenges without dwelling on the past.

How do you get to the “Edge?” Every goaltender, just like every person, is different. Some listen to music. Some visualize. Some watch film. Some use routines. You shouldn’t be too nervous or too relaxed. It doesn’t matter what gets you there, what’s important is that you can get to a place where you feel confident and ready to play at your peak.

 

One Response to Goaltenders – Playing on the Edge

  1. Jodi Murphy says:

    A little fear does a goalie good! Not so much that they freeze on the ice or can’t recover from being scored on, but just enough to keep then tense the whole game through. The game can change in an instant (just ask Team USA!) and until that last whistle blows you can’t lose your edge.

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