Photo Credit: Tim Bates/OJHL Images
Every athlete has their unique ways in how they prepare for a game. Some prefer to listen to music, others would rather chat with teammates, and there’s always the special pregame meal. If a player finds a warmup routine that works for them it can be tough to get them to break it no matter what you may think of it from an outside perspective.
There’s a difference between ‘rituals’ and ‘routines’. Things like putting on one skate before another or taping your stick a certain way fall more as superstitions, while what a player uses to get ready can be better described as a routine. Both can provide a certain level of comfort and put a player at ease mentally which is one less worry heading onto the ice.
For goalies, getting into game mode can involve a different set of warmup techniques. With hand-eye coordination being one of the most important skills for a goalie to have, there are a number of drills that goalies use to get game ready. Bouncing a pair of tennis balls off the wall and catching them is one of the tried and tested ways of how goalies grow their confidence in having quick hands.
Off the ice, getting focused on the mental side of the game is key for netminders. Some like to be alone away from the team and use this time to lock in. Goalies should visualize their gameplan and get in the right mindset.
For a team to earn a shutout they need to be on their game one hundred percent of the time which is why it’s very difficult. The faster a goalie realizes how hard it is to not allow a single goal for three periods, the easier it will be for them to recover. Being able to come up with a routine after giving up a goal in a game is also very important. Goalies can leave the net and skate to the corner, take a sip from their water bottle or regroup with teammates to refocus on the next whistle. These methods can calm a netminder instead of expressing outward frustration by slamming their stick on the ice or pointing fingers. Having a bounce back mentality and the ability to shrug a bad goal off and maintain a positive attitude are key for goalies to succeed.
Not all warmups are mental. Getting physically ready with a series of stretches during the pregame skate will keep goalies loose and ready for action. Staying agile by preparing the body for lots of sudden movements (ups and downs, side to side) can help prevent muscle injuries. Performing ‘Know Your Net’ drills that confirm positioning helps improve spatial awareness.
Figuring out the right combination of mental and physical preparation is key for a goalie. Getting your mind ready and creating the groundwork off the ice will only help to get set once it’s time for puck drop.
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