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You Are What You Do Repeatedly

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 04/17/15, 9:30AM EDT

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Established routines can not only serve as a prelude to completion, but they can also be a valuable tool to enhance practice performance

Developing routines are an essential part of the preparation process of goaltenders. Routines enable us to be physically, technically and mentally ready for all forms of completion. Established routines can not only serve as a prelude to completion, but they can also be a valuable tool to enhance practice performance as well. 

A goaltender’s performance can be impacted by a number of variables outside of their control, but one of the few things that goaltenders can regulate is themselves. What I mean by this, is that goalies can exert greater control over their performance by taking charge of a few key areas. Net minders can control their:

  • Equipment- They need to make sure that their gear is fitted properly and is in optimal condition. A goaltender should never be beaten by their equipment. If something is not functioning or protecting properly, then doubt is created. Make sure to remove all areas of doubt where equipment is concerned.
  • Their body- Make sure to create an appropriate physical and technical pre-competition procedure.  A good physical warm up gets the blood flowing and mimics many of the movements that will be utilized in the game. I’ll touch on some drills later in the article.
  • Minds- Some form of mental rehearsal helps to heighten focus and gauge intensity.

Although the terms “routine” and “rituals” are sometimes used interchangeably, it is important to distinguish the differences. A ritual is often associated with superstitions and generally comprised of things that have no practical relevance to performance. Examples of rituals include such things as walking in through a specific door to enter a rink or wearing a “lucky” article of clothing under your gear. 

Conversely, a routine is a series of actions that aid the athlete to achieve readiness by means of a variety of functional and practical actions. Young goalies should develop and mold their routines in practices. Obviously, a pre-practice routine will be shorter and less complex than a pre-game routine but it should still contain a strong physical element.

Each athlete needs to develop a feel and an understanding of what works best for them since there is no “one size fits all” methodology. There are some common elements that each athlete needs to incorporate. Compiling a list of everything that you need before a completion is a good start. Some of the most common elements include, meal choices, the timing of the meals, a technical review, physical warm-up, equipment check and mental preparation and visualization.

Once these factors have been incorporated, then the goalie must consider the duration of the pre-competition routine. A routine that is too long can be cumbersome and cause the goalie to cut corners or stray, which defeats the process. While a routine that is too short, can leave the goalie feeling under prepared. 

No discussion of a pre-competition warm up would be complete without touching upon a few hands on exercises that goaltenders can use to physically ready themselves for the demands of the position. 

  1. Off the wall. [No goalie gear; requires one tennis ball].
    One goalie stands 2 meters from a wall (facing wall). The other goalie stands behind him/her and throws a tennis ball at the wall. The goalie in front has to react quickly and catch the ball bare-handed. The thrower repeats, but throws to a different place on the wall, requiring the other goalie to use a different hand or to position himself differently to catch it. Goalies switch positions after 30 seconds.

    This can be done without a partner as well. The goalie would bounce the ball off the wall and catch it immediately. Racquetballs are also very effective. 
  2. Simultaneous ball toss. [No goalie gear; requires 2 balls].
    Goalies stand 2 meters apart, each with a ball in their right hand. They simultaneously toss their ball to the other goalies’ left hand for a single-handed catch. Goalies switch ball to right hand. Repeat. Goalies should do this as fast as they can. After 30 seconds, switch directions. (Note: Once this is mastered at a high speed, the goalies can throw the balls cross body.) 
  3. Hip Slap. [No goalie gear; requires 1 ball, done alone) Goalie starts standing, feet  shoulder width apart, holding ball in one hand high in the air. Goalie will drop the ball from above head. Using same hand, goalie will attempt to slap hip on same side and then catch the ball before it hits the floor. Goalie can try to slap hip twice to increase difficulty.

Once your pre-competition routine has been refined, try it out before competition. You may need to fine tune some things until you’re completely comfortable.  But before long it will feel simply, well routine! Keep in mind, routines are only valuable if they are performed consistently so prepare to be your best!

 

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