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Tools You Need to Succeed

October 29, 2011 General No Comments

Tools you need to succeed
By Mitch Korn
Nov 6, 2001, 06:55


Parents may panic when they hear their child announce “I want to be a goalie,” even though goaltender is one of the greatest positions in sports. So before you give your loved ones a heart attack by “donning the pads,” there are a lot of things you should work on in order to ensure your enjoyment and success between the pipes.

Be an athlete

The best goalies are the most athletic ones, those with the speed of a cat. The ability to “scramble” in tough situations requires body control. All quality goaltenders are in super shape, both physically and cardiovascularly. Their muscles are strong and toned, and their “wind” is exceptional. The old cliché of “putting the fat kid in net” has never been farther from the truth.


Be a great skater

This much is clear: if you can’t skate, you can’t excel. We’re not talking about skating in a straight line. We are talking about explosive starts and stops; quick lateral movements; rapid transitions and brisk recovery, all the while maintaining excellent balance and agility—ever ready to make a save. It sounds easy to some, but it’s tough!


Be flexible

Again, the best athletes have outstanding lower body flexibility. The ability to contort from the waist, hips, knees, and groin are a must to close holes and perform well. Don’t be discouraged, however; you can work to improve your flexibility every day!


Have no fear of the puck

A “puck-shy” goalie, or one who is “timid,” will not have great success. The goalie must be fearless, of both the puck and the traffic around the net.

In order to eliminate any fear of the puck, a goaltender must have quality equipment in which he or she has confidence. While “big money” is spent on the fancy gloves, pads and mask (not to mention the paint job) little attention is paid to the pants, chest pads and arm pads—where most of the bruises and “hurts” tend to occur.

Granted, the equipment is very expensive. But keep in mind that newer is not necessarily better. At the younger ages, purchasing quality used equipment is fine. Many hockey associations provide goalie equipment. And remember, sometimes spending a little more means a lot better protection.


Have no fear of the game

There is always pressure on a goalie, either self-imposed or placed upon him by the coach, parents, teammates or even fans. The goalie has to be up to the challenge. He has to be mentally tough, self-confident, and want to be the difference in the game. The ability to “shake off” an early goal, or to “tune out” an overzealous parent is required. But if you can do that, you’ll find there’s nothing better than making that big save with under a minute to go to save the game!

Also, the goaltender plays the safest position on the ice. No one can hit him, he is wearing an armor of protective equipment, and his entire team protects him. Other than the puck, which is rather predictable, the goalie does not have to worry about going into the corner with some psycho, bruising, high-sticking, butt-ending goon!


Be good mentally

Besides the need for “mental toughness” (above) the goaltender must be able to anticipate, read and react, make the proper save selections, and see the puck—even when it isn’t able to be viewed. Simply, the goaltender must have a head for the game. Reacting physically is not enough. Those with solid mental skills can usually out-wit the goal scorer by anticipating and reading the play.


Be A Worker

Regardless of one’s natural skills, there is no substitute for hard work. The goalie, like the quarterback of the football team, is a leader and has to set an example. The longer you play the position, the more you’ll realize that the work ethic is directly related to success.


Be normal…sort of

All it takes is one goalie who is “bananas” to give all of us a bad name! True, the best goalies tend to be a little special…a bit more creative…a bit over confident…a bit more outgoing…and a bit more demanding than the norm. But all the stories of goalies that are “nuts,” doing crazy things, are the exception and not the rule. Sure they’re usually intense, but goalies are actually pretty good guys!

Mitch Korn is the goaltender coach for the Buffalo Sabres of the NHL. In addition, he is an administrator at Miami University (Ohio) and directs the 8-week Summer Hockey School. Miami has Division I ice hockey in the CCHA.

This first appeared in the 10/1995 issue of Hockey Player Magazine®
© Copyright 1991-2001 Hockey Player® and Hockey Player Magazine®

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