We had a great question submitted by Logan the other day for our first Question Bin response!
Question: How do you mentally stay calm and in the game with [sic] you let in a couple easy goals?
Answer: Great question! This is where our first principle, Be Fearless, comes into play!
To tackle this question we must acknowledge two facts:
The first thing we must acknowledge is that as goalies, we will get scored on. I know that is a tough pill to swallow but the fact of the matter is the goal is 6’x6′ and the ball is only 2.5″ in diameter. Chances are high that the little round ball will make it past you at some point during a game. Knowing and accepting this fact does not give us an excuse to let shots go in, but rather is an important concept to set realistic expectations. We can’t and simply won’t save every shot.
The second thing we must acknowledge is that once the ball crosses the goal line, there is no taking it back. It’s on the scoreboard and there is nothing you can do about it no matter how hard you try!
Once we’ve ingrained these two concepts into our brain, we’re ready to be fearless. What is being fearless, exactly? The Merriam-Webster Diction defines fearless as “not afraid : very brave” . In other words, it’s the ability to tackle challenges in front of you no matter how hard it may seem. One of the biggest differences between an elite goalie and a so-so goalie is how they move forward after a goal is scored on them. Whether it’s a soft goal, an impossible save or something in-between (because really, they all count the same on the scoreboard), how do you react? Do you put your head down? Do you overanalyze? Do you get fired up?
If you’re being fearless, you’re moving forward, not getting too low or high emotionally. You’re tackling the next challenge in front of you despite what just happened. The focus is on the next defensive set, the next shot and most importantly, the next save.
So, just how do we become fearless? Well, much like the physical side of things and making a save, we must practice being fearless! One of the biggest means of practicing is through mental imagery. Simply envision in your mind’s eye shots during a game. Envision how you’re reacting after a save- what is your first look for the clear, how are your gathering/adjusting your defense when you have time to talk to them?
Just as you envision a save, envision a goal. Where did you and your defense go wrong? See the whole play develop, see the shot released and go past you. The most important part to this isn’t how it happened, but envisioning what you do after the goal has been scored. See yourself taking the ball out of the net, owning any mistakes you personally have made, encouraging your defense to make the necessary adjustments, and most importantly taking on an attitude and the body language of making the next save. Not that you are carefree of the goal that was just scored, but that you are more concerned with what you can control- the next shot and save. Practice this over and over again, with difference scenarios, but each time having the same attitude. You’ll find the more you practice, the more natural it will become.
You can also take this to the physical level and treat practices as though they were games. When you get scored on in practice (because it will happen!), work on your reaction. Catch yourself when you have a negative reaction and try to make the adjustment on the next shot. Have your teammates or coaches keep an eye out for negative body language. Remember, half of the battle is simply looking the part. Don’t let your opponents ever think they are in your head or have rattled you by the way you look after a goal.
Last, it is important to keep in mind that all of this takes time. Just like learning anything that is new, you’re not going to suddenly become great at reacting well to goals being scored on you overnight. It will take patience and practice to get you to where you want to be. Getting scored on is normal and happens to every goalie, but even if you just react to one goal differently, that’s progress!
We hope this helps you and other goalies out there, Logan! Check back for more answers from our Question Bin. Remember, if you have a question you want answered, make sure you submit to our Question Bin it by clicking here!
That’s all for now. Remember, Be Fearless!