The majority of a hockey players’ time on ice is at practice and private lessons. Practice provides goalies with a no pressure scenario; the next shot will not be the deciding factor in a game. Hockey is a team sport but goalie is an individual position. A downfall of practice is that practice is never taught from the goalies point of view. The coach rarely tells the goalie how they should perform the drill. Usually the only person who understands what you go through during practice is your main competition; your goalie partner who stands 200 feet away at the other end of the hockey rink.
Practice is to prepare you for the game. Some goalies have a negative attitude toward practice. Why start your opportunity to improve on the wrong foot? Be excited to become a better goalie. Take pride in being unbeatable. Every shot, every drill, every situation is a chance to improve as a goalie.
Goalies prepare for a game both mentally and physically. Goalies should do the same for practice. By the time you hit the ice you should be ready to go. Have the mindset that you are going to stop everything that comes your way. Stretching on the ice is wasting valuable time. While players are cruising around ripping pucks off the glass; take that time to work on your skating. Find some space along the boards and practice c-cuts, shuffles, t-pushes and slides. Your skating just got 5 minutes better. Over the course of the season that time starts to add up. Take advantage of using every minute.
A common mistake I have seen in practice is goalies making unrealistic saves. For example, during long shooting drills I have seen goalies standing in the circles or between the hash marks. Never mind the fact that no one has ever told you to come out this far; how many times have you made a save more than 2 feet out of the crease? Practice like you will play and you will be prepared to handle any situation you face in a game.
PAY ATTENTION!!! When the coach is drawing on the board you should be preparing for the drill. Think to yourself:
- How would I play this in a game?
- Is this a situation I struggle with during a game?
- How can I change the outcome?
This goes for every drill and every game situation. If you do not know how to handle a situation. Visit Goalies Under Review and Ask A Goalie. Have a plan for practice. What do you want to improve? Sometimes goalies are not used in a drill. Have something in mind so you do not waste valuable time.
The 2015-2016 ice hockey season is getting underway. Start to enjoy the chance to compete with our friends and teammate. Change the mindset you have about practice and turn every minute into a chance to improve as a goalie. If you want to get better this season it will not happen in games. Games are a tool to measure how much we have improved. You will get better in practice. How much you improve will be decided by how much effort you put into every shot and every drill.