Teaching Competitiveness

So now that I'm back working with the young, eager goalie minds, I'm back to thinking and writing about my favorite topic of all time: Goaltending. :) It's been a long hiatus, but I'm glad to be back.

But in my respite, there has been plenty of literature to satisfy your goalie needs. From In Goalie Mag to In the Crease, the study of goaltending has expanded in the last decade to become quite the scientific literature. It seems that now my basic and core fundamentals I once preached are now child's play compared to the intricate positioning of technical goaltending. Definitely not the leisurely Sunday reading it used to be.

So let's kick it old school. And go back to what made the goalies of yore great. Plain and simple competitiveness. At the core of goaltending will always be the notion that if there is a will, there is a way. Throw out all of the right way, wrong way and best ways to make a save, and just make the save.

As I'm currently working with today's youth, my first thought is how they don't seem to have that burning fire to keep the puck out of the net. I used to hate letting pucks in. Like deep down, have trouble sleeping at night shame. The net was my pride. And as the lone player at the end of the ice, it was my duty to protect it at all costs. Yeah, goalies are weird.

But thinking back, I didn't begin playing hockey with that kind of fervor. No one does. Really, think about it. You put pads on for that first time, and hope you don't fall on your face (it's tough moving in goalie pads!).

It was only until two distinct things happened that I began to become a goalie. 1) I started having confidence that I could stop the puck, and 2) my coaches instilled a competitive instinct in me. I remember those moments clearly. The casual challenge to stop all five pucks lined up, the breakaway contest at the end of every practice , and the first to three goals challenge (two teams of three players have to score three goals) fostered my competitive spirit. I was a naturally competitive kid, but I don't recall ever trying so hard at skating drills until my coach challenged the goalie to be the fastest player out there.

So despite all of the techniques and skills a goalie can learn, I challenge all goalies to remain competitive and take pride in defending your net. Fight to keep that puck out of the net, and learn the skills and techniques that make the job easier. Then you can protect the net for a long and illustrious career.

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