While there are things that everyone can continually do to improve their game over time, the most obvious is to look within and understand what they did at the beginning of the season that won them their placement on the team in the first place.
At the start of the season, goalies have ample time to prepare, spend time improving their physical conditioning as well as their tactical approach to the game and attended camps, like Gold in the Net, as they work on many different aspects of their game. What is different now?
One factor is that what we do in the summer to prepare is very different for most as the season carries on. While our lives get busy and the practice structure is very different for each team, finding time to follow up with the things we were going to focus on after our summer workouts sometimes get lost in the hectic season schedule.
We always want to learn and continue to improve during the season. We have opportunity but sometimes we also neglect different areas of our game that we had focused on in earlier parts. It’s not so much what do I need to do at this point of the season, it’s what I have I not paid attention to? What have I gotten lax in doing during my games?
Sometimes it’s nice to have fresh eyes watching your game pointing things out. That’s why it’s always good to go into a program during the season like our ongoing goalie development clinics, where we balance out our workouts with an intensive 90-minute ice session that is touches on individual attention, speed, skating, puck handling skills and bit of time integrating them into game situational play. This keeps you paying attention to the details all season long.
However, not everyone has the luxury of attending these types of programs during the season therefore we’re limited to our summertime development. When we’re trying to prepare for playoffs or large tournaments towards the latter part of our season, it’s imperative that we really take the time to reflect back on the things that got us to where we were at the beginning of the season. Maybe you were paying more attention to the rebounds, maybe it was the intense focus that you applied when you were at camp. Sometimes just remembering & reviewing some of the Gold in the Net videos that you took home will assist you in reinforcing some of the things that you did early in the season.
Spending time reflecting and noticing some of the things that you did will trigger a mental reset, allowing you to regain some of those focal points and structure and make sure you’re on top of your game for this important finish to the season.
We have to understand that the season is long and we go through ups and downs. If we remember the training camps and tryouts, when you were ready and focused and prepared - you can develop the same mental approach to playoff time. You can contribute to your own success by reviewing things like your videos and recalling instructor comments or some of the lectures that were given during your summer programs. The basic fundamentals are how you began building and creating your foundational blocks - never take them for granted.
Going into playoffs is not different if you consistently focus on the details and put in the work all season. These simple but effective follow-ups can provide you with the small edge that can impact your performance down the stretch.