Hello, greetings, and Salutations, and thanks for coming to Paramounthockey.com. My name is Sean Moloney, I’m a Music enthusiast, part-time comedian (not really), author, and oh yes, a Goaltending Coach. Which is good since this is a Hockey site. I’ll be contributing a regular blog on here about any and all things Goaltending. But I don’t want this to be just my blog. Sure, I’ll be writing a lot about a lot, but I want it to be a true reference for all the Goaltenders, Parents of Goaltenders, and Coaches out there. So please, if anybody out there needs any advice, or any questions about any and all Goaltending related matters please post on here and I’ll be happy to help in any way I can.
One of the most commonly asked questions I get is usually something along the lines of “What traits do you look for in a Goaltender?”. A simple question, sure, but one with a complicated answer. There’s many traits I look for in a Goaltender when evaluating them, but in this, my first blog entry on this outstanding site, I’m gonna focus on one that I like to see and one that all Great goaltenders have.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but in Goaltending, just as in life, as the two are truly intertwined, one thing is certain: Bad things are going to happen. Yes, no matter how well prepared we are, things will not go the way we expected or wanted or even prepared for. Sadly, this is inevitable, and it will happen more than once. Accepting this fact will go a long way towards how you respond to this actually happening, which is what we’re going to discuss. Bad things are going to happen, this we cannot control. The part of this equation we can control is how we respond and react.
Someone once told me that every situation we encounter is neither positive nor negative, it’s simply what we choose to see it as. Take a second to let that sink in. I’ll wait. One of the things I’ll get into in the future on here is perception. How Goaltenders look at the game, how fans and Coaches see the position, and how sometimes what we think we’re seeing isn’t always accurate. But for now, perception is how we see the things that happen during the course of a game and a season. As I mentioned, life and Goaltending are directly intertwined, so please feel free to apply anything I may offer to your life off the ice as well. Just trying to help. It’s a natural reaction for any Goaltender when he/she gives up a bad goal, or gets a bad break, puck hits a defenceman’s skate and goes in, weird bounce off the boards, glass, referee, ect. We’ve all had it happen, no matter how well prepared we are, it’s certainly frustrating, and the natural response is one of frustration and anger. But, ask yourself, is that reaction one that is going to help me or hurt me in moving past it?
I tell everyone I work with that anger is a very unproductive emotion for a Goaltender. For any of us really, but especially for a Goaltender. With anger comes stress and anxiety, neither of which are positive either. In anger, we tend to be reactive and ignore being proactive. It brings out negative emotion and negative emotion leads to unproductive actions, slamming your stick on the ice or breaking it over the crossbar, yelling at teammates, officials, opposing players, or the old ‘it’s not my fault’ shrug. come on , we’ve all done it, and we’ve all seen it. As I said, it’s a natural reaction, but is it a good reaction in terms of moving forward? First you must remember that whatever just happened, bad goal, bad bounce, player running you over, getting lied to and used by a GM (Oh, Sorry.), happened. IT’S OVER. Once it’s happened there’s absolutely positively, nothing we can do to change it. Therefore, the only thing we can change is how we move forward. Proactive, not reactive. How a Goaltender conducts themselves in trying times tells a lot about them, and it’s something that I, and more importantly, Coaches, fans, and especially scouts pay close attention to.
So, how do we best move forward at this moment. Understand what just happened and learn from it. If it was a shot you should have stopped, instead of getting upset about it, stop and think what did I do that I can do differently next time. Driving our knees harder, setting our feet better, seeing the shot release better, ect. Understanding what happened and why is more important than getting upset about it. Learning from it will lead to preventing it from happening again, while getting upset about it actually increases the chances that it will happen again. If it was something you had no control over, non-call or bad call by an official, getting run over by teammate or opposing player, weird bounce, plane crashing through the ceiling, ect, LET IT GO. It happened, it will happen again at some point, and it’s completely out of your control. Stop, get a drink, adjust your glove, blocker, bucket, and move on. Nobody needs to see you break your stick, get angry at your teammates, or at yourself. What your teammates want to see is a goaltender who doesn’t get rattled by it, because that’s a Goaltender they’ll want to play in front of and have confidence in. That’s goaltender coaches and scouts want to see because that’s a goaltender they can rely on to always be there and be calm when everything around them isn’t so calm. One last note, when somebody dangles on your defenseman, leaving his jock at the blueline, then comes in and goes bar in on you, get up, pat him on the head, tell him you’re sorry you didn’t help him out and you’ll have his back next time. See, much like things will happen to us as Goaltenders, bad things will happen to your teammates too. That defenseman feels like he’s a foot tall, and he’s very likely going to be angry. If you do that for him at that moment, he’ll play that much harder in front of you the rest of the season, and the next time that 30 foot wrist shot goes under you (Sorry, but it’s gonna happen) he’ll be the first guy to slap your pillows and tell you he’ll get it back for you. That, my friends, is a win-win for everybody.
Sure, all of this is easier said than done. Anger and frustration are powerful emotions that can be very easily triggered in a tough situation. But trust me, being angry and frustrated will do nothing but make a bad situation worse. Most times they will even prevent you from moving forward from whatever happened which is what exactly what we need to do. Bad things, just like good things, are always going to happen, no matter what we do. What we as Goaltenders need to do is to learn from them in order to prevent them from happening again, and move on from them in a productive manner. Turning a negative into a positive will be a huge factor in your development process as a Goaltender, and who knows, may also serve you very well in life off the ice moving forward as well, and that’s certainly a positive.