Monday, June 21, 2010

You spot me 8 goals and I'll get you the win

Awww fudge, I stunk tonight to the tune of 7 goals. Only one was a screen, one maybe I should have had a little help from my D (tic-tac-toe stuff right in front of my net), but there rest were squarely on the goalie and I really disappointed my team, which is THE worst feeling in goaltending.

But rather than break the game down, I want to pose a problem and see if my goalie friends have any advice for me:

I dunno if I'm just OCD or what, but I have a mental block when it comes to flopping to make a save. And what I mean by flopping is getting down on the ice and potentially being out of the play, laying down across the crease, paddle down, whatever.

My instinct to stay vertical and try to maintain squareness to the puck that way is SO STRONG. By the time I realize, "Oh, I should dive for that." the puck is in the damn net.

I mean, we all know how much of goaltending has to be instinctive. There's just no time to think, "Hmm, shooter is doing xyz so I could either do a or b. Okay, I'll do b." Your body just has to do it and ask questions later or you'll get burned.

I probably let in 1 or 2 goals per ice time because I try to stay up, chest high, butterfly wide, get a toe on it or something, when the answer is to flop the fuck down and get my glove arm or stick or something... ANYTHING... in front of it.

But the instinct just isn't there and I don't know how to get it.

The last time I had a big mental block screwing up my game, it was back in the beginning when I didn't want to butterfly at all. Mainly that was fear-driven, because I was worried about having to get up fast enough. But then one day I watched this Flyers game with Ron Hextall back when he (and most other goalies) were still pure stand-up goalies.

I was horrified by how ineffective he was in not blocking the lower part of the net with his pads. It was truly a eureka moment in my development. And I'm sensing a need now to find that eureka moment about this flopping thing.

You'd think because I have how Brusty plays so burned in my mind and he's a master at just getting whatever the fuck in front of the puck, that I'd have some instinct for that. Unfortunately, no. Brusty's out there, arms and legs flying around, rolling around, anything to push that puck out. But I just can't. It's butterfly block and either that's good enough or it isn't.

So, I'm asking you, my dear goalie friends, did you ever have this problem? If you did, have you fixed it?

I think what I need is just to practice it and trust that all is not lost just because I'm flat out on the ice. Like, be on my knees to one side of the crease and have someone shooting from the other side forcing a diving save. I need to learn I can recover and my d will be there and it will be okay. And even if it's not, they're fucking scoring on me anyway, so at least it will look to my team like I'm making an effort and they won't scowl at me so much. *sigh*


One thing I've noticed though, since I've been back, is that my mind is so quiet when I play now. I'm not really second guessing myself or beating myself up. The only time The Voices act up is when I'm playing well, but I haven't done enough of that lately for that to be a big deal. Haha.

It's nice though. Not really much emotion, high or low. Quiet mind. I don't know why that is, other than the time away from the game gave me a mental break that I needed, maybe gave me some perspective I didn't realize. Whatever the case, it's a good thing, I think. But I do feel I'm missing a certain intensity, so maybe it's not a good thing. I dunno.

Anyway, tomorrow I'm not playing the drop-in at SLICE but I am going to the goalie clinic before it that Scott TFCG is coaching. With camp coming up in exactly 1 month, I need to be on the ice at least twice a week. I probably should go for another skate mid-week, but physical therapy is taking up work day time when I could go do that.


Justin G.  June 21, 2010 at 2:29 AM  

Okay I know I sent you a bunch of tweets about it since I was still up, but basically I think the main thing is that you'll quickly realize you DO have the instinct. It's totally's within every single goalie that straps on the pads.

You've already got a great mental understanding for the position. The fact you even recognize there's something holding you back mentally from being able to scramble is proof of this.

Trust your skills. Don't be afraid to lack control of a game situation and don't be afraid to abandon your comfort level in order to get a toe or a hand on a puck.

Being in scramble mode is kind of like that feeling you get when you are falling. It's a flighty, fluttery feeling in your stomach that makes you feel uneasy. Adrenaline pumps harder and you are embracing the moment. It is a chaotic and unfamiliar and somewhat eerie feeling, right?

Embrace that. It's one of the most enjoyable rushes that come from being a goalie. Making routine saves effectively feels good, but having to dive or fling a leg out of nowhere is a RUSHHH.

Everything else will come really naturally and soon enough you'll be Brustin' it all over the ice. Just stay positive and check out some "scramble" drills online and work on them with your coach from time to time. That will help you relax mentally and you'll be able to enter scramble mode with much more ease!

Ms. Conduct  June 21, 2010 at 2:43 AM  

Awesome advice as always, Justin. Again, I really appreciate the positive words as I'm trying to shake the negativity of the bad game and just focus on what I need to do to get better. You're right that I do have it in me, and I'll get it out one way or another. Thanks for staying up with me and hashing it out a little more. Hooray for night owls!

Goody  June 21, 2010 at 7:48 AM  

I'm not a goalie, but the "don't have time to think, just need to react" thing struck a chord with me. That describes how I often play. My solution: SLEEP!

When I'm mentally tired, I still position well and make smart plays when I have the time, but when I need to scramble or react rather than think, I can't. The play is past me before I realize it and I'm left watching and thinking "I should have..."

maalivahti  June 21, 2010 at 9:36 AM  

" I really disappointed my team, which is THE worst feeling in goaltending." Ohhhh you know I know how that goes. Don't get into your own head too much about that. There are times when you'll carry the team, and there are times when the team will play better than you do.

As for the scrambling... I haven't had that block because I came in the opposite way. I started out all scrambly and clueless and had to take some lessons to get some technical stuff under my belt. When I panic I revert to scrambly. Which is not usually good (diving to the side instead of pushing over). So I'm not sure I can help much other than to say I at least know about how a mental block is. I think you just have to push through it. You can't force the "a ha!" moment, just know it will come.

buddhafisch  June 21, 2010 at 11:01 AM  

Here's my advice, for what it's worth.

When I played, I was a very active goalie. This was before the butterfly was the end all be all of goaltending, so jumping around and stretching across the net was the best way to make things happen. And damn, did it look good.

Basically, I think you are in your head too much. Despite the fact that you say your mind is quiet, you are over thinking things, even if you are not noticing it. The way I explain it in coaching is this:

When you go to pick up a fork from the table do you think to yourself, "Man, I want that fork. Extend arm, open fingers, hover over fork, close fingers around form, retract arm?" No, you just reach out and pick up the damn fork.

Same goes with stopping the puck. You want that puck. Go get it. To quote Nike, just do it. Pick up the damn fork. Your body already knows what to do, your brain is getting in the way. You just need to react. Screw the right or correct save to make, just stop the damn puck.

Your head, your stick, your blocker, pads, back of your leg, skate, toe, shoulder... whatever. Get something where that puck is and don't worry so much about it being the "right" way to make the save.

As much I know you want everything to be perfect, goaltending is never perfect. You aren't Niklas Backstrom, no one is going to fire you if you have are out of position and have to flop to make a save.

I am willing to bet that 99.999% of the people you are playing against are not good enough to know how to adjust to a goalie that simply stops the puck. But if you are constantly trying to be in the right position at exactly the right time, all they need to do is make one pass and your are out of position.

The short version... pick up the damn fork.

absolutemental  June 21, 2010 at 11:23 AM  

Ms. Conduct,
Good post and interesting to see how your game has changed and evolved mentally. You pose an interesting question in that you are looking to add another element to your game. To add an element to your game successfully you need to first learn the skill, implement the skill and build confidence in the skill. The first step is going to be to study when you should use a desperation save. What are goals that you have been unable to get to in the butterfly that you think you could have stopped with a desperation save. As well you want to study how you are going to successfully go out of your butterfly and into a desperation save. What muscles are going to be involved. Now that you have the understanding of when and how you are going to use a desperation save you will want to practice it in a situation like the one you describe. So by having a situation set up where you are going to have to make a desperation save you will be creating realistic situations. These are fun drills and my rule is that the shooter can't shoot off the ice for the first couple of drills so that you get some confidence. Finally you need to believe that you can complete a desperation save successfully and you know that magical word called imagery is coming. Watch some great goalies making some desperation saves and then imagine yourself completing the same save. Feel it in your muscles, see it and hear it. Always be successful in making those saves. If you complete these three steps and do some imagery for a period of time you will soon be adding a new skill shortly to your repetoire

Anonymous  June 21, 2010 at 12:43 PM  

sometimes when i am being shelled at pickup games, i scramble like a mad man..and i just STAY on my knees and figure its good practice. I literally force myself to scramble, and just do whatever i have to do to make a save. maybe its cuz im lazy, or maybe it comes from when i played roller hockey and my pads wouldnt slide and i had to do anything and everything i could. Just my thoughts. Also, i realize i look like a total jackass and would be laughing my ass off if i seen a video of it, however, i really dont care. If it works, it aint stupid.

Ms. Conduct  June 21, 2010 at 1:56 PM  

Lots of perspectives! Thank you guys (and gal)! Does seem like folks to started either in roller or before butterfly was dominant don't have this problem.

I think if you have strong athletic, competitive instincts, you can look at this and go, "WTF is her problem? Just stop the puck!" but playing goal has never worked that way for me. It's always been a matter of processing something mentally, dipping a toe in physically, more mental processing, more physical testing, and back and forth until I build up an understanding of how my body responds to what I'm hoping for it to do in my mind.

It's crazy because I visualize making desperation saves All. The. Time. But when push comes to shove, it's not there. I just doesn't occur to me.

Really, the solution is to be 6'3". :) Then when I kick that leg out, it will be where I think it should be.

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