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Self Confidence During Games


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Not sure if this is the right place but whatever. Basically I've noticed during games I focus a lot on the score of the game and I feel like its affecting my play. During practice most of my focus is on stopping the puck and I feel very confident in practice and play a lot better than during a game. But as soon as I am put in a game situation I overthink everything and don't feel very confident.. Lets say my team is up 5-3 I am constantly thinking about how its only 2 goals and every catastrophic thing that could possibly go wrong. Anybody have any "confidence boosters" they do before games or anything they do to stay focused on just stopping the puck and nothing else? My season is off to a pretty rough start (10-0L) (8-6W) so I want to get over these mental games so I can play my best! 

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I actually use mental games to keep myself focused. But what your talking about is a very common thing that I'm seeing with a lot of goalies that I work with. I'll tell you what I tell every single one of them:

 This is a game, it is meant to be fun. Unless you are paid to be out here then stop treating it like a job.

 I am, in no way, saying to not take games seriously. Or that winning doesnt matter. My point is that your so wrapped up in the score, so tied into winning/losing, that you are literally taking yourself out of the game. You are not allowing yourself to enjoy the fact that your playing the greatest game in the world.

 But, that's my two cents.

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I break the period down to 5mins at a time.  I play mini games.  I want to win the first 5mins then again for the next 5.  By shortening the period into 5min segments, its like small wins each time you win a 5min segment.  It has helped me since i started doing that.

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i actually have Stay Calm, Stay Present painted on the backplate of my mask. For years I had a lot of trouble with what you're talking about and completely psyching myself out of games.  I would actually tell myself "this is the last time I'll ever play.  Nobody wants me on their team and I suck...." etc. etc. 

Sometimes that would be in a 1 goal game and I've let in 2 goals, but if I thought I should have stopped one but didn't, that was it.  I was done. 

After a lot of self-examination and some intensive psychological and emotional homework, I discovered for myself that the source of all this negativity was embarrassment, a lot of that having to do with being a pretty heavy introvert. Now that I knew the source of the negativity, the rest was much easier: find strategies to keep it at bay and learn to better control my *reactions* to things on the ice in a game. 

As goalies, we can not control the shots, the skill of the opposition, our offense, our defense, the refs, or the type of hockey played in front of us.

Our world is much simpler, thus easier to control.  We can control our gear, our preparation (strength, fitness, diet, hydration...), our choices on the ice, and our *reactions* to all the other stuff we can not control.

Before every openning faceoff, I tell myself, outloud (sometimes others hear me): alright, here we go.  The worst day on this ice is better than not playing.  Stay present, stay calm, stay tall, stay symmetrical, and fight for every save.  Every shot is a good shot and the most important save is always the next one.  Play your game and things will be fine.

I know that may sound silly (it kinda does writing it out), but it totally worked for me.  I am an avid believer in individual responsibilty and owning the fact you can't control most things, but you can control your reactions to all things.  

Nowadays, I can honestly say I laugh out loud at myself on the ice when I screw up or don't stop a shot I should have.  Freeing myself from feeling helpless or victimized by the things on the ice I can't control and the negativity in my mind and in my emotions has been a game changer for me. I'm a more confident goalie than I 've every been in 20 something years playing and honestly, playing the game is more fun than ever for me.

I would never advise anyone to "just have fun" at anything.  I don't find that helpful or possible or strategic in almost any situation I can imagine because for anyone not having fun at something, they often can not do so.  It's a skill and like all skills it takes practice and hard work and repetition and proper strategies to be good at it.  

So, if you're not having fun, dig deep and find out why.  Once you do that, think practically and strategically about how to work on that why.  Having fun is a consequence, not a goal.  Your goal is learning yourself and working on making yourself better.  Fun will come from that. 

Cheers.  I totally feel your struggle in your post and hope you know, you're not alone with these issues. 

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@seagoal I see what your saying and I liked everything you said until the last 3 paragraphs. I can't for the life of me agree with anything you said at the end. If your whole outlook on life is "fun is a consequence", then IMO, your doing life wrong.

I hate soccer. I mean I hate it with a passion. So there is no reason for me to play soccer in a league, let alone in a single game. Because I know I hate it, then I'm not going to have fun.  No amount of " It's a skill and like all skills it takes practice and hard work and repetition and proper strategies to be good at it" is going to change that and fun will NOT be a consequence to that training.

If you are not enjoying what you do, then no amount of training is going to make you LIKE what you do or even make what you do fun. That is true in every facet of life from job, hobby, marriage, and the list goes on.

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9 minutes ago, loki1416 said:

@seagoal I see what your saying and I liked everything you said until the last 3 paragraphs. I can't for the life of me agree with anything you said at the end. If your whole outlook on life is "fun is a consequence", then IMO, your doing life wrong.

I hate soccer. I mean I hate it with a passion. So there is no reason for me to play soccer in a league, let alone in a single game. Because I know I hate it, then I'm not going to have fun.  No amount of " It's a skill and like all skills it takes practice and hard work and repetition and proper strategies to be good at it" is going to change that and fun will NOT be a consequence to that training.

If you are not enjoying what you do, then no amount of training is going to make you LIKE what you do or even make what you do fun. That is true in every facet of life from job, hobby, marriage, and the list goes on.

I accept your disagreement and I agree that you should not play soccer.

Cheers. 

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I’m a flakey meditation type guy both on and off the ice. When I find thoughts start entering my mind during a game,  I focus on my breath until they pass. It took me a long time to learn that my body knows exactly what to do without my hamster brain running on its wheel for 60 minutes. The less I think, the more present I am in the moment, the better I play. Easier said than done though!

It’s come to the point where if I do it correctly, 60 minutes of hockey is an incredible mental vacation. 

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@bfast, you should take comfort in knowing that all goalies---even the pros---give up bad goals, or goals they should or could have had. It's not unique to you or anyone else. If you keep water on your net, you can do what Miikka Kiprusoff (if I remember correctly) used to do after giving up any goal. He would turn around and face his net, squeeze water into his mouth, and close his eyes and think about everything that led to that goal being scored. Then, he would spit out the water, along with all of those negative thoughts, and turn around and start fresh.

Many goalies have routines like this to reset after a goal. What usually helps me, if I think I could have stopped a goal, is telling myself that I'll make up for it, which always gives me something extra to play for. It may not be helpful for all, but I've found that it can help me "battle back" (so to speak), if I've gotten off to a rough start or gave up a goal I should have had.

Good luck!

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I do exactly what Flyers27 does, if my focus starts to drift, I start saying to myself "focus and fight" for the next shot. Try not to let your mind wander and stay focused on the puck, on the next shot. And if you let one in, shake it off immediately and then focus on the next shot. If you're thinking about the score, or the one you just let in, then you are not focused on the next shot. Train yourself on and off the ice to focus, and clear everything out of your head. When you hear that goalies (or any athlete) are "in the zone" that means they have cleared their mind and are not thinking, but just "doing".

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/17/2018 at 1:18 AM, seagoal said:

i actually have Stay Calm, Stay Present painted on the backplate of my mask. For years I had a lot of trouble with what you're talking about and completely psyching myself out of games.  I would actually tell myself "this is the last time I'll ever play.  Nobody wants me on their team and I suck...." etc. etc. 

Sometimes that would be in a 1 goal game and I've let in 2 goals, but if I thought I should have stopped one but didn't, that was it.  I was done. 

After a lot of self-examination and some intensive psychological and emotional homework, I discovered for myself that the source of all this negativity was embarrassment, a lot of that having to do with being a pretty heavy introvert. Now that I knew the source of the negativity, the rest was much easier: find strategies to keep it at bay and learn to better control my *reactions* to things on the ice in a game. 

As goalies, we can not control the shots, the skill of the opposition, our offense, our defense, the refs, or the type of hockey played in front of us.

Our world is much simpler, thus easier to control.  We can control our gear, our preparation (strength, fitness, diet, hydration...), our choices on the ice, and our *reactions* to all the other stuff we can not control.

Before every openning faceoff, I tell myself, outloud (sometimes others hear me): alright, here we go.  The worst day on this ice is better than not playing.  Stay present, stay calm, stay tall, stay symmetrical, and fight for every save.  Every shot is a good shot and the most important save is always the next one.  Play your game and things will be fine.

I know that may sound silly (it kinda does writing it out), but it totally worked for me.  I am an avid believer in individual responsibilty and owning the fact you can't control most things, but you can control your reactions to all things.  

Nowadays, I can honestly say I laugh out loud at myself on the ice when I screw up or don't stop a shot I should have.  Freeing myself from feeling helpless or victimized by the things on the ice I can't control and the negativity in my mind and in my emotions has been a game changer for me. I'm a more confident goalie than I 've every been in 20 something years playing and honestly, playing the game is more fun than ever for me.

I would never advise anyone to "just have fun" at anything.  I don't find that helpful or possible or strategic in almost any situation I can imagine because for anyone not having fun at something, they often can not do so.  It's a skill and like all skills it takes practice and hard work and repetition and proper strategies to be good at it.  

So, if you're not having fun, dig deep and find out why.  Once you do that, think practically and strategically about how to work on that why.  Having fun is a consequence, not a goal.  Your goal is learning yourself and working on making yourself better.  Fun will come from that. 

Cheers.  I totally feel your struggle in your post and hope you know, you're not alone with these issues. 

@seagoal WOW!!  dude this exactly what i needed after last nights game.  we had a full bench and couldn't pull off a w because almost every shot went in.  all low shot and my lack of butterfly  skill.  the doubt again crept in and the ole , maybe im better off in a organised adult league playing against guys my own skill level.  just wanted to say thanks.

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On 11/17/2018 at 2:35 AM, loki1416 said:

@seagoal I see what your saying and I liked everything you said until the last 3 paragraphs. I can't for the life of me agree with anything you said at the end. If your whole outlook on life is "fun is a consequence", then IMO, your doing life wrong.

I hate soccer. I mean I hate it with a passion. So there is no reason for me to play soccer in a league, let alone in a single game. Because I know I hate it, then I'm not going to have fun.  No amount of " It's a skill and like all skills it takes practice and hard work and repetition and proper strategies to be good at it" is going to change that and fun will NOT be a consequence to that training.

If you are not enjoying what you do, then no amount of training is going to make you LIKE what you do or even make what you do fun. That is true in every facet of life from job, hobby, marriage, and the list goes on.

I agree and disagree.  I mean, I try playing golf but I would enjoy it and do it a lot more if I was better at it and believe me, I've tried...lessons and everything.  I will say though that hockey as a sport is probably one the least enjoyed games I've ever seen.  The amount of people from beer league to the pros that simply play this game tense and angry is astounding.  I've played very physical games like Football (american), Lacrosse and Rugby from childhood into adulthood and I've never experienced the kind of hostility that exists on the ice. 

Anyway, back to the OP's issue.  You need to have a short term memory, like a pitcher giving up a home run or a QB throwing a pick.  You have to forget it and refocus.  When I first started playing in net I used to write myself little notes on my stick to remind me what to focus on like "stay square", "active stick", "hands forward", "quick recovery", etc...  It wasn't that I took the game too seriously or anything because it is just beer league for me, but I did want to play well because I am competitive and I found that when you get caught up in the game, especially when things aren't going well, its easy to simply forget the fundamentals sometimes.

When I play my best is when I completely dumb things down to where its just me and the little black disc.  That's all that exists in my world because that's all I can control out there.  I honestly don't care if my D sucks, there's no goal support or the refs are texting on their phone during the game.  It's me and the puck and I'm going to get something in front of it. 

Playing goalie is its own game within the game and that's where you need to live because you can't control the other game that's going on out there.  You can only influence it by playing your game.

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I usually talk to myself, and I find the most effective thing to say is: "Make this save."

When the opponent comes in, or its a faceoff in the zone or the puck goes out to the point. I say "Make this save".

Helps with cheating too I find if I am "making this save" I'm not cheating the pass or something.

Seems like some of you guys have a similar method.

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1 hour ago, Netnewbie said:

@seagoal WOW!!  dude this exactly what i needed after last nights game.  we had a full bench and couldn't pull off a w because almost every shot went in.  all low shot and my lack of butterfly  skill.  the doubt again crept in and the ole , maybe im better off in a organised adult league playing against guys my own skill level.  just wanted to say thanks.

Thanks for the kind words.  Glad you found it helpful.  It's all too easy to let those thoughts and feelings creep in and spoil our moods and our abilities to play. 

It's why I say and maintain that telling a goalie to "just have fun" isn't helpful.  If a goalie is struggling with confidence and resilience and is emotionally or mentally cracking or unhinged, "just having fun" is impossible.  It's like telling someone who's depressed to "just be happy" or an introvert to "just loosen up."  

We have to work on confidence and resiliency and durability and our ability to bounce back and stay focused and driven and in good form.  Those are skills that must be practiced and worked on and as far as I can tell are prerequisites for success (not talking about wins vs losses necessarily) in playing goalie and thus, prerequisites for enjoying the game and having fun.

The position is too demanding and too emotionally and mentally challenging to "just have fun" for most people.  It's too easy to personalize and internalize failure as a goalie. Combating that is super tough and requires skill. 

33 minutes ago, jayluv54 said:

I agree and disagree.  I mean, I try playing golf but I would enjoy it and do it a lot more if I was better at it and believe me, I've tried...lessons and everything.  I will say though that hockey as a sport is probably one the least enjoyed games I've ever seen.  The amount of people from beer league to the pros that simply play this game tense and angry is astounding.  I've played very physical games like Football (american), Lacrosse and Rugby from childhood into adulthood and I've never experienced the kind of hostility that exists on the ice. 

Anyway, back to the OP's issue.  You need to have a short term memory, like a pitcher giving up a home run or a QB throwing a pick.  You have to forget it and refocus.  When I first started playing in net I used to write myself little notes on my stick to remind me what to focus on like "stay square", "active stick", "hands forward", "quick recovery", etc...  It wasn't that I took the game too seriously or anything because it is just beer league for me, but I did want to play well because I am competitive and I found that when you get caught up in the game, especially when things aren't going well, its easy to simply forget the fundamentals sometimes.

When I play my best is when I completely dumb things down to where its just me and the little black disc.  That's all that exists in my world because that's all I can control out there.  I honestly don't care if my D sucks, there's no goal support or the refs are texting on their phone during the game.  It's me and the puck and I'm going to get something in front of it. 

Playing goalie is its own game within the game and that's where you need to live because you can't control the other game that's going on out there.  You can only influence it by playing your game.

These are all very good points and very well said. 

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