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Goalies and skaters ask, 'how do I be a better teammate?' While I can provide guidance, the real experts are typically in the locker room with you. 

Whether there's someone specific in mind or your asking the question as a general how-to, the best source for answers is your team. Clear communication of needs and preferences can go a long way. Your teammates know or have a general idea about:

-What they need from you, so they can perform in-game (i.e. execute on strategy)

-What they need from you, so they can be prepared for a game (space and quiet, to talk and joke, someone to stick handle and pass with, a few reps of some type of shot, etc.)

-How they prefer to communicate (in-game, after losses, getting feedback, discussing concerns)

-Their personal needs after significant game events, like a loss, injury, bad shift, penalty, etc.

-The dynamics and functioning of the team from their perspective and their role in it

Your teammates might have an idea about all of the above-listed things specific to you, but don't know for certain. Open lines of communication make it easier for everyone on the team to get what they need to play their best, feel supported and like they're providing support, eliminate assumptions or latent frustrations created through a lack of communication, and enjoy the experience of adult league more overall. In having these conversations, be willing to enter them without judgement, objectively, and with a real interest in listening and executing. 

I hope this helps! By all means, shoot me topics to write about! 

Keep your stick on the ice,


Mike Stacey

Stacey and Associates Athletics


Twitter: @MikeatSandA

Instagram: @S_and_A_Athletics

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  • Mike Stacey changed the title to Basics of Being a Good Teammate

No worries! Played goal for close to 20 years and chose to lean into beer league and enjoy myself instead of playing through grad school. If I couldn't appreciate the occasional chirp and how beer league goes, I wouldn't be able to crank out good content for you guys!

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  • 9 months later...
  • 2 years later...

I played keeper in outdoor soccer for years where this is super important and would add a few (hopefully) helpful thoughts:

Whenever I play with a new group of hockey players I gather the lads for a brief chat and tell them I've played a lot of goal in outdoor soccer so I'm way more vocal than most hockey goalies.  I go over some of the terms I use in front of the group to make sure everyone is on the same page - stuff like, when I say "mark" I mean "be goal side", "square" means "sideways", "jockey" means "stay with him while denying him the middle of the ice but don't actively challenge to take the puck, instead, ensure he doesn't beat you," "screen" means "get of my way so I can see the shot," etc.  I'll state that if there is a two on one I always have the shot and I always want my D to take the pass (I always call this out in real time as well).  I really like everyone knowing that everyone knows how to play two on ones.  I also say something like "I talk a lot and give a lot of direction, I don't want to come across as bossing people around but I do want to be the best goalie I can be.  I'm not giving you orders, I'm making sure you know what your options are, because I can see most of the rink without turning my head."  It takes about 2 minutes and prevents misunderstandings later.  I try to keep my demeanor upbeat, confident and respectful and try to know what I want to say before making the speech.

Most people in Canada and America are more afraid of public speaking than they are of death.  As a goaltender, you already have to be willing to fail publicly and spectacularly.  If you're willing to accept looking like a dingus learning to stop a puck, which is a skill that is useless everywhere else in life, why not accept that same risk learning to publicly speak, which is really useful in a lot of areas?

When your mates do something good, praise them loudly and publicly.  When your mates do something bad, correct them quietly and privately.  If you forget everything else, remember this!

If you're the backup goalie for whatever reason, be the "rah rah" guy.  First of all, you never know what that guy brings until he isn't there.  Second of all, you're on the bench but you're part of the team, so you should be looking to contribute in any way you can.  Third of all, if the backup goalie is engaged, the skaters have no excuse not to be.  

Never give a teammate attitude about an honest mistake.

Respect yourself, your teammates, your opponents, the officials, and the rules of the game.

Require strength, but first demonstrate it.  Never ask someone to do something you wouldn't.  Ideally, try to avoid asking someone to do something they haven't seen you do (this will obviously not always be possible).

Be able to give and receive criticism gracefully.

Learn to use your breath like singers and yogis do.  Learn to project your voice from your diaphragm like stage actors and public speakers do.  When your mates hear your voice it should sound confident, forceful and clear.

Remember that even with your mouth shut you are always communicating with your team through your body language.  If you make a difficult save and act like it's no big deal, they'll believe that you will make the next difficult save.  If you make a difficult save and celebrate, they'll believe that you got lucky, and you may fire up the goalscorer you thwarted, besides.  Also, if you make a difficult save it's probably after one or more of your skaters screwed up, so by making the save seem less difficult you are also reducing the memory spectators will have of your teammate's screw-up, and they'll really value that.  As spectators, we tend to not really notice defensive miscues unless they result in goals.

Your body language should be confident, calm, patient, and deliberate.

If you get scored on and act like you are upset, one of two things may happen, depending on how much your team likes you.  If they don't like you, a screw this guy attitude can set in and they may become less willing to hustle on the back-check for you.  If they do like you things can get even worse - they might start feeling bad for you and start trying to do too much.  What happens when the defender tries to take the shot and the pass?  They take neither, and the goalie has a real tough time.  I'll take two clean breakaways over one indecisive defender, thanks very much. 

When I get scored on, I strive to give no reaction at all.  Perfection is beyond mere humans like me, but I'm damn good and so's my game.

You don't show your teammates how much you care by your reaction to goals, you show them how much you care by your work ethic during practice.

Since this is about communication, remember that your actions speak louder and more clearly than your words ever can.  Strive to avoid hypocrisy while keeping in mind that all humans are hypocritical sometimes.

Be willing to admit when you are wrong.  When new information comes to light, re-evaluate old opinions.

There's more politics in hockey than there is in politics.  Goalies can add value and differentiate themselves by being leaders and communicators.  Goalies can lose value by being a source of drama and disharmony.

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