You Will Get Scored On

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I do my best to never set impossible goals for my goalies. So I tell them that I don’t expect them to shut games out.

You will get scored on. I’ve never had a perfect game, and I’ve coached a few, and only see a couple more on top of that. The rules of the game are continuing changing to make it a higher scoring game(Your average game will finish around ten goals).

You aren’t perfect, and I’ll never ask you to be. I will ask for your best. Nothing more, nothing less.

The reason I don’t ask them to be perfect is I need them to be at their best when things are going wrong. If they give up three in a row, I don’t want them to shut down. I need them to be prepared to be scored on and still move forward without cracking.

In life things will never go perfectly. No matter how much you train or practice or try, things won’t go perfectly. Ever.

You’ve got to be prepared for things not to go your way. You can still get scored on and win the game.

 

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Check Your Emotion At The Door

Moses
Source: Getty Images

First thing I need in a goalie is the ability to check their emotion at the door. Every time I get a new goalie I point to the locker room door and say “It doesn’t matter what happened in school today, or if your (insert boyfriend/girlfriend where appropriate) broke up with you today, or you got in a fight with your best friend. When you walk through that door you leave it all behind. For three hours you are a goalie.”

A goalie needs to be able to turn off their emotion. You are put in a position to fail, and fail constantly. Even when you succeed it is rare that anyone besides a goalie will notice the impact you had. Hubris needs to be minimal confidence needs to be high. Emotion will only slow a goalie down. I need them to appear the same whether they are down by ten, up by ten, or in a tie game.

I don’t expect a 14 year old kid to be able to totally shut their emotion down, but I do expect them to mask it. In a game I know the exact moment an opponents goalie cracks just by watching their face and that is when I tell the head coach to unleash shots from anywhere because they will score. What I do expect from a goalie is to be able to not show the emotion. To keep a ‘goalie face’ at all times. That way you never give your opponent an advantage by showing your mental state.

When I get a chance to explain this to goalies post graduation I explain this lesson carries into the real world because you can’t let emotion harm your day to day life. If you had a bad weekend, you still need to show up to class on Monday. You get in a fight with your wife the night before you go to work, you still need to show up to work. And showing up isn’t just enough, you need to be present.

If you aren’t careful a negative emotion can snowball one problem into an avalanche. So to stop this from happening, when you recognize the snowball you set it aside until you can give it your full attention. Until then you are only creating a bigger problem, and life must go on, because it will whether or not you are keeping up.

Lead With Your Brain

For those of you who have checked out the Goalie Love section of my site know that I have always been a goalie. I haven’t always been the best goalie. Not like Hope Solo shown below. (To make this clear I wasn’t good enough to make my high school team let alone the Olympics) But goalie was my passion none the less.

HopeSoloThere has always been one person who has been my coach whether officially or not. That person still to this day is my dad. During middle school when he was coaching my soccer team it was one of the few seasons he had another goalie besides me on the team. I think at the time he was trying to show me how much I needed to improve if I wanted to make the high school team since I wasn’t even the best in Rec League. However that is a lesson I missed at the time.

This was one of the few games I out played my counterpart in, but the game came down to a shoot out. When a shoot out happens you have to use the players that are on the field. I was between the posts and he had been playing defense at the end of the game.

Therefore my dad could pick either of us to be goalie.

Just to make this clear before I continue, my dad understood how little my age group soccer actually meant in real life. He never took it more seriously than a good way for me to stay active and make friends. I don’t want to give the impression he was a Nazi trying to groom me for the Olympics.

Back to the point. Either of us could be used for the shoot out.

I was smaller. Slower. Weaker. He was better. But I was my dad’s son. That had to count for something.

It counted for sitting on the bench watching my team go through the shootout without me.

We won. My counterpart blocked better than 50% of the shots. It was a hell of a performance.

I wasn’t the most pleased thirteen-year-old on the ride home. But my dad, as he has always been decent about explained his decision. (He wasn’t one for sugar coating)

He told me I hadn’t been training like I used to and he had 15 sons that also wanted to win the game. If I wanted that role going forward I would have to work for it, because it would be a lot easier for him if his heart and head could align on the decision.

I understand the game itself had no bearing on my existence, but the lesson I learned that day has stuck with me since. When you have to make a decision that will impact other people you have to lead with your brain over your heart. What is best for you, isn’t always what is best for everyone. And sometimes you have to endure a choice you don’t want to make so others can prevail.

 

Goalie Love

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Goalie Love is a term that a fellow goalie of mine used to describe the unique understanding and appreciation of goalies by goalies. I have since carried the term with me into coaching and call my small group sessions with my goalies at the end of practice Goalie Love.

This year one of my goalies suggested I should write about the goalie lessons I tell them about. Having had far worse ideas in my writing career I have decided to give it a go.

Before I get into any of the lessons, I wanted to give a brief history of my passion for goalieing. One of the people I coach with described me as a bit “Goalie Crazy”.

I started as a goalie when I was 8ish in soccer. I pursued soccer through to high school. Sadly I was not good enough to make my high school soccer team, luckily one of the guys on my soccer team also played water polo and convinced me to come play goalie for them. I was extremely apprehensive about the change, but it was better to be a goalie somewhere than nowhere. The change of course into the unknown worked out as I went on to goalie in college and still to this day get in the cage.

There has been nothing in my life as consistent and frequent as goalie.

Though I miss my playing days I have found that coaching is far more rewarding than anything I ever accomplished in the water.

Doesn’t hurt that kids I train tend to be better than me.

Long story short Goalie is like a religion to me.