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Elevate Your Game “Understanding”

We’ve all heard the quote, “Elevate your game!” What does that mean to you? How do you interpret it? How do you communicate its meaning to aspiring elite-level goaltenders? “Elevating your game” … can refer to many things … for instance, from the physical to the mental to the emotional to the spiritual dimension, etc. After all, these dimensions (and more) all play a critical piece to  “stopping a puck” and “giving your team a chance to win.”  

Hence, elevating one’s game can involve countless variables. So … we would like to spend some time here on elevating your game “understanding.” One vital piece of the XXXL “goaltender” pie!

Studying the “Game of Hockey” must become fused into every educational program involving aspiring elite-level goaltenders.

Throughout the years, goaltenders have consistently been placed inside the goal crease and asked to simply “stop pucks” during team practices. Coaches begin by appearing to truly care about the “education” of their goaltenders. However, things seem to change as the season progresses. At any given time, and in any given arena, goaltenders can be found standing around by themselves during team practices. They are simply left alone and asked to, all of a sudden, “stop pucks” without truly understanding the oncoming offensive tactics and furthering their knowledge of the “Game of Hockey.”

We are certain that many coaches are saying, “Well, it’s a goaltender’s job to stop the puck!” Well … please be assured that we agree, not wholeheartedly though. Yes, a goaltender must stop the puck! That’s a given. However, we believe that if goaltenders (at all levels) were challenged regularly to become more “educated” in the “Game of Hockey” (e.g., offensive attacks, power play set-ups, etc.), they would become more prepared to reach much higher levels of success. This increased (declarative) hockey knowledge will definitely result in much stronger team outcomes throughout the hockey season! Doesn’t that seem worth it, coaches?

“Get the Edge” – In every sport throughout the world, coaches are striving to help their athletes get “the edge” over their opposition. There’s no arguing with that? This is the competitive nature of elite-level sport and will undoubtedly continue as long as the wonderful “World of Elite-Level Sport” exists! As coaches, trainers, mentors and parents/guardians of aspiring elite-level goaltenders, we must all continue to search for that “athletic edge” that others are not even thinking about.

We would, therefore, like to share a strategy that will help goaltenders “get the edge” over the competition. This strategy is not additional on-ice training or off-ice conditioning. We believe that part of the developmental process is well underway, and often focused on way too much. We are referring to an essential developmental concept that involves the goaltenders and their parents/guardians (and/or other family members) in participating in a unique area of Goalieology … studying “The Professional Goaltender.” 

Aspiring elite-level goaltenders must learn how to properly analyze the “Professional Goaltender” during all the frantic action that is going on around the crease area!

When studying the “Game of Hockey,” and in particular a “Goaltender’s Game” by watching an NHL game on TV, it’s natural to have your eyes follow the puck and the voice of the TV announcer while the puck is in the zone. However, while watching the game like this, YOU (the student) will truly miss the valuable lessons that “The Pro-Goaltender” is demonstrating to you … as “The Pro-Goaltender” remains “in position” to stop the puck.

When an aspiring elite-level goaltender is studying the “Game of Hockey,” one must learn to focus 100% on “The Pro-Goaltender” concentrating on the goaltender’s movement and completion of the save. Just like a goaltender must learn to focus on the puck and still see, recognize and understand what all the other players are doing while employing peripheral vision, a “Student of the Game” must focus on the subject and understand what is occurring around the crease area!

IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER WHEN STUDYING THE “GAME OF HOCKEY”

  • When focusing on “The Pro-Goaltender,”, you will recognize what it takes to make all those “game-winning” saves! You will become more educated in the “Goaltender’s Game!”
  • Don’t be a “spectator” when studying “The Pro Goaltender” … become an intense student using all your “sponge techniques” to soak up everything you see and hear!
  • We recommend that aspiring elite-level goaltenders record a variety of NHL games so that they can replay each save in slow motion to learn the most from each save.
  • Enjoy developing a deeper level of knowledge of the “Game of Hockey!” Have fun “elevating your game understanding!” 

Coaches, do you believe your goaltenders would be more effective if they developed a deeper understanding of the “Game of Hockey?”

Thoughts …

Follow Bradford’s Goal Academy on Twitter: @BradfordsGoal


1 Comment »

  1. Comment by Vic LeMire

    WOW… I promise every one of you aspiring Goaltenders, who are taking a serious Student’s desire in becoming one of the best goalies in your league, that when you try Coach Bradford’s awesome method of Focusing on the Goalie during the game… You will quickly advance your ability to anticipate the plays happening around the net.
    Soon, you will find yourself replacing that Pro Goaltender in the net making all those great solid saves! Learn to use Coach Bradford’s FOGO method of watching hockey games (Focus On Goalies Only).
    It’ll really change how you study the Goalies and add some of their skills into your game! Enjoy your own FOGO!

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