The Brittle Goalie

Goaltending is extremely stressful, dangerous, difficult and more times than not potentially embarrassing. To show up day in and day out whether you are feeling your best or not is challenging. A true athlete plays through bumps and bruises and nagging minor issues. I don’t advocate playing when you are legitimately injured. What is that fine line between being able to play or not to play?

The ultimate call in any situation regarding the goalie’s ability to play is the goalie’s and the opinion of the trainers and the doctors. If there is a chance for long term damage or if your performance will be severely hindered of course you shouldn’t attempt to play. This article is designed to address the decision that is more in the grey area.

When you aren’t able to play at 100% there is a fear that failure and embarrassment are much more likely. Touches of the flu, slight muscle strains and painful bruises are frequently challenges all goalies go through. How often you show up to play in these situations and play well in spite of the problems will dictate how far you go in the sport.

Why is this such an important issue? First of all, every player on your team will face the identical challenges with respect to minor injuries, illness etc. You want your number one defenceman to play if it all possible and he feels the same about you.

In addition, to play the game at the highest level you may need to play sometimes 60 – 70 games per year. If you are constantly out of the line up with minor things your job will eventually be given to someone more reliable. You can’t lose your job if you are always ready to play and are able to play through pain.

Another area to discuss is your reaction to contact and collisions around the net. Unless you are really injured, get up immediately and carry yourself as if it didn’t hurt a bit. Show the other team how tough you are and your teammates will notice it as well. Again, I have no problem if you are really injured. Of course that is another situation.

The less you scare your backup, your coach and your family the better.

Take pride in your ability to play through pain and your ability to play when you don’t feel your best. Toughness doesn’t mean fighting. Toughness means showing up to play even when you feel like pulling the chute. Many times you will have great games when you show up to play in these types of games. In your mind you put less pressure on yourself for success because you have a built in excuse for failure. You feel good about yourself because you know you showed up to play. In this relaxed frame of mind many peak performances occur.


Copyright © 2005 Stephen McKichan