It’s difficult to be a backup in any sport. You don’t get much playing time, but you’re expected to perform at the drop of a hat. The role of a back-up hockey goalie is especially complicated. To be successful, teams require two strong goalies. But because of the nature of the game, ice time is not equal. Backup goalies may internalize feelings like “I’m not good enough to be a starter,” which obviously lower their confidence.
Give yourself the opportunity to be first string by becoming the best back-up possible with these psychology tips.
Accept Your Role
When you don’t accept your role, you set yourself up for a long, frustrating season, possibly even creating team conflict. Every person must do his or her part to help the team succeed. If you’re not clear about what’s expected of you, talk to your coach, captain or other goalie. The sooner you accept your position, the easier it will be to stay focused on your performance and improving your goaltending skills.
Stay Focused and Ready
Treat every game as if you were going to play. Go through the same pre-performance routine as if you were starting. Stay mentally prepared to play. These behaviors show the coach and the team that you’re ready no matter what. They will trust that you will come up big for them if the starting goalie needs relief.
Work Hard in Practice
Practice is your time to shine. Realistically, this is when you will get the most ice time. During practice, coaches evaluate the skills of their players. Show them that you’re starter material.
It’s discouraging to feel like you are doing everything possible and still not getting to start. Even if you’ve accepted your role, your confidence can easily sag. But negative thoughts hurt your chances. Work on converting them to positive ones. Set your goals around what you can control as back-up goalie.
Be an Active Teammate
Some back-up goalies unintentionally distance themselves from the team, because they don’t feel a sense of belonging. Just because your role gives you less ice time doesn’t mean you are less a part of the team. Stay socially involved and support your teammates by being a force for positive energy every game. Keep your communication open with the captains as well. Most important, establish a healthy relationship with the other goalie.
Keep in Mind
Having two strong goalies on a team is a “problem” that coaches love to have.
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