Goalies, maybe unlike any other athletes on the planet, create some pretty intense pre game routines. In a position that involves an extreme amount of pressure, routines are part of goalie mindset training that can help create more success between the pipes. While the best goalies on the planet typically have a structured routine before a game, there is a point where routines have gone too far.
If you feel you cannot have success playing goalie if your pre-game routine does not go perfectly according to plan, it’s time to take it back a notch. A goalies pre-game routine should be flexible, despite how superstitious you may be. If one element of your pre game routine does not go as it should, it should not throw off your entire performance at that specific game. In goaltending, like every position in sports, there is adversity.
For some, it may seem like a lot. For goalies, pre game routines are just part of the process in carrying a team. Whether it’s the amount of pressure, or simply being crazy enough to stand in front of pucks in the first place, routines can help mitigate some of the “stress” of being between the pipes.
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What are some good pre game routines for goalies?
The first and foremost thing to remember when coming up with a pre game routine is that it’s yours. You do not have to follow the pre game routine of an NHLer like Braden Holtby. Of course, you could use it as a baseline for creating your own, but not every goalie has an entire day to prep.
In this article, we’re going to walk through a routine that would work well for a goalie still in school. You might not think it, but there are plenty of opportunities for creating a routine that can make a big impact throughout your day and not just at game time.
Main components of a routine
Elite athletes, especially those at the professional ranks, can afford to build long winded routines because they’ve got the time to do it.
More importantly, however, is that they follow these processes for a reason. Having something that will keep you grounded, help you build energy and properly channel it come game time, and keep you focused is incredibly important for success on the ice.
Things like starting your day the right way, getting enough sleep, hand eye coordination, and proper stretching go a long way to building a routine you’ll learn to love.
The week before
We’re writing about the week before to address one of the most important, yet un-talked about, topics in an athletes performance. Nutrition and hydration.
If you take yourself seriously as a goalie, start eating right. There are a million books on nutrition, but the bottom line is quit eating junk food. Start taking a water bottle with you wherever you go and stay hydrated. The week before isn’t just about the week before a game, it’s about your lifestyle.
Because, believe it or not, that trip to McDonalds every other day will catch up with you sooner than you think. A good rule of thumb for food is plant based or grown organically. This doesn’t mean you have to follow a vegan’s diet, but putting the right food in your body does help. If you need recipe ideas, try our goalie recipes course.
The night before
Alright, now we’re on to an actual routine meant for game day.
First and most importantly, quit playing Fortnite until 3AM the night before. Serious goalies with aspirations of playing beyond high school and in Junior hockey aren’t waking up in the morning wishing they were still in bed.
If you’re a fan of the app store, there are apps like Sleep Cycle that will help monitor your sleep and help you make decisions about getting more rest. The iPhone will remind you to go to bed (and wake up) at certain times if you set it up in the Alarms part of the phone.
Strive for at least 8 hours of good sleep.
Morning of game
If there is just one mental thing you can use that will change your game it is this: “every cause creates an effect”.
What does that mean?
Wake up feeling well rested. How do we do this? With enough sleep. By putting down your phone. By creating a bedtime routine that puts you to sleep, letting you wake up feeling well rested. Start taking responsibility for the way your body feels in the morning and you’ll wake up feeling like a champion.
Wake up feeling rested and eat a good breakfast. Find a smoothie you like and start making one in the morning. Smoothies are an excellent way to get nutrients into your body without actually tasting them. Things like flax, chia seeds, and spinach. More about smoothies for athletes here.
On top of that, things like oatmeal and eggs are excellent items to add to your breakfast. Here’s a great oatmeal recipe from Zane Hadzick.
Soak 1/2 cup of oatmeal in almond milk, egg whites, or water, and refrigerate the night before. For morning, “mash in a banana and add a heaping scoop of vanilla protein powder. I actually like to add some uncooked oats mixed with cinnamon on top to vary the texture”.
Plan a lunch that’ll give you energy for the evening’s game. This starts with breakfast and goes back to our cause / effect. Planning a healthy lunch that’ll give you energy throughout the day is incredibly important to your pre game routine. Notice this nutrition theme?
Go for a light bike or a jog. Sitting around all day isn’t good for a number of reasons, but it also doesn’t stimulate your brain. Hand eye will help solve that, but it’s also a good idea to find 10-15 minutes to go get your blood pumping again.
Do some hand eye. Enough said. Take a few racquet balls in your backpack.
Visualize. This point is something we don’t spend enough time on. When it comes to the mental side of the game, we gloss over it saying it’s important, but not solving anything. Goalies at the professional rank do not think about failure. They spend time visualizing saves they’re going to make and plays they’re going to facilitate. Spend a few minutes in a quiet play thinking about what you’re going to do to control that nights game.
Prior to game time
Leading up to the game, it’s time to get loose and ready to go. There are many pre-game routines that goalies follow, here are some ideas to help you develop your own routine before a game.
Visualize making saves
Visualization exercises are without question an important technique in sports performance. There are countless stories of elite, world class athletes using visualization techniques to put themselves into a high performance state of mind. An easy tip is to imagine yourself making a big save on a breakaway. Close your eyes and watch the play develop, imagine how you are positioned in the crease, on a perfect angle and depth in the crease, before easily making a huge save.
Calm your nerves by bouncing a ball
You should already have a ball for pre-game warmups in your bag. Developing better hand eye and puck tracking doesn’t stop just because a game is coming up. Take each toss and perform it with purpose, every rep you perform is helping you get better for the long term.
Perform a dynamic warm-up
There are hundreds of off ice warmup routines you can find on Youtube, or, you can pick a handful (3-4) of exercises that you’ve learned in school gym glass. When you hit the ice, you shouldn’t have to spend the first several minutes of warm ups stretching or getting loose. Your body should be loose, with a light sweat developed, so that you are ready to start taking shots immediately.
Maximize your on ice warmup by taking full advantage of your off ice warmup.
Tape your stick
Taping your stick is one of the easiest ways to relax your mind and focus on the upcoming task at hand. It’s simple, it’s something that you likely do the same way every time and it is one of the few things you can truly control prior to a game.