Setting Yourself Up For Success: How To Have Success As A Goalie

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“Mentally, Physically, Emotionally” – this article was written by Dan Allison, head of strength and conditioning at the Inflow Wellness Academy. Follow him on IG @coachdanmethods or visit

Motivation? It’s not something “successful people” inherently possess, something you can wait on (it’s not coming), or something you can buy (no supplement, book, new gadget, etc), nor is it a meme you might find on Instagram.

Then, what is motivation?

Motivation is knowing your why, knowing your values, knowing your mission, and reminding yourself of that when it’s time to punch the clock. Why do you do what you do? Do you love it, at its roots? Does it give you a great sense of purpose in your life? Does it make you happy?

No, you won’t always instantly feel fired up about what you’re doing. You won’t always feel comfortable doing it. But, it should still burn something at the core of your soul. Feeling resistance, struggle, and questioning yourself means, you’re in the right place and is part of the process. (for further info on that, read Stephen Pressfield’s book “The War Of Art”)

An example of the aforementioned in my case to help you relate the previous information to your current situation:

My “Why” professionally since I was an 18 year old finishing up playing team sports competitively, has been to provide youth athletes with the most positive training experiences possible.

I was brought up by great weight room and sport coaches that taught us how to train safely, appropriately, hard, and took the time to train us to be good people at the same time. Besides having a supportive family growing up and to this day, I attribute who I became and continue to evolve into as an adult to those coaches and experiences, and that is why my mission is to give that back to the young athletes that come to me for guidance.

“That’s not a smart, sustainable career.”

At the same time, when sharing my decision to go into exercise science at WMU and vocalizing wanting to become a strength and conditioning coach for my career, lots of people shook their head in disbelief thinking “that’s not a smart, sustainable career.”

Then when sharing that I wanted to do it in the area where I grew up, to help local kids get the same great experience I had, even more doubt and resistance was presented by others at most every corner.  “That’ll never work out in the slow economy and Detroit area!” exclaimed many!

Second guessing my choices

I’d be lying if I said that it never bothered me or made me second guess my choices. That’s part of the deal and you learn from it.  Luckily, I’m stubborn to a degree and kept on my path. The path has been full of winding roads, quick lefts, hurdles, and lots of amazing moments at the same time.  If your path seems to have lots of winding turns, surprises, and moments of resistance and thoughts of self doubt, you’re doing it right.

I didn’t really fully understand that all of that was my “why” until reading Simon Sinek’s book “Start With Why” a couple of years ago.

But, it was clear me after reading this that my “why” is what kept me moving forward on my path. It’s what kept me reading books, attending seminars, networking and learning from successful coaches, and showing up every day with a positive attitude to help anyone I’ve had the opportunity to share my love and passion with, particularly young goalies who are on this crazy path from youth hockey to juniors, colleges, or pro hockey organizations.

The path of a goalie is like that of someone trying to date in the modern day.  It’s full of left turns, surprises, great moments, large peaks, steep valleys, and the need to be persistent, consistent, and disciplined.

That same “why” is what has made me turn past comments and people’s predictions into actions towards the bigger picture.

“Other people won’t understand your dreams and ambitions.”

Some will, and you’ll want to find those people and keep in touch with them. But, most people are too busy in their own lives being miserable (whether they know it or not), and any projection they have to you about your dreams and ambitions, is simply a projection of that at most times.

Others are either on board or in the way.

You can and should still be kind and respectful to these naysayers, but you shall not let their negative and / or sometimes passive aggressive comments and actions steer you away from what is true to you.

It’s funny, these same people will be all “buddy buddy” once they see your actions adding up into results and will at times, try to denounce or take back what they had said in the past.  Expect there to be lots of “friends” around when you win big, and expect for that “friends” list to dwindle when your grinding it out in the middle of nowhere in the ECHL trying to fight your way for a call up.

It’s the essence of life, smoke and mirrors.  You have to build your why and your own values to a point that none of that matters to a point that it will completely derail YOU from YOUR path.

Tyler Parsons talking about his experience of reading “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek. Just kidding, but all the guys were responsible for reading these books and doing a book report.

I’ll keep this one a little bit shorter.

While I’m not suggesting that a hockey goalie concern themselves with lifting goals, I’m going to use my current athletic endeavor of powerlifting as another example on how I apply the afore mentioned principles.

My personal “why” is to lead by example in the weight room and outside with the sport of powerlifting. My goals here include to continually get stronger every year into my 40’s and 50’s. That includes pushing my lifts up at least subtly, every year, whether that’s just a pound or 100 lbs.

It’s also important to me here to show how to do the other things that help this goal and also help set an example of how young athletes should live their life: cook and eat healthy meals, get ample sleep, and most importantly, make time for time spent nurturing relationships with family and friends.

These are the little things I bring back from my memory when I’m not feeling like completing a workout, preparing my food, going to sleep, or scheduling time to go out to eat and catch up with people that I care about. These thoughts are the “psych up” you see in my videos before big lifts, not a pre-workout drink.

Enough about me. Use that to help you think of your why, and all of the little things that go into “why that is your why”. 

On what you’ll encounter along your way and how to deal with it:

Psychology and communication  are very, deep, well studied fields. To think that all of your coaches will be up to par on these studies, is a a losing battle. Some will be great communicators, most will be learning their own way and learning from mistakes.  That said, it is important to “listen to everything, but only retain and apply what is useful.”

“Always listen and show respect to your coaches, superiors, teammates, and subordinates, always.”

But, remember that not every coach will not know how to most effectively communicate their intended message with you.

This is why it’s important to remember your “why” and not to take messages personal.

For example, if a coach who is heated up communicates a problem message with no solution, realize he/she is acting on emotion and their message is not constructive. Do not take it personal. It is a reflection of their current state. A great way to communicate back here is: “no excuses, coach. What can I do to improve?”

Any coach that can’t take that as a mature response from an athlete looking to improve, is not a coach and you shouldn’t feel ashamed of asking how you can improve after taking ownership (whether ownership was needed or not, it validates the coach and allows for both parties to move on.)

Remembering your “why”, keeping a positive outlook, and staying disciplined in your preparatory routine is an absolute must. This is truly what separates the winners from the losers in sport and life.

Being A Leader

Your attitude and commitment to stay disciplined will have a positive effect on literally everyone around you, from your teammates, to your coaches. Everything from the look in your eyes, your body language, are extremely important.

As I always say, you don’t have to have a “C” on your jersey to be a leader. The best leaders lead themselves first and foremost. Only then, can you lead those around you. Even if you never wear the “C” (which is rare for a goalie), you’ll elevate everyone you come in contact with. Always be that example you want to see and need. You’ll attract people who will also be that person.

Robbie Beydoun (Michigan Tech), Tyger Howat (Northern Michigan), Tyler Parsons (Stockton Heat/ KC Mavericks) all putting work in on their daily paths.

You had a bad game, bad practice, bad workout, so what. “Failure is a state of mind.” You need to have the mindset of “you either win or you learn.” Yes, as a team, it’s expected to win certain games and I’m not saying to take that lightly. But, reflecting for too long in a negative way only sets up for regression. Be upset, but, stay disciplined and immediately get working on what needs improvement with a positive attitude. You will learn something from every “failure”. Whether that’s as simple as:

-you should have gotten more sleep

-you shouldn’t have gone as heavy on a lift that day

-you should have practiced “X” and “Y” situation in practice

-you should have eaten a better pre game meal

-you should communicate something you’re feeling or experiencing with a coach or trainer

You get the idea. Always find where improvement can be made.

Fall in love with “The Process” / “The Journey”

Wins and losses will come and go, coaches will come and go, teams will come and go, moments will come and go, injuries may come and go, setbacks and celebrations will come and go. If you look at any successful person, athlete, team, business, organization, you’ll find they share a “love” or at least an “awareness” that it’s all about the process/ journey. All of the little things. All of these little things are what add up to create the big moments. This is why you can’t let one rough comment from a coach or a loss get in your way of moving forward. You only have 3 strikes in baseball until you’re out. In life, you can keep swinging no matter how may “strikes” you have against you.

Photo by: Dave Reginek / Getty Images — Beydoun has been successful in large part to his investment in his own thought process and daily preparation. Not letting the high’s get too high and not letting the lows get too low while staying disciplined, daily.

Let’s cover some of the things that should always be part of your puzzle on this process/ journey:

-quality relationships. Treat everyone with respect and make time to be around your loved ones. A lack of this can take its toll on you mentally, physically, and spiritually. That’s why my door is always open and phone is always on as a coach. Don’t ever be afraid to let someone know you’re struggling and need to talk. At the same time, show those you care about love and appreciation for being part of your life. Gratitude is a huge helper. Practice it daily.

-laugh every day. We simply cannot feel fear while we experience laughter.

-be serious about eating the proper food for you. If you’re a goalie, eating like shit is stupid. You don’t have to eat like a pre contest bodybuilder, but you should focus on eating meat, vegetables, fruits, and carbs like rice, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, etc. You need to fuel your performance and keep your joints healthy. No less than 3 meals per day (4-5 if you’re older and bigger) and a productive snack or two. Drink water, coffee, and tea. Stay away from sugar filled drinks. Gatorade should only be consumed while on the ice. If you’re a strength sport athlete, you probably already know this stuff. Don’t miss Meals unless you’re following something prescribed from a qualified nutrition expert.

-Do your daily self care work: lacrosse ball rolling, foam rolls, breathing drills, and mobility work. (which we will cover in future articles)

-Get your weekly strength training in. If you’re not already following a program with your team, get with a qualified strength coach to get a program to assist you. This is important for recovery, injury prevention, and long term development.

Jerry Kuhn, DEL goalie has really developed himself into the best version of himself with his own daily rituals of self-care and relentless work ethic towards the basic daily habits. One thing he reverbs to our young guys is “Earn it Everyday”.

-Get as close to 8-10 hours of sleep per day. Try to get to bed before midnight. Sleep before midnight is far more powerful than sleep after midnight. Fill the gaps with naps when possible. Rest is probably the most underrated tool for performance in this world of “grind, hustle, grind”.

Through victory, defeat and everything in between, stay immersed in “your” process/journey. Consult with strength and conditioning professionals, nutrition experts, doctors, etc to find out what YOU need. Use other people / athletes as motivation, but try to “be them”. You have a gift called “yourself” and you should only work to be the best version of “you” possible.

Don’t ever let anyone else tell you that you can’t or your that you’re not enough. You e got what it takes. Stay true to yourself.

About Coach Dan:

Coach Dan is the head of strength and conditioning at the Inflow Wellness Academy. Dan is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a degree in Exercise Science. With 20 years of weight room experience, and 10 years of coaching experience, he is equipped with the knowledge, experience, and desire to help you meet your health and performance goals.

Dan works with high school, college, and professional athletes, most of which are hockey players. These range from young guys and girls all the way up to Andy Greene of the NJ Devils, Jerry Kuhn of the Wolfsburg Grizzlies (DEL), Tyler Parsons of the Calgary Flames organization, numerous NCAA goalies such as Robbie Beydoun of Michigan Tech, and consults with goalies around the world on in season mobility and strength routines.  He also works with competitive powerlifters, and many of our general population clients who are looking to lose fat, get strong and improve their quality of life.


IG: @coachdanmethods

Email: [email protected]