Article by Shaun Smith on September 22, 2010


With the start of every hockey season, many goaltenders are quickly reminded about the harsh reality of the sport which they love to play; you can be cut. Getting cut or not making the team can happen because of multiple factors, often more than one factor at one time. These factors can include a poor performance, a lack of skills, tough competition, age, and of course politics.

The truth is that no goaltender has had the perfect career where they never found themselves being cut. Yet many goaltenders hang on to the fact that maybe the coach made a bad decision or that they were judged inappropriately. Getting cut sucks, but the key for a goaltender to make sure that he doesn’t get cut again is to turn a negative result into a positive motivator and a chance to get better. Here are a few key thoughts if you have recently experienced being cut and are looking for a way to turn getting cut into a positive experience:

1. We will never achieve our best if we never experience failure -The biggest factor behind all great athlete’s stories is their experience of failure. You can never become a great athlete without failing. The key to experiencing success is to spend time and determine what it is that you can learn from the experience. Failure should lead you to a very valuable piece of information. Embrace loss as a necessary component of your improving game.

2. Athletes often build their character and reputation when the going gets tough - Getting cut is not a great feeling. Often athletes feel like they have experienced rock bottom and some even experience the feeling of wanting to leave their sport. These thoughts are part of the grieving process as you learn that you are losing the connection with a goal that you held very close to you (making the team). Great athletes are not afraid to fail or experience the feelings that come with failure like disappointment. These athletes know that although they have failed if they keep on battling and improving they will experience success which is often greater than what they would have normally experienced.

3. Take responsibility for your training -Although maybe your being cut is the result of something that you cannot control the truth is that if you are going to experience success the means rests firmly on your shoulders. Blaming coaches, the staff members or any other factor is creating an excuse. Winners don’t make excuses; they take responsibility and use their current failures as the opportunity to grow as an athlete. After getting cut the best thing that you can do is to take an HONEST look at your game and come up with 3 to 4 key areas of your game that you need to focus your energy on. Then you must set goals for these areas and create a training plan that will allow you to improve in these areas.

The key to getting back at it after being cut is to challenge yourself to get back up and continue to improve your game on a week to week or day to day basis. Re-evaluate your goals and set new goals that will help you improve the key areas of your game that you may currently be weaker.

Getting cut sucks! Trust me. I’ve personally experienced it and have relived the feelings that come with getting cut through the athletes that I work with. I don’t wish getting cut on any of you but if you do I hope that my advice will help you to improve your game.

Shaun Smith is the founder of Absolute Mental Training. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email him at