After a long and hot summer it is now time for each goaltender to enter training camp and evaluations as we head into September. This is the time where all your hard work, detailed training, and dedication day in and day out over the summer pays off. The goaltenders that have paid the price by coming to train on and off the ice for countless hours throughout the summer weeks will enter evaluations with a confident mindset. On the other hand, the goaltenders that have been distracted by areas outside of the hockey world may falter and panic. This balance of entering camp with a positive and confident mindset is maintained from a combination of past success and previous preparation. Tony LaRussa, previous manager of baseball's Oakland Athletics, had made a speech to the Notre Dame football team years ago. Providing a speech that was driven towards handling pressure he said:
"Pressure comes when someone calls upon you to do a task for which you are unprepared. If you have to take an important test and haven't studied, you feel the pressure grind as you trudge off to class. However, if you have cracked your books, you are disappointed when you learn the professor has postponed the exam. If I have to make a six-foot putt and I know I haven't spent adequate time perfecting my putting stroke, the pressure as I approach the ball is asphyxiating (Holtz, Winning Every Day)."To overcome "pressure" athletes must prepare properly, within every aspect of their position. Detailed preparation within all areas of an athletes game from physical on-ice and off-ice training, nutrition, psychological, and social development will create and build confidence, and dispel the pressure that many athletes place upon themselves. Entering your first tryout, you should ultimately have a clear and open mind. Your on ice focus should be simple, and strictly moved to having a game-like performance. There should be no "change" of your game technically. Everything that you developed and constructed over the summer months through 1v1 sessions, camps, and clinics should be set in stone. There should only be small "adjustments" to your game performance as you become aware of the mistakes that you have made. Lastly, ... remember your strengths! Training camp is set to push your limits. Mentally, you must be able to clue into your strengths and display them consistently. The easy areas of your game must be presented 100% of the time. Displaying ones strengths and keeping ones game simple will help provide a goaltender to go far in camp as they leave the coaching staff and scouts nothing to complain about. As a staff, GDI Prairies has worked with hundreds of goaltenders over the past few months, preparing each athlete to set new standards within their game, helping them reach that next level. We would like to wish each and everyone one of you the best in training camp, and remind each of you to display the confidence you have gained from all your hard work and preparation.