Lessons from a Beer League Goalie
All those tough moments in games are what we really live for
“If I only knew then what I know now….” Words repeated by many a beer league player.
As I was enjoying a rare few minutes of rest in a very one-sided game the other night I realized that now in my 40s I am finally getting it. Oh, I’m sure my parents told me years ago and I wasn’t ready to hear. But now I’m getting it.
We’re playing this game for fun.
So why is it that so many goalies, myself included, get so upset when goals go in? Why do we get even more upset when they go in because someone wasn’t backchecking or someone didn’t cover those two guys sitting on the back door or when those two other guys were screening them?
No, now at 42 years of age I’m finally getting it. Those are the best moments in every game!
Why did you start playing goal? Fun. Cool gear. Sure, most goalies feel that way. For the challenge? To improve? To make the highlight-reel saves? Now we’re getting somewhere.
When you get right down to it, how many of us began this to win? How many began so they could stop only 15 clear long distance shots from the periphery every game? When our tempers get the best of us we’re acting as if that is what we want – but that would be shear boredom.
The moments we all love are the big saves. The impossible saves. Even the routine saves with the perfectly controlled rebound are things to appreciate. The long point shot you only saw at the last minute is awesome. In short – the ones that wouldn’t happen if a bunch of people (me included!) hadn’t made some serious mistakes. The saves you made in the driveway when hockey really was all about fun. Those are what we live for.
The guy getting 45 or more shots per game, and many of them great scoring chances, he’s the lucky one. The girl who has to find a way to track the puck through a mess of bodies in front, she’s the one to envy. They are the ones who get a chance to improve every day. The ones who can test themselves and can make all kinds of big saves.
If the price to pay for that is watching a bunch of goals go in, that’s fine by me. My name’s not going on the Stanley Cup. Next week nobody will remember who won the last game. Next week I get to do it all over again and that’s what I love about our game.
So, when you’re getting frustrated with yourself or a teammate remember – those mistakes are what you live for. Enjoy them. Even if the puck goes in 10 times a game – without them, you don’t improve.
Of course there’s an added benefit. If you can keep your head under those circumstances you’ll be a better goalie.
The next time you see that guy sitting on the post all alone don’t get angry. Smile. It’s your chance to shine.
If you liked this one, I have added another from the Beer League Goalie on the Zen of Goaltending.