Keeping a Goalie Journal Can Keep You Consistent
Goaltending schools have long encouraged their students to record the things they learn during a camp, in some cases providing a workbook that encourage – or even requires – a daily entry.
For any goalie that has ever rolled their eyes at this idea of keeping “a diary” during summer camp, you might want to treat it a little more seriously next time because it’s a concept used right up to the NHL level.
Corey Hirsch introduced it to St. Louis goalies during his time as the Blues goaltending coach, and explained the benefits in an article he wrote for the February 2012 edition of InGoal Magazine:
“I’ve been telling my goalies to keep a journal pretty much since I started coaching,” wrote Hirsch, who has done some work with Hockey Canada since being let go by the Blues this summer and, according to the NHL goalie coach grape vine, is still in the running for the vacant Calgary Flames position along with Swiss coach Reto Schürch. “I didn’t do it enough as a player myself, to be honest, and at the end of your playing career you look back and ask ‘what are the things I could have done better,’ and that’s one of them. I really think it could have been beneficial as a goalie to write stuff down that would, not necessarily make you play better, but improve the learning curve. It gives you a reference point you can go back to, whether it’s when you make a mistake or when things are going well, rather than waiting for it to happen again and go ‘oh, that’s why.’
“For younger kids it’s just a way to record your mistakes to make sure you recognize them and make sure the next time you are aware and do the proper thing. It’s not just about how you played a certain situation in a game, like an odd-man rush or sharp-angle attack off the goal line,” wrote Hirsch. “It’s actually more about how you felt that game, the emotions you went through during a game and how you dealt with them. ‘Playing with a one-goal lead, what was I thinking?’ Or ‘how did I feel going into a big game, and what did I do as preparation on days when I felt good on the ice versus days I didn’t?’ Or if you were up 3-2 and lost 4-3, ‘what was going through my mind after the tying goal’ and recognize honestly whether your mindset then played a role in being ready on the winning goal, how it ended up playing out, and do I need to correct it next time. A lot of times when it is in your head it can be tough to sort out your thoughts, but when it’s on paper it is much easier to filter through and recognize patterns in what you were thinking during certain situations and how that affected results, positively or negatively.
“So it’s more mental than technical. It’s about sorting the thoughts in your head, getting them out of there and onto paper and being able to see them and make sense of them.”
Hirsch stresses that it’s not always about finding problems of mistakes:
“A lot of goalies find its good to go back and look at their thoughts during hot streaks, or in that so-called ‘zone,’ and it helps them get back there sooner,” he wrote. “In fact, that’s a bigger benefit than sorting out any of the negatives. You can look back and say, ‘Ok, I played well, so what did I do right? What were the things I was thinking, and how did I feel going into the game? How did I approach warm ups? What was I doing before I even got the rink?’ You can always find when you played well and go back to it quickly.
“I just think you are able t speed up the possibility of not going into a slump by seeing those things on paper. So instead of a five-game skid it may only be a two-game skid because you realize ‘oh yeah. I got it back now. This is what I did then.'”
Hirsch appeared to find a believer in Jake Allen, who will play for the Blues this season.
“Trying to perfect the mental game, writing things down, after a game, any little detail helps,” Allen told InGoal Magazine. “Games I thought I played well or did things well, I’ve written those things down as a way of remembering that feeling. Just the little things, that feeling that you want to come back game in and game out and have every night. So you just take a quick glance at it before a game or before a practice, the way you want to feel, so it’s just a simple thing that sometimes when you get late in a game and take a deep breath, you can think about.”
You can read the entire article in the InGoal Magazine archives by clicking here or on the photo below: