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Carey Rie looking down ice close up

John Stevenson obtained his Master’s degree in Sports Psychology from Toronto’s York University in 1992 and subsequently obtained a second Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology from City University in Edmonton in 2006. He has worked with a wide variety of clients and organizations in sports, clinical and executive coaching but most relevant to our subject matter is his work with goalies, starting as the Saskatoon Blades goalie coach, and continuing to work with goalies like Braden Holtby, Carter Hart, Laurent Brossoit and a current client list that includes Frederik Andersen and Joseph Woll of the Toronto Maple Leafs, among others. Stevenson is now offering three options to work with him directly, and receive the same instruction currently being delivered to half a dozen NHL-contracted goalies. You can learn more about these limited-entry options here.

Among the many unfortunate downsides of the current COVID-19 pandemic I’ve witnessed is a dramatic increase in the use of electronics and a rise in screen time among goalies I have done workshops for and worked with individually.  
 
The side effects this behavior can have on brain function and well-being cannot be understated. Any form of electronics over a two-hour period on a daily basis can lead to “digital addiction.” Research in regards to behavior change tells us we don’t get rid of a bad habit. Instead, we need to replace it with a good habit.
 
For goalies, this can double as an opportunity to improve during the pandemic. Instead of more electronics, goalies can use this extra time to do cognitive-perceptual and mental training programs that will actually improve Hockey IQ by developing things like executive functioning, peripheral vision, working memory, visual information processing, and selective and sustained attention.
 
Of course, many of you may not know where to start. I’m still shocked to learn most goalies have no clue how to train their mind and the benefits this type of training can provide both on the ice and for overall quality of health. Goaltenders can easily list the things that they are doing in the gym or on the ice to work on their game, but struggle when I ask them to describe what they are specifically doing in their “mental gym” on a daily basis to build their mental resiliency.  
 
Hopefully this series of articles, which started last month with a look at some of the breathing exercises that Braden Holtby used as a mindfulness tool to kick start his own path to mental toughness, will help. Along with my new, three-tier private program, the idea is to give goalies exercises they can incorporate into their daily routine to build their mental skills. The structure of the program is predicated on three proven and trusted methods that allow goalies to thrive under pressure: 1. Mindfulness; 2. Breathwork and 3. Mental Rehearsal to develop what I call the 7 C’s of Mental Toughness: Concentration, Composure, Confidence, Consistency, Compassion, Commitment, and Coachability.
 
Each of these methods are the building blocks to develop the Goalie Mantra:
I have no Future
I have no Past
I’m here to make the moment last
I’m in the Here and Now
In this article, I’ll expand on the breathing exercises introduced with Holtby last month, and really delve into the topic of breathwork and why it’s such a critical mental skill for a goaltender to start and master if they wish to reach the pinnacle of their game. In fact, if I only had time to teach one skill to a prospective goaltending client, breathwork would be the key skill because of the numerous physical, mental, and health benefits this practice offers not only the grass roots goaltender but the professional goaltender as well.

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