Any goaltender who has strapped on a set of pads — regardless of whether it’s ice hockey, street hockey or roller hockey — knows fear. Last month, we explored the fear of physical injury and suggested a number of key gear improvements designed to minimize that risk. This month, I’m going to look at a more subtle emotion, but one that is every bit as real as physical pain. Anxiety.
Anxiety is a performance killer. When we’re anxious, we tighten up. We think too much, and that typically results in our entire muscular-skeletal system becoming more rigid. And, to quote an oftrepeated maxim in the goalie coaching business, tense muscles are slow muscles. Slow muscles lead to slow reaction times, which lead to more goals.
Steve Brown of Fuel Athletic Success Training in Woburn, Mass., said anxiety can even lead to goalies figuratively — and sometimes literally — "shrinking" between the pipes.