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Stop Whining

Stop Whining - Image Credit: http://www.russellheimlich.com/blog/developers-stop-whining-about-ie6/Okay goalies out there, listen up. It is time for some of you to suck it up or pack it in. There are too many goaltenders out there complaining over a multitude of things. Why has the once proud and unique community of goaltenders gone soft and what steps can be taken to reverse course?

The little respect we have from players is further diminished by the constant whining and crying. This leads to futile attempts at trying to organize a proper pre-game warm-up or strong communication during a game. This is evident by the total lack of regard for our safety with head hunting slapshots in practice and pick-up games, as well as little to no help in protecting the puck after it has been covered. This happens at many levels and versions (ball, roller, ice) in the sport.

It is amazing beyond the point of absurdity the types of complaints certain goalies have. Here is a partial list of things that I have heard and read about:

  • Defenseman allowing attackers to just skate by in pick-up games
  • Players taking too hard of a slapshot
  • Low skilled players coming down to open hockey
  • Getting a snow shower from an opposing player after covering the puck
  • Players taking slapshots at close range
  • Have to do a lot of lateral movements to stop odd-man and backdoor plays

The list goes on and on. Here is what I have to tell those goalies that feel this way: Go sell your equipment on eBay. Hockey is a contact sport and in case you didn’t realize, a goaltender willingly stands in front of a plastic/rubber disk flying at them in speeds as high as 100mph. If you do not want to get bruised or get a bone contusion or possibly break a few bones or tear a muscle, then I highly suggest you pick up a safer sport such as checkers or solitaire. The puck hurts at times, sometimes pretty bad. I have played in games where my arm has gone numb from the elbow down or taken a puck off the back of my glove. In fact, just last week I took a puck to my thumb on my blocker hand that almost broke it.

If you enjoy the sport but are getting hurt to much from the impact of the puck, you might want to consider upgrading your equipment. There are countless websites that sell used equipment as well as the rinks themselves. On sites such as Goalie Monkey they have a huge clearance section where you can pick up as high as pro-level gear at half, sometimes even a quarter of the original price. But before you go out and do this let me remind you that you will still feel the puck even with full, pro-level equipment.

It could be that you can handle the force of the puck, but you are constantly pulling/tearing muscles. Listen, you can’t expect to be as flexible as a gymnast or yoga instructor if your stretch routine consists of a few lunges prior to your one game per week. I do not care if you play once a week or twenty times a week, stretching should be part of your everyday or at least every other day routine.

What is wrong with players taking slapshots at close range or having to move and slide all over your crease during a game? If goaltending was easy everyone would be doing it. Why do you think there is such a disparity between the number of players versus the number of goalies in the sport (besides the fact we are a little crazy…I mean eccentric)?

All of these things that are complained about make the position challenging. You have less time to react to a close range slapshot than you do one from the blue line. Of course a shooter would do that, it is an advantage to them. The puck gets cycled around the defensive zone constantly, it is part of the game. This forces you to move around a lot in your crease, cause you to change your stance from passive to aggressive and then back again. It would not be that challenging if you stayed in one place and the shooter takes a shot from far away every time.

What is the issue with “lower” skilled players coming down to open hockey? Most of the goalies that complain are not playing at the elite level, so maybe you should take a good look in the mirror before judging other players. I can guarantee that there were plenty of times when you first showed up at open hockey or subbed-in for a team that your skill level was not up to speed. The reason for open hockey is to get better and the only way to do that is to practice and compete against players that are better.

When I started playing as a young teenager I was up against guys graduating high school and in college. This is how I improved. To this day I jump on the chance to sub-in in higher level divisions. It is the only way to get better. Instead of crying over the fact that the player’s shot or stick handling is not typical, let him know that it takes a lot of courage to come out and play against stronger players. Also, remember that you were not born with instant goalie powers, that you too were the new person at open hockey.

See, that is the beauty of goaltending. It is challenging, both physically and mentally. You have to constantly be aware of your surroundings, anticipating how a play will unfold, how a shot will be released from the stick blade, be one of the best skaters out there and be the most flexible, you have to determine in a split second where the puck will go through a screen. The list goes on and on.

We are expected to stay out there the entire time without a break whereas the other players can rest on the bench several times during a game. You can look at that as being unfair, but I look at that we are an example of endurance and stamina. You throw the pads on any of these players and they would pass out after a few minutes.

We are the last line of defense and when the team wins, on occasion we are applauded for our efforts, but when we lose, many times all the fingers point in our direction. That is a lot of pressure but it comes with greater rewards. You have to remember that hockey is a team sport. The puck has to get past 4 or 5 players before it gets to you. Being the last line of defense is empowering and exciting. Regardless of how well your teammates play in front of you, you know at the end of the game whether or not you gave your all. No one can take that away from you. You know if you were the reason why you won or lost.

Unfortunately our society has evolved into celebrating mediocrity and trying to eliminate competition. Every kid in beginner leagues get trophies regardless of how the team performed. For example, in one of the divisions I play in every team makes the playoffs. We could lose every game during the regular season, but play insane in the playoffs and win a championship? What point is it for players to give an honest effort if we all get in? People today in sports expect everything to be handed to them without putting in the effort that is required.

If goaltending is not for you, if you do not like what is asked and required of you, please stop whining, instead find something that better aligns with you and leave the sport to those who love every single minute they get to put the pads on.

“Instead of complaining that the rosebush is full of thorns, be happy that the thorn bush has roses.” ~Proverb

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