Many of you most likely won’t like my answer to this question, and many of you will probably also have a resounding “duh, I knew that” in your head. The answer to this question is simple—it’s hard work. Hard work is such a huge concept, though. What does that really look like and how do you work hard as a goalie to be better?
I’m going to dip into my story a little further and describe to you how I developed my skill to earn a starting spot for a top 20 division 1 team. I will preface this also by saying if you’re a freshman and saying you want to play at that level, you really need to look within yourself and ask how badly you’re willing to work for it. I’m not saying this to scare anyone, I’m saying this because it takes a TON of work to not only get there but to stay there as well.
When I was first learning, my hard work took the form of practicing my stepping in front of the TV and walking the line outside. This is a great tool for goalies first learning. I cannot stress the importance of repetition enough. Have good muscle memory with your technique is imperative to success. I’d do this for 30-60 min 1-2 times per week leading up to and during the season. When I was in middle school, the only sports kids seemed to be seriously committing to were basketball and soccer. I also hadn’t quite found friends that had the passion for the sport that I did. But then in 7th grade, I found them, and we decided to try out for a club team the following year as we were preparing for high school lacrosse.
I remembered being shell shocked surrounded by players who were all just as serious about the sport as me and extremely talented. This leads me to my next point, which is to find those attackers that are like-minded and want to succeed. They will honestly be your best friends and your way to get better. Mine were Hayley Ross, played at Richmond (2014), and Kelly McNelis, played at Boston College (2014). These two were huge factors in my improvement in the cage because they were always down to shoot. I was able to focus on what I needed to and then I’d begrudgingly let them shoot however they wanted. Honestly, looking back I think I can only count two or three times in the span of our friendship that I truly “didn’t want to go shoot” and that’s because it was fun! You have to make it fun to get something out of it. If you aren’t enjoying yourself you won’t get as much out of your time. I wish I had the huge speaker I do now back then, it would’ve been even better! However, when I did have those off-days they were there, holding me accountable to my goals. I’m not gonna lie, those times were tough because even though I didn’t have Netflix back then I’m sure I equally wanted to watch “The OC” all day on a weekend. You have to continually make tough choices, but equally, know yourself. It’s a tough line to tread, making yourself work hard but also knowing when you need a little R&R. I think limits help with this, so setting a timer for either time you will play or time you will relax helps you mentally prepare.
My final point of hard work leads me to the most important and influential person in my success, my goalie coach Mike Molster. Now he is an assistant coach for Towson University, but lucky for me I had the pleasure of having him as my coach when he was coaching a local high school. When we weren’t working together, I was likely talking his ear off on the phone about what I could do improve. He always knew how to help, whether mentally or technically. I want to also mention that Mike’s impact on me is largely why I created this site. Having someone that was able to directly relate to my experiences was so powerful for me. With this site, I hope to provide that feeling to others as well. It’s so rewarding to meet and speak with someone who just understands you, I can’t exactly put into words. When you experience this, you’ll know what I mean. Also, I’d highly recommend going to any Towson camps/clinics you can because in case you couldn’t gather – Mike is awesome! Anyways, back to hard work … we’d work in one hour sessions, and I’d work on whatever he told me to with my friends and the next session we’d work on something else. I kept repeating that cycle over and over. Sometimes we’d have to take a step back and come back to something we already worked on, but it happens. Habits are the name of the game for this position and the only way you develop good ones is through repetition and hard work.
Now stop reading and get out there! Enjoy!