Goalies today are bigger, faster, stronger, more flexible – you name it. And all of these improvements are made with conscious effort. There are detailed goalie-specific training and nutrition programs. There are instructional videos covering everything from how to widen your butterfly flare to developing fast twitch muscles. And there is tons of content available on how to properly stretch, warm-up, and cool down. All of this is great information and offers invaluable advice on how to take care of the physical aspects of the position, something we know goalies spend a lot of time working on.
But, how many goalies take the time to train to become mentally stronger?
Believe it or not, visualization works and positive goal imagery creates a “competitive drive”. Top athletes do it to improve performance.
Brain studies have revealed that thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions. Mental imagery impacts many cognitive processes in the brain: motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory. So the brain is getting trained for actual performance during visualization. It’s been found that mental practices can enhance motivation, increase confidence and self-efficacy, improve motor performance, and prime your brain for success – all relevant to achieving your best performance.
Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals incorporates “mental imagery” into his pre-game routine.