How to Stop The Goalie “Blinks”

The Mind Coach

Ask The Mind Coach is dedicated to the “mental” part of hockey from both player and parent perspectives. Shawnee Harle takes your questions and provides feedback based on her experiences and training. If you have a question to Ask The Mind Coach, email us!

QUESTION: “My 14-year-old goalie has a hard time stopping pucks from distance during a game. At first we thought it might be an eyesight problem but that all checked out fine. His coach has chewed him out for not being focussed but it has become clear that he is blinking as soon as the stick makes contact with the puck and then he loses sight of it. Is there a visual exercise he can do to get out of this slump?”

THE MIND COACH: Since he’s wearing a mask, how do you know he’s blinking? And if it were me, and a hard, black object was coming right at me very quickly, not only would I blink, I would run away!!  I would ask him if he thinks he is blinking.  I would ask him if he feels afraid of the puck.  Fear would be a different answer than the one below.

There’s lots of great information about the gaze for athletes.  What are they looking at?  For how long are they looking? For hockey goaltenders, do they track the puck from the moment it leaves the stick of the shooter?  Check out these links:

  1. https://www.grandforksherald.com/sports/quiet-eye-key-hockey-goalies
  2. https://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/goalie-s-quiet-eye-key-for-big-saves-study-1.603903
  3. https://www.teamsnap.com/community/sports-science/physical-education/watch-the-puck

Shawnee is a two-time Olympian with 26 years of elite coaching and leadership experience. Shawnee holds a Master’s Degree in Coaching Studies, and she is a Master Coach Developer and Master Learning Facilitator for the National Coaching Certification Program, where she trains and mentors both advanced and novice coaches from all sports. Learn more at shawneeharle.com

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