Ronnie Fernando of the MLL Atlanta Blaze: Persistence is Key
There is so much one can do on a daily basis to get better… at anything. Whether its cooking up your favorite dish, how to drive a car, or how to explode from right to left pipe- stick first- to deny a shot from a cross the crease pass.
It is going to get very mundane and boring at times which will cause you to just lose interest. However, it is important to stay persistent, for persistence is always key!
As goalies, we are always looking to fine tune our craft, but we can’t fine tune if we don’t know what to work on in the first place! The only way to do this is to work, work, work, compete, and work some more. Competing is always going to help us measure what it is we need to work on. From competition, we can then go to the drawing board to see what we need to work on; quickness, hand speed, foot speed, sight, form, patience, etc.
Lots of times we know what we need to work on and that we NEED to work on it but do we do it? Lots of goalies out there will think that our 2 hour daily practices are going to help us get better, when in reality there is the potential to simply reinforce the mistakes we make in the first place. We are not taking the time to take corrective measures or actions. This is where the persistence comes in.
One day a week outside of the crease is not going to cut it, not even two will suffice. We need at least three to four days outside of practice to set our edge. And during these times it is important that we do three things: 1) Identify our corrective action, 2) Practice our corrective action, and 3) Drill it PERFECTLY!
Doing this with persistence and with INTENT will help us as goalies become more psychologically conscientious of everything we are doing at any given time. This allows for us to be patient and think more clearly in addition to building DISCIPLINE in a goalie's mind. And ALL goalies must play with DISCIPLINE!
THE BIGGEST thing goalies don’t understand is MUSCLE MEMORY. This is the ability to produce a particular movement without conscious thought. And this is only developed through frequent and PERSISTENT repetition of that movement. This is why it is very, very important that we practice our craft as close to perfect as possible.
Building our muscle memory allows us to subconsciously react (With Proper form) to anything (literally) thrown our way while thinking of and doing other things. These are, but not limited to- seeing the ball with our eyes, calling out the spot of the ball, understanding where our 1 or 2 slide is coming from, but most importantly being able to recognize everything happening on the field all at the same time.
For me, muscle memory is the key. How many times have you dropped something off a counter or something tumbled your way and you reacted with a lead step- following your hands- into a gather step? That is you subconsciously reacting through your muscle memory as an opposite reaction to the current action at hand. Newton’s third law of course in an athletic sense!
But this is just the kind of aha moment you are looking for. Recognizing that it is a true concept, this will truly allow us to bring our goalie game to the next level and continue to grow. It will get tiring, it will get boring, but it WILL help you become better. As goalies no one is going to help you get better but yourself. Certain things, not even seeing 200 shots will help you do.
Putting It Into Action
Three to 4 times a week I make sure to set my edge by reinforcing my muscle memory and positioning in the cage. Below are a couple of my favorite exercises with a list of tools I use to do them. Doing these a couple times a week will really help you be a better goalie tomorrow from the one you were yesterday.
Below is a lateral movement exercise you can do with a resistance bad and a medicine ball. Of course you can use a weighted stick, or just a regular stick, Your choice!
The following drills will be done 5 ways, all with an athletic "step and gather", for 3 sets of 10 steps.
-Ball to stick side high -Ball to off stick high -Ball to stick side hip
-Ball to off stick hip -Ball to pulsing squat from athletic/set position
First, Use your Resistance Band, and place it around your legs, set at your know (just bellow the bed of the cap). With medicine ball in hand centered. Now place your body in athletic stance, or your set position.
3x10 Ball to Stick-side High
3x10 Ball to Off-Stick High
3x10 Ball to Stick-Side Hip
3x10 Ball to Off-Stick Hip
3x10 Pulsing Squats (get low and athletic!)
These drills, and others like them, are a great way to build your foundation of footwork and technique, improve your athleticism in and out of the cage, and gain your EDGE that will have you physical and mentally prepared for each game. Build your fundamentals, and you'll be able to maximize your potential in the cage!