The following article is brought to you by our friends at The Athlete’s Matrix. Aaron Weinstein was kind enough to send me his article to share with our readers. The Athlete’s Matrix is a site dedicated to sports psychology. In this article, Aaron looks at that very psychology from the perspective of a back up goaltender and how Jonathan Bernier must stay mentally prepared to perform at his highest level. Here is the introduction. Click on the link at the bottom for the rest. Enjoy.
During training camp, Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier (pronounced Burn-yay) discussed how the mental adjustment to being a backup goaltender would be the most difficult part of reduced playing time. In an earlier article, I discussed the how players can effectively transition into different roles, using Bernier as an example. After playing four games, Bernier will now be a great example to use to show how individuals can train themselves to be mentally ready at the start of games despite having less playing time because of their different role.
Bernier started the Los Angeles Kings 2nd game of the season in Calgary on October 10th. Despite a 3-1 loss (one goal being an empty net), Bernier played well and looked sharp. Considering that it the game was close to the end of training camp, the effects of Bernier’s new role hadn’t taken effect.
Ten days later, however, he finally got his next start against Carolina. Through the first two periods, he allowed 3 goals while not exuding the focus and calm body language he typically does when he is on his game. However, after the Kings took a 4-3 lead three minutes into the 3rd period, the Hurricanes took over the game, outshooting the Kings 15-6. After making a save on a breakaway just moments after the Kings took the lead, Bernier went on to shut down the Canes in impressive fashion, allowing the Kings to hold on for the 4-3 win. Bernier’s focused body language was pretty apparent in the 3rd period, especially after the breakaway save. As our friends over at Surly and Scribe said, “Goaltending was a tale of the bipolar net-minder.” After the game, Bernier was asked what he could do to help be more mentally prepared to start the game after a long layoff, to which he replied, “I don’t know”(video).