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Holtby on preparation, focus, calm

Since Juniors, Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby has worked hard on his game preparation techniques and on-ice demeanor — both topics in the news this week.  We dug up these thoughts from Holtby, excerpted from a Sept 21, 2010 interview at the start of his rookie year: 

“When I was kid I was so, so competitive that I would, you know, get so mad if I was losing that I’d, you know, would lose my cool and usually end up in a time-out of some sort… I used to get really frustrated and slam my stick and stuff and I broke a couple, but that ended really quick when my dad made me pay for my own sticks after I was breaking them – so I learned to control that a bit better!  But still it’s one of those things that I just… you know, it’s a tough thing to explain when you get scored on, the fire that is burning inside you that it’s just uh – you almost – you almost can’t control it sometimes – you almost black out in some ways that you can’t control your anger and it’s one of the things – it was probably my downfall when I was young… 

You know, controlling my temper during games my first couple years of junior I always use to lose focus and show my emotion and it would drive my coach crazy but I wouldn’t even know I was doing it like I’d just – I’d be so focused on thinking about how the goal went in and how I could have stopped it that I didn’t even think about my body language and everything like that and – towards the end I was getting compliments from my goalie coach and from my coach in Saskatoon that after they’d score no matter what kind of goal they couldn’t tell a difference if it was a great goal, if it was a 5 nothing game, if it was  1-1 game, that they couldn’t tell any difference in my demeanor and obviously inside it was still burning and I was trying to, you know – swearing under my mask but uh – on the outside the other team couldn’t tell and I think that was a big part of the success in the fact that we were winning more games last year in junior and that was the mentality our whole team got is that we weren’t going to be phased like we were first few years but, um – its still a hard thing…

In games I can control it a lot more because I can get in a zone a bit better obviously… In practice it’s still a tough thing because I don’t have that two hours before to really sit and think about how to get into that zone its more just go out there and start playing.  It’s a lot of breathing techniques in order to calm yourself down and – um – its more just you know erasing the fact that – you know – usually you have a set vision in your head if something goes wrong you can just go to that and turn your focus to a thing – you know its totally something other than hockey that it’ll take your mind off of everything and when you come back to it 10-15 seconds later when the play starts you know you don’t have time to think about the negatives you are already thinking about the play that’s going on out in front of you so its – if you do it right it works very well but it’s a hard thing to really you know focus in on that when all you can really think about it is that how that goal went in – how you should have stopped it you know how – it shouldn’t be a 2-1 game it should be 2 nothing still.  We should have the lead, if I had played better.  Those negative thoughts that can easily creep in, especially with a goaltender because you are by yourself the whole time.  All you are doing is basically 60 minutes of thoughts that you’re putting into your head and – you know –it’s a battle trying to keep those things positive and not let those negative thoughts come into your mind.”

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