InGoal Magazine Episode 21 | Sports Psychologist John Stevenson

[Podcast Transcription]

It’s a big week around the InGoal magazine headquarters as IgE radio is officially legal as we celebrate episode 21 of the podcast that thanks to you has become an essential diet of goaltenders goalie parents, coaches, and those just looking to add to their knowledge base.

Welcome back and yes, thank you for subscribing. I’m your host, Tara Maillard presented by the hockey shop source for sports, sorry, the hockey this is in goal radio, the podcast, Kevin Woodley and David Hutchison are the brains of the operation and while we’re on the topic of brilliant minds, sports psychologist John Stevenson will join in gold radio today.

John has most notably worked with Braden, Holtby and Carter Hart. You may recall hearing his name last week as we discussed the now famous draft combine question. Do you like to stop pucks or prevent goals? Something along that line today, John will give you a deeper understanding of the mental side of the game.

That discussion within goal co-founders, David Hutchison and the affirmation Kevin Woodley, who slide into position. Gentlemen, you guys are fresh off respective trips to Calgary and you get to chat with one of the great mental coaches in the game. Welcome to episode 21. We’re growing up nice and fast.

How was your trip? Woody to Calgary? It was good.
It’s really good. Had an opportunity to go be a part, a as a, I guess the official title is goalie consultant or goaltending consultant of the hockey Canada program of excellent camp. So the best and brightest or at least what they believe to be the best and brightest of young goaltenders in Canada for the world junior team this year for the under 18 team.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview Preamble

There’s under 17 group 26 goaltenders in total on the ice for four days. It was, it was amazing not just the goaltenders and getting to watch them, but getting to know the coaches. Some, some really some really good coaches, some former players and some really good stories.
And in addition to good coaches, some guys that played in the league and shared some really good stories that we’ll bring to you next week.

Danny Savrin walks us through first town, the Longo bathroom break for the 2007 playoffs and what it was like to be there with Lou turned around and said, no, I gotta go. So we’ll bring that to you. We’ll save that one for next week. Jason LaBarbera was there.

He had some great stories about how helicoptering a stick down the hallway ultimately led him from the East coast hockey league to his first NHL call up. Freddie Brathwaite caught up with him. I will have him in a hot tea or in a round table, hot stove type format and we’ll also do a longer one with him.

So some great conversations about goaltending gold coaches, Lao mass Dustin Schwartz of the Edmonton Oilers, Charlie McTavish. Paul drew, I’m cramping on all the names right now cause I’m an idiot.

Breath. Wait for a breath. Wait, we had James Jensen from the Everett Silvertips was there, obviously Danny the Zamboni, I have no idea. Well, if you’re going to run down everybody, you got to give me the guy that’s working the machine. Matt went and ger from Alberta was not driving this mod from hockey Alberta. He was there as a coach.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Zamboni Drivers?

I’ve probably forgotten someone. I’m absolutely gonna kick myself, but I gotta be honest with you. The Zamboni drivers were the heroes because you watch goaltenders and we some big boys, Alex Carvel just fresh off the Memorial cup.
Was there a Hunter Jones who’s going to be in this draft coming up, you know, pretty big bodied goaltender.

They get it down to the studs. You get, you get goalies out there for an hour and a half going through creases. And the national women’s camp was running at the same time. So we were basically chopped the crap out of all the creases and they had to at the sides. And then we get off the ice, lay a bunch of slush down and they had to get that sheet back in ready.

And those creases back in ready for the women’s after us or vice versa. So I may not know the name of the Zamboni driver, but I can tell you right now, they were probably the true heroes of the whole thing.

Okay. And you guys weren’t in Calgary together? That’s the, that’s the strange part to me. We were close. We were close. Yeah. Just accidentally. I I got to go there for a couple of different reasons. Was a guest of Eli Wilson who we do a bit of work with and he was visiting a goalie Palooza, which is put on by a pro skate goal in Calgary.

And it’s very similar to the Tendy Fest event that we’ve talked about many times on here. Similar sort of arrangement with one difference. The ice times are run by goalie coaches and so we had a two hour ice slot he was running and I was there doing some photography and flying the in gold flag at the same time.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Pro Skate

And we’re good friends of the folks at pro skate goal and Peter Martin who runs the shop we’ve known him through the day with Carrie price and Eli every summer.

Eli was going into Calgary because he’s going to be beginning a winter training program there for a goaltenders in the Calgary area. And just wanted to touch base with the market and it was a fantastic event and it just turns out that it was in the exact same building that Kevin was in with the hockey Canada folks.

So I got to spend a little bit of time watching those ice sessions, watching Kevin run around on the ice with his cameras and sitting in the stands talking to a few of the Scouts that were there on hand. And it was fascinating. A number of Scouts from NHL teams were there, as you might imagine.

Two things struck me one was that they were really just there on their own, like independent citizens like us walking into the building. They weren’t, they’re invited by hockey Canada or supported in any way.

They just know that the event’s on and they, they hop into the building. And that kind of surprised me a little bit. And just being able to talk to and see how their eyes were opened up and we were, we’re pretty late into the draft cycle here with the draft just a couple of weeks away.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Camera Trouble

And I know that their eyes were getting opened up by a number of the goaltenders on the ice that weren’t necessarily on their list and were making their way onto their list because they perhaps in some of the drills were eclipsing some of the guys that are a little bit better known.

So fascinating to see the, the whole process. Not quite firsthand but pretty close. Now did you break anything like apparently what he did explain that a Woody.

When you cameras went down? Yeah. When you have a camera’s on the ice. I’m trying to get POC perspective video for use for, for use in a curriculum that they’re building for hockey Canada. They’re at risk. I mean some of the shooters that we had out there are guys that have been drafted. Dylan dubé was out there as a shooter of the Calgary flames.

There were guys who were out there that are going to be drafted soon. I remember a couple of years ago, actually one of the shooters at the camp was Kalma car. So there’s POCs flying around. Some of them are coming off hot off pads, especially those Bauer pads just rocketing off and a one shot missed the net caught my camera and it was just like a massive explosion of plastic and metal just kind of flying everywhere.

The good news was two parts. A, again, for the Zamboni guy, he keeps coming up, whoever he is. I managed to get all the small pieces off the ice and didn’t kill a Zamboni by leaving any behind too. I actually managed to put most of those pieces back together and it turns out most of the damage wasn’t, the camera itself was actually just the unique little tripod setup that I had there in the hole during the case.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Reviewing Video

So relatively unscathed that actually managed to get her back working on the ice for a little puck perspective video on the final day. So all was not lost despite a rather spectacular explosion and a lot of giggles from shooters who I would have quite frankly like to strangle at that point.

Sorry, a good video coming. Is there a good first person video of this camera getting exploded?
That’s actually a really good point. I should probably get through that footage, but as you can imagine, Hutch with six cameras on the ice for stations every hour and a half of ice time basically becomes nine hours of footage.

Multiple that multiply that by two a day. And I’ve got a fair amount of video to go through, so we’re not quite there yet, let’s put it that way. But I will eventually get there and there will be the one, actually that’s not a good one because that one came from behind. That was another station. So the guy he was filming was not who blew it up, which is too bad.
We still get it falling on its face.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’ll get a little be spectacular. It’ll be violent. The best ones are when the puck goes right at the camera and you capture that. I’ve got a few of those. We’ve run those out and Braden Holtby too where it comes off and boom, right into the camera.

You know what the real explanation there is Hutch is a loop back and ask that question in episode 242 and he might get around to watching that video with, with all the camera work. Just a quick story. You talked about the Zamboni and and the small pieces.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Zamboni Trouble

I once played at a rink where the Plexiglas exploded and instead of shoveling it, they brought out the Zamboni and tried to clean it up and that did not work out very well for the machine. Don’t do that. Don’t do that at home folks. But it was pretty funny to watch.

Okay, listen, I just, because I am an idiot now, my brain is actually working. I actually forgot Scott Murray of the Stanley cup champion Washington Capitols.

Those there gave a heck of a presentation that basically broke down how tracking and the sort of this new way of looking at tracking essentially helped the capital’s win a cup with numbers, statistical evidence and specific examples of the type of movement patterns that they change in Braden Holtby and examples of saves.

He wasn’t making it the beginning of the season that he made in the cup run important saves that led them to, you know, to a championship. That was a great presentation. I mentioned Dustin Schwartz was there already. Savrin mass DPS outro Brathwaite Matt Winenger, Paul drew.

I mentioned from Charlotte town and the Q James Jensen from Everett Charles McTavish, Charlie McTavish from Ottawa. I missed and I had LA Barbara but I missed Adam Brown from the Colona rockets of the Western hockey league as well, which was a, a huge emission by me.

Really enjoyed. It’s the son of Newell Brown conducts assistant coach and really enjoyed watching him coach and looking forward to going through the video. Cause I, like I said, I just really enjoyed sort of listening to his conversations and watching his stations over the course of the week.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Shop Talk

And we’ve got a great round table with those goalie coaches coming up next week. Episode 22 of invalid radio, the podcast a while. What are you looking for? Some new gear camera wise if you’re looking for some new gear on the goaltending front, check out the hockey shop, source for sports in Surrey.

We welcome cam back this week for his gear specific segment. A couple of fun manufacturer focused interviews from Tendy Festa the last couple of weeks. So cam has been off but he’s back on talking about some steel of this week. Woody.

Yeah, I don’t want to think it ties in quite nicely to our conversation with sports psychologist John Stevenson on the mental side, to be honest with you. Because I, I think the mental side, we hear goalies say 90% of the game is mental and yet they probably spend 5% focusing on it.

And so interesting that they cam decided this would be a good week to talk about steel and replacement blades and some of your options. Cause I do think as goaltenders we tend to spend a lot of time and a lot of money and a lot of effort looking at our equipment, our pads, our gloves, our blockers, our masks, chest protectors.

And yet in an era where skating’s never been more important heading into the draft, all these gold coaches there will tell you that it’s all about how they move. That connection to the ice may be the most important piece of your equipment and much like the mental training, I think it’s often overlooked.

So a good segment with cam sort of walking us through it. And another example of why we’ve teamed up with a hockey shop source for sports in Surrey to bring you the angle radio podcasts because they have guys like cam working in the store in person, guys that understand the position, guys that know it’s not just about buying whatever’s on the rack, whatever steel it comes with.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – The Hockey Shop

There are options and those options will, can affect and will affect how you play. They carry all the best brands. They have a huge selection. We’ve talked about it before. It’s every goalie’s dream, the basement, the bottom floor, the goalie, sort of heaven at the hockey shop source for sports in Surrey.

Of course not everybody is as lucky as me. They can’t go into the store and visit them and say hi to Cameron person. So for all those goaltenders out there, make sure you check it out online at They’ve got a great staff.

Like I said, not just guys, they just, just hiring kids out of high school. Everybody in the goalie department plays a position, is passionate about the position, understands the position and most importantly understands how equipment will affect how you play the position. So make sure you check them out. The hockey shop source for sports in Surrey and the hockey

Camera’s coming up. And from the physical to the mental side of the game. Last week we had a spirited debate on the relevance of a question asked of a goaltending prospect at the NHL draft. Combine that one about doing you like stopping pucks or do you prevent goals?

I was on the side that it was a little, use that question. David was opposite me. Kevin likey does. He wanders in between my go. That hockey team has officially informed me. I do neither for the record, but that conversation was really involved three layman.

What about the area that created the query of the psychologist’s opinion? John Stevenson is a mental skills coach and sports psychologist. He comes to the table with a PhD in psychology, a registered psychologist, the perfect person to spend some time with Hutch and Woody.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Opener

This is a person that’s worked with Braden Holtby and Carter Hart. He may work between the ears primarily, but he started this journey with goaltenders talking stick on the ice and the glove up. A goalie coach turned master of the mental John Stevenson sports psychologist, with wooding and hot shot in goal radio, the podcast.

John, I guess the first question that I wanted to ask you is how you made the transition. Like how did you end up in this position? I’m working with some of the biggest names in goaltending on the mental side. I mean we know the relationship with Braden as a goalie coach.

But how did you go from being a goalie coach to being a sports psychologist, special art, maybe specializing goaltender is the wrong word, cause you work with so many people. But how did this transition, how did this start?

Well, it’s funny because even when I was doing my goalie school before becoming a sports psychologist, I would do technical training and I still wasn’t getting the results that I wanted. You know, like I’d be working on their shuffling or you know, working on their recovery and then only to realize that the weren’t doing anything with regards to dry land training.

Like they weren’t making their legs or their core stronger. So then with my gory school, I added the, the, the physical training part and then I started to quickly realize, you know, I be doing that. I do the technical, do the physical and parents and kids would come back and you know, he’s still not performing well.

Then it was like, well let’s, let’s watch some game film. And then I’d watch the game film and then only to, you know, quickly realize that a lot of the kids had never been taught how to read the play and you know, the anticipation skills.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Physical vs Mental

And so then we did that and then all of a sudden it was like, I’m watching the game film and next thing you know, I’m seeing that no one had ever mentioned about, you know, how to get ready, you know, physically and mentally for the game.
Or I see a goalie, you know, for lack of better term, lose their mind in the middle of a game.

And they’d never been taught, you know, skills to refocus and regroup. And so it was kind of an evolution that and you know, in, in the most recent thing is here I see all these kids going to their technical or dry land, but then their, their sleep is terrible. Or the, you know, like Brayden, I was just in Washington last week and I had spent the weekend with Brayden.

I didn’t even realize this, but you know, on game day Braden has almost 17 liters of water and you know, that was a big issue for him, you know, and, and so I started to realize, you know, and just even in the last few years, the amount of kids that are doing Fortnite and Minecraft and all this gaming and all this YouTube thing.

And I started to realize like, you could do all the mental training in the world, but if their, their diet and their sleep and all these other lifestyle issues that I call it. So for me it’s kind of been an evolution where all these different, I call it the performance wheel. I literally draw like a circle with the, each of these four components and then the hub being the lifestyle.

And just over time, like I used to, you know, if I saw a tracking issue, you know here I would be thinking, you know Kevin, like it’s, it’s a real, you know, I’m going to work on their tracking, I’ll bring up the white pucks, they’ll bring up the mesh bags and meanwhile it could have been an issue that was off ice that had nothing to do with their technical part of the game. And so I feel like I, without sounding arrogant, I almost feel like I’m a better goalie coach now even though I don’t do the technical part.

But it’s because I’m bringing, I’m looking at all of the different areas of their, of their goaltending career.
So what can you walk us through? Like what if you had a new client come to you now, John, like what would be that? What would be the approach? What would you, how would you break it down as a sports psychologist?

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Where To Start

What would be the focus for them to kind of help them build that wheel? Is it all encompassing? It’s walk us through. If I walked in while, I mean I’m snap tastic and Hudson and Darren liked to like to have a little fun with my tent.
Didn’t see to maybe go, you know, full Tuk harass back in the milk crate throwing days. But if someone in general was a little more stable than I am, came in, how would you, how would you start working with them? What kind of a focus would you start with?

Well, the very, very first session, whether it’s a forward defenseman or goalie, I look at what I call the mindset and then we talk about the skillset. But the mindset is literally looking at that performance wheel. So I draw up the circle and I say, okay, we have our physical skills, we have our technical skills, we have our tactical, we have our mental skills.

That’s what I call the seven C’s of mental toughness, concentration, composure, consistency, confidence, commitment, coachability, and then the lifestyle. And literally my first definition of mental toughness is, this may sound harsh, but you got to get honest and, and where do you suck?

I mean, if your core is not good, then we go like, so I literally, if I, like if I had a, you know, a goal in my office and I said, okay, if I phone up your dry land training coach right now, where would they say you need to get better?

You know, and if I phoned up your goalie coach right now, where would you need to get better? And then if we’re watching Gainesville, you know, how well are you reading the play? So the very first session is we literally go over each of these components like somebody sitting across from me, how much water have you had today?

You know, and how many hours of sleep. So we literally go, that’s the first mindset because a lot of, like right now, most of the goalies in Canada are doing what I call the top two quadrants there. They’re working on the physical part of the game and they’re working on the technical.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Tactical & Mental

But they don’t even know a lot of the kids have never even been taught that you can really work on the tactical part of your game and you can work on the mental. And so that’s how I, that’s the first thing that I talk about.

And then the second mindset is what I call the high performance equation. And I learned this from a gentleman by the name of dr Shakta Leora and it basically goes like this a times B equals C and E is your a game.

It’s everything that you have 100% control over that allows you to stop the puck. So basically what are all the things that you’re going to do on and off the ice?

Stop the puck. The B factor in the equation is all of the uncontrollables. All of the things that you don’t have direct control over and then see is the results. And the first thing that I do is I get kids to look at their season and you know, where have you been directing most of your energy?

And I literally put a box around a times B equals C for each, each component.
And you know, like I always tell the story, like if you look at Carter Hart when he broke all those records in the Western hockey league, you know, at any point in time if you ever asked him what his stats were. And it’s true. And I mean really sincerely, he has no idea and he doesn’t care.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Control The Uncontrollables

It’s not that he doesn’t care, but that’s not his focus. He keeps his focus on his a game and it’s amazing how many goalies. When I break it down in that area, like where, you know, if you evaluate your season, cause my second definition of mental toughness is what you choose to focus on. And if you’ve been spending the vast majority of your season focusing on the uncontrollables or focusing on your results and if over.

You know, like I always joke about this, but when you’re performing well, your focus is good and when you’re performing poorly, your focus is even better. But if your focus has been on the uncontrollables or results, well then clearly your focus hasn’t been on your a game.

The first starting point is really helping goal is to become more self aware. These are the key things that we need to be focusing on to develop our a game, if that makes sense.

That makes a lot of sense. John, I don’t want to wind things too far back here, but not everybody’s going to be familiar with you. And I think if I was brand new listening to this story, I might hear John Stevenson was a goaltending coach who got interested in the mental side of the game.

But, but you’ve got formal training in this area as a sports psychologist, don’t you?
Yeah, so I, when I was at Saint of X, St. Francis Xavier university, that’s where I did my bachelor of arts and my bachelor of science. And then that’s where I played my hockey. And then when I went to a York university to do my sports psychology degree, that’s where I became the goalie coach for the York yeoman.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Relax

And then when I came back home and I did my PhD at the U of a, that’s where I was the goalie coach for the U of A Golden Bears. So I’d always combined, I just, I did not want to be a researcher and you know, a lot of the schools in Canada and sports psych are very research orientated. But I wanted to, you know, work with athletes and I, because I was a goalie and I, I tried to combine both of those worlds.

So I’ve been doing this for a long time and even my goalie school you know, with Braden Holtby, he was here the first time it are in our arena in Edmonton. There he is lying on the floor inside the dressing room and read it. Progressive muscle relaxation to learn how to, to control the tension in this fall.

So we’ve been doing this, you know our, I’ve been doing it for a long time and I think that was one of the things that I tried to make my goalie school very different is that when kids would come to camp, we devoted at least an hour and a half of that day towards mental training. So the Carter’s and the Brayden’s, that’s how they got introduced to it.

Like it was just another part of their training. It wasn’t an adjunct. It was literally, okay, we’re doing our ball drills to work on our vision training. Well, we’re doing our mental training, you know, we’re going to do work on breathing and progressive muscle relaxation and pregame routine. It was just another facet. So they never looked at it as a, as a separate component, if that makes sense.

Does this surprise you, John? Like we’ve see you talk about the top two components, you know, training goalie, specific off ice training and trainers. Obviously goalie coaching as at a level it’s never been before. There are just lots of kids with multiple options, multiple coaches.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – The Water Bottle Trick

We’ve seen the vision training come to the forefront a lot more. Talk about it driven probably in part by guys like Braden, Holtby and Carter heart client to yours. We see them spray the water bottle and then people ask the questions and they explain it.

And so more and more kids get into the vision side. It seems to me, and I’m wondering if you see the same, that the mental side, for the most part, we’re not seeing the same commitment of resources from young goalies. And maybe even, you know, you correct me if I’m wrong, maybe even some pros in terms of, you know, they’ll always say the game’s 95% mental, but I’m not sure the amount of energy spent in terms of training. It matches that.

Well, I, and I totally agree with you and I think if you asked any hockey player right now like what, what did you do today to work on your mental game? Just like if you went to your dry land training coach, he’s going to give you several drills and exercises to work on your core, but a lot of hockey players and then goalies, like if you ask them.

Okay, what are some specific exercises that you do to work on developing your focus? What are some of the specific exercises that you do to develop your, your, your confidence? And they don’t know. And so they literally do not know where the rubber meets the road.

You know, like a simple drill like doing three, four, or five ball juggling how much it can work on multiple object processing, which is what goaltending is. And, but they don’t know like the specific, like I get this question all the time, I’ve got this eight year old, nine year old boy or daughter you know, would it be worthwhile to, you know, for them to come and see me, you see you?

And I’m like, absolutely. Because we can them practical, tangible exercises that they can do. And I just think a lot of people they’re not aware of that. And, and that’s what we’re trying to do is really educate people that like right from the get go, they can do certain exercises to really work on developing their mental side of their game.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – The Mental Game

And is that the great separator? I mean, as we look at pros and we see that the, the difference between the good and the greatest, such a fine line, how much of it to you really is the mental side?

Well, I mean like, it’s going to be interesting to see like tomorrow night, right? If you look at all the best goalies in the national hockey league, everybody can stop a puck. Everybody can make a blocker safe. It’s, you know, when you get into this is, you know, like the, the finals of the Stanley cup.

That’s where I think that needle, that self belief that you can really make a difference, that you, in some ways you can single handedly win the game. That’s something that I definitely believe it, you know, it can make the difference in, you know, whether you win a Stanley cup or not.

You know, I, I go back to last year, a lot of people forget about this, that Braden hope he did not start the Stanley cup playoffs. He was sitting on the bench for the first two games.

And the amount of guys that would get rattled by that were Braden just kept his focus on himself and his training so that if he did get the call, he was mentally ready to go. And there’s so many guys at the pro level where they get rattled by the management.

They let that derail them. And that’s one of the reasons why they never come out of the coast or they never come out of the American hockey league. And the guys that are, that have that mental resiliency, no matter what the management or you know, does they just keep developing.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Stop More Pucks

They keep their focus on what they need to do on and off the ice to stop more pucks. And I mean, look at the goalie for the st Louis blues. He’s a really good example and you know, and just think about all the expectations that are going to be placed upon him next year, whether they win or not.

There’s going to be that, you know, is there going to be a sophomore chinks or anything like that? And so how do you deal with these expectations that people place upon you? And, and I think that’s where mental training can really make a big difference.

Can you give us an example without giving too much away of, you know, a method that you might teach somebody to just, you know, just to give us a little anecdote or that you have worked with, you know, whether it’s a pro or a kid on, on, on, you know, how you manage something like expectations after a big year.

Or how you manage a pressure situation like a game seven or is it just simply a matter of John of doing the same things you’ve done in terms of mental focus on a gaming game all basis and not changing them in big moments?

That’s exactly it. It’s, it’s you, you, over the years, you know, you, you, you hear these goalies and it sounds cliché, but they’re, they, you know, like I always joke that the puck doesn’t know that it’s a big game.

The goalposts don’t know that it’s a big game. The ice surface doesn’t know that it’s a big game. You literally bring your routine, you bring your pregame routine, you bring your routines that you use in the game to help you to stay more in the moment, to be more present.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Calm Down

And the guys that like simple exercise of a big proponent of my practice is mindfulness where you know, you’re using the breath not as a calming tool. A lot of people think that the breath is used to calm, calm down. I don’t use that at all. Like I use it as a way of learning how to be in the moment.

Like you can’t feel the sensations of your breath in the past. You can’t feel the sensations of your breath in the future. You can only feel your breath in the moment. And a simple exercise of, you know, going to your mental gym every day and doing this.

Mindfulness meditation is one way of learning how to stay in the moment to stay present and not get too ahead of yourself. You know, with regards to, you know, the upcoming season and, and, and if a young, you know, and this could be taught to seven and eight year old goalies.

You look at someone like Carter who’s been in a Nick Schneider.
I mean these are guys that I’ve been working with for a long time and they’ve been doing this now for almost 10 years, 11 years.

So where are they, you know, whether it’s five minutes or 45 minutes every day they go to their mental gym. That’s how they get really consistently good at this. So they learn to deal with what I call those uncontrollable. Those be factors.
So can you take us back to that relationship with Carter Hart who you just brought up? When did you start working with them? What was he like as a kid and, and how, how much have you progressed with him over the years?

Oh boy. Carter, I, we were talking about this, I’m actually going out for lunch with him tomorrow. And I’m going to pick his brain about his experience over, you know, playing in the world hockey championships.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Coachable

And as much as I think I like to teach these guys, I learned a lot from them. I had never played in the Stanley cup finals and I’ve never played in the world hockey championships. So you know, Braden and Carter and a lot of these guys have been such a great resource for me because they share their experiences and then I can learn from them and then pass it on to the younger goalies.

I think I started with Carter when he was nine. My first impression was Carter. Just unbelievable work ethic, very coachable, very open to ideas. I remember when I ran my goalie school in a Sherwood Park, you know, we do these week long camps.
Usually, you know, the camp usually started at seven 30 in the morning and I would arrive at the rank at six, six 30 in the morning to get ready for the day.

And there’s Carter heart’s throwing balls against the, he’s the first kid, you know, doing all these ball drills that we taught. And he just really wanted to be the best that he could be. And I know that sounds cliché, but I’m just real hungry to learn.
Different drills with puck handling, with tracking and he’s just a very open minded kid and he’s taken a lot of the skills from Dustin Schwartz and his goalie coaches you know, in Philadelphia and his goalie coach and in, in Everett and just in open to hear different things.

I mean, even this year he would tell you the biggest change that he made that really made a big difference in his game was radically changing his diet. And that made a huge impact. And he’s just, that’s, that’s one of the qualities. He’s got a phenomenal work ethic.

Very open, very coachable. This, these are these seat, these, you know, seas and he parks his ego. You know, that’s one thing he does is he parks his ego and, and he tries to, you know, take different, even like some of the veterans with the Philadelphia flyers this year.

Just being open to hear some different suggestions from the veterans in terms of, you know, getting used to playing in the league. And that’s what makes him so special.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – The Seven C’s

You, you, you said, I think the term you used was mental toolbox. Correct me if I’m wrong there, but what, like what is that, what does that look like and is it different for every guy?

Well, I, I call it the seven CS, you know, like so one of the C’s that I just literally came up with in the last few, few months is compassion. It’s amazing how many goalies, if they have a tough game. I mean, look at our goals for st Louis were, you know, he had that tough game where, you know, we had five goals on I think 18 shots and, how he was able to, just to let that go and be kind to himself and get himself ready for that next game. And everybody’s a little bit different in that some bullies need to develop their focus, more.

Other goals need to develop their consistency, more. Other goalies need to work on, you know, mental rehearsal or as Pete would call it, pizza, I would call it visualization. So when people come in I introduced the seven C’s and then we, we look at, you know, what’s the one that really like a lot of goalies, you know, this is a common one.

A lot of goalies have a real hard time letting go of a goal or a bad game. And so that’s what, you know, another skill like, so when we go to that, you know, the mental gym, they’ve got these key skills that they’re working on every day to work on developing and honing those skills.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Hype Numbers

Everybody’s going to be a little bit different. Like I call it hype numbers, zero being asleep and 10 being you’ve had 900 red bull. You know, some goalies need to be more pumped up, other goalies need to be more. And what they do is they start to find out what works best for them.

That’s why it’s so important. I tell goalies never to compare yourself to other goalies. I mean the go to goalie schools and listen to different goalie coaches and listen to different ideas. But at the end of the day you can take things from different guys.

Carter took, you know, different things from Braden Holtby took different things from Kerry price and he’s just incorporated it into his game. I know he, he got some stuff from Matt Murray here recently, but at the end of the day, he, you know, he ends up being himself, if that makes sense.

Yeah, a hundred percent. So I wonder if we could maybe get you to respond to a few typical questions we might have from some parents or kids. And first one that comes to mind that I’ve seen a few times is a, you know, my young son gets a way too angry on the ice and smashing his stick after goals. What can I say to him? What can we do?

Well, the first thing is like, that’s a great thing, believe it or not because that tells me that he cares and that he wants to make a difference. It’s how do we learn how to manage that energy more effectively. So we’re not trying to get rid of it like anger. Like there’s, to me, there’s no such thing as negative emotions.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Find Meaning

If we can use it rather than letting it use us. So the first thing is just helping the understand that a puck, the crosses, the goal line is just the puck that crosses the goal line. It has no meaning. You only mean, so it’s helping the kids to understand how much their thinking affects their perception and their emotional control.

So we start off, you know, like Braden I know would probably you know, he would allow me to talk about this, but that was Brayden’s biggest issue.

And, and I told Brayden, I can give you all the relaxation tools in the world, but that’s not going to make a difference if you have this belief that you, you know, you strive for perfection but don’t expect it. And if you think that everything is always going to go perfectly.

On the ice, then you’re going to, you’re going to get frustrated every game. So I call it the three R’s, recognize, regroup and refocus. So it’s not, it’s helping the kids to understand that the best goalies in the world make the most mistakes. I mean, Carter Hart, his first junior camp, he went to the Sherwood Park crusaders when he was 13 years old.

And you know, when he, when he finished that camp, you know, he said, Johnny, I got lit up like a Christmas tree, but boy did I ever learn a learn a lot of things that I need to work on. And that’s the mindset that you want to have, that, you know, when you’re going to these, you know, elite camps you’re going to get scored on.

If you got a better shooter, you’re going to get scored on. And, and having that mindset that it’s okay to make a mistake. It’s okay to feel frustrated. It’s okay to feel nervous, but being able to learn how to use these emotions in a positive way.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Pressure From Coaches

Fantastic. Now, how about, how about dealing with the coach that’s putting pressure on a kid? I mean, how many coaches say we’re down by two now. You really need to shut the door here as if I was going to let the goal in before how’s a kid deal with that pressure from a coach? You really need to step it up here.

Well, the first, the first step is just awareness again. Again, that’s an uncontrollable and you know what the coach does or says has nothing to do with your job. It’s the I, you know, and the first thing we talk about it and you guys know coach Bellicheck.

A famous quote from coach Belicheck for the new England Patriots is know your job, do your job, enjoy your job. And the first step is just recognizing that the coach has nothing to do with what you need to do on the ice. And that’s where a lot of kids you know, whether the coach decides to play you or not, that has nothing to do.

You know, I mean this, this happened this year. Nick Schneider is playing for the Stockton heat. He’s playing against the Oilers farm team. He’s the first star in the game.

I think they got out shot that night like 55 to 15 and I text messaged him, know, say congratulations on a great performance. They happened to lose that game that night, two to one. And then mix sends me a message saying that he just got sent down to the East coast.

Well, the following day, guess who was the first I first got in the ice working with his goalie coach in Kansas city. And so that’s, that’s the difference. It’s just first of all, recognizing that you don’t have control over an uncontrollable, but you definitely have control over how you choose to respond to it.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Control What You Can

And that’s what, that’s what Nick has learned over the years. It’s the old famous phrase, control the controllables. I mean, I could tell you thousands of stories of, you know, Kevin Constantine, what he tried to do with Carter.

Carter just realized like at the end of the day, it has nothing to do with what I need to do to get ready for the next day game, no matter what the coach does or says.

Okay. so it sort of sounds to me, John, if we get away from this for a little bit, that you’re more than a mental skills coach. You’re more than a goaltending coach. It sounds really like you’re a life skills coach for goaltenders.
Well, I’m a big believer that goaltending is what you do, but it’s not who you are.

I’m torn with spring hockey because I get it, I know that, you know, the, the caliber of hockey tends to be better, but I think it’s really important that when you’re away from the game, you are literally away from the game.
I can’t emphasize like this time of year now kids need to, yeah, they’re doing their training, but then they got to just go be a kid.

Braden and I were talking last week and how important music is to him and how important just being with his family and spending that quality time and believe it not that actually makes you a better goaltender.

But I think it’s really important that kids you know, all my clients, I really emphasize as a sports psychologist, you got to get away from the game and you got to start to discover who you are as a person and what’s important.
Who are the people that are important in your life? And a lot of these seven C’s.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Neurofeedback Training

As much as Nick is, had a great year as a first year pro, I still think Nick would be most proud that you know, Nick suffered a pretty traumatic brain injury when he was younger and he was told that he may not get his driver’s license. And a lot of the training that we’ve done with him whether it be the vision training or the neurofeedback.

He got his driver’s license and I can tell you right now that’s one of the proudest moments in his life. He came in and just, you know, barrel tackled me that day and that was just an amazing moment for Nick to see how, how much pride he had in getting his driver’s license.

So absolutely a lot of these skills you can use and you know, writing an exam or trying to get your driver’s license or just, you know, daily life dealing with things that, that can be stressful.

And that’s of course Nick Schneider, Calgary flames, goalie, prospect. John you’ve teamed up, I wanted to ask you like how much of this stuff do you, or can you present in a sort of tangible takeaway fashion?

You’ve teamed up with Pete fry, you guys have a one day seminar coming up starting here in Vancouver, June 22nd, 23rd, but then moving across the country, the dates are all at the website and we’ll give out that information later.

But like what kind of takeaways in a seminar environment versus a one on one session. Cause there’s probably going to be a lot of goalies and goalie parents listening to this. That’ll be like, man, he’s right. I need to, I need to, you know, I need to work on this or this is something maybe we should be investing in.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Goalie School

What kind of takeaways would they get out of that one day seminar thing versus you know, being able to sort of work with you one on one in Edmonton?

Well, I think just right off the bat again, what we talked about is we’re w this is not going to be a sitting down presentation. Pete and I, we’re going to be having the the, the clients that come to the workshop in doing mode experiential. So they’ll be doing a lot of the skills, like literally we’re going to guide them through, you know, skills like mindfulness and, and heart rate variability training and visualization.

So they’re going to walk away out of there like the vision, all the ball drills. Like I was very lucky when I was very young. I went to baddest slash tretiak school and every ball drill that my goal is used for pregame and pre-practice routine.

They’re going to learn those that day. So absolutely like this is a, you know, I mean, I, I’d be lying to say that, you know, this is a jumpstart. This is to show people, these are the types of things that you can do. And then if people want to pursue doing more individual training with Peter, I then there’s that opportunity.

But this is really to introduce people to an area that I think that a lot of people don’t have. No idea of. These are the types of things that you can do to really separate yourself come fall when you’re in in tryouts.

I actually, and I love that word, workshop versus seminar cause they really are two different things that they can, people’s minds. So it sounds like a lot more hands on. I want to get back quickly to the vision and ball drills cause I think you’ve mentioned it a couple of times.

Vision is something that, you know, I said I think a lot of goalies are started. They’ve been turned on to, we see a lot of goalies juggling and throwing balls off wall. And I, I think, you know, even me personally, I always thought of it as, you know, warming up your eye hand coordination so to speak, but multiple object tracking and juggling.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Hand-Eye vs Mental

Like can you explain to us how that is not just about eye-hand but more about, or, or as much about the mental side of the game for, for goaltenders?

Well, you know, when we talk about focus, it’s the two things. It’s what to focus on and then the actual skill of how to focus. Well if a play’s coming down on you it’s amazing how many goalies have been taught to just keep their eye on the puck.

They’ve never been taught the odd even rule. They’ve never been taught to look off the pot. They’ve never been taught to that. It’s critical to recognize which way the open man is shooting. You know, if I said to Brayden, okay, you’re playing against the Toronto maple Leafs, who are the five top players?

Which way did they shoot and what are their habits? Braden can tell me in a heartbeat. And if I ask most kids, you know, at amateur hockey okay, who are the, you know, pick a team, you know, okay, who are their five top players?

They have no idea. And that leads into mental preparation. So this is where your, your mental rehearsal, your visualization and the like doing five ball juggling, cause there’s five guys on the ice. Well now what you’re doing is you’re, you’re developing your brain processing speed, you’re developing your peripheral awareness.

You’re literally reading and seeing the play I’ve fostered and foster levels and you know, just like you’re, you’re doing your physical warmup. When you do these ball envisioned exercises, you’re literally warming up your eyes and your brain so that you’re, you’re in in a lot of goalies too.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Neuro-Trainer

Like even when they get taught this, sometimes they make the big mistake of only doing it in games rather than treating your practice just like a game. And so I re all my clients, I want them, they might have what I call a mini me version of it.

Like you’re doing the same exercises, they’re just maybe not doing it at the same extent that you would do for a game, but you’re, you’re mentally warming up the brain just like you’re, you know, physically warming up the body.

Do you do when you mentioned things like multiple object truck tracking? Obviously I covered the Ken or that’s been part of my job here for 20 years and it automatically makes me think of, I think it was called the neuro trainer that they brought in.
They had their quote unquote mind room.

They’re pretty ahead of the time on her under my gills. His direction. In terms of the sports science background, have you ever worked with those types of tools? Do you find that those can be helpful? Cause I do recall multiple object training being a big part of that neuro trainer system set up.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Senaptec

Yeah. So there’s like, we used to do it unfortunately. I, we had it as part of our company, but my former partner and I separated ways, but the cognizance neuro tracker, which you’re talking about, the D to Dyna vision board, the Senaptec. The glasses that, you know all of that equipment.

If this is just my personal bias, like 25 years ago I came out with power skating for goalies and I got laughed at and then, you know, 15 years ago I brought out the idea of every goal you should be doing, some type of form of yoga. And I got laughed at plead and when I brought that up.

I personally feel guys that if a goal is not doing some form of vision training, that they’ll get left behind. Cause the, and the great thing with all of that equipment is there’s no guesswork.

We can literally objectively measure how well your brain and your eyes are processing things. So there’s a few places here in Edmonton that do offer the I call it cognitive perceptual. I don’t really like the word vision training because a lot of people miss that, the cognitive component, the brain part of it.

And so that’s why I like to call it cognitive perceptual. And I think if you’re going to be an elite goalie, I think just the nature of the game, this is another area that most goalies should be doing. And they’re not, and they can really develop their competence because if they’re, they’re processing seeing things more automatically, their confidence level is going to go up. Okay.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Out of Your Head

John, we’ve heard it from Braden and we’ve written about it here at InGoal before, but we’ve got you on the line. So we really need to hear from you. Tell us about the water bottle, the squirting of the bottle between plays in the NHL. What’s Brayden doing there? What’s Carter doing there?

In essence, learning how to get back into the present moment. So, you know, the, ironically, the title of our mental training tour this summer is what we call playing out of your mind.

Carter and Brayden would have a tendency to get stuck in their head, you know, they’d be thinking they’d have thoughts or images of the goal of getting by by them. So when they shoot that water up into the air one, they’re literally out of their head and they’re getting out of the past.

They’re literally just tracking that water all the way from the moment it leaves to the moment it hits the ice and it’s just their way of getting back into the moment.

I’ve had other goalies where they take a skate into the corner and they feel the wind against their face and it’s just their way of being able to mentally let go of the past and regroup and get back into the moment. And that’s one of the things that we do at the workshop.

It’s what we call the three our routine recognized, regroup and refocus. And that’s just their way of regrouping and getting their mind back into into the game.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Vision & Cognitive

Okay. I got one more for you. On the Holtby, Carter heart thing, it’s, and we’ve seen it with other goalies around the league, but when, when we see Brayden come out before a game, long before a game, he sort of leans on a stick, sets his head and darts his eyes back and forth.

And I’ve talked to him about it before. What he’s finding, he tells me, finds two different points on a rink board and then he moves back and forth at different speeds. I always thought of it as vision. Is it a combination of vision and cognitive as well? What’s the, what’s, what’s, what’s the process there?

Well, I mean I’ve never had a chance to talk to Connor, Connor, Holly buck cause you’ll see that he does it as well. I know, I know some goalies are doing it for pure vision. Braden definitely is doing both. Like he’s doing like, so when he, you see him on the bench doing it.

He’s literally running through his mind. Different odd man rushes that are coming down on him, different rushes. So he’s not only doing it to develop the peripheral, but at the same time he’s running the running mental imagery mental.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Upcoming Seminar

Different teams and different options that, you know, that’s what he’s doing when he’s in, same with Carter. He’s, that’s what they’re doing. They find that by combining both there, they’re kind of killing two birds with one stone.

Okay. And from the vision side, from the vision side is just more warming. He’s talked about this with us as well. It’s just the, the eyes are a muscle. You got to warm them up as well as you do any other muscle in the body.

Correct, yes.
Okay, nice. So John, you’ve, you’ve teamed up on these seminars with Pete coming up. Do you want to just tell us a little bit more about them and how people can register for them?

Well, I’m really honored to work with Pete Frye. He’s just, just the most passionate and he really wants to make a difference in goaltenders lives and he just brings so many things to the workshop, particularly the visualization.

He is the master at it.
They like kids are going to walk out of there and knowing how to, you know, mental rehearsal and visualization and the thinking. Go to the website goalie, and it has all of the dates or they go to my website zone, and under, you’ll see under there’s a, the services, you’ll see a page that says a goalie coaching.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Seminars Continued

And they can learn all the information about the workshop or you know, individual services that I, that I provide. Basically we’re going to be going across several cities across Canada. The workshop on the Saturdays is for Adam and Peewee goalies.
And then on the Sunday it’s for the older group for the bathroom and up to the pros.

And it’s a full day workshop. We’re going from nine o’clock to five o’clock. It’s, you know, basically an eight hour day where we’re going to go over these seven C’s. And again, like you said, I love how you mentioned it early, it’s a workshop. They’ll, they’ll be working. And we encouraged the parents, like if the parents want to come in and see what we do we w even goalie coaches.

If any of the goalie coaches would like to come in and learn about that part of the game we want the goalie coaches there cause we feel that this is something that’s just not being addressed in Canada. And I think I’d like to get Canada back on top as being the, the, the experts in the world in terms of developing top level goalies.

Oh, that’s fantastic. John H I’ve been lucky enough to have my son work with Pete. I think he probably was even a novice when he first started doing some visualization before games. Pete is an incredibly enthusiastic guy and I remember the first time he did it, I asked Maddie how did that go?

And he said, well, it was kind of strange and I guess it would be if you’re only six or seven years old, but it works. And after that for, for the rest of the tournament we were in at the time, he insisted on listening to the tape of the pregame visualization every time.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Goalie Seminar Info

So yeah, it does work. And I know Pete’s had a lot of success with a lot of people just as you have. And I certainly look forward to being at the seminar. We’re going to be there on the Sunday both myself and my son and look forward to learning some great things from you and Pete.

Well and Pete, you know, talks a lot about like how you can, again, you mentioned it earlier like how you could take this skill. Like I’m, I’m just as proud as I have a lot of goalies that are police officers now that are surgeons that are doctors that and they, they will come back and say.

You don’t when were in millennium place in Sherwood Park and you’re teaching us visualization. Well I’ve been able to use that for my career now and I’m just as proud of that as them, you know, being goalies back in the day.

It’s a skill like I set up for a lot of the parents again were, were, I personally believe that Pete and I are going to be teaching skills that they can use for their life as well as their.

Perfect. That’s well said John. And also wanted to just say thanks for your time. I know how, ah, you know, how little free time you have, how busy you are between the sports psychology training as well as you know, working with other clientele through the zone performance in Edmonton.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Sign Off

And with this coming up. So not to mention, you know, like you said, visiting with Holtz and visiting with heart with Carter. So thank you very much for taking the time to join us and we’ll be sure to sort of pass along more of the information on the podcast that online, so parents and goalies and goalie coaches can all check out the tour when you guys hit the road.

I really appreciate being on your show guys. Thank you so much. You guys do such a great job for getting information out to goalies and all in all of those areas.

It’s a great, great time to be a goalie. Thanks John. Look forward to seeing you in Vancouver. Thanks again guys.

That was a fun interview to listen to. I, we, we try and do these, these conversations with our guests, all three of us with the, with the subject, but sometimes it’s good just to sit back and listen to you. You guys have these have these talking points and, and pick the brains of somebody like John Stevenson, sports psychologist.

And his journey is so unique because he was on the ice talking about goaltending and positioning and the physical side before he made this transformation over to the to the psychologists angle and the mental coach and, and Braden Holtby and Carter Hart.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Renaissance Man?

Big proteges. But, but Hutch, I mean this, this is a process that’s evolving with the, with the, the average goal tender and the future goal tender.

Yeah. What a fascinating individual. I mean, he’s not just somebody who is fascinated by the mental game and decided to become an expert. He is an expert on both sides of the game. Both the goaltending technique and the mental side of the game as, as a registered psychologist.

He doesn’t just do sports psychology with goaltenders. He’s actually fills his days with clinical work as well. So do you call him a Renaissance man of goaltending? Along conversation with John?

Varies from the mental side of the game to nutrition to sleep to, are you drinking enough water? I mean, the number of stuff that he gets into. He really is a student of the game and it’s a fascinating conversation. So I’m really excited to get the chance to sit down with John when he comes to Vancouver in a couple of weeks.

He and Pete Frye, who has been a long time friend of, in goal himself, very successful in the field. Working with goaltenders at the junior end pro level and now a number of younger goaltenders as well.

So Pete and John teaming up as they mentioned in the interview are going to be bringing a number of workshops, real hands on opportunities to learn more. And there’ll be with us in Vancouver both on June 22nd and June 23rd.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Best Goalies On The Planet

We’re going to be there on the 23rd, the day after the draft. Really looking forward to learning with these guys. And then they’re going to be taking that journey across the country. Toronto, there’ll be in Montreal, there’ll be in Halifax, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Ottawa, Winnipeg.

So anybody listening in is gonna have an opportunity to to learn from the guys that really work with the best goaltenders on the planet.

And I was thinking as we were talking, we, we, we’ve often been fascinated that parents are happy to drop $2,000 or more on a new set of pads and a little bit nervous about spending money on a helmet as if that’s not the feature item on the goaltending gear list. And we wonder why you don’t put that thousand dollar pro helmet at the top of your list.

Cause the head is the most important thing to protect. Similarly, I think the head is the most important part of a, an elite goaltender. And why wouldn’t somebody be investing in something that’s gonna make them a better goaltender on the mental side of the game?

So really excited to see what both these guys have to offer and look forward to having you guys or at least one of you with me there.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Stick Talk

Well, I’d love to be honest, the true test is if he can fix me, he can fix anyone. Well that’s what I was going to go with. What he is, is the real, real nugget here is down the road.
If I can get John one-on-one and do a debrief with him on what he thinks of you too. And, and what he got out of YouTube. Not, what YouTube got out of him.

Hey, I was amazed though in that interview because we sort of handed him that question from one of the readers or listeners about a young kid who sorta goes Woody, snap tastic and he said that was a good thing and I was shocked. So I mean he was looking for the bright side of a difficult story because he definitely didn’t want a kid to be like that all the time.

But is your friend, yeah. So fascinating interview, wasn’t it? Yeah. Road rage that use it as a positive. Get, get your own lane, make your own space. He obviously doesn’t have a young goaltender. He has to buy $300 sticks for.

No a mind like a steel trap to to steel on your feet. It’s a time to segue over to our gear segment. Kevin’s back on the road at the hockey shop, source of sports, the hockey back together with cam reunited a feel so good.

Welcome back to the basement of the hockey shop source for sports here in Surrey with cam and a couple week break to
Recover from Tendy Fest. We gave you a little downtime. We ran the interviews from Tenney Fest as our gear segment. I guess the question after such a massive undertaking and such a great day, have you recovered?

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Mental Goaltending

Yeah, I think so. I still kind of getting there. I believe still got some paperwork to go through and some dust still tie, kinda settle. But I’d say yeah. After what has been a successful event for sure. I’d say it’s been good to catch up on a little bit of rest.
And so we’re going to get back to some, we’re not going to go gear specific this week.

We’re not going to go brand specific. We’re going to talk about one of the, it’s funny, we have John Stevenson who is the mental sports psychologist for Braden Holtby and Carter Hart is our, one of our featured guests this week.

And we talked about how the mental part of goaltending is one of the biggest parts and yet it’s one of the least trained quite often. Well, we’re going to talk about today on gear I think is related. Escape blades, steel replacements options.

The most important thing we hear from gold coaches right up to the NHL. We got the draft here next week. One of the things they’re all going to talk about is Kenny skate. Your connection to the ice may be the most important part of your equipment.
And yet I think a lot of us overlook it. We just kind of take what comes with the skate. We don’t change the profile, we don’t do custom radiuses. We just take it and we go and sometimes we let it get a little thin and wear out.

So let’s start maybe when we talk about different blade replacement options, but maybe let’s start with custom profile and custom radius and the kind of things you guys do there. And some of the popular sort of goalie cuts that you see have evolved over the past couple of years with Cecil up in the skate sharpening shop.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Blade Options

Even to preface this a little bit, even before I started working here long time ago now it is, but I didn’t know there was this many options that we do have that we will go through here even for profiling and regards to steel. Heck, I didn’t even know there was different hollows that I could go.

I usually just threw my skates up there and hope the guy did the best. So, you know, it’s, it’s very common. You’ve come a long way. Yeah. Surprise. Right. It’s very common that when we ask, cause when we do our scate fittings here.

We also sharpen them up before you and whatnot. It’s very common for people to be like, I didn’t even know there was an option. So it’s becoming less and less prevalent and the more informed you are, the better choices you can make.

And this is, you’re right, it’s extremely important. You need to be able to escape. So starting off in terms of a profile options there’s three major ones that we recommend. We have a pro shop machine, so it’s, it’s done all by automation. In particular, again, this depends a little bit on what your specific needs are inside the net.

Personally speaking, I recommend one that’s called the dual profile. It’s a 24, 28. Basically what it will do it shaves material off in the front so it tips you a little bit more onto the balls of your feet. Leaves the middle of the skate fairly flat.

And then once you get to the heel, it shades a little bit more off. Again, for rotation on the skate, anything on your post, you’ll find it, you’ll be able to catch your edge a little bit quicker.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – More Skate Talk

So a little bit more. We, we tend to think of goalie skates is sort of a straighter blade along the bottom. This has got a little bit more, for lack of a better term, a little bit more rocker to it on the, on the toe and even a little bit on the heel.

Correct, exactly. And now that one would probably consider the one right in the middle. Two other options that we offer. There’s just a single profile which is the 27 foot. Basically it’s just an improvement over the stock radius that would come on any set of steel and the stock rate is on most dealers.

What off the top of my head, you got me all, we stumped them off to look that up and add it in later. Either way, what this will do will actually improve consistency for sharp nerves from person to person.

So the one thing with getting a profile, if you’re taking your skates to multitude of different sharpeners, the profile will unfortunately get screwed up very quickly. If you’re taking to the same sharpen, it will stay for the most part, remain consistent.

But it usually is about two, three months and then you have to get your skate re profile depending on how often you sharpen your skates. It’s like if you go to a guy where it’s my pet peeve when I go to other places, cause sometimes I can’t make it to CC. So it happens.

You need an edge, you’re in a jam. I won’t name names, but you can just hear the guy grinding down on the heels every time and like way too many laps over the blade and just like way too much pressure at the toe and way too much pressure at this at the heel.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Sharpening Talk

And you go to a guy like that often enough, he’s going to change your profile cause he’s not taking, he’s not, he’s not even across the front to the back of the skate. It’s just, just the reality. If you’ve got skates and they’re warm and you’re, you’re way low on steel at the toe in the heel.

That chances are that’s part of what’s been happening. Correct. And that’s a major asterix to kind of all of this conversation is again, you ain’t need someone that’s consistently sharpening your skates, whether that’s us or whoever you do go to. It’s going to recommend seasonal upstairs. Just slide in a little bit there.

That said, it’s just that it can get mistaken or again, like you said, pressure put in the wrong spots and that can really toast the profile and create an even worse experience. So just kind of a small note that way.

The last one that we do offer is the, they call it the goalie Sam. So basically this takes what we do in the dual profile, the 24 28 and then even more takes it to a bit more of an extreme. So we’re even more off the toe, even flatter midsection and the same radius at the back, which is that 27 foot.

This would be the most aggressive. Personally I haven’t tried it cause after looking at the profile machine, it looks like a little bit much. But if you’re looking for as much toe pitch as you can possibly get, this would be the way to go.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Full Custom

So you’re going to feel that when you’re on your skates, you’re gonna feel more pitch forward in that then you wouldn’t another one. That’s correct. And of course that changes too from manufacturer to manufacturer. I say the one thing we’ve had really good experience in the new CCM
Ft, ft to skate the jet speed skate.

We’re in the process of testing and obviously we’ve got a full custom skate based on, on having the three D scan done and, and having all that profile information sent to them. It’s been a real positive experience.

One thing that I’ve noted when we went back to the, our, our Bauer set, this isn’t a criticism or one or the other, just a difference to highlight for sure. A much more neutral pitch in the CCM. Whereas the Bower was more of that forward pitch. So you’re going to, a custom goalie profile may depend also on the brand you’re in.

If you, for example, were used to abour and you find the CCM is, is more neutral than you might like, you could have a custom profile put on it and sort of find that balance back to where what you were used to in the Bower or I guess in theory vice versa as well.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Custom Skates Continued

That’s correct. And that’s a great point to highlight because you know you’re a hundred percent correct. The Vertex is pitched a little bit further forward than what comes stock on the ft too. So again, if you’re trying to find that comfortability level, again this is a great way to set it there.

One thing I highly recommend and they were at any festive pro shops ever setting up some kind of demo event near you. Take advantage of and check out some of the different steels. Cause this is something you can kind of try and you have to try to like it.

But the thing is is that once you set it to a profile, we’re grinding away steel and to set it back, we’re grinding away more steel. So, you know, from a fresh set of blades, we could be down to three quarters left or even half left just after messing around with four or five profiles to find what she likes.

So take advantage of a demo day if you can. Okay. Well we’re going to get to the, you know, aftermarket seal and things that you can add to your skates. Different options, different steel. Let’s start with stock though. Let’s look at Bower.

We’ve had some, some great experiences in the Bower. Two S pro skate. They went, they changed their steel, their added a little more steel to it. I think ergonomically they, you know, they’ve told me that they probably, you know, like really the one S was the right height.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – More Steel

They’ve added some steel because goalies felt they just wanted more steel. Again, if you were putting a custom profile in it, just to have a little more left to, to get some more sharpenings out of her to be able to put a profile in it. We’ve had a great experience there.

Obviously the FTT, I always say FTT, I can’t, it’s just ft idiot Kevin. I’m in the new CCM skate. Again, a great experience there as well. There’s a lot more steel on the toe and the heel, the way they’ve angled the holder up there. But the black edges, so what, walk me through those two and how they’re separated maybe from the lower price point where you don’t get the black steel.

Anecdotally, our testers have noticed in both cases, the Bower black steel and the CCM black steel, it feels like it cuts your sharpening needs about in half. I mean, obviously you can slam into a post and lose an edge in a hurry, especially if you’re flaying flailing around in the crease in jamming it up the way I do.

But for the most part it does. Like it almost doubles your, the lengthier sharpening. And those are options. If you don’t have it stock, you can get that black steel in an aftermarket blade as well.

Correct. So, yeah, there’s a lot of information to cover from what you just said. And even rewinding back to your point where you embarrassed that that was enough. Steel Bauer said that but, but general store feedback even from us for example is it wasn’t enough.


John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – 3G Plus

I had guys trying to run three sets of blades cause they were crushing through steel so quickly. So thus came the three G plus, which is now inherently taller than the three G steel, which is stock original steel for the one S and then from that 3g plus then came the five G plus. What’s now the black edge steel? What you see stock on the one X or sorry the two X and two S.
Yeah, we’ve got Arizona to us.

And like you said like, like ergonomically like, like again, you’re right. We saw it at retail, we heard it from goalies. We experienced it when we tested one S we wanted more steel. But in terms of like actual biomechanics and the correct pitch and the correct attack angle, like they weren’t chinsing out on steel and one us is what I’m saying.

They had, they had figured that out. They had done the science on that. But then they recognize, Hey, we may have hit the perfect sweet spot in terms of performance or how we think it should perform, but we need to give goalies a little more steel to play with them. They’ve definitely got that now and the feedback has been really positive.

Exactly. And now within that, touched on it a little bit before that a lasting edge of the Fiji are carbon steel. Highly, highly recommended if it’s something you haven’t tried. I personally skate on it myself. My sharpenings cut down in half alone. That’s about the same as us.

Yeah. At about two, three ice times a week I’ll go usually a month without sharpening my skates. Whereas, you know, before it was about every two weeks it holds its edge and holds, it sounds fine. Even when I do hit a post, I actually find the edges a bit stronger.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – XSG Black Speed Blade

Whereas in previous deals I would have beveled the edge really easily. I don’t find that as much with the blockage deals so far. So nothing but good.

It’s given you basically designed to be harder on that edge and to maintain that edge a little bit longer. So anecdotally what we say kind of makes sense to, you know, what they say is the reason for switching to that. And obviously again you said two in the ft two as well. That black edge steel is there on the excess G speed blade in their X SG black speed blade.

That’s correct. And then, I mean, this is something that again, we’re going gonna have to try on different skates and whatnot and find what’s right for you. Now that I would say those two steels between the CCM and the Bower are comparable, so it’s not like one’s better than the other at that point.

But that said, I do have other options and I’ve gotten about six packs of steel here in front of me and even still have a couple more options. Upstairs we have steel for the old Vertex like cowling skates for Bauer. I’ve still got steel for grafts, Gates dairy varying degrees for step and as well as extreme step steel. Beyond that.

For like the old, like Bauer or in some of our sort of the like the old Reebok cowling like 20 K nine K you still have steel for that? I believe we still have a couple extra pairs upstairs. Yeah. Ooh, shout out to Paul. Drew a goaltending coach was with me at the hockey Canada program of excellence goalie camp last week.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – More Edge Talk

We may have some help for you here. I’m just giving a hard time cause he’s still rocking the old skates him, him, Devin, Dube, Nick and John Gibson still rocking the old Reebok skate. So they’re going to, they’re going to need some replacement steel in the near future.

No, I get it. I got it. I got it. So beyond that when we were talking about, when we touched on it quickly before, so say for the new Bauer skates in particular, I have tons of that 5g plus a carbon steel in stock ready to rock and roll for him. I also got the 3g, which is basically the same height as the 5g, just not a carbon coded. Sorry, that’s a three D plus.

And then I do have the original 3g for the one S as well, but I don’t have as many pairs of that leftover cause we’ve moved towards the three D plus and cause everybody wants taller and more steel to play with. Exactly. Exactly.

So a couple other aftermarket brands have hopped on making steel as well. I do have some of the tightened blades, which at the time were the only other option for the Vertex edge holder I’ve bought one that’s a mirrored edge.

Which is basically a polished steel similar concept to what was happening in the the five G carbon coated. It’s just a way to again, make that edge stronger for example.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Step In vs Tied In

And then steps deal, which is kind of the original aftermarket. Maybe I shouldn’t say original, but it was certainly the one that gained the most notoriety. Especially with the steps deal, extreme options that were, you know, back in the day of those very low profile Reebok holders giving you a better attack angle with the extreme step has been around a long time.
What are the differences between step and tied in a, whether it’s in terms of cost or quality or options.

So what the steps deal that we have for the Vertex edge holder in particular is actually something a little different. So what it does is it’s actually a four mil steel that snaps into the three mill blade.

So if you’re finding you still want that thicker blade option, this is basically your only option to do that with a Bower skate to still kind of skate on a four steel. It’s something that we carry in stock.

Wow, okay. I didn’t realize anybody was doing that to be honest with you. I’m an old formula guy myself and there are times as a guy who likes a deep three, eight, got a lot of weight to push around from my knees and what can I say?
I need an edge put on a few lbs over the years. I found it easier to get it in a formula and so I’ve found that I’ve had to go deeper in a three mill to get the same type of feel, the same type of response of edge. So having that option in step steel is, that’s interesting to me.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – What To Choose?

So that’s the only one that makes that they got that yet for CCM or is it just strictly on that Vertex?
Right now just strictly on the Vertex, but I’m sure they’ll once you know, CCM start gaining more attraction in that skate department. I would say once they gain a little bit more.

I’m sure step’s deal. We’ll probably take a look at making something. I don’t know. If you’re a goalie there and you’re wondering four mill, three mill, why did everyone go to three mil? Why would I, why would that have changed? I think the biggest answer is wait, right? Like I mean you’re taking, you’re essentially, it’s one of the heaviest parts of a skate as the, as the blade and you’re basically reducing that by a quarter.

Well one other way that I do describe it though is that you can think about it as like a fine edge knife point. The fat of that knife point edge is in theory more steel. It’s contact the ice more grab but less glide for example. So for me personally, I like to be able to shuffle across my crease very easily on a four mil steel.

I always kind of dig in and you really have to take a lot of effort to push through. But with the three mobile, and I find I can slide through my edges quite easily, but when I go to go cut, because that edge point is finer, I still get all that cut and push off.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – More Blade Options

That’s what I did. And doomed. It cringes when we go to shuffle drills and he’s got those old Reebok skates with a big wide formula and a deep edge and he’s like, Oh, these skates don’t shuffle. That explains it there. We’ve got it explained to us.
Okay, so that’s your custom options. The tied in the step steel also like you said, aftermarket steel and the excess G holder so you can buy multiple sets. Same with the Bower, with w with the LS five. All those options are here.

Now are you seeing kids buy multiple sets of steel for one pair of skate so that they can come in, bring them in, have three set sharpen and not have to come in again until they’ve worn all three out.

That is a, that is a common plate. Definitely see multiple edges of steel so that way you can kind of flip through for guys that do hit the post lot and it’s a chance to swap out their blades because of those quick swap blades.

Now you know, you quickly grab a quick whistle scaling over, you know, swap them out. So yeah, it’s not uncommon to see, you know, two, three sets of steel every time that a pair of skates get brought in.
Any bear leaguers doing that. Cause that seems a little keen to me.

I don’t want to call anybody out here. Oh, you know what, I, I I’m sure there are a few I haven’t gone out of my way to go find them, put it that way.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Unlimited Budget?

Okay. Okay. For the record, I don’t folks and I have access to gear like crazy and not, not even, I am having multiple sets of steel. If I lose an edge, I just probably skate better to be honest with you. Okay, perfect. Kim. Thank you for this.

All the different steel options, all the different profile options as usual. If you want more information on it, you can visit them with the hockey shop source for sports here in Surrey and person. Come talk to cam. We haven’t had him on for a couple of weeks.

It was heads back down to its normal size, not too big. Make sure you see Cecil up in the skate shop. If you’ve got any other questions or you want to an order online, you can contact them, check out the website at or if you want to phone in and talk to somebody in person who understands goaltending, you can get them at (604) 589-8299.

There’s the radio voice from cam Matt with for cam and Kevin from the hockey shop and episode 21 of Ingo radio podcast brought to you by the hockey shop source for sports camp. Thanks for taking the time today. Thanks.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Goalie Gear

Good stuff. I, you know, we’ve heard about the sticks and the pads. We’ve talked so much about the upper body and trying to conform to the regulations of the national hockey league, but, but the steel part, Woody, like it’s, it’s blown up what in the last five years?

Yeah. I’m trying to think of one, Danny Taylor, because I do think that step’s deal on the area and the steps deal extreme products were kind of what first made, brought this to the attention of goaltenders a little more.

Danny Taylor, obviously when the Calgary flames signed him to a contract, he was playing in the American hockey league here in Abbotsford using Reebok cowlings with the step steel extreme blade. And that’s a, that was a lot of steel and the NHL actually made it illegal. They said he can’t use those. And I do think that taller, right?

It was, it was higher off the air. But the irony now of course is, and, and the irony a little bit, frankly, there are people who rail against step steel. And the steps deal extreme product. And I get it. It’s, it’s way too tall.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Is Taller Better?

But the irony is in the meantime with taller holders, there are products out there that are a lot taller than that, set up the Denny Taylor hat and have a lot more aggressive attack angle. As a matter of fact, most most stock skates now for goalies have as aggressive or more aggressive and are as taller, taller than that original step.

Steel extreme was on his Reebok cowling which had a lower profile. So I think that’s where it kind of started. Step’s deal at the time was increasingly popular in the NHL, outside of the extreme product. Goalies were using their, their standard product, which was still like three, four millimeters taller than regular steel.

Gave you a little more bite, a little more attack angle. And this just became a conversation that became common around goaltending equipment companies has done a great job adapting it into their product. We talked with Kayla about the Bower, the evolution from the one S to the two S and the two X in terms of making that steel a little taller, giving goalies more room to work with in terms of sharpening lasting custom profile.

Again the conversation is there, it’s gotten better, but much like John Stevenson, sports psychologist, and sending the mental side of the game, I do think for a lot of parents and a lot of goaltenders, it’s the last thing they think about and it’s the most important thing in a lot of regards because it is your connection to the ice.

And if you can’t move in today’s game, you can’t play. How often do you sharpen your skates? What do you, every time I go to the hockey shop and see wants to tune me up.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Skate Tech

Yeah, I, you know I’m probably when I’m playing three or four times a week I’m probably sharpened every week, a week and a half. Wow. I’d say similar.

I would say similar and the little guy who’s a little more finicky than me, he would honestly tune them up every ice session if I let him, he notices the difference. So probably go through a couple of sets of blades a year then and I haven’t, but I should be more careful about that. I still remember Kevin, he used to write like, no, no, for sure.

Kevin, I still remember when we started back in this 10 years ago or so. A couple of stories about Lou and I think Jonathan quick and how, how frequently they swap their steel and, and how they could notice if, if somebody went back to old stuff on them as well. Right. That’s exactly it.

This is how this conversation started because at a time when, when, when we started to look for taller steel, when goalie started to have that conversation, one of the other conversations we were having with regulars in the NHL was how frequently they replaced their steel to get taller steel.

Just out of stock steel because the sharpening was wearing it down. Right. And that they noticed the difference and lose a guy who, you know, he’s an older school guy in that he was in Reebok skates up until two years ago.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Skates Comparison

That same ones. You know, they could like the nine K, the 20 K that program with the full Cali really low profile. Go find a picture of Devin Dupnik. He’s still wearing them. John Gibson still wearing them. Corey Crawford up until this past I think season and a half or two seasons, he switched to into a CCM, more updated scape, but he was in the Reeboks just a really low profile skate loose switch to the true to piece.

Had a little girl, you know, he had some groin issues with it last year. I mean it changes everything. When you go from that lowest profile possible Reebok to one of the tallest skates available, the true to piece, you’re changing everything in terms of what muscles are activating to make a push.

Where you’re engaging those muscles in your push. Butterfly recoveries. But man, he’ll never switch back. I’ve got that audio, I’ve got video of it when I was with him on the ice in Florida last August, just talking about, you know, how much better and easier his recoveries were in the new steel, in the new skates.

He never slips out. Whereas in the past that used to be a problem. So it’s definitely a conversation that started at the NHL level with guys just constantly putting new steel in their skates and companies recognize that there was an opportunity there to give them even more of an edge by giving them even more steel.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – More Steel

And it’s evolved from there. More steel. Does it give more room, more vulnerability in an RVH if you’re putting your foot ready games to post for a puck to slide through there? Oh, absolutely. And we’ve seen that a ton of those goals. I mean it’s not just the taller steel.

In that case it’s the, it’s the no cowling taller holders. In some cases the gap is much bigger than a puck and it basically becomes a ramp if it’s along the eye. If it’s on the ice against the post it can be a little ramp and there’s definitely enough space.

We’ve seen a lot of big goals over the past couple of years in the playoffs, banked in from dead angles or below the goal line hitting that skate, hitting the bottom of the pad and banking in or just finding that hole.

So it’s one of the issues with post integration that we’ve seen talked about a lot in the NHL. If we’re using skate on posts with new skates, that gap is something you need to be mindful of. Cause it’s definitely big enough to have a puck go through and we’ve seen some really costly pucks sneak through over the past couple.

Well seasons and Hutch before we wrap this thing up. So great listener questions that you passed along to John Stevenson. And if people want to query us, how do they get in touch with us? Darren, we’d love to hear from all our listeners at podcast at that’s podcast at

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Hockey Banter

You don’t have to send a letter, you can just send us an email, which makes it a lot easier to get a hold of somebody like dusty. Emo, Woody. Yeah. Quick congratulations.

He was in the news this week, actually had a heads up. This was coming before it became public. I knew he was considering it. A big move for him. Big loss for the LA Kings. Frankly, he played a big role in resurrecting the careers of Peter and Jack Campbell in the past year. Obviously he had played a big part in getting the recruiting and early development of Cal Peterson.

Who looks like a real good feature in HLR for them. He’s off to China to coach in the KHL a better deal. Better off for there. He took it. And just, he’s a fascinating guy. A guy I’ve gotten to know and enjoy talking to over the years and we’re going to make sure he’s also happens to share a hometown with me here in white rock.

You know, on the border just below Vancouver and we’ll make sure we get together for coffee real soon and hit and bang out a podcast here cause you know, his story playing for Japan and the 98 Olympics becoming a goaltending coach with the Winnipeg jets and then the LA Kings.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – Almost There

His success he’s had there, the playing career, playing with his son as an emergency backup and his son’s first start, Jonah in the American hockey league.

There are so many good stories that dusty EMU has to tell us. We’ll make sure we get him on the podcast in the very short future. But for now, just to congratulations to him on a great opportunity to go to China and play a role, you know, much like he was in Japan for the 98 Olympics.

He has an opportunity now. It’s not just the K jelly is an opportunity to help play a role in the goaltenders who are going to play for China. At the, at, at the next Olympics in Beijing.

Sounds like you guys just go for a coffee date and hang out and talk goaltending look forward to that. And say hi to dusty because he’s a, he is one of the great characters of the game with all those experiences.

John Stevenson – Sports Psychologist Interview – End

Thanks to John Stevenson for passing along his knowledge and, and this episode 21 camp at the hockey shop. Nice to have you back next week around table of goalie coaches from that hockey Canada camp, all three of which played in the national high collate, Jason LaBarbera, Danny Saburn and Freddie Brathwaite.

All with the conversation with Woody and the best part, the most amazing part. Woody was not the most talkative person in the segment. I’m not going to tell you who was, but but he, but he was not the most talkative. That’s all coming up next week.
Thanks for listening. Without you. We’re just talking to ourselves and that’s, that’s not fun at all. Trust me on that one. A click your likes and your podcast provider. It helps us out a great deal. Think of it as a stick. Tap to end goal radio, the podcast presented by the hockey shop source for sports, Surrey, the hockey

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