Hi-Rebound Kit Report

SP Kit Report by Jimi Lewis of the GB Mens’ Team

SP Kit Report by Jimi Lewis of the GB Mens’ Team

robo legguards

– SP Pads.

The new design of pads is absolutely wicked – it combines the ultimate in protection, movement, comfort, technology and last, but by no means the least, STYLE!! I think this design is a giant leap forward, not just for OBO as a company, but for us GK’s too. Although the original style pads were groundbreaking and revolutionised hockey goalkeeping they needed updating and modernising. I found with the old style pad that shots across my body would tend to skid off the pad when I was full stretch, not anymore they don’t, now the flat edge of the pad not only blocks the ball but also guides it away safely to the side. Whoever thought of making the pads half HR and half HC is an absolute GENIUS!! Shots across the body or to side can be deflected away in a totally controlled manner and yet I still get the power and pace off the inside of the pad for the shot that comes down the middle of the goal, you know the 1 that goes through your legs sometimes and makes you look like an idiot!! The new SP pads have even stopped me getting nutmegged so often thanks to the new straight-lined shape of the inside. I’m naturally bowed legged (only slightly) so this coupled with the in and out design of the originals led to me letting a few shots through my legs and cries of “shut those taxi doors” from my team mates, but thankfully those days are long gone and now those shots go out faster than they came in!! Now that’s what I’d call modernisation!!!!

In brief the pads have more surface area to save shots with, no more shots skidding off the pad when at full stretch, I’d like to say ‘no more’ but I‘ll have to be honest and say ‘less’ shots going between the legs (it still happens occasionally, no more blaming the pads now though), a mixture of HC and HR (genius) and still I get the comfort and range of movement that you only get with OBO pads.


– SP Hand Protectors

Although the change to the left hand glove is only to turn it from HC to HR I’ve found that it makes a hell of a difference to how I’m able to clear the ball to safety. Whereas before I either had to play my hand towards the shot to get enough rebound off the glove to direct the ball to a safe area now all I need to do is angle my hand towards where I want the ball to go and glove does the work for me. This makes my job a lot easier as we all know the speeds shots can travel these days (especially with the introduction of composite sticks into our game – whoever thought of that has a lot to answer for!!) which means our reaction time is less so just being able to get your hand to the shot is a hard enough task, let alone then trying to play at it to clear it to safety. So the new left hand glove allows me to concentrate solely on saving the shot safe in the knowledge that the HR design will do the rest for me.

Don’t know if I should mention say what I’m about to say on this site or not, but here goes anyway – I’ve always been a big fan of the TK right hand glove, I’ve always thought it’s design to be almost perfect, it’s only downfalls are you can’t get any movement with your wrist or hand and also when you put your hand to the floor the stick points up to the sky. Not the greatest angle for your stick to be when you’re trying to keep out a 100mph PC strike!!

So it’s with great pleasure that I can tell you that the new OBO SP right hand glove has neither of these design faults and has helped me to save shots that I couldn’t with the old style glove. I like to try to use my stick as an extension of my arm (i.e. keep it at the same angle as my forearm so when I reach for a save with my stick it’s like trying to save with my right hand but only about 18 inches longer. This I feel improves my hand eye co-ordination and reflexes) which means with the new SP glove I now have a big flat surface area to save the ball with and as I don’t where any arm/elbow protection the glove now covers most of my forearm, which is a godsend because it means no more big black and blue bruises up my arm!! The stick angle is very good too and I have no problems getting my stick down to low hits or flicks at PC’s or when smothering 1v1. If you’re a die-hard fan of the old style glove and you’re thinking of changing to the new SP then theirs is only 1 slightly negative factor that I can comment on – hand/wrist movement. Although the SP isn’t in the (here’s that word again) ‘TK’ league of non-movement it is more restrictive than the old style OBO right hand, but given a bit of time/practise (or a swish or 2 of a Stanley Knife) then this problem will soon become no more and leave to enjoy the confidence and ability to save a whole manner of shots with you’re new goalkeeping accessory!

In brief – the right hand gives more surface area to save shots with, more confidence and protection to make those saves, (forgot to mention this – it’s much lighter for quicker hands), but offers a little less movement than the old style.

The left hand gives much more rebound so you can concentrate on getting your hand to the shot and not worry so much about trying to control it to clear or clearing it 1st time.

Enjoy your keeping,

Kisses Jimi Lewis X

The Mental Game

In the quest to become better players, goalkeepers train thousands of hours, burn millions of calories and spend hundreds of dollars on equipment. Yet when it comes to the difference between becoming a good keeper and a great keeper, the answer may lie between their ears. The mental game can be a critical part to success.

In the quest to become better players, goalkeepers train thousands of hours, burn millions of calories and spend hundreds of dollars on equipment. Yet when it comes to the difference between becoming a good keeper and a great keeper, the answer may lie between their ears. The mental game can be a critical part to success.

It’s always interesting to talk to keepers about the mental side of the game. There are many great keepers who succeed on their athleticism and instincts. They can simply go out and play well. For others, training and playing are only part of the equation for success. Visualization, mental imagery, relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, focus and confidence are every bit as important as weight training and skill work.

How effective sport psychology may be in your game can be influenced by how open you are to change. For many, the mere mention of sport psychology and a mental game implies weakness of the worst kind, the mind. Somehow, it’s easier to say you’re going to the weight room to get physically stronger than it is to say “I’m off to a quiet place to visualize.” In reality, one is no different than the other.

I’ll confess to being a convert to the value of the mental game. Early on, my experiences were jaded by my prejudices and perceptions. When I encountered problems with my game, my answer was more practice but there’s only so much you can physically practice. Like it or not, the nature of the goalkeeping position is goals will be scored, mistakes will be made and games will be lost because of them. There are internal and external pressures to succeed in hostile and distracting settings. How do you practice dealing with problems like these? In time I figured out all the physical training in the world didn’t help if I couldn’t let go of the goal that was just scored. I needed to fix how I thought and how I reacted and I needed help.

As a player and a coach I’ve had the opportunity to see a number of sport psychologists at work at the team and individual level with players ranging from high school to international standard. Their work can be invaluable as these specialists draw from their education and experience to bring out the best in athletes. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to a sport psychologist. While complex problems are best left to experts, there are common problems that keepers can improve on their own by using sport psychology techniques.

Time, energy and resources often limit how a player can work on a specific skill or situation. Mental imagery, or visualization, is a sport psychology tool used to simulate physical training or game situations and is proven to be effective in improving performance. Essentially, mental imagery is the practice and repetition of a skill in the mind. Through internal repetition the mind trains the body.

In visualizing, detail is important. You get best results by being clear and specific about the skills or situations you’re training. When it comes to skills, video can help in establishing a clear picture of mechanics. For a skill like kicking a cross ball with the left foot, visual details could include: the left wing coming down the side line; the keeper establishing position off his line; the player striking the cross; the keeper pushing off his right foot getting solidly behind the kick and clearing safely and powerfully to a teammate. Replay each part of the skill in your mind, see your body explosively moving to the ball and executing the skill, replaying that perfect clear.

When visualizing a new skill, start by seeing the skill in slow motion so that you can begin to establish a link from the mind to each part of the body that’s involved with the skill. While you’re not physically moving when visualizing skills, try to “see” and “feel” the movements you’re trying to master. As you become more comfortable with visualizing a skill and had the opportunity to physically train the skill on the practice field, you can speed up your mental video to game speed.

Mental imagery can also be used to visualize game scenes, especially pressure situations: the big save with time running out and the match on the line, getting on with the game after allowing a bad goal and tuning out trash talking opponents and hostile crowds. It’s difficult to physically recreate the feeling of these pressures on the training ground, but mentally you can train for these types of situations. Whatever you can imagine, you can train and prepare for.

An important part of any mental training is creating an environment for work. For the mind to work best, the body needs to be comfortable and relaxed. Loose clothes, a clear mind and a cool place where you can lie or sit comfortably are a good start in creating that setting. Avoid areas where there are distractions like noise and activity. Mental training is like physical training in that you improve with repetition. Mental training does require energy and sessions are best-kept under 30 minutes. Many athletes use visualization around the time of their events, the morning of afternoon games or the afternoon of evening matches. Mental imagery can be practiced before sleeping, but training should be built around times when you’re not tired.

It’s one thing to be psyched up for a game, it’s another to be psyched out. Picture a game, the keeper hasn’t seen the ball in his circle for 20 minutes. The ball enters his 25 and he’s screaming to organize his defense. The ball is played in to the circle, the keeper is ready for the bullet shot and the forward hits a medium paced ball just to his left. The keeper explodes and the ball goes under his foot. Was the keeper ready? If anything, the keeper was too ready. Extreme anticipation and over arousal are terms used to describe what happens when athletes are too keyed up.

Athletes perform best in an aroused state. The aroused athlete is alert, aware and ready for action. Arousal can be confused with anxiety, though. While the aroused athlete is alert and composed, the anxious, or over aroused athlete is alert to the point of panic. It’s natural to feel a rush of adrenaline in pressure moments of a match, but it’s critical to manage that rush of energy. Often it’s wasted on nervous movement, excited communication or hyperventilation. Many sports psychologists point to breathing as one way of managing arousal.

Simple breathing exercises focus on controlling the breath. It starts with practice before the match. Typically, the breath is used to center the athlete. The practice is drawn from yoga and is built on using the inhalation to draw oxygen, or energy, into the body. The goal is to build to full, deep inhalations and complete exhalations. By focusing on the breath an athlete is drawing energy into the body through the intake of oxygen. Obviously breathing isn’t a keeper’s sole focus while the ball is in his circle, but he can use breathing to relax and re-energize when play doesn’t involve him in a game and practicing breathing does train the body to stay relaxed in pressure situations. Breathing is often used to establish a setting for visualization away from the field.

Focus is concentrating on what’s important in the context of the game. The game can be filled with distractions. Focus is filtering those distractions out and taking in the important information that’s critical to reading play. It’s recognizing scoring opportunities, reading passing lanes, positioning defenders and anticipating situations. Athletes talk about being in a “zone” where they know where the ball is going before it’s shot. That “zone” is the direct product of focus.

An important part of managing focus is recognizing when you have the opportunity to relax. A keeper can mentally and physically exhaust himself by being too focused. 100% concentration isn’t required when the ball is in the other team’s circle. Take those moments to breathe, stretch, and relax.

One of the most frequent mental problems I hear from keepers concerns confidence. How do you find confidence when you allow a soft goal or get in to a run of bad play? Confidence can be precarious, especially when the stakes are high. Many keepers are their own worst enemies. Every keeper has let in a bad goal and sometimes a team loses because of it but it’s important not to dwell on goals that are already on the board and create self-fulfilling prophecies of disaster. Don’t use a past event as a projection of what’s going to happen. A keeper’s ability to play well doesn’t just disappear (barring injury). The good keeper treats history for what it is. Yes, I want to think about what I might have done differently on a goal immediately after it’s scored, but I need to be ready for what’s coming next by the time my team takes the push back. Confidence should allow a keeper to be secure in the knowledge that whatever comes, he’s probably seen it and saved it.

When assessing your game, what are the things that give you confidence? For me, a big one is the knowledge that I have played well before. Success isn’t a fluke or an accident. It is the product of preparation and opportunity. When I get in a good groove playing, I try to stay consistent in my training, my sleep patterns, my diet and my pre-game warm up. By the same token, if I’m not playing well I try to look at those factors. Success is a habit and I find that I play my best when I’m consistent. Having said that, it’s important to not get married to routine. There will be times that I have to deviate from my routine, but that’s where the knowledge that I’ve been succesful before comes in.

Competitive sport is challenging, physically and mentally. Two teams are playing to win and sometimes a team is going to come up short. The challenge is how will a keeper respond, what changes will you make? Sometimes the answer lies in a skill; sometimes it lies within, literally. As I mentioned, I’m not a sport psychologist. The techniques I’ve talked about are ones that I have experience with. Newspapers and books are filled with stories of athletes from a variety of sports who’ve benefited from working on their mental game with trained professionals. Read about them. You can learn a lot from their experiences, whether it’s in a magazine or on the Internet. If you genuinely want to improve your game, leave no stone unturned. It isn’t crazy to work on your mental game; it’s crazy not to.

Goalkeepers are amazing people!!!

Good luck,


e-mail Jon

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