Vancouver Olympics 2010 – The Mental Toughness of Ryan Miller

by Stephen Walker, PhD, CC-AASP

In an excerpt from a previous article in PSJ on goal tending in hockey, the author said,

“What happens when you combine the speed of 5 great athletes in helmets and pads sprinting on ice skates straight at you?  Oh yeah, they’re also bearing weapons.  A simple collision, of which there are many, oftentimes sends metal blades and long sticks every which way…but their real target is just about your size.  And, the one thing keeping them from their objective…well, that would be you, guarding the net. You are a goalie – and you must learn to thrive on stress.  Playing goalie is arguably among the most mentally demanding positions in any sport.  When you add the speed, danger and mental skills required in goal – ice hockey is tops.”

It is never my intention to take anything away from another athlete – and Bode Miller’s performance in the Super Combined is truly an accomplishment that deserves its own coverage….but I must say I was amazed at Ryan Miller’s stand out execution in net as the USA defeated a loaded Canadian team 5-3 in what will probably be the most talked about game in hockey this year….unless we are treated to this match-up again in the Gold Medal round.

Miller was relaxed, yet mentally sharp as he demonstrated speed quickness and amazing control by managing one frenzied attack after another.  He stopped a whopping 42 shots on goal.  His threat awareness, eyes-in-the-back-of-his-head net location sequences, focus, and rebound control were stellar to say the least.  But what was most remarkable was his ability to “refocus” after letting in a goal.  Miller had control over the crease and quarterbacked a sensational defensive effort for the USA.  He was truly “in the zone” each time and upstaged Martin Brodeur, Canada’s ‘Hall of Fame’ destined goalkeeper.

On the night of the power play – Canada could not penetrate Miller’s wall, even when they pulled Brodeur and levied a spectacular attack.  The last two minutes of this game are for the ages.  Hats off to Miller and team USA – they will need this level of intensity to bring home the gold.  But one thing is for sure – they’ve got game and Miller is on top of his.

To see video highlights from the Olympics hockey rounds click here:

NBC\’s top 5 Goals of the Vancouver Olympics Hockey to date.

One thought on “Vancouver Olympics 2010 – The Mental Toughness of Ryan Miller

  • February 25, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Watched a couple of great games last week. Great matches like Russia vs USA and Sweden vs Slovakia. And more great encounters coming up!


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