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Training for Explosive Goaltenders

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Training for Explosive Goaltenders

Each time any hockey player tries to move up to the next level of competition, a transition in intensity is required. Goaltenders in particular must adapt to faster shots and quicker, more agile puckcarriers. Unfortunately, many goalies fail in their attempt to survive at higher levels of competition because they have not trained intensely enough during practice. Very often you see goalies who wear their top of the line equipment very well. They "look" like they should be very talented until they are required to make a quick lateral save attempt. To avoid being over-matched by the shooters, goalies must realize that they must train for explosive save moments. If they just sit back and watch as players attack rebounds or make quick cross crease dekes. The goalies will not be able to match the shooter move for move. Let's look at different types of save situations that require practice intensity.

Rebound Control

Goalies have a small window of opportunity on rebounds. Most goalies subconsciously retreat from the puck after making a save. This extra foot or two of space allows the shooter the room to deke around the goalie. This extra space the goalie gives up is difficult to take back. Goalies need to practice quick feet in practice and take a step towards the rebound. This explosive step moves the goalies body into the space the shooter is trying to take advantage of with his peripheral vision. When the puck rebounds away from the goalie, the shooter takes his eyes off the goalie to retrieve the puck. When the goalie takes a step towards the puck while the shooter tries to retrieve it, the shooting angle is virtually non-existent. This is an explosive step & the goalie must be in a set position before the shooter releases the puck.

Another explosive aspect of rebound control is the freezing of the puck when it is shot directly at the goalie's stick. Even professional and collegiate goalies are sloppy when it comes to freezing loose pucks. Think of all the give away rebound opportunities during the course of a whole season on plays where the goalie coughed up the puck unnecessarily. This happens a lot because rebounds are not played out in most practice drills and goalies take tying the puck up for granted. To practice this, I have adapted the OUT game from basketball. The OUT rebound game teaches shooters to move their feet on rebounds and goalies to freeze the puck aggressively or explosively attack their rebounds. The shooter starts with a puck in the high slot, takes a couple of steps towards the goalie and shoots the puck 3/4 speed to the goalies leg pads to create a rebound. The shooter then tries to grab the rebound and make a quick deke to put the puck in the net. If the shooter scores, the goalie gets the letter "O". If the goalie freezes the loose puck or stuffs the shooter on the rebound, the shooter gets the "O". The same shooter and goalie continue playing with the new pucks until one player gets O-U-T and loses. The analogy I make when introducing this overspeed rebound game is that goalies are like english muffins and the puck is butter. Butter flows into the nooks and crannies just like the puck hides out in nooks and crannies of the goalie's body. Shooters must stop at the net and see if the goalie actually has the puck tied up. Goalies must learn to make sure they have the puck frozen. This game can get very competitive.

Explosive Pad Saves

Pad saves have been made very popular by many NHL goalies. The mistake that many youth, high school or college goalies make is when they drop deep in the crease without attacking into the puckcarriers point of release. Butterfly or paddle-down pad saves must be done by shutting down the gap of space from the shooter to the goalie. These saves are made primarily on dekes and rebounds in the goalmouth or lower slot areas. Goalies must be in top physical anaerobic condition to handle the explosive nature of these saves. A goalie who merely flops while staying in place deep in the crease is not a threat. A goalie who moves his or her feet to stay with the deke or pass and attacks the pads towards the release of the puck will be quite successful. To practice this explosive power with pad saves, you may run the following drills.

Drill 1 - Place 8 pucks in an arc so 4 pucks are on 1 side of the crease (about 4 feet from the arc) and 4 pucks are on the other side. The goalie starts off on the right post and a shooter starts on the goal line next to the right post. On a whistle, the shooter skates to the first puck on the right side while the goalie explodes to the top of the crease on the right side. The shooter turns, one-times the puck and returns to the goal line. The goalie makes a butterfly or paddle-down pad save and hustles back to the post. The players repeat until the four pucks have been played on the right side. They then immediately go to the left side and repeat the drill until those 4 pucks have been played. This is a very tiring, explosive pad drill for the goalie. This teaches taking away the angle from the shooter and eliminating the gap of space the shooter would have to find room to score. The explosive nature of the pad saves will smother the one-timer.

Drill 2 - Face-off Circle Series - Move the net to the bottom of the face-off circle. The following drills will be done in 30 second bursts so the intensity will be high from the goalie and the shooter. Switch goalies and shooters at the end of each 30 second series.

#1: Turnaround Drill (30 Seconds) - Coach is at the top of the circle with pucks. Shooter stands on the face-off dot, facing the coach, with his back to the goalie. Coach passes puck to shooter who quickly turns to one side while moving the feet and shoots a one-timer. The goalie must turn into the save and make a pad save. The rebound is played out inside the circle until it is scored or the goalie ties it up. The coach keeps feeding the puck until the 30 seconds is up.

#2: Rapid Fire Dekes (30 Seconds) - Pucks are on the hashmarks on both sides of the circle. The shooter starts at one side with a puck and moves feet across the net to deke. Rebounds are played inside the circle until it is frozen or scored. Repeat from the other side. Shooter alternates sides for 30 seconds. The goalie works hard to stay under a stick length away from each deke. (Note: Very tiring).

#3: Rapid Fire Stuffs (30 Seconds) - The shooter has the pucks behind the goalie in the face-off circle. On whistle, the shooter fakes as he comes out from behind the goal line and dekes across the goalmouth. Playout all rebounds and alternate sides. Goalie must make pad saves at the release of the stick at the top of the crease area, not back on the goal line.

#4: Rapid Fire One-Timers (30 Seconds) - The coach is behind the net with pucks while shooter does figure 8s in slot, always facing the net. The coach will pass the puck when the shooter is square to the net. The shooter pulls the trigger and plays out the rebound if there is one. The goalie must explode into the pad save, but know whether the shooter is a left or right hand shot. The goalie must attack the pads to the stick blade while keeping the hands up to protect the upper corners. The goalie alternates starting from each side with each pass from the coach.

Explosive goaltending comes from over-speed save techniques in practice. If the goalie speeds his or her training time standing flat-footed, don't be disappointed about poor results in games.

This article was contributed by Fred Quistgard of Quistgard Goalie Training


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