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Challenging Shooters Like its Halloween

By Fred Quistgard

There is a simple way to learn how to challenge shooters on a regular basis so they have the most pressure on them to make a great shot. Those of you that know me or who have read my articles over the past 26+ years, realize that I like using analogies to paint a picture in a goalie’s mind so he or she can understand the concept I’m trying to teach. When I observe many goalies in practice or in their games, I see that they get locked into a position long before the shooter is in shooting position. Unless the shooter is a natural goal scorer (ones that think like a goalie) he or she tends to shoot when the choice is obvious. For example, if the goalie stays locked in the crease even though the shooter is approaching from twenty or thirty feet away, the shooter will have the time and space to lock in on a target and basically “grip it and rip it” to blow it by the goalie.

Goalies should try and put a bit of doubt in the shooter’s mind as to what the best scoring option is. Since most shooters are the “smack the puck and hope I get lucky” type, giving them a bit of pressure in their decision making process will make them make mistakes. If the net is getting a bit smaller, the shooter has to make a quicker decision. If the shooter is not a natural goal scorer, he or she will panic and often either miss the net or put it into the goalie’s belly or pads. So, how do you challenge shooters in a way that won’t get too complicated? Okay, let’s look at an analogy from Halloween……

Think of you, the goalie, as a ghost. The shooter approaching is an unsuspecting human. All of a sudden you appear before them and go “BOO”! The human gets startled and panics. That is the reaction a shooter will have when you challenge them in the right way. No, I am not saying you charge out like a bull in a china shop where the shooter has time to avoid you. What I am suggesting is that you learn to be sneaky in the way you challenge the shooter.

So, if you want to “BOO”! the shooter, you need to move closer when the shooter doesn’t expect it. If they don’t expect you to take some space away, they will get startled and mess up. Let’s look at a couple of examples:

1) As a shooter approaches the blue line and has to get by the D, he or she will take a peek to see where you are set up before getting to a shooting position. As they get around the D, the shooter assumes you are in the same spot. As he or she cuts around the D they will be surprised if the goalie has stepped a bit closer on the angle. If the shooter is surprised, a mistake may happen. If the goalie never came out or even retreated, the shooter is not startled and can make an obvious scoring choice. Notice that I mentioned the goalie getting “a bit” closer when the shooter wasn’t looking. Often times a simple one foot step closer is enough to make the shooter panic.

2) Another example happens after you’ve made a pad save and the rebound gets away. Most goalies stay where they are and watch to see what the shooter will do. This is valuable wasted time. The shooter has plenty of rebound scoring space when the goalie stays flat-footed and watching. If the goalie has time to plant the back foot and slide closer to the puck, has time to get all the way up or merely shuffles closer on their knees, the shooter will have to rush his or her shot. Staying where you are when you had a moment to pressure the shooter will cost you rebound saves.

Summary: The moral of this Halloween analogy is to learn to attack space and not just be a puck receptacle waiting to be shot at. Most of your games and practices involve your preparation to make a save, not the save itself. If you learn to fill lanes by moving one step closer to the puck just before the shooter pulls the trigger, you will accomplish several things: 1) the angle gets minimized 2) the shooter will rush his or her shooting decision because time and space is running out and 3) by taking a small step towards the puck, your body weight will be on the balls of the feet which will give you more explosiveness when making the save attempt.

The little “BOO”! step to the shooter will ensure that they are pressured on their scoring choice and will make your angles that much tougher for them to handle. Try to scare shooters on a regular basis but don’t think it takes a charging attack to scare them into mistakes. A sneaky, balanced step on the angle as the shooter decides what to do is very effective and won’t let you get caught out of position like you would be if you charged out like a rhino in the Serengeti!

 

This article was contributed by Fred Quistgard of Quistgard Goalie Training

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