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So You Made A Mistake….Now What?

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So You Made A Mistake….Now What?

By Fred Quistgard

In virtually every game and practice a goalie makes a mistake. That’s not exactly earth-shattering news. What I want to address with you is how quickly you realize you made a mistake (no, not the ones that wind up in the net!) and what you are going to do about it. In watching the 2011 NHL Winter Classic with the NY Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, I noticed several of the goals scored were a result of rebounds that came off the pads or sticks of the goalies. The window of opportunity to get to the rebound shot was very small and that’s why the goals went in. It reinforced something I’ve been noticing with goalies of all ages regarding how quickly the mistake is processed and how quickly an appropriate rebound save attempt can be set up. Let’s look at some key concepts when it comes to playing your rebound mistakes.

Sense of Urgency

Once a rebound goes out, the goalie cannot be too casual about it. If you get caught being a spectator with a bucket of popcorn and a soda, you will have what I call a “Wow, I could have had a V8” moment. Like the commercials, where the person slaps themselves on the side of their head when they could have made a healthier nutritional choice, goalies have that “Oops” moment when they get caught watching their rebound instead of moving to play it right away. Goalies need to speed up their recognition process when pucks come off their body to places they didn’t mean for them to go. Remember, shooters will take their eyes off of you for a second or two while they retrieve the loose puck and that is your small window of opportunity to get to the new angle of the puck. If you hesitate, the shooter has the advantage. If you can skate, slide, crawl or scoot over to the new lane the puck is in, you have a good chance of getting to the rebound.

Moving to the Rebound Angle

Ok, let’s say you made a pad save and the puck has gone to the open side of the net. What happens next? If the opponent is making an immediate rebound shot, you don’t have time to get up. You must scoot over and try to cover as much low net as possible while still keeping a catching glove or blocker tall enough to take away a high follow through. If the rebound goes away from the closest opponent, they will have to turn their back to you while they retrieve the puck. In this scenario, you will have time to quickly plant your back foot, get up and move to the new shooting lane. Either way, you’ve got to get your back foot and leg under your body so you can move either on or off the ice. If your back leg is hanging too wide after the first save, it’s hard to get a plant foot ready in the few seconds you have to react to the next play.

Choice of Save

If it’s a “bang-bang” rebound shot (the shooter bangs it right back at you), the shooter is not getting too fancy with the shot. So in this situation, you may go to a paddle down save with your glove up and strong-side pad out so you have a tight seal on the low angle while still protecting the top shelf. Remember, if the shooter is close to you and can’t extend his or her arms, it’s hard to hit the top corner with a rebound. If there is more gap between you and the rebound and the shooter has to retrieve it, you have time to get up and move close before you go back down. The whole key concept is gap control. If you can minimize the gap the shooter has on the rebound, you’ve got a chance to stop the puck.

Common Problems

In addition to watching the rebound rather than moving to it, another common problem is to fall backwards trying to make an athletic, full-stretch type of save. If you haven’t moved closer to the rebound puck, no amount of stretching is going to help you reach it. That’s why it’s so important to at least “scoot” over closer to the new angle so when you do stretch to make a save attempt, you are close enough to reach it. On rebounds, goalies tend to lose their height. If you sit your butt on your back leg and drop your hands, your height diminishes so it’s harder to block more space. If you hang your back shoulder on the initial save, it’s hard to recover smoothly into the rebound save. Try to have great economy of movement (body control) so you can transition from spot to spot to spot as the puck changes location.

This article was contributed by Fred Quistgard of Quistgard Goalie Training

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