Coaches Tips: What's Really Important About My Saves?
Goalies of all ages and
abilities must be instinctively aware of what their bodies are doing
during the course of a save attempt. One can't consciously be
thinking about the technique being executed because the game is
played by reaction. A goalie can't have a cup of tea or take out a
slide-rule to figure out an angle because there simply isn't time in
a game to make a well-thought out decision. The thinking process
should occur in practice where there isn't as much on the line with
each save. The goalie can practice different techniques to see what
is effective an what isn't without costing his or her team a loss.
Through practice a goalie can develop an innate sense of what he or
she can or cannot do when faced with one-on-ones, two-on-ones,
three-on-twos, breakaways, or power plays. If a goalie practices
responsibly, games merely become an extension of what they have
learned and fine-tuned during practice.
There are a lot of "little
things" that separate the elite goalies from the mediocre masses.
How well are you aware of these seemingly insignificant, but,
extremely important aspects of great goaltending?
Are you caught retreating a
lot when faced with approaching shooters? Do you glide backwards
while the player is in the act of shooting and get caught
flat-footed as the puck enters the far corner? On cross-ice passes,
do you retreat towards the post, thereby giving the shooter four to
five extra feet to shoot at? Are you smart enough to attack to the
shooter's blade to take away space, or do you line up on the
shooter's body? Do you fill space on the angle before a player
approaches with the puck so they have nothing to look at when they
pick their head up?
Do you extend your glove or
blocker behind your body and out of your field of vision? Do you
always turn your head and back shoulder in the direction of the save
so you have a foot of extra reach? Does your blocker make contact
with the puck in front of the body with a good wrist snap so the
puck doesn't rebound into the slot? Do you fall back on your rear
every time you must make a half-split glove or blocker save?
Do you maintain a close gap
between the release of the puck and your pads when making a
butterfly or Ed Belfour-type save? When making a stack or butterfly,
do you move into the save or are you retreating to give the shooter
more time and space to score? On butterflys, do you keep your hands
ahead of the body so your body weight leans forward enough to
minimize the five-hole and armpits? Can you spread the leg pad wide
enough on a half-butterfly to cover the low corner, or does the leg
sit straight under your body?
Can you make a half-split
skate/stick save combo with the puck deflecting to the corner
without falling on your rear? On straight on shots, do you give the
rebound back to the shooter or are you able to freeze the puck under
extreme pressure? How active are you with handling the puck? Do you
ignore chances to help your defense with a breakout pass? Are you
adept at pokechecking and pass blocking so the opposition is forced
to set up farther away from the net than they want?
Are you explosive in all of
your movements around the crease or do you glide? The more gliding
you do the more off-balance you will be on quickly developing plays
because you will never be set in the stance. Do you move with your
hand leading the way? If the hands move first, your body will
follow. If you try to move a leg first, your upper body will trail
and throw you off-balance. Do you move with a pass, or do you wait
to move until the receiver gets the puck for a shot?
Are you a mental vegetable who
waits for a shot to come before reacting? Are you smart enough to
read the approaching play to see whether a shooter is a left shot or
right shot, and determine the player's options? You can see whether
the player will shoot or pass based on where the forehand is facing
and how much pressure your defense is applying. When you know
offensive options both five-on-five and man-down, it is easier to
play goal because you can see what type of play the opponents are
attempting to set up. Look to deny scoring chances instead of
waiting to make a save. An aggressive angle or a well-placed
pokecheck can deny scoring chances.
Think about these factors in
your saves to see if you are playing to the best of your ability, or
if you are taking shortcuts that are a barrier to reaching your
This article was contributed
Quistgard of Quistgard Goalie Training.