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Goaltending 101

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There are some basic concepts that are a part of every level of goaltending. These concepts must be instinctively executed on a regular basis. Lets review some of these key components:

Crease Presence: If you move around the crease without confidence (gliding, poor body language) opposing shooters will take advantage of you. You must challenge the puck in a way that puts the shooter on the defensive. When you force a shooter to make a decision, they make mistakes. If you give the shooter easy options, the pressure is on you, the goalie, to have to make a big save. Iíd rather have the shooter be forced into making a great shot!

Footwork: Establish your angle before there is a threat of an immediate shot whenever possible. Obviously, you canít always be set in the right place when a shot comes, but if you get in the habit of instinctively getting to the right place early, the pressure goes to the shooter to make a choice as to where he or she will shoot, pass or deke. Now which foot you stop on when stepping out to the angle depends on how much time you have. If the play is approaching your blue line and you have time, you would ideally stop on your back foot(right foot on left side, left foot on right side) so you donít drift off the short side of the net. If there is a close in play and you have to get into position quickly, you want to stop with your near (or post-side) foot because that will be your plant foot to move laterally across the crease or to drive into a butterfly slide.

Angles: I believe in the short-side theory of the angles. Shooters are lazy and will shoot short-side if there is something to shoot at because itís easier than moving across the crease against a sliding defenseman. Try lining up your back foot on the puck on wide angles and remember not to move laterally with the shooter until the puck passes the mid-point of your body.  In other words, once the puck moves past the logo on your jersey it is safe to move laterally with the shooter because the short-side of the net is no longer a scoring option.

Remember to re-assess your comfort zone when gapping up to a deking or shooting player. Many goalies sub-consciously sag or glide deep into the crease as a player approaches to shoot or deke. When you glide backwards, you let the shooter off the hook by giving up extra space that the shooter shouldnít have. Even a less talented shooter can get lucky when a goalie plays too passively. To challenge a player properly, you donít need to go charging out at them, just get your position set as early as possible and be PATIENT enough to make the shooter commit first.

Practice Using the One Puck Theory: Too often when you practice, you are in a hurry to get to the next shooter in drills. Now thatís all well and good that you want to give every shooter your attention, but when you donít finish out a save properly and rush to the next play, you get sloppy. In a game, you donít have multiple players with pucks coming at you. There is only one puck! So when you do drills in practice, treat each shot as if itís the only puck on the ice. Finish out your save before moving to the next play. If you canít be ready because the next shooters are on top of you, let them score and get in proper position for the play after that. Many coaches unfortunately donít pay attention to the goalie and rush the drills. If this happens speak to your coaches so you can give each play your full attention from start to finish.

This article was contributed by Fred Quistgard of Quistgard Goalie Training.


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