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Unless you are blessed with a goalie coach who is closely monitoring your every move in every practice and game, you have to do a lot of self-assessments in order to keep your game moving forward. Now it’s not practical to have a mirror placed in the slot so you can watch yourself move around. You have to learn to pay attention to the small details that determine how successful you will be. What are the small details you say? Well, it’s learning to pay attention to the things most of you ignore or take for granted. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with goalies at a practice or observed them in games and ask them “Why did you do that on that play?” only to get an answer of “I don’t know”. Well, in each and every practice or game you make hundreds of little decisions that will affect your ability to stop the puck. Where to stand, where to move, how you hold your stance, where you put your rebounds and how you communicate to your teammates all influence how successful or unsuccessful you will be. Most goalies take these “little things” for granted and never pay attention to them in practice, let alone in games. Here are some of the questions that you should ask yourself when identifying the “little things”:

1)Why Am I Standing Here?

Do you consciously know why you are standing where you are when you are challenging an approaching offensive play? Have you noticed whether the opponents are lefties or righties? That knowledge will give you a clue as to the passing, rebound and shooting lanes they are looking at. Are you aware of where your defensive teammates are positioned? Their positioning will also give you a clue as to what the offensive players will likely do. For example, if your D are sagging early, the opposing center may pull up short for a shot while the two wingers crash the net hard. If you step up on the angle when the center pulls up, you can have a better angle on the shot and also stay ahead of the crashing wingers which will prevent them from easily getting to a rebound. Are you sure that you have the angle covered? If you are faced with a left hand shooter on your right, the shooter’s forehand is facing the short side of the net. If you are not fully lined up on the short side angle, but are cheating to the middle, the shooter can easily score. Are you gliding backwards? Whether you challenged the shooter well or are flat-footed deep in the crease, when you glide backwards while waiting for the release of the shot, your weight is on your heels and you’re opening up more net to the shooter(2 major no-nos!)

2)What Comes Next? Okay,

I made the first save, now what? If your only goal was to stop the first puck without thinking about where the rebound was going next, you are going to be in trouble. You must instinctively be going from the first save into the direction of the rebound without wasting valuable seconds. If you don’t control the puck completely on the first save, do you move towards the rebound without hesitating? When you hesitate, you lose valuable seconds that could have gotten you closer to the next shot. Shooters take their eyes off you for an instant when the puck deflects off your body. If you are already moving to the new angle when the opposition looks to the rebound, you will be set before they take the next shot. Mentally anticipate where you may have to move, but don’t physically cheat too early because you will misplay that first shot.

3)Does The Save Feel Right?

 Very often, you can tell when something isn’t quite right when you’re making a save. It might not feel smooth or you get put off-balance. Do you know the cause of that feeling? Most goalies don’t take the time to look at why they are off balance. Maybe your hands are behind your body and that keeps your weight on the heels. Maybe your back shoulder and head aren’t turning in the direction of your half-butterfly and that’s affecting your extension to the puck. Maybe you’re not getting up for rebounds fast enough because you are planting your front foot instead of your back foot when moving to the next shot. Maybe you’re dropping your glove and getting beat high glove side.

This article was contributed by Fred Quistgard of Quistgard Goalie Training


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