I Never Do That! (And other lies goalies tell themselves about their bad habits)

Over the 30+ years I’ve been coaching goalies, I ‘ve developed a pretty good eye for seeing little habits that hurt a goalie’s development. Often when I tell a goalie of something I saw, he or she will say “Oh no, I NEVER do that”. When it’s caught on video, the comment then becomes “Oh…..I guess I do that”. What are some of the details that goalies lie to themselves about? Let’s look at some common ones:

I Never Back In Too Soon:

One of the most common bad habits is backing in too early. Goalies are rarely aware that by slowly slinking back into the net they are making their job tougher. The weight is on the heels when a goalie glides backwards, passing, deking and scoring lanes open up and the hands often drop too close to the body. Patience is one of the hardest things to practice. Let the player get closer so the shooter gets uncomfortable about the lack of space. Don’t let them off the hook by retreating when it’s not necessary!

I Never Go Down Too Early:

If a shooter drops their shoulder and you hit the ice like Humpty Dumpty, you will get walked around a lot and get beat on the corners. Sometimes I do a drill where I just stand there like a statue and don’t move. Goalies get all antsy waiting for me to move and they wind up leaning, dropping or opening up before I shoot. If a shooter has not shot yet, there is a good reason for it…you! If you’re not telegraphing anything and you’ve done a great job hiding the net with your body, the shooter is confused and is hoping you will move first. Don’t blink and give the shooter an obvious place to aim for. With the exception of a natural goal scorer, most shooters are dumb and simply shoot where they see space. On goal mouth dekes, try taking a lateral half-step before going into a butterfly slide so you can stay with a shooter better. When you take too long of a stride into a butterfly slide against a close deke, the shooter can see a lot of holes. The half-step gets your body past the top of the crease to the side the player is deking to and then the butterfly slide can be tighter.

I Always Have the Short Side Angle Covered

No, you don’t…. A lot of goalies “think” they have the short side protected, but it is often wide open. Shooters like to take the easy way out. The short side is an easier shot than going to the front of the net through traffic or shooting across the goalie’s body. I’ve always taught the short side theory of the angles where you make sure you line up your back foot or shoulder on pucks from the face-off dot to the boards (right foot on left side and left foot on right side). This gives you full short side coverage to discourage that shot and once the puck moves past your body’s mid-point(I call this the Midpoint Rule), you move laterally and then center on the puck like normal. If the shooter is stupid enough to shoot at the short side when you have it covered it’s an easy save. If you are lined up too much in the center angle on short side shots, shooters will get you leaning away and then come back short side. That’s a much more difficult save to make.

My Hands Are Always Up and Ready

No, you are probably lazy…. A lot of goalies rest their hands on their pads and only get them in position when they think a shot is about to be taken. If someone shoots in a screen or shoots before the goalie is ready, it’s either a goal or a bad rebound. It’s tiring to keep your hands up and out, but it should be automatic once the other team crosses the far blueline. If your hands are always ready, you can handle surprises.

My 5 Hole Coverage Is Solid

Are you sure you bring your elbows in, keep the hands ahead and bring your chin down as the puck comes into the belly or between the knees? If you aren’t consistent with these good habits, pucks will sneak through the 5 Hole. If your chin is up and your hands are too wide and your back is straight, it is very difficult to create a tight seal between the knees as well as the armpit/rib areas. If you have consistent form with your butterfly, 5 Hole’s don’t have to be much of an issue. Also, if you butterfly while retreating into the net it is harder to shut down the 5 Hole than if your weight was leaning forward onto the balls of the feet.

I Own The Top Shelves!

I may beg to differ…. Many goalies rely on reflexes to get a top shelf catching glove or blocker save. These saves should be an example of the efficiency in the way you move your body instead of a great windshield wiper-like Hail Mary save. If you keep your hands ahead of your body and keep the gloves at a forward diagonal from the nose to the thumb and turn the head and back shoulder in the direction of the save, you will have consistent hands. The rising trajectory of the puck is relatively consistent from the hash-marks and lower face-off circles. If the catching glove wrist is turned slightly downward so the pocket is in the lane with the rising puck and the goalie’s body turns smoothly without throwing him or herself at the puck, the catch can be very clean. On the blocker side, too many goalies do “shoulder rolls” and the rib area is wide open for goals that handcuff the goalie. Keep the blocker ahead of the body, turn the catching glove shoulder and head in the direction of the save and meet the puck early so a slight snap of the blocker will send the puck explosively to the corner of the defensive zone. If you swing the whole arm at the puck the armpit area by the ribs will be wide open. As with a lot of goaltending moves, less is more. The more efficient you are, the more consistent you will be.

This article was contributed by Fred Quistgard

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