Are you a hockey goaltender looking to improve their game this season? If so you are in the right place, throughout this article we are going to break down several key things you can focus on to make yourself a good hockey goalie.
Athleticism And Agility
One of the key straits of a good hockey goalie is athleticism and agility. Good positioning and fundamentals should do the job for the easy shots but finding a way to stop great scoring opportunities is a whole different story.
Goalies that are able to move quickly and fluidly between the pipes are going to be very effective on the ice.
One way in which athleticism can help you as a goaltender is your ability to get square to the puck. On any given play you want to be facing the puck carrier as he shoots the puck. With great athleticism, you will find that a goalie is quicker at getting themselves square.
This improves the angles of the goalie and makes it more difficult to find an opening.
Athleticism is also going to be helpful with handling rebounds and deflections. At some point or another things are going to get hectic in front of the net. In these times it can helpful to have an agile goalie that is able to adapt to the situation quickly and get in the position to stop the puck.
Mental toughness is another key aspect of playing the goaltender position. It is no secret that goalies are considered “weird” in hockey, and are a large part of that is due to the different mental expectations that are placed on these players.
Goalies have to be able to get into a zone where they are entirely focused on the game. A short lapse in judgement is something that can happen with a center or winger but if a goaltender loses focus for a second the result can be a goal against their team.
Additionally, goaltenders need mental toughness to keep their head in the game after allowing goals to be scored. It can be incredibly frustrating to play this position and when goals start to pile up. And lets face it not every game is going to be a shutout.
Goalies that are able to play at a consistent level despite what is going on around them are going to be goalies you want on your team.
Positioning is a factor that can make a goaltenders job a lot easier. One huge aspect of the goalie position is placing yourself in the right position before the puck is shot.
Sure you need to be able to react to the shot and make the save but giving the opponent little to aim for is going to make their job much harder.
One example of this can be seen when a goalie comes out of his crease in order to improve their angles. If goalies sat in their crease as a player came in on a breakaway the player would likely be able to pick a corner to shoot in.
This is why you will see goalies come out of their crease and move backwards as the player gets closer to the net. This sort of positioning can make it very difficult for the puck carrier to determine what to do.
And if the puck carrier does decide to shoot you’ll find a goalie with great positioning is going to have a much easier time saving the shot.
When you get to the higher levels of hockey aspects of the game such as rebound control start to become more important. Once goalies are expected to make the save it will then come down to where the puck ends up after the save is made.
At the higher levels hockey players will intentionally shoot off the goalie’s pads in order to create a rebound for their teammate. In order to stop scoring opportunities like this goalies need to learn to master rebound control.
This essentially means that a goalie will work to give out as few rebounds as possible. And when a rebound does come out it should be directed towards the corner or out of play.
If a goalie has taken the time to perfect his rebound control you can bet they have put a lot of work into their game.
Showing Up When It Matters
Another key aspect about goalies that isn’t talked about enough is there ability to play well in big moments. Almost every team that makes a Stanley cup run does so on the back of a hot goalie.
The goaltending position has the unique ability to take over an entire game if their performance is good enough. A goalie that shows up when it matters has the ability to play their best in the most pressurized situations.
In football this term is usually reffered to as being clutch. If a goalie has the ability to raise their game when the chips are on the table then your team has a much better chance at succesful hockey season.