Hockey Goalie Fundamentals – Characteristics of a good Goalie
All positions on the ice rink are important in a hockey game, but the final line of defense is extremely important.
Of course, the two defensemen have the job of keeping the puck away from the goalie, but the hockey goalie is where the puck must stop to prevent the opposing team from scoring.
Following the Puck
Being a goalie is not an easy task, so it is difficult to become a good one.
The best ones end up in the professional leagues and they have all developed their own means of success. One of the ways that they have become good at their position is by watching the puck, and reacting.
By doing this, they cannot be fooled by pump fakes and head fakes. They also will not be fooled by watching sticks that are covered with black tape to camouflage the puck. Goalies need to be incredibly focused on the puck at all times, even when it is on the other side of the ice.
Proper Positioning on the Ice
Along with knowing where the puck is, good goalies will also know where they are on the ice.
It is vital for goalies to be in the best possible position to stop the puck (you can read about different goalie styles here). Some goalies even believe it is more important to be positioned properly than it is to have a speedy reaction time.
Shots on goal can be so speedy that no goalie could react in time, so simply having their bodies, gloves, and sticks in the right spots can save the goal. The marks on the ice can help goalies get themselves in proper position, but they have to constantly move depending on where the puck is being played.
To get a bearing on their positions, goalies will use their sticks and gloves to hit the goal posts instead of turning their heads. This way, they can be sure they are right where they need to be.
Getting into the Zone
Another important aspect of the game for goalies is to get into the zone.
While professional goalies play day after day, they still have to get mentally prepared for each start. But, amateur goalies can use their off-days to get ready for the game. They can use their off-days to prepare by getting their game plans together and become unstoppable in front of the goal.
When goalies are able to get into the mental zone, they see the puck better and they respond faster. Their work almost become automatic, which is what athletes in other sports say when they get into the zone, too.
Developing Strong Skating Skills
It is also important for goalies to be able to skate.
While they do not need to have the same speed and agility as the forwards and defensemen, they still need to be able to maneuver with ease on their skates.
All too often, coaches do not give their goalies much time to skate. So, it is important that goalies work on their abilities on their own. There are plenty of drills that can be used to strengthen their skills in the crease and at short distances away from the goal.
A key to success is the goalie’s ability to get into the ready position to reduce the chances for opponents to find a hole into the goal. By repeating skills regularly, muscle memory will develop and goalies will become the best they can be.
Learning from Strengths and Weaknesses
It is also important for goalies to learn from their mistakes.
Being able to reflect on goals scored against them allows goal tenders to understand their weaknesses and to strengthen them. Coaches must help their goalies understand what went wrong as well as what went right in games.
A good coach will take time to talk to the goalie and ask the goalie good questions about what could have been done differently and what did the goalie see during the game. Goalies and coaches should work together to establish goals for each game and for the season. They should be able to talk about the progress throughout the season and where improvement can be made. Good goalies understand that there is always room to improve, even those who play at the elite level.
Adding to Physical Flexibility
Even though this is not vital to a goalie’s success, it does help for goalies to have physical flexibility.
While it does not make one goalie better than another, being flexible can make it easier to stop a puck.
Fortunately, goalies, in their work to better themselves, can develop flexibility by stretching and conditioning in the off-season and during the season. If a goalie can do the splits, then the goalie has more surface area on the ice to stop the puck.
There are several ways that good goalies are measured. The ability to see and stop the puck is the ultimate test of the best goalies. Any goalie that wants to be categorized as “good” needs to work on being the best puck stopper possible.