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Posted by on in Alexander

 Prepare for the opposition

  1.  Through your own experience, by viewing video or by viewing statistics determine players to watch on the opposing team (this prepares you to deal with the better players on the opposing team because you know who they are and their tendencies.  Usually the better” players are the betterplayers game in and game out.   (this will also prepare you for shootout situations)

 2.  Again through your own experience, by viewing video or discussion with your head or assistance coaches, determine the type of game offense this team usually plays or the combinations you will most likely see (this prepares you to formulate a plan for your reaction to most of opposition zone entries & power play, plus how you will need to communicate with your defense for a stretch pass, wide rim, dump & chase or beat the “D” and net drive situations etc.)

 3.  Similarly, you should make yourself aware of the opposition tendencies once they penetrate the defensive zone on 5 on 5, 5 on 4, or 5 on 3 situations (thiwill allow you to develop a game plan for reaction to each of these pressure situations so you improve your chances for success)

Reminders
 
Pick one or two self-reminds to take with you into the game.  Here is a quick list of some self-reminders you might use:

- track every puck into and away from your body, gear, stick etc.
- focus on getting into position quickly on passes
- re-position quickly on rebounds
- set my feet before every shot
- fight to find pucks in traffic
- be patient
- be under control (physically & emotionally)
- help my “D” by communicating with them
- get out & handle all pucks that are near the net
- battle for every puck
BREATH

Physical Warm-up (typical)

Pre-ice

1.  Dynamic stretch / warm-up (10 – 15 minutes)
2.  Technical movements include quickness and agility exercises with tennis balls or “reaction” balls either alone or with your goaltending partner.  (10 minutes)
3.  Static Stretch (5 minutes)

On-ice

For the first couple of minutes – movement drills (saves & crease movements, slides – do outside the crease) then team warm up (discuss with your coach & team mates the most effective warm up for you)

Focus on the process of the warm up and not whether a shot goes by you and into the net.  IT IS A WARM UP ONLY TO PREPARE YOU TO PLAY. 

IN GAME - BE ACCOUNTABLE

 

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Posted by on in Alexander

Game day preparation is vital to the success of the goaltender; especially at a high caliber level of competition.  To neglect this important area is to jeopardize the potential for you to play at your best.  

Proper preparation will give you a sense of control over an otherwise seemingly, uncontrollable situation and allows you to rehearse your reaction to game situations as they might develop.  Proper preparation will also give you a measure of confidence and you will go into the competition feeling at ease and comfortable.

Preparing the mind

Breathing: take 5 minutes and work on your breathing (this helps calm your mind and relaxes your body) 

Inhale for a count of two… hold the breath in for a count of one… exhale gently, counting out for four…  and finish by  holding the breath out for a count of one. Keep your breathing even and smooth. If the 2-4 count feels too short try increasing the breath lengths to 4 in and 6 out, or 6 in and 8 out, and so on.  But if longer breaths create any anxiety there is no need to push yourself. The most important thing is that the exhale is longer than the inhale, not the absolute length of the breath

Visualization: 5 – 10 minutes of visualization work will effectively bring you into “game mode”

Find a quite spot without distractions.  Create a mental image (visualization) of different game situations in your mind as though they were happening and you were   looking at them through your own eyes. (watch the puck coming at you and hitting your equipment, or you catching the puck or controlling the rebound. In other words, you are successfully making the save. Try to do this for 5 - 10 minutes. It will be difficult at first and perhaps you will only be able to concentrate for a few minutes.  But as you practice more you will be able to concentrate longer)

(visualization and breathing exercises can and should be practiced regularly both at and away from the rink)

 

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Posted by on in Alexander

The most important factor when the puck is being carried behind the net is to maintain eye contact with the puck for the greatest amount of time that it is there.

Generally, goaltenders will stop watching the puck once it passes the post on the short side & begin to move in the direction the puck is being carried without bothering to maintain any type of eye contact with the puck until they arrive at the far post.

In other words, the goaltender is “guessing” that the puck carrier will continue moving the puck in a forward direction behind & around or beyond the net.  And this really is a “guess”.

Simply, because, this does not consider the other 3 options at the puck carrier’s disposal:

1. the puck carrier can stop at some point behind the net & with a quick set up, make a pass out to a supporting partner on either side (result = panic: since goaltender is committed to one side of the net & has no idea where the puck carrier or puck is, he/she ends up turning his/her head from side to side in an attempt to determine where the attack will come from)

2. the puck carrier can make a back pass to a partner who is below the goal line & trailing the play (result = trailing partner steps out over the goal line & jams the puck into the open net near side or plays “catch” with the passer forcing the goaltender to bounce from post to post & completely out of position for any type of scoring attempt)

3. as he reaches the mid-way point behind the net, the puck carrier can make a back pass to a supporting partner who is already above the goal line on the same side of the net where the puck carrier started (result = easy tap in goal 9 times out of 10)

 

So, here is one method to "effectively" track puck movement behind the net.

 


The first point I want to make here is “don’t panic”!  Remember, generally you will have more time than you realize especially, if you maintain excellent eye contact with the puck.
 

In this scenario we have chosen, the goaltender has positioned him/herself in an RVH (or for younger, less experienced goaltenders in an integrated post position on his/her skates) on the blocker side post as the puck is being moved below the goal line towards the net on the goaltender's blocker side. 

The goaltender should hold this position on the post until the point where the puck has moved past the blocker side post inside the frame of the net.  Now the goaltender moves his upper body away from the blocker side post but keeps his/her skate blade/pad in contact with that post and eye contact on the puck.  At this point the goaltender will be positioned on the goal line & approximately MID-NET.

When the goaltender can no longer see the puck over his blocker side shoulder he should continue to HOLD THAT SAME MID-NET POSITION, turn his head & attempt to pick up the puck location over his trapper side shoulder.
  

If the puck carrier has continued his path forward with the puck, the goaltender should just simply use his/her trailing leg (the one still in contact with the blocker side post) to push off & engage and seal the trapper side post and the ice.

On the other hand, if the goaltender cannot locate the puck position over the trapper side shoulder, he should KEEP HIS POSITION & turn his head back to the blocker side & attempt to locate the puck on that side.

If the puck carrier has stopped & set up behind the net, the goaltender can still maintain eye contact on the puck simply by leaning a little more to one side or the other and reacting to what he does. Although, not totally integrated to either post, the goaltender's location still leaves him/her in a very, very favorable position to gain angle on a pass out to either side of the net or deal with a wrap around attempt. 

If any type of back pass has been made the goaltender is still in a favorable position (MID-NET) to react to either of the back-pass situations described above because the goaltender is just a short push away from being able to quickly and effectively integrate with the post and seal the ice and/or gain angle against the scoring attempt.

We suggest this method is equally effective in situations where puck movement is similar but, where the goaltender chooses to remain on his/her skates and to not move into an RVH position.


(although we have used puck movement from blocker to trapper side of the net, the same method can be used for a puck being moved in the opposite direction)

Tagged in: Goalie Training
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Posted by on in Alexander

To successfully prevent goals being scored from screened shots requires a collaborative effort between the goaltender & the team’s defensive core. 

Basically most, if not all, screened shots are scored because the initial shot is deflected or redirected by an opposing player or the goaltender’s own player.  Other instances of goals being scored from screens might be the goaltender looking to the wrong side in traffic or the goaltender guessing because he/she is unable to see the shot release point or, because of the screening effect (screen moving into or out of the puck trajectory path), to track the trajectory of the puck all the way. 

Additionally, we are seeing “layers” of screening on some shots.  For example, there could be a high defending forward, a secondary defender layer, and finally, an opposition player (or in reverse order) all in the goaltender’s sight line to the puck release. 

In today’s game, the emphasis for the defending team appears to be front blocking where the defender(s) (one or more) position ahead of the opposition player attempting to block the shot before it reaches the opposition player (acting as a front net screen) and, subsequently, the goaltender.  All is good in respect to this set up, if the shot is, indeed, blocked.  Unfortunately, depending on the commitment of the defender to block the shot or the blocking instincts of the defender, quite often, the puck will get through. 

If, what I have described above, is the system defense employed by a team in a screening situation, I suggest the following: 

a. shot blocking ALWAYS attempts to force the opposition to shoot to the short side (opposition player at the blue line on the goaltender’s blocker side of the ice, defender positions to take away the far side shooting lane.  Opposition player at the blue line on the goaltender’s trapper side of the ice, defender positions to take away the far side shooting lane) 

b.  when there are two defensive layers blocking, the one nearest the shooter attempts an outright block and the secondary layer positions in the far shooting lane.  Understand, that it is as important to force the shot to the short side as it is to block a shot.  Forcing the shot to the short side, which would normally be away from heavy traffic and the potential for deflection or re-directs also allows the goaltender to deal with only one screen (opposition player) making for easier puck tracking to the net and improving the potential to control rebounds to the short side or directly back out in the direction of the shooter and away from the low slot, high scoring location 

c. the defensive player in a blocking position nearest the net must understand that if the shot does go through to the net, they MUST immediately attempt to gain a position where they are able to retrieve any rebound or prevent the front net opposition player from retrieving a rebound

Here is a guide for the goaltender in a screening situation: 

a.  maintain a relaxed, upright stance following the puck until the shot release is imminent then move into a shot ready position  

b.  be aggressive in maintaining your position at the top of the crease.  Do not allow the opposition to back you into the net.  Use your trapper hand to keep opposition at a distance that allows you to move freely in and around the crease to make the save 

c.  default to a short side view to find the release point of the shot and track its trajectory 

d.  if there is front net screen movement, you may have to adjust your sight line by moving your upper body from side to side or even up & down prior to the shot release.  Continue to maintain your edges and, more importantly, your angle and position in the crease while doing so.  I cannot overemphasis how critical it is to see the puck release to be able to determine the path of the puck to the net.  Even if eye contact with the puck is lost in flight, those first few fractions of a second when the puck leaves the stick should allow the goaltender to “connect the dots” to determine the general location where the puck will arrive at the net, unless deflected or re-directed 

e.  if the shot is a clear-sighted situation, and the screen is not a factor, the goaltender need use the appropriate save selection to stop the puck.  However, if there is potential for a re-direct or deflection the goaltender should default to a butterfly block described below 

e.  where the view of the puck release & trajectory is completely unavailable, the default action will be to move into a butterfly block.  This is strictly a blocking position with elbows tight, hands down (no “active hands” positioning) and slightly ahead of the body and, of course a tight butterfly with a slight bend at the hips and head forward for good balance & reaction/re-positioning/recovery 

f.  on the same note, where the puck release view is available, but the trajectory vision is impeded along the puck’s path to the net, the goaltender should use the “connect the dots” method.  This should allow the goaltender a rough idea whether the path of the puck will be to the right, left, high, low or directly into his/her present angle.  If to the right or left, the goaltender can use a center shift to bring as much of his/her body to fill that portion of the net into the anticipated path of the shot

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Posted by on in Alexander
  1. I will work hard to develop my skating, & technical skills so I am the best goaltender I can be
  2. I will give my best in every game and never leave any game wishing I had worked harder
  3. I will build my mental toughness so that negative events in a game will not affect my performance
  4. I will improve my practice habits and, so, my play in games will reflect how I practice and I will develop my best game habits in practice
  5. I will accept responsibility for my play - good or bad
  6. I will not lay blame with my team mates for goals that are scored even if they made the mistake
  7. I will be a student of the game and always look to improve so that my play will be a positive influence in all my games
  8. I will be disciplined in both my on & off ice habits, and maintain emotional control at all times during games
  9. I will practice good pre-game preparation so when I step on the ice, I am always ready to compete
  10. I will compete for every puck and never give up on a shot, no matter how impossible it might seem to stop it

 

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Posted by on in Alexander

You can absolutely "kill it" in practices, but if you aren't able to perform under pressure you will not become a top end goaltender.  To quote Allistair McCaw, professional trainer & author

"THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE BEST AND THE REST COMES DOWN TO PERFORMING UNDER PRESSURE


In my experience, when you have two athletes (goaltenders) of equal skill the one most likely to come out on top is the one who can handle the stress and pressure of competition, even when fatigued. 
The athlete able to cope with stress & pressure will always be looking to solutions, not excuses.  They will be doing all the good things we explained in our last e-mail and posted to our FB Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/alexandergoaltending/

If you watch them closely in practice, these are the ones who consistently challenge themselves to become better.  Even when the drill is mundane or "easy" they look for ways to make it challenging.  They look for more ways to make it more difficult....for themselves.

Hopefully they have a coach who understands the saying "you play like you practice" so he makes sure the goaltender is engaged and challenged in every drill.  But, if not, they know what they have to do.  They understand that the best way to get better and learn about yourself, your capabilities & shortcomings is to "step into the fire".

You will compete as you train!  If you really want to perform well under pressure you need to take an honest look at how you train.  Don't give in to excuses & looking for the easy way out. 

I recall an incident working with a couple of Junior goaltenders where I devised a drill (purposely) where the goaltender's chance of success was marginally low.  Mid-way through the drill I had one of the goaltenders come up to me and suggest we switch drills......because he thought is was too hard.  Good luck with that one.

Here is a quote from a prominent QMJHL goaltender, “You definitely have to practice like you play. I think the more you practice competitiveness, and making athletic saves, the more your body will get used to it”, said the veteran netminder. “When it comes time to applying that in a game, you are ready to make that type of save. You always have to battle for those extra saves and extra pucks, because you never know if it’s going to be a difference maker in a game.”
 

Can you handle the pressure and be a "difference maker"?

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Posted by on in Alexander

Over the past month I’ve been taking in a lot of hockey games, mostly watching goaltenders in the 13 – 15 age group (10 – 12’s next).

With few exceptions, the majority goaltenders appear similar. They all look the part and, generally, they all have reasonable technical skills. Some are a step above others, others struggle a little at the level and a very large group are possess average skills – they are no more above average than below average.

If I am looking beyond the obvious, however, it becomes apparent that there is much more of a separation than the 3 I have described above.  Because, once the game starts, some of those who looked the part, no longer stand out.

So, if I am observing or reporting on a goaltender, here are some of the important elements I want to evaluate beyond the general technical skills:

1.      Does he/she compete to stop every shot?  Is she/he willing to do anything to make the save?

2.      Does he/she have excellent footwork controlling his/her inside edges both on her/his feet and in a down position & move around the crease smoothly and easily?

3.      Does she/he position (gap/angle) properly in all game situations

4.      Do I see his/her eyes track pucks/shots right into his/her trapper or body or to her/his pad, stick or blocker and then away from the body?

5.      Is she/he mentally tough & focused? Making a timely save when the pressure is on or shaking off mistakes and bad bounces

6.      Can he/she process the game?  Does they appear to understand how plays generally develop in the defensive zone and are they able to understand the potential options.

7.      Is she/he athletic?  I don’t mean diving & flopping all over the crease.  I mean CONTROLLED athletic movement

Certainly, this list is not all encompassing and there are more parts to the making of a top end goaltender.  However, many of these elements were lacking in a good portion of goaltenders I observed.  All are skills or intangibles which do not require a coach, only motivation & effort.

But make no mistake, their absence will/could become the deciding factor when you are being scouted or recruited.

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Posted by on in Alexander

Success!  Everyone has their own definition.  Most of what I hear and see is that success is equated with winning.  I don't necessarily agree with this, but, to each his own opinion.

So, what is really necessary to be a success (successful)?  Ask 100 people and you might get 100 different answers.  So, it's really an individual thing.

This leads me to the question: "what is REALLY necessary for success?"
Again, the answers would be similar to the question in the second paragraph........... different answers from different people.

So, let's talk about that a bit by exploring what happens when we are NOT successful.

From personal experience what I see, is that, when we are not successful (in our own estimation) we get caught up with irrelevant things which have no real bearing on results or success.  "I need a better pad" "a different stick or brand of gear"  "Maybe I should have a protein shake before the game" "perhaps I need to change my off-ice workout" 

And so, we fret & anguish over minor details which make up such a small part of the picture and neglect the important parts which bring the most positive results. Why do we do this?

BECAUSE IT IS EASIER! 

It is easier than admitting that you really don't do the important things that make up the 90% difference to be successful such as:

- eating nutritious foods
- getting the correct amount of daily rest
- never skipping a workout
- preparing thoroughly pregame & pre practice
- diligently working on your skills to perfect your game
- never taking a "night/day off" at practice
- keeping an open mind to advice & correction
- being a "student" of the game always in "learning" mode

Sure, new shiny pads or stick will look sharp, but, are they really going to make the difference? Not unless you have already honed your technical skills and mastered the fundamentals of goaltending.

And, for that, you must PUT IN THE WORK!

So, what are you waiting for?  Make a decision, stick to it and START TODAY.

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Posted by on in Alexander

Today I want to talk about a topic that I believe to be at the heart of a goaltender's success and a question I am asked by coaches a lot of the time.
​ 
Is he/she coachable?

​Perhaps there is no more important quality in a player than to be eager to learn.  And, probably no quicker way to become a better goaltender.

So, what exactly is "coachable"? I have my own opinions which align with pretty well with (CWHL) head coach Bob Deraney who says " players who want to be on the ice, learn from mistakes and approach every practice and game as a chance to improve. These are the players most likely to succeed."

A coachable player is someone who shows up prepared, practice or game," Deraney said. "They are ready to get better and be the best they can be. They're smiling and energetic, and they look you in the eye when you speak with them. They're the kind that wants to be the first one there and last to leave, and always wants to do one more."

The one thing that sticks out in these comments is "they look you in the eye when you speak with them."  Unfortunately, I've seen my share of those WHO DO NOT "look you in the eye when you speak to them" over the past 24 years coaching.... they just nod & look past your shoulder as you speak.  As a coach, this is, perhaps, one of the most frustrating & disappointing encounters you'll have.  Because, in my opinion, they are telling you, without saying a word, "there is nothing you can tell me I don't already know, and, so, I am not really interested in what you have to say".  It also shows a complete lack of respect for someone who is only trying to help you get better.

I suspect all coaches would welcome that the goaltender simply say, "I don't agree coach, I see it this way" or "I'd prefer to try this way, because...." or "Can you explain to me why this is important? “ At the very least this would produce some dialogue.  And, from that dialogue perhaps a common ground can be reached.

Most of these goaltenders I encountered, did not go on to have an extensive goaltending career beyond Minor Hockey.

So, the message here folks is: if you are not already "Coachable", learn quickly!

"The difference between a good player and a great player is that a good player thinks he or she is good, and a great player always believes they can be better,“A great player is an athlete who is never satisfied.”  Bob Deraney

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Posted by on in Alexander

Successful Tryouts


Within the next couple of days or maybe, even already, you will be heading off to one of the most stressful times of the hockey season. ..........try-outs.  But, it need not be, (except for the usual "butterflies") if you invest some time developing your own personal strategy.

First, you need to prepare for each ice session in the same fashion you would for any game.  Go through the same pre-game prep routine you always did during season.  As humans we all like things we are familiar with, so, by following the same pre-game routine & structure you always do, you will automatically feel more comfortable, at ease, & relaxed.


Secondly, in the heat of try-outs things are apt to go wrong (a puck hits your glove & trickles in; a puck goes in off a defenseman's skate; you lose your angle & goal is scored) What you need do is NOT dwell on these, especially your mistakes.  If you do, it will only magnify the problem and hurt your confidence.  The more you dwell on an error or mistake, the more you will play trying to avoid making more mistakes.

You will play your best, if you continue to play through those with the understanding that mistakes do happen.  It is human and all part of the game. Focus on the positives of your performance and don't be afraid to take risks.

Here are a few other thoughts for you to consider:

BE ON TIME - ALWAYS

- show you are motivated to make the team through hard work (give you best effort every game & practice)

- be enthusiastic & upbeat...a tryout is no place for negative talk (either self-talk or otherwise)

- don't be intimidated by others.  Make sure you get your share of shots, but don’t try to overdo it.
  You need to warm up as much as the next guy

- project a confident image...head up, shoulders square

- battle to stop every puck & never give up on a shot, “ANYTIME”; even in warmup

- watch the body language...throwing your hands up on a goal, snapping your stick against the post, shrugging your shoulders or glaring at your defensemen DOES NOT earn you "brownie" points with the coaches

- DO NOT shoot pucks or go into some elaborate skating drill while waiting for your turn to receive shots.  Simply, grab a knee and wait or move into a butterfly position & work on adjusting your upper body posture or hand/stick positioning until your turn comes up - relax

- listen more than you talk, especially in the dressing room

- o
n the ice, be a loud communicator of traffic and situations for your D and supporter of your team mates


- Be intense but under control
- DO NOT attempt to change your game from how you did things all season just because you're in a try-out
- the number of goals you give up is not as important as WHY THE PUCK WENT IN

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Posted by on in Alexander
Oddities of 2018 NHL Playoffs

This year's playoffs have been one for the ages.  With the conclusion of the semi-finals last night we've seen some real oddities.  Both losing goaltenders are Vezina trophy finalists.  Both were younger goaltenders (Andrei Vasilevskiy (limited playoff experience), Tampa & Connor Hellebuyck, (no playoff experience) Winnipeg.  But, both highly touted to take their respective teams through. And, both losing teams in the semi-finals (Winnipeg & Tampa) were likely picked by most to move on (and who would have predicted Las Vegas & Washington to be in the Stanley Cup finals). I am not going to comment here on the play of either goaltender or whether they were a factor in their team losing.

But, the lesson here is that things don't always work out as predicted or planned and that we, as goaltenders, should never lose sight of this.  Hockey is at best, unpredictable.  And, we need to be able to deal with it.  Many of the articles I have written throughout the past season have covered the uncertainty of the position and how we should approach it. Hopefully, you've all been able to gain some insights from those articles that you can use in your goaltending travels.

As an added point to the oddities of the game, after having no shutouts in the regular season and starting the playoffs as a BACKUP, Braden Holtby recorded back-to-back shutouts in do-or-die games to propel the Capitals into the Stanley Cup Final.  It shows we can never tell what the future will bring.  So just hold on to your dreams, work diligently & with motivation and never give up.
 
 
 
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Posted by on in Alexander

You always perform at your best when your mind is calm and free of distractions.  A calm mind allows you to focus and react smoothly to what is happening around you.

The opposite of that of course is a mind filled with thoughts with one competing with one other for attention and giving off different signals.  That causes indecision.  So now, that low shot to the blocker side that you normally handle with ease becomes a challenge.  Should I angle the puck to the corner, try to stop and cover it or???? Your body becomes tight and your right arm (or left if you are left-handed) refuses to move at the same speed it normally does, the puck slips through and the red light flashes!

Generally, there are two major elements that cause indecisiveness.

I think a lot has to do with trying to do things perfectly (take it from a former perfectionist)  You put so much focus on the "how to" or the technical part of the action that you tend to neglect the fact that the outcome is what is really important......STOP THE PUCK!

Another cause might be thinking too far ahead.  You worry about the final score and forget to live and act in the moment.  So, throughout the game, your mind wanders to the outcome at the neglect of the present.

If you find this happening to you you might try these couple of tips to help you:

1. Don't second guess yourself....stick with your "A" plan. (generally your first thought is the best one)

2. Trust what got you to where you are.  Trust that all your training and hard work will see you through even though you might encounter rough patches.  Don't worry about being perfect. The minute you start questioning your abilities you are at a disadvantage. 

In the words of the Nike commercial...."JUST DO IT" 

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Posted by on in Alexander

I am sure every one of us who has a goaltender son/daughter has given thought at one time or another to the potential for them to have a legitimate shot at playing beyond youth/minor hockey perhaps at Junior A, Major Junior, Prep School, University or the Professional level.

And, the dream is exactly that for most every goaltender.

The unfortunate part is that, for the majority of us, at some point, those expectations meet the realities of the situation and it becomes evident that it might not happen. So parents & coaches need to become proactive in their approach.  Certainly, it is not the time to dash anyone's hopes and a well thought out plan of encouragement can keep everything on a positive note.  

Here are a few thoughts as to how to approach a situation like this.

I think, whether a coach or parent, the first thing you need to be is HONEST.   

For the goaltending coach, you need to explain where the goaltender's skill development level is presently and then, where exactly it needs to be if the goaltender is to move forward along the path to their goal.  The conversation about what "needs" to be done is an absolute necessity.  From there the ball is really in the athlete's court.
They must provide the effort and motivation and hard work with coach & parents providing direction and support.

In any event, everyone need to understand how steep the climb is to the top. The numbers who "make it" are extremely small by comparison to those who start out. The hockey pyramid is very wide at the bottom, but becomes so much smaller as it nears the top.  Hockey is now a global sport and once you leave Minor or Youth hockey, competition for spots on high level teams could come from almost any corner of the planet. 

Here, as well, I say to parent and goaltender go and see games at the next level and above where your son/daughter presently plays.  Sit at the side of the rink as close to the boards as you can.  There you are going to get a sense of the speed of the game and how quickly the puck moves, how hard the players shoot, how skilled they are at executing fakes, how quickly goaltenders react and able to read situations and on and on.  If you do, I think you will find it is a real eye-opener.

At any rate, it should point out the level the goaltender needs to be and just how big a gap there is between where they are skill wise and where they want to be.  Hopefully this will be the motivation factor that spurs them on.

And, finally, I point out, it is not always about skill, and that a positive attitude, work ethic, competitiveness, being coachable and a good team player are all attributes that are meaningful to coaches at every level.  

Many times it is the goaltender who possesses these 
intangibles who will improve more rapidly and can make the move up to the next level. 

There is never a good reason, no matter what, to not try to be the best goaltender you can possibly be, at whatever level you play.

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Posted by on in Alexander

Much of the off-season focus should really be on the physical plus time (refer to our e-mail from last week) taken for technical development and improvement.  This will still leave you plenty of time to play golf, tennis, or some other sport as a non-competitive activity.

So, here is what a potential training period could look like.  The number of training days per week will be determined by the program/trainer.

May 1 to the middle of August if you are Professional, University or Junior
(approximately 16 weeks)
May 1 to the middle of August if you are Midget, High School, Bantam or Prep School
(approximately 12 weeks)
June 1 to the middle of August if you are younger
(approximately 10 weeks)

Among other things, here is a short list of some basic elements you need to key in on during "The Most Important Season".

 

Speed & Agility
Allows you to start & stop, change direction & shift momentum all while maintaining good balance

Leg & Lower Body Strength & Power
Gives you explosive starts, sharp stops, hard slides & pushes.  Allows for smooth transition from skates to pads & pads to skates and from side to slide in a lateral slide

Core Strength:
Gives you well developed abdominals, oblique & back muscles for smooth, quick, efficient movement in & around the net.  (Core muscles are first to contract when we initiate goaltending movements)

Quick Feet:
Allows for speed of foot movement in and around the crease for single or multiple directional changes or save sequences

Flexibility
Gives you the ability to initiate movement outside the normal range of motion; especially useful
in scramble situations or when caught out of position

High Fitness (Cardio) Level:
Gives you great anaerobic capacity and all-round conditioning

Hand/Eye Coordination & vision training:
Gives you the ability to co-ordinate limb movement to intercept the path of the puck effectively
on every shot

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Posted by on in Alexander

For most of you, the 2017 – 18 hockey season will wind down over the next couple of weeks. Whatever else you do, make sure you take a little time to stop competing and relax. If you are a younger goaltender, you may choose to play “spring hockey” before shutting down while others will gravitate to another sport immediately after season.  However, whatever you chose to do make sure you play an alternative sport(s) during the off season. Try to pick a sport that will help you develop your overall athletic skills which, will, in turn help you to become a better goaltender.  (tennis, volleyball, soccer are among the better)  

But, if you play at a competitive or developmental level, you may also want to devote time this next month to plan your strategy for improvement throughout the summer with your parents or a trusted coach.  At this moment next season’s tryouts might be the furthest from your mind, but, trust me, they will be here before you know it.  So, prepare early and prepare well.

Here are our thoughts about the seasons of hockey:

In-season – regular season & playoffs
Post-season – recuperation/relaxation time (minimum of 1 month)

Off-season – between post & pre-season
Pre-season - training camps, tryouts etc.

Our view, however, is that the off-season really should be renamed "The Most Important Season"
 Why?  Because it can't be time "off", in the literal sense, if you play at a developmental/competitive in Minor Hockey or Junior or above. 


Here you have an opportunity to retool, refine and develop your physical tools, mental skills and, at the same time, make corrections to your on-ice game with goaltender specific training at a camp or clinics.  

Most definitely, you need to keep your skates on the ice a minimum number of times during "The Most Important Season".  But, don't associate playing "pick up hockey" with improving your game.  I can say the same for programs which are not goaltender specific.  Both might develop your compete level (or not) but do little to nothing to develop your technical skills.  And, for the most part both these expose you to many situations you will never find in a team game. Pick up hockey is strictly for FUN and a bit of socializing. 

If you are serious about your development, we strongly recommend you take part in an on ice weekly structured development program during June & July. Add a week long professional training camp and you have your goaltending on ice specific training covered off during those 2 months. That leaves you time prior to and after this training period to do other things (and maybe even play some pick-up hockey).

Approximately 2 months should be quite adequate for you to refine, develop new skills or make changes to your technical game 


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Posted by on in Alexander

A couple of weeks ago we talked about "net presence" and the impressions goaltenders give by their on ice demeanour.  And, there, we offered up a couple to tips as to how you might check on your own "net presence".

Today we are going to take a quick look at a couple of ways you might differentiate yourself from other goaltenders in your league/division and stand out from the crowd.  Here it is worth repeating the comment often heard from recruiters and scouts...."at some point in time, they all look the same".  So, here are just a couple of things to help you NOT "look the same".


Work at becoming a better all round athlete
- most pro goaltenders today are excellent athletes and some such as MA Fleury, Jake Allen, Jonathan Quick & Pekka Renne are exceptional.  Being a better athlete will also enhance your ability to execute technical skills

Become better at puck handling - a goaltender who can handle wide rims and dump-in shots and make passes efficiently are worth their weight in gold and are a coach's dream

Battle harder - put 100% effort into covering every loose puck; make the impossible save at least once per game

Calm & focused - remain calm and focused when confronted with adversity or when things become chaotic.  No emotional ups & downs

Develop your consistency - attempt to keep your play consistent throughout the entire game and from game to game.  Coaches/recruiters like to know what to expect

Continue to develop all the position's fundamental skills - a solid base of fundamental skills is a pre-requisite for top performance

Show a positive attitude - win or lose, no matter what the situation

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Posted by on in Alexander

Some time ago I did a short survey with a goaltending coach who had worked at a Midget AAA, Junior A and University level & also, a goaltender (not from the same team) who had played through each of these levels.  My intent was to attempt to get a perspective, outside of my own, on some of the major skills & attributes necessary to play "up" at each level.  My question was, "list 5 - 6 things you feel a goaltender must have or develop as they move up those three levels.  

Here are their responses:  


(Coach Perspective)

- need to develop their anticipation of play in the defensive zone

- ability to recognize and be able to react to opposition systems such as (PP) zone entries etc.
- excellent rebound control
- ability to find loose pucks in traffic (the amount of front net traffic increases as you move up each level)
- the physical strength to handle traffic to fight for loose pucks when play is in tight to the net (not only is there more front net traffic, but the players get bigger as you move up each level)

(A goaltender's perspective)

- able to balance (time management) all facets of their life

- keep the different aspects of their life separate (hockey time is hockey time, study time is study time, off ice training time is off ice training time etc)
- confidence in their skills (confident that all the work & practice will make for a successful transition to the game)
- a short memory (live the game in the present)
- deep motivation to succeed 
- knows game time is battle time

I think you can see, from the responses, there are some key things you need to understand about moving from level to level.  One thing, I would like to add is "SPEED".  Everything gets faster moving from level to playing level...shots travel faster, passes are quicker, players skate faster, plays happen faster.  The whole game moves faster.

And to quote the goaltender who helped me out, "many times, especially at the start of your first season at a higher level, it is as much about being able to "keep it all together" as it is about how well you stop a puck" 

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Posted by on in Alexander

Producing a successful result in a game is not centered around one big or “impossible save” that stands out from everything else, but is a series of smaller details that produce a positive result which may not necessarily produce a positive game outcome.  So, here are some thoughts on playing a “successful” game

- remember, you will never play a "perfect" game.  Set your sights on playing an "excellent" game...no goalie ever played a perfect game. And, anyway, who needs the added pressure of being perfect 

- game time is not the time to improve your skills, that is what practices are for.  Trust that your work in practice will give you the best opportunity for game success

- it is okay to make mistakes.  Every game is full of them.  But, learn from yours and work hard to make corrections next practice

- don’t worry that your technique is not quite where you'd like it to be 

- share the load...you don't have to win the game all by yourself

- focus on the goals you have set for the game, not on the score

- stay positive. Think about being successful. Don’t think about avoiding mistakes or failure

- do whatever it takes to play well, even if it’s "ugly" or imperfect. Sometimes you just must play "ugly" to win

- keep your thoughts simple. Don’t over-analyse.  You will only psyche yourself out

- when on ice, focus on your performance as an athlete, not the score, mistakes or goals that go in

- play for the team, but TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR PLAY

- don't worry about what others may think about your performance, there will always be critics 

- don't ever assume you know what others or your coaches are thinking, 9 out of 10 times you will be wrong

- take the game seriously, but have fun

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Posted by on in Alexander

Your Net Presence

A couple of months ago I was at an evaluation camp as an interested observer.  There were many goalies at the try-out with a wide range of skill levels among the group.

Aside from the skill level, there was one other thing that struck me as I watched.   It was how each "presented" themselves - the difference in "net presence" of each goalie and how it affected my perception of them.   


A few goaltenders were super aggressive and, as a result, over played shots and seemed to be continuously scrambling and chasing the play (were they in a little over their head or just simply attempting to impress with aggressiveness).  I saw goaltenders who never left the blue paint of the crease & others who spent most of the ice time at or near the net (were they lacking confidence or was it a passive personality).  At the same time others were calm and focused.  And some, believe it or not, appeared disengaged or disinterested (were they really or just attempting to convince themselves this really didn't matter, and they could care less if they made the team or not).  


While I don't pretend to know what was going on in each goalie's head, I do know that each left me with a distinct perception based upon their appearance & actions (or lack of action).  I have seen goaltenders go through these phases from time to time.  Sometimes it's just the pressure of the moment.  But then again, is it their "normal"? 

So, what should we take away from this? 

Well we need to understand just what image we project when we play.  Do we appear confident, ready, and capable, or the opposite?  As a goaltender, one might do well to view a self video and see how you stack up against other goaltenders in that regard.  Or, elicit the help of an unbiased, reputable coach to give you an honest opinion of just how you project yourself in the net.

Remember, perception is reality - to the observer.  Remember, also, no matter where or when you are playing, 
there most likely is someone (coach, scout, recruiter, or friend of) watching.   

So, never underestimate the importance of your "presentation".

 

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Posted by on in Alexander

A recent conversation with one of our long-time clients prompted me to dig this out of my files and share it with all of you.  The conversation cantered around having a different goaltending coach from the previous year and that coach looking to make some changes to his play.

Mostly, I think this happens simply because each goalie coach has his/her own perception of what is technically correct or how a goaltender should approach/react to game situations.  And I suspect, this is not uncommon.

From our (Alexander Goaltending) perspective once you go beyond the basic foundational technical skill, there may be more than one option to achieve similar results.  Providing, of course, in all instances, that the results are positive.  It doesn't necessarily mean one is right & and the other is wrong.  However, as a coach we need to understand, that because every goalie has different mental & physical attributes (size, speed, strength and so on), what will work for one goaltender may not necessarily work for another.  It is the coach's responsibility to make the best use of those attributes the goaltender already has.  


We, as professional coaches, are entrusted, among other things, to teach the technical skills of the position. Just as important is to ensure our students understand why we suggest a particular method.   Simply put, we are providing a goaltender a tool for his/her "toolbox".  Hopefully they realize the benefit, but, how and if they use it is always their choice.  As long as, whatever they choose allows them to perform at the highest and most efficient level given their particular technical, physical and mental skills.   

If you do find yourself in a situation where you are being asked to do something goaltending related that you feel uncomfortable doing, you need to open a dialogue with the coach to try and understand where the issue is.  Hopefully he/she is not looking to make changes just for the sake of change.  The role of the goalie coach is really all about developing and improving skills, analysing performance and solving performance problems.  

If a change is being recommended to how you are presently doing something, the question here should be "WHY”?  Why change?  Is what I am doing holding back my development?  Is my action (or non-action) causing goals?  How will it improve my performance?  I am sure the competent coach will be able to show you how this change will/could work to your advantage and help you move forward to improve. 

At the same time, however, we do feel it is incumbent upon the goaltender to, at the very least, give something new a try.  Not to do so might be depriving him/her of an opportunity to make a change that improves and/or develops his/her game beyond where it is presently.     

A very high profile national level coach once told me a good coach should always be able to answer the "WHY" question with a positive reply and back up their answer with examples or results.

Note: Research shows it takes between 300 - 500 repetitions to gain competency (many more to be proficient) in a motor skill (trapper save) and 3000 - 5000 repetitions to correct a poor/incorrect muscle motor pattern (need to un-learn and then re-learn).  

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