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Posted by on in Alexander

The hockey year is generally broken down into 4 distinct seasons & normally described as:
In - season – regular season & playoffs
Post - season – recuperation time
Off - season – between post & pre - season
Pre - season - training camps, tryouts etc.

We, however, take the view that Off-season really should be renamed "The Most Important Season" Why? Because it can't be time "off" in the literal sense, if you are an advanced level goaltender. You will have practically 5 full months during "The Most Important Season" to retool, refine and develop your physical tools, mental skills plus make corrections to your on ice game at a goalie camp.

Those who succeed, will never pass up this opportunity. Depending upon your age, you may or may not need to train like a Pro, but, at the very least, you do need to engage in a proper fitness program that helps you become a better athlete & goaltender. Here is a short list of some of the basic elements you'll 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 side laterally

Core Strength: Gives you well developed abdominal, 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 & 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 Level: Gives you great anaerobic capacity and all round conditioning

Hand / Eye Coordination: 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

Alexander Goaltending will reach another milestone in 2014 as it celebrates 20 years offering training to goaltenders from Atlantic Canada and beyond. With a philosophy of making each point of contact with the student a personal one & attempting to assist them in the pursuit of their passion, Alexander Goaltending has become a Goaltending School of Choice.

Their success is much accredited to the belief that the position their students have chosen to play is very individualized and, so, developing his/her own unique style within a structured base will produce optimum results.

For those of you who may not have yet heard about Alexander Goaltending, they offer summer day camps in Moncton & Fredericton plus holiday clinics, power skating programs & pre-season camps. In addition, they operate their "Net Results" training center, the only synthetic ice, goalie specific, training facility in Moncton. There, they offer weekly Training Sessions in a Semi-private setting during hockey season, and, Private, one to one training from September to June.

Each year well over 175 goalies train with Alexander Goaltending at their various camps & activities.

Company president, John Alexander states "at all of our activities we attempt to go beyond the participant's expectations by offering structured, well organized, professionally delivered programs that are reasonably priced. Our teaching staff come from the best young coaches available & our Director of Goaltending Development, David Alexander (Goaltending Coach Syracuse Crunch, AHL) oversees all of our curriculum. With almost all referrals coming from word of mouth, we are very aware of the importance of continuing to deliver the same top notch programs into the future as we have over the last 20 years"

Some recent Alexander Goaltending success stories:

Jake Allen - named to NHL all rookie team; signs 2 year contract with St. Louis Blues; named to AHL all-star team

Travis Fullerton – CIS National Champion; signs contract with Las Vegas Wranglers, ECHL

Fred Foulem – drafted into the QMJHL by the Bathurst Titan; named to Team Atlantic MU17; makes verbal commitment to attend Harvard

Ryan Hale - named to Fredericton Canadiens MMAAA; named to HNB U16 team

Tanner Somers - named to Miramichi Rivermen MMAAA ; named to HNB U16 team

Carly Jackson - named to Team Atlantic FU18 Hockey Canada National Championship; makes verbal commitment to attend University of Maine

As Alexander Goaltending celebrates their 20th year of working with goaltenders, they have planned many exciting events at their summer camps including prizes & giveaways. And, for everyone who signs on for the Total Goaltending Training Camps, an opportunity to win a prize that is every goaltender's dream.

2014 will prove to be an eventful year for Alexander Goaltending with more of the same plus a special guest or two at their Advanced Training Camps.

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Posted by on in Alexander

The mental skill of maintaining focus or keeping you head in the game is probably as important as any physical skill a goaltender can possess. Lack of focus or losing focus during a game usually ends in negative results.Still, it is amazing how little time coaches and athletes spend on this important part of the athlete's tool box. I think most of us know of at least one goaltender who had incredible technical skills or who always performs exceptionally well in practice but, who seems unable to achieve the level of success you would expect based on their skill set. They just can't "zone in" when it counts or are easily thrown off their game with the slightest distraction.

Because the mental aspect of hockey occupies such a small, if any, portion of training and development, hockey athletes, in general, think, losing focus is something they can simply deal with spontaneously as the situation arises even if it is in the midst of a competition. But, very few, if any, athletes can do this on a consistent basis. For most, it will require a great deal of repetitive preparation and an understanding that, this, like any other goaltending skill or technique, must be learned and practiced. And, the earlier in an athlete's career he/she understands this, the better their chances of playing up to their full potential along the way.

Understand that maintaining focus during competition starts long before game time. A good, solid pre-game prep, which may include relaxation techniques, visualization or positive affirmations is a great place to start. This, along with a physical pre-game preparation such as a Dynamic Warmup will set the tone and provides a grounding base for every game.

Since we are creatures of habit, a positive pre-game preparation gives a goaltender a familiar starting point game in and game out. If they follow that up with a consistent routine of a few confined space skating drills immediately as he/she steps on the ice, he will now own a consistent and familiar, game approach that will help him start every game in a relaxed, positive state.

So how can he/she stay relaxed, positive and focused during the game? The best advice I can give here is, they have to learn to play, and be, in the moment. Because, if they spend any amount of time, during competition, thinking about incidents that have gone past or which, they anticipate, may happen in the future, they are just wasting valuable energy and opening themselves up to become distracted. Make no mistake, many thoughts will flow through a goaltender's mind during a game.

The idea for them here is to learn to only focus on things they can control....for example (reactions, performance). Things they think and feel. If you can't control it, why think about it. Whether it is a bad call by the ref, team mate error, or even a goal scored (good or bad). Whatever transpires, they cannot allow themselves to dwell on these or other distractions or they run the risk of become completely sidetracked, perhaps even anxious, upset or even angry and lose their composure.

So what can he/she do if they lose focus. One quick way to refocus is to develop a bit of a ritual much like a pre-game prep that will bring them back to a "comfort zone". They can pause and reflect on the thought or incident for a moment, do a quick mental review of the event and release it from their mind as they takes a quick skate to the corner, a drink from the water bottle or flip up their mask. (Watch most pro goaltenders and what they do to refocus after a goal is scored to see what I mean) Some goaltenders will simply pause, take a deep breath and use key words or phrases under their breath to refocus. Some such phrase used over time can become an excellent trigger to clear the mind of unproductive thoughts and refocus.

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Posted by on in Alexander

5 Foundation Pillars That Separate Great Goalies From Average Goalies

Often I hear a question "How can I play in the NHL? What do I need to do"? In this article I will talk about the very basic foundation you must have if your goal is to play in the NHL. If you want to succeed in hockey or most likely in anything else in life, you must have this foundation.

1. Passion is where it all starts. That is the most important thing to have on the way to success. When you have passion for what you're doing you know what you want to do, you love to do it and you naturally want to give it your best effort. Passion is what drives us to improve and allows us to rise from average to great. If you have passion, you will do your best to become a better goalie, no matter your age, talent or skill level.

2. Faith is an essential part of a character of every successful person. You need to have faith in yourself and life overall because when you are trying to rise above the average, things never go smooth. People will be pulling you down, and they will be telling that you can't do it, especially when you're facing obstacles. That's why you need to have faith. If you don't believe in yourself and have faith, who will? When you have faith in life overall and you believe that with hard and smart work you can reach your dreams, then you'll have a chance.

3. Determination comes with passion and faith. Everyone knows there are no shortcuts to the top and nobody cares about your success more than you do. The only way is to work hard, smart and not give up. It is easy to work hard for one day, one week or even one year, but not year after year, all year around. If you are determined to work hard and smart for your dreams every day, sooner or later at least some of those dreams will come true.

4. Support from your family in the early years is extremely important because if your parents are not willing to let you try out for travel teams, to buy your equipment, pay team fees and do everything else that's necessary, you'll have no chance of becoming a great goalie. How can you have a chance if the closest people to you are holding you back in the beginning?

At some point you are old enough to make your own money to buy equipment, etc. and it never hurts to ask people to help. I think parents who consider that they can't afford hockey should at least try because there are hundred different ways to get sponsors and people to help. Usually it is pride that is holding them back from asking help.

Also, when you get older, you'll have to be smart about what kind of people you surround yourself with. Do your friends encourage you to train and try harder or are they trying to talk you into drinking and doing drugs on a Friday night when you should be preparing for Saturday's game? Does your girlfriend think it's cool that you play hockey or is she complaining that you have to go to the rink again when she wants to go to a movie with you?

People around you are like your mirrors and you will become more or less like them. Either they will make you a better person and a better goalie or drag you down. You have the power to choose.

5. Great coaching is what all champions, no matter what sport they play, have in common. Behind all great NHL goalies is a great goalie coach (or coaches) who has all those characteristics mentioned above and solid expertise, combining playing experience and formal coaching education. If you want to become great, you need to have your own goalie coach because when was the last time you heard of someone winning a championship without a coach? Almost every very successful person has had someone mentoring them at some point of their lives, not only successful goalies.

If you have passion, faith and determination, supportive family and friends, and you're lucky enough to find a great goalie coach who has iron strong expertise, then you have a good chance to become really good or even great.

Written by Matti Korhonen Founder of Goalie Force Academy For more free goalie tips like this visit http://www.GoalieForce.com.

 

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Posted by on in Alexander

The key to controlling low, on-ice shots is to get your stick on as many of these shots as possible. Unless the play is really tight you should be able to get a stick on most low shots simply because of hand speed. Unfortunately many goaltenders have developed the habit of just allowing low shots to hit their pads and rely on pad angle to steer the puck off to the side. In reality this just does not work effectively. The idea is rebound control not "rebound controlled". Understanding this you need to focus on developing your stick usage in practice to steer pucks where you want them to go...either into corners, away from traffic or at least high so it is more difficult for the opposition to control.

So how can we effectively control low shots. Well first, your blocker hand needs to be positioned forward of your body & not resting on your pad or hip. You need that degree of "unlocked" movement so your blocker/stick can function in a smooth, controlled fashion to either left or right.

Next we need to get upper body/shoulder rotation to keep the stick engaged to the surface of the ice & prevent stick toe or heel lift. Also, keeping your head over the puck will facilitate this rotation & give you better vision & improve your post save recovery process as the puck travels into your body area and away.

Don't reach for pucks - allow the puck to come into you & bring your stick back to create a cushion type effect. This will add a superior dimension of stick control and allow more accurate rebound placement, especially on bad angle shots to the far side..

And a last point - always contact the puck to either side below the tops or your pads. This keeps you from reaching and playing the puck to far away from your body thereby diminishing effective control the shot.

 

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Posted by on in Alexander

This is a difficult situation, especially for the younger goaltender. Goalies up to 13 (and even older) do not have the longest attention span & when they are inactive (few shots) their concentration is not as sharp as it should could be.

My answer to this challenge is to attempt to explain to them that their concentration & focus should work something like a traffic light:

Puck is in the other end = GREEN LIGHT - I am relaxed & just watching the play happen

Puck enters the neutral zone = ORANGE LIGHT – I am in a relaxed, focused mode; I count the number of attackers; I look to see if the puck carrier is one of their better players; I note if he shoots right or left handed; I note if we have any back checkers coming back; I look to see if my defensmen are in good position; I move quickly into position in a relaxed stance & get proper angle as soon as the puck crosses the red line

Puck crosses my blue line = RED LIGHT – I am completely 100% focused & in full stance BUT I look off the puck whenever I can to see if the puck carrier has any passing options or if my defensemen are still available to intercept passes. I maintain a high level of alertness even when my own player has possession of the puck anywhere in the zone (even behind the net) and until the puck has moved outside my own blue line & the light turns to ORANGE.

 

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Posted by on in Alexander

Just how important is awareness to a top end goaltender?

Let's just take a look at a situation that potentially happens at least once per game: the play is down low, puck carrier on goalie's right, potential back door threat on the left. As that play had developed coming in over the blue line, the goalie noted a player moving down low (back door) on the opposite side. Although not in his sight line, the goalie was "aware" of the potential threat.

So, when the puck carrier made the pass, the goalie attempts to intercept it with a stick poke check. Unsuccessful with the poke check, the goalie sprawls backward into a "long body" position and is able to make the save. Without the goalie's "awareness" of the full situation, the red light would have flashed instead of the whistle being blown.

So how do we develop this "awareness"? Well it does come with experience, but the harder you work to acquire it, the better you will become. Here are some tips:

  1. - look "off" the puck often whenever the opposition is not in a shooting position especially when the puck is below the goal line
  2. - even as you follow the path of the puck, attempt to note where everyone on the ice is positioned or their direction of movement
  3. - attempt to understand your opponents options based on their positioning
  4. - although puck focus is a priority, don't just lock in on the puck
  5. - don't be one dimensional; develop awareness habits and simplify your game.
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Posted by on in Alexander

For the most part, a goalie moving up a level as a first year is very difficult, even with a good team in front of you. It is unfortunate but many times a goaltender is “thrown into the fire” so to speak and not given the opportunity to develop his/her skills at a more normal pace. If that is your or your son’s/daughters situation, expect lots of peaks & valleys.

Many times in these situations, goaltenders tend to receive an inordinate number of shots. Shot numbers are less relevant if they are just single shots, but for the most part a good number are probably second or third shots. And, this is where problem lies. Most every time there is a large discrepancy in shots or territorial edge it forces the goaltender to play in a scramble or overactive mode, and technical skills are apt to deteriorate as the goaltender scrambles & dives in an attempt to simply “stop the puck”. (I have also seen situations where the goaltender was simply overwhelmed & unable to keep pace with what is happening around her/him because of a huge discrepancy in skill levels of the teams)

So, despite the adage that lots of shots are a good thing that is only true if it one is not constantly overwhelmed. Probably the one thing lots of shots will develop is one’s battle level. But, only if one has the physical strength & mental toughness to keep up with the pace.

It is difficult to find the positive in this situation. However, if the goaltender, can remain positive and concentrates on improving & developing his/her skills & not the score there should be little or no harm done. Of course, for that to happen, support from coaches & team mates are vital.

 

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Posted by on in Alexander

First understand that shot reading is really an advanced goaltending skill and probably not something to be attempted until shot stopping becomes an automatic. Although mastery of the skill is generally achieved over time and with experience, one can speed up the process if one makes the effort to understand some of the mechanics of shooting.

Of course, we cannot deal with the slap shot because there really isn't a whole lot of predictability of the shot trajectory based on wind up & body position as the whole process happens so quickly. The same can probably be said of the "snap-shot" except for that distance of the puck from the shooter's body & his/her foot position can give some indication whether the puck will be released to the glove or blocker side.

That being said, let's now review some indicators you can look for to help you read the trajectory of a wrist shot: (these are all based on a left handed shooter & a left hand catching goaltender)

high blocker side = open hips / back shoulder dips
low blocker side = open hips / front shoulder dips

high glove side = closed hips / back shoulder dips
low glove side = closed hips / front shoulder dips.

Don't forget that stick follow through & a shooter's chin position (up or down) can also determine a high or low shot.

As a side note, any time the shooter (left handed) shoots to the glove side (vice-versa for the right hander going to the blocker side) they need to bring their hands across their body so even though their hips are closed their shoulders will open.

Remember, these are just generalities and the really smart shooter will have learned how to disguise his/her shooting movements in an attempt to swing the odds back into his favor. As a last reminder, use every opportunity, including your practices, to improve your shot reading skills and remember, every good read starts with puck focus.

 

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Posted by on in Alexander

There are many "tidbits" & "tips" that get passed on to goaltenders prior to or during tryouts - from parents to coaches to well meaning friends.

Most revolve around the technical elements or aspects of the goaltender's game. For example, "you need to make sure your hands are active or you need to make sure you get out & stop wide rims, etc". Hopefully, these are just reminders of things you are already doing well.

Because, with all the stress that accompanies tryouts for the majority of goaltenders, an attempt to modify or change an element of one's game, at that point will only lead to confusion, undesirable actions & negative results.

I suggest that at tryout time one needs to concentrate on these 3 things above everything else:

  1. - to remain completely focused always on the task at hand (making the cut). That is the priority. Everything else is just a distraction.
  2. - to maintain a calm, controlled body & a calm mind (never panic or concern yourself with what others do or what you believe others think - you are probably wrong)
  3. - don't try to be something you are not (at this point, your game is what it is; if it is good enough, it will get you where you want to be, if not, it won't - preparation time started long before tryout)

 

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Posted by on in Alexander

No question, positioning is, like skating competence, the foundation of great goaltending. As correct positioning is attained, then the usual formula follows that the next decision the goaltender has to deal with is the pending shot or pass. At this point, though we need to add another important element to the goaltending equation. WHEN do we do what we need to do what is necessary? That is what this third element known as "TIMING" is all about.

We'll now attempt to give you a brief explanation of instances, in goaltending, where it's importance is critical. First, timing is involved in gaining an optimum position or in repositioning. Whether doing so from stance or a lateral slide arriving "on time" is imperative. To gain position and have ample opportunity for good shot preparation or to slide into the path of a shot off a back door play requires a keen understanding and sense of this element.

Secondly, timing (patience) is involved in making the right move at the right time as in the instance of holding a stance position and not dropping into a butterfly until the puck carrier releases the shot so as to automatically reduce the options available to him. And lastly, there is a degree of timing involved when the goaltender adjusts his reaction to the play as it evolves in front of him.

Understand the important contribution timing can make to your success as a goaltender, and set a goal to develop it, through practice, along with all the other skills in your "toolbox"

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Posted by on in Alexander

Many times I am asked "what do I need to do to be that goaltender who gets the nod over his or her partner when an important win is on the line".

My first comment is "prepare", and prepare well. You'll need to become a "student of the game". A student who thoroughly understands all of the little nuances of the position & the game itself. For example how potential scoring threats materialize as certain plays develop in your end or the likelihood of where, in your zone, a shot will be released.

Next, show you are ready day in & day out through your mental toughness and response to pressure situations. Show you readiness by never giving up and developing an air of confidence that says I am ready for any situation the game can throw at me.

And last, be patient. It will take time to instill the thought of you as the "go to guy" in the minds of your coaches. But, if you go through the process, the likelihood that you will become the "go to guy" increases every day so when you do get your shot you will be successful

 

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Posted by on in Alexander

I hope your tryouts have gone well and that the last 2 postings were beneficial to you as you competed for a spot on the team.

Sometimes, though, when I talk to goaltenders, I wonder if they really understand who exactly the competition is. In a tryout scenario, obviously it is the other goaltenders vying for the open spots. Then as league play begins, the opposition becomes the competition.

But not to forget, if neither you nor your partner are the defined "starter", then, potentially your competition is your playing partner. And even if one of you gets the starter job more regularly, there is still an element of competitiveness. Hopefully it is healthy competition, but nonetheless, it is competition.

As you move up in development levels the competition arena becomes broader and now you compete with other goaltenders in your league for all-star, best save percentage etc. honors.

Graduation from Minor Hockey to the Junior or Prep School levels now means your competition could come from just about anywhere; the next town, the next province or state or for that matter another country. With hockey now a global sport and the willingness of participants to move away from their home towns in the hope of improving their hockey future, we need step back and consider a macro view of our competition.

At the end of the day, it is almost impossible to identify your true competition so you better be practicing & refining your skill set with hard work, motivation & enthusiasm because, when you both step on the ice together, will you be ready?

 

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Posted by on in Alexander

For many of us pre-game & tryout nervousness is something we experience regularly, Just what can we do to take this stressful time, turn it around & make it a more enjoyable experience? Well, here is one thing we can work on to minimize & reduce nervousness or getting "rattled" and that is controlled breathing.

So just how can we control our breathing? Well, it is simple really and the more your practice, the better you will become at relaxing. You can do this at most any time, when you are in the dressing room before the ice session, sitting on the bench or even on the ice waiting your turn in the net. And here is how: sit or stand up straight and breath in deeply (use a slow count of 10) through your nose and down into your stomach (not your chest). Now breath out slowly through your mouth (again use a count of 10) until you empty all the air out.

Repeat this several times until you feel your body relax (it really works) Do this as often as you like and whenever you feel necessary. Try to think only about what you are doing (breathing). The neat thing about this is that no one will ever know what you are doing.

Another thing you need to be aware of is to maintain your focus at those critical ice times throughout the days & weeks of the whole tryout process or games. Concentrate hard, and don't get distracted by what is going on around you.

And, last, don't be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes happen and you can't change what has already happened

 

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