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Speed, the “UNPRACTICED” skill

Among the most important improvements a goaltender can make to his/her game especially if moving up a level is SPEED. 

It is something we generally don’t think of, however it is a key ingredient to be a successful goaltender.  And it supersedes a whole bunch of other technical skills that we tend to focus on as we train.   

If you are an aspiring goaltender, make sure you take time to attend (and really watch as close to the ice surface as possible) games at levels above where you play.  If possible, take in an NHL game in person (games on TV does not do justice), focus on the goaltenders (not the puck) and immediately you will understand just how quickly these individuals move. 

So, what exactly is speed?  As defined by the dictionary it is “the rate at which someone or something is able to move or operate” 

If we take that definition & apply it to goaltending, here are some areas where you could look to increase your speed. 

  1. Positioning – arriving in position on time, square, on angle & with proper depth on the shot puck 

  1. Repositioning – quickness to recover to rebound puck locations or loose pucks on broken plays 

  1. Post integration – finding your post; moving into/out of a VH or RVH 

  1. Tracking – recognizing the trajectory of the puck as it is released 

  1. Getting to rimmed or pucks dumped in – important first push to intercept the puck 

  1. Save movements – any movement required to make a save 

Each of these 6 elements have a physical focus.  They require initiating a physical movement and is dependent upon how quickly we can recruit the muscles required to execute the movement. 

They all required enormous numbers of CORRECT MOVEMENT repetitions and DELIBERATE PRACTICE in order to perfect.  

But underlying the physical movement is our ability to translate what we see into what we need to do.  In other words, recognize, understand and PROCESS INFORMATION AND AT “GAME SPEED”. 

That is the product of EXPERIENCE and DEDICATED EFFORT on the part of the individual to study the game & learn patterns of play & puck movement that recur very often during a game. 

Some goaltenders can achieve this level, many cannot, effectively.  And that separates the average from the ELITE.

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