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Don't let size limit your goals

Posted by on in Alexander
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“SIZE".  At a very young age, it is normally not a factor in goaltender selection, but, unfortunately, as you move up the hockey chain, it does begin to matter.  Sometimes, even, at the U13 level and, most assuredly, at the U15 & U18.  But don’t despair; there is room for the smaller goaltender at those levels & beyond Minor/Youth Hockey or High School.   And, there is still a place in Major Junior/Tier I for the smaller goaltender and, most certainly, the smaller goaltender can flourish at the Junior A or Junior B/Tier II level.

Beyond that, U Sport, NCAA, ECHL, AHL and European teams are options open to those who have the skill but do not achieve the "supposedly ideal" 6' 2" height for an NHL goaltender.  Understand, reaching the NHL is no easy task, even with the size factor.  At any given time, there are only 62 goaltenders playing there and they come from every part of the world.  So, your competition is not only the kid on the next block or in the next town, but the kid playing minor hockey in Switzerland, Sweden, Finland or Germany or Russia. 

My advice to any goaltender, who is shorter in stature than your peers, is to not bury your dreams, but understand what your situation is and take steps to improve your chances at playing at a higher level (if that is truly what you want) by working on and improving those parts of your game to get you there.

So, here are some things you need to be to maximize your ability to compete at any level, no matter what your size.  You can achieve proficiency in most of these even without the help of a coach. 

- athletic (possess incredible agility, balance & co-ordination with speed) These elements can be developed away from the ice surface, but a certain amount requires on-ice time (see the next element below)
*not all goaltenders will have the physiological capabilities to achieve a high level of athleticism.  So then, positioning becomes a much more important factor 

a superior skater (a master at using inside edges to position, or reposition on skates in control and on balance)
Spend on ice time working on inside edge control, crease skating drills & team skating

- unmatched in lateral movement (speed with power in lateral movements on skates or in a lateral slide)

- a student of the game (watches games played at all levels; observing player tendencies and play patterns and how shots are generated and from which locations in the defensive zone they originate)

- excellent at reading the shot release (using complete puck focus and shooter information such as hand/puck/shoulder position to determine height, velocity and shot location immediately as the puck is leaving the stick blade) 

- near perfect at tracking shots (able to SEE pucks coming into & going away from your equipment & FIND the flight path of the puck through screens & front net traffic situations)

- a master at staying up and on skates (patient and confidently remaining on skates and only moving to a butterfly or RVH position after the PUCK HAS LEFT THE STICK BLADE & the velocity & trajectory is known or through experience &/or past observation can anticipate the logical sequence of events prior to the shot) The exception being close in, tight, shot situations where the higher percentage play is to use a down, butterfly or RVH, blocking position

- near perfect at positioning (must always have proper angle and depth on every shot and must arrive "on time", every time, so feet are set and skates, hips & shoulders are square to the puck "BEFORE" the shot released – in the case of a lateral slide the same squareness must be priority) 

- strong mentally (develop your mental toughness & “grit” to handle the ups & downs of goaltending)


A few other non-technical, non-tactical necessary elements.

has a “never give up” attitude
works harder than any of his team mates every off or on ice session
wants to be the best
wants to learn





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Guest Saturday, 19 September 2020