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Working with screen situations

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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10 Goalie New Year Resolutions

  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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Pressure

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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Beyond the Obvious

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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What do you REALLY NEED for success

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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