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Advanced shot reading

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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More Tryout Tips

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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The importance of "timing"

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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How can I become the "go to goaltender"?

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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Who is your competition?

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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