Insider Tips for the Successful Hockey Goalie

The hockey goalie is at the core of any successful hockey team. Hockey games are won and lost in the crease. Here is a collection of tips for the developing goalie that will keep opponents off the scoreboard.

Maintain Your Physique
There aren't too many goalies in the NHL that have a beer gut and can't bend over to tie their shoes. A successful goalie is always in shape and able to maximize his flexibility. Staying in shape and having a trim physique help in the flexibility department. Strengthen your core with exercises that keep the mid-section strong so that you can fly back up from the ice. Stretching before a game or practice should be routine for every goalie.

The Basics
Ready position, otherwise known as your stance, is one of the first things you learn and one of the most important things to monitor. Your feet should be shoulder width apart and your knees should be bent. It's basically a squat position. Hold your hands in front of you, keeping the glove and blocker at the same height. Keep your shoulders square to the shooter, lining up the puck with the center of your body. Your stick should always be on the ice.

Have a Short Memory
Another important tip to becoming a successful goalie is to keep a good mental outlook. "Stay positive and mentally strong. Don't lose your head no matter how many goals you let in," says Trevor Leahy, starting varsity goalie for the Pingree School in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. He also says, "Visualize the save. See the puck going into your glove."

Rebound Control
Too many goals are scored when the goalie gives up a fat rebound. Rebounds give the shooter a second and sometimes a third chance to light the lamp. Making sure the rebound is guided to the corner or out of the rink and into the mesh are key. Here's how.

  • When the shot is coming from the point. Shots from the point are usually low, so the stick should be angled to one of the corners. For example, if the shot is coming from the right point, then the stick should be angled to the right corner and vice versa.
  • When a shot comes from the hash marks near the faceoff circle. Shots from afar tend to be rising shots. The successful goalie absorbs the puck and doesn't allow it to bounce off as a rebound. It is deadened so it can be tied up. Making a save with the pads is harder to absorb so the puck should always be guided towards the boards.

Taking On the Shooter
When taking on the shooter, the successful goalie will make the player bearing down on them shoot across his body. For instance, when a left-handed shooter is coming in from the left hand side, the goalie should cover the short side, left side of the net. He will show a little more net on the far side giving the shooter a false sense of openness. When the shot comes, the goalie has it covered because he has forced the shooter to shoot to the open side.

Don't Spend Too Much
It's tempting to fill your hockey goalie bag with the priciest gear, but getting equipment that fits correctly and that maximizes your safety is more important. You don't always have to spend an arm and a leg for equipment. If you go to any ice hockey rink, there are bulletin boards with ads for used goalie equipment for sale. Also, there's probably a reputable second hand sporting goods store in your local area. Try the classifieds in your local newspaper or Craigslist and Ebay. 

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