Sunday, February 24, 2008

Awesome Penalty Shot SAVE!!

This past week I was at our Training Centre, instructing goalies one on one for the better part of the night as I usually do 5 or 6 days a week.

Our One on One Goaltender Training Centre is located at the Ice Park arena. We are in he back corner of the south rink and our area is essentially from the blue line all the way to the end of the rink with the rink boards being one of our walls. When we set up our area, I chose to leave the glass as it was, so we could occasionally watch a goalie playing during a game. This has proven to be a helpful teaching aid, but it is also a form of entertainment for our students waiting their turn or their parents, as everyone gets to watch the games that are ongoing throughout the evening.

On this particular evening, Gerry Ellison, who has worked for us for 19 years and is our Head Instructor and my good friend, was playing goal for his men's rec team. Now, Gerry is a bit of a 'talker' on the ice and sometimes can 'stir the pot'. Tonight Gerry looked to be in fine form making many good stops and getting into a few scuffles with players who came to close to his crease.

In the first period, Gerry had a couple of heated discussions with one player in particular and there were some heated words, shoves, challenges and taunting on both sides (Gerry of course won the war of the words with his quick wit).

Late in the second period, with Gerry's team ahead by 2, there was a big scrum in Gerry's crease and the signal came from the ref "PENALTY SHOT" against Gerry. Wouldn't you know, it turns out to be Gerry's 'friend' who he has been having words with all game, who will take the shot.

Well, we had to stop our session and the 3 students who were in attendance (one from before, the current student I was working with and the upcoming client) and all the parents gather at the glass to watch. Of course I have known Gerry for nearly 20 years, so I have a pretty good inkling of what his plan is and I let everyone know that this will be worth watching.

The player readies himself and slowly picks up the puck off the centre dot, he skates in -ridiculously slowly - with his head down looking at the puck the entire time. I look down to Gerry and see his is at the top of his crease, but not outside of it - I know what is coming.

As the player reaches the hash marks about 15 feet out, Gerry readies himself, as I see his 'drive foot' slide into push position. Without any warning, Gerry EXPLODES off his back foot, he drives as hard as any pro goalie could have, and he launches into a perfect 2 pad stack, at exactly the right time!! The player, who was over 6 feet tall and around 225 lbs, with his head still down, never saw it coming, Gerry slides straight through his skates and he is launched! Up and into a 180, landing half on Gerry's legs and half on the ice behind Gerry in a crumpled mess.

The classic move was made even better as Gerry literally threw the players legs off of his and he jumped to his feet and skated to his bench, without a word. He had said it all by making the perfect play!

It was a sight to see!! I've been around hockey for a hell of a long time and I can say with all honestly

"I have NEVER seen a better play on a breakaway or penalty shot"

It was beautiful!!!

Afterward I asked Gerry about the play. I told him I knew what was coming and his reply was classic Gerry; "yep, no way was he going to score on that play". I asked him what the player had said as he skated back to the bench with his proverbial tail between his legs. "Hell of a save" was his only comment. Fitting for 2 warriors who still love to play and play to win.

Gerry won 5-3

Monday, February 18, 2008

Shuffle vs 'T' Push

This past week I was working with a team and found both goalies using 'T' pushes to make short lateral moves. I'm speaking of short, follow the play, moves of 6" to 10", not corner to corner, or post to opposite side plays. Basic movement at the top of the crease.

On short moves to 'square up' they would turn one foot (the lead foot - not the push foot) and then quickly 'snap' it back into place when they got where they were going. Picture this if the play is moving across the top of the crease from one side to the other, if the goalie uses the 'T' and not the shuffle, they will be 'all over the place' and have very little control or speed to keep up with the play.

These goalies were allowing a lot of low shots in and they were having problems controling rebounds. This is ALL a result of 'T' pushes instead of shuffles. I do not allow any goalie I work with to use the 'T' push for this kind of movement. In fact we havent taught this in about 15 years at our schools, yet there are still many 'old school' goalies who will use this move and still teach it to kids - these people are NOT goalie instructors (or they SHOULDN'T be) and are doing the kids they work with a real dis service. Our certified goalie instructors are always on the lookout for this, and won't allow it to happen!

The problem with using a 'T' instead of a simple 'toes ahead' shuffle is the body control and the ability to drop down from this position. Try it while you read this! Stand up and turn one foot to form the 'T' position, now try to drive both knees down to the floor in a butterfly type of positon. One of 2 things has to happen for this to work. 1. You blow your knee out and need surgery to fix the damage - not a good option..... or 2. Your brain will force your foot to pop back into the 'toes forward' position before you fall down. The time it takes to 'rearrange' your foot position, is the time it takes to stop many goals.

There is also the inability to close the 5 hole while standing up, it is impossible to bring the pads together when one leg is turned, so again, a major problem is created by using an improper movement.

The 'T' push is one of the hardest habits to break in a goalie. I cringe everytime I see a young goalie out on the ice working with a coach and I see the coach show this technique!! I even know if a couple of schools that still make the kids practice the 'T' glide around the entire rink for extended periods of time. Great, engrain the wrong technique even more into their brains and make it even harder to correct!!!!

So always teach or practice using shuffle steps to be square to the play, never use a 'T' push for this kind of movement.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hagersville Goalie Clinic

Thanks to the fine folks of Hagarsville for having us in to run another minor hockey clinic this past weekend. We had our team of goalie instructors there to work with many of the goalies from their minor hockey system. There were several very solid goalies and all seemed very willing to work hard and stay focused. GREAT JOB GOALIES!!

Special thanks to Brennan Brown for his efforts in setting up the clinic and doing all the legwork on his end and to the other volonteers who have helped coordiate our many clinics for various organizations this season. We offer many other services for minor hockey goaltending instruction.

We still have one more minor hockey goaltending clinic coming up on February 24th for the SSE WIld organization.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sometimes the coach IS right!

I received a letter from a parent this week concerning a coach who wanted their son (goalie) to work harder and felt he wasn't making a solid efort for his team while playing much better for an 'alll star' team as well as being called up a division for another team in the system.

I've been bashing a few coaches lately, so I thought I'd print a good one.

I'm always happy to offer advice or help out, but please be aware that I am honest in my replies, sometimes brutally honest. If someone asks me, I assume they want the truth.


Sorry guys, as a (team & goalie) coach I agree 100% with him.

I want the kids I coach to know where they stand the true reasons they are being benched, short shifted or used in specific situations and not others. This is simply good communication. Comparing players is essential when you have to explain why someone is playing more or in different situations, again simply good communication.

I have an issue with the "he's better" part of the comment, perhaps you misunderstood this part, because with Jimmy playing UP, it is obvious that he is capable and likely has better skills and/or ability than his partner, otherwise he'd be the one playing up. The coach should use this as motivation and it sounds like he was trying to get him to realize that as a part of the team, he needs to be there 100% in mind, body and effort. Every player owes this to their team mates and coaches.

If in fact he's "not trying anymore" and I were his coach, I would not play him at all and I would put a stop to his playing up - this is something he earned because he did well, he can't abandon his team because of it. His first priority must be HIS team. He has a commitment and needs to honour and respect it. I'm sorry to be strong on this, but hockey skills translate into life skills and I STRONGLY believe (even at 9) that it is imperative that kids learn this. In terms of comparisons, they happen in every aspect of life; promotions, raises, relationships, interviews, so although they are 9, I really don't see a problem pointing out that his partner is working harder.

The fact the younger kids are much slower will indeed be challenging, but he needs to understand that this is a great opportunity to work on his technical game, be perfect in his moves and positioning and work on every aspect of his game. The speed of the game isn't the key, his focus and his desire to be at the top of his game are the keys and he needs to understand this.

I'm sorry, I know this isn't the answer you were expecting, but I believe in being honest and sometimes this isn't what folks want to hear.


Here is a link to another article on dealing with your coach

Generic Pre Ice Preparation for Goaltenders

Generic Pre Ice Preparation for Goaltenders


You must arrive with enough time to conformably dress, complete this routine and be ready to play. Begin by putting on all gear BELOW the waist. This must be done by yourself with the possible exception of skate tightening.

For younger ages, parents should not be present once dressing is complete.

For older (over 12) ages, parents should not be present unless tightening skates.

15 minutes prior to ice time, goalie(s) should begin their 10 minute pre ice stretching routine. If 2 goalies are present, they should mirror and encourage each other during drills.

Once stretching routine is complete, put on C/A, throat guard, mask and gloves. The next 2 to 4 minutes should be spent focusing on clearing your head and focusing on your job and technique. Listen to the coaches ‘plan’ and hit the ice. Do a quick stretching routine, on the ice, BEFORE stopping any shots.

Remember, work at YOUR own pace, focus on every 2nd or 3rd shot, and make them YOUR saves. If players are shooting high or making dekes, just ignore them and let them score or skate by.


You must arrive in enough time to properly dress, prepare for the game, focus and stretch fully. This is usually 30 – 45 minutes before game time. If you are a social person, the first 10 – 15 minutes will usually be spent ‘hanging out’. Parents should not be present at this time. Goaltenders may want to dress slowly or just be in the room at this time.

30 minutes prior to game time, start dressing, if not already started. Begin by putting on all gear below the waist. This must be done by yourself with the possible exception of skate tightening.
Parents should NOT be present from this point on.

20 minutes prior to ice time, both (if 2) goalies should begin their 10 minute stretching routine. If 2, one mirrors and encourages the other. (Possible team rule – if stretching is not completed on time, goalie will not play that game).

Once stretching is complete, put on the remaining gear and spend 2 to 7 minutes clearing your head and focusing on the game, technique and visualization, you must be mentally ready to play.

Listen to the coach’s game plan and lead your team onto the ice.

Do a quick stretching routine on the ice, BEFORE stopping any shots.

Stop enough shots to be comfortable with the ‘feel’ of the puck.

If players are shooting high or making dekes, just ignore them and let them score or skate by. This is YOUR warm up. (Possible team rule – if players are trying to score or shooting at the head, fine or bench them)

If NOT Starting

Take warm up shots against the boards in the centre ice area or alternate with your partner in the net.

Be a cheerleader on the bench

If in a ‘split’ situation. Watch the clock and be ready to enter the game ½ way. (Possible team rule – do NOT switch if a goalie has a shutout) (Goalies from 8 or 9 years old, should be playing full games)

You must stretch at least 5 minutes on the bench, before entering at mid game. If immediately placed into the game, you must quickly stretch on the ice as play is in progress.

Keep your mind in the game at all times, you may be entering the game at any second, be ready and focused.

Things to Remember

A coach may ‘pull’ you at any time. Do not take it personally.

Often it may be just for a few seconds to discuss a situation or problem or even to get the team a rest.

The coach may just want to slow the game down.

It may be because the team needs a ‘shakeup’

Occasionally you may be having an ‘off’ game. Forget it and relax, it happens. Learn from your situation and move on.

Try to keep track (written is good) of goals that you let in. See if a pattern develops. This will help show you what to work harder on in practice.

NEVER, slam your stick or blame anyone for a goal. If a goal goes in, think about it for 5 seconds, analyze why it went in, and then forget bout it, until after the game. After the game re analyze WHY you were scored on and try to learn from it and improve because of what you will have learned.

Remember, even a perfect play by YOU can still result in a goal against you. You can’t and won’t stop every shot!!

It is a game, have fun and enjoy it, even if you lose. The world won’t change!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pre Ice Stretching

3 sets of each stretch, alternating sides
Hamstring and groin – toes up
Hamstring and groin – toes down
Back stretch – do not over extend
Arm rotations
Neck stretch (left, right, forward – NOT back)
Pelvis and hip rotations
Skate on bench, knee down
Splits (do not overextend)
Knee bend against wall
Toe touches
Add your own