Many coaches will say that to truly build a great team, you need to do so by starting with an outstanding goalie and building from there. I remember a coach that would answer the question about what it is going to take to win a given game or series by simply stating that “It starts by getting off the bus with a better goalie than the opponent.”
Goalies are a special breed of player. They all seem to have just a little bit of a different personality, and the best ones have plenty of confidence and also have the shortest memory of anyone on the team! The ability to forget a goal and get ready of the next save is critical.
Over the years there were always goalies that I played with who would share little tips about what as a defenseman I could do to help them out. They also would share stories about players with ‘cannons’ for shots, and those who had moves and dekes that were the most difficult to stop.When I think back to all of the conversations with some of the best goalies in the game, I can suggest the following to aspiring players as 4 things that goalies don’t want you to know:
- Hard shots are intimidating. All shots are not the same as we all know. Some players have a natural ability to shoot the puck hard. For most however, it takes not only practicing shooting, but selecting the right stick and flex to maximize your shot speed and strength. Take the time to develop a hard shot and goalies will start to tighten up a bit when they see the puck on your stick.
- A variety of shots is important. Mastering a great wrist shot, slap shot and snap shot will keep goalies guessing about what shot you are going to take. If you have a great wrist shot, but a weak slap shot and snap shot, goalies will recognize this and be ready for that go-to wrist shot. It’s important to keep goalies guessing and a great way to do that is with a variety of shots.
- Straight on shots are easy. Lateral movement and change of direction is difficult. The best goal scorers all know that giving the goalie ‘a different look’ than a straight on shot is important to lighting the lamp. Goalies don’t like lateral movement, and they like to see the puck coming off the stick. Anything you can do with puck movement prior to shooting (watch video below for great tips!) will help keep the goalie guessing what type of shot you are going to take, or if you are going to try and deke. For example, simply toe dragging the puck towards your body prior to ripping a snap shot can be the difference between the goalie expecting the shot and being fooled by the change of movement.
- In close, shoot high. With the butterfly technique being used by so many goalies, there isn’t a whole lot of space down low. If you get the puck on your stick down in or around the crease, the goalie is most likely going to be down, so the best place to bury the puck is up high just under the cross bar. This is something that you can work on in your basement or garage against your shooting tarp and once you master this skill, you will see your goal count rise dramatically!
There are many ways to keep goalies guessing, and these are just four of some of the best ways to take your game to the next level and light the lamp more often.
Remember, always work hard and dream bigger than everyone else!