Friday, May 05, 2006

Goalie camp the fourth

for reasons unknown we only had seven goalies in attendance at this week's camp, down from our full class of twelve; the missing five were a mix of adults and younger ones as far as i can recall. they may have all just collectively missed a day but i'm hoping they wimped out for the remaining sessions, more coaching time for me!

this week's camp in particular was a good one for me as it addressed some positional concerns that i had and also gave me the chance to see some training tools in person that i had only read about previously.

i actually got suited up and onto the ice about fifteen minutes before the session started so i had the chance to do some warmup skating laps and stretching. after that some of the coach's shooters were out so i stood in net to let them take some shots and also get myself accustomed to the speed of the puck.

about five minutes before the session started, the coach came out, skated over and asked me more about one of the concerns i had detailed in my introductory email to him weeks ago; considering the length of the email and the time lapsed i was impressed and appreciative that he had the presence of mind to recall it and follow up with me.

in my post on day three of the camp i'd discussed angles and depth; this particular concern was the proper depth to use against puckcarriers who are to the side of the net below the faceoff dots. in past games i'd always felt uncomfortable even though having the puck that low and to the side is normally a good thing as the angle to the net is very sharp and doesn't give the shooter much of an option from there. i felt handcuffed between staying on my feet and feeling that shots to the left and right of my feet would be difficult to stop and going down in the butterfly to block low but leave the upper areas open or even giving the puckcarrier an opportunity to move around me into the slot area and an open net.

Wilkie had me stand out at the side and look at the net from a shooter's perspective while he set up in a standing blocking stance near the goalpost. even without any goalie gear on he took away almost all of the available angle just by standing right next to the goalpost. moving out from the post toward the puckcarrier was a case of diminishing returns; not much additional angle was removed and instead the risk of being stranded on a puckcarrier deke or pass to the center was much greater.

the big takeaway lesson here was that movement around the crease is less of a semicircle and more of a horseshoe. From the center area moving left, tracking of the puck is done in an arc to maintain proper depth; however, after the puck passes below the faceoff dots you can generally move backward straight to the goalpost and remain in good position.

to reinforce the concept Wilkie had a few shooters carry the puck in on the side to down low and then attack the goal laterally. By using the concept Wilkie had outlined, I could discourage shots from the sharp angles and force the puckcarrier to move to the center; being near the goalpost made it easier for me to drop down and slide laterally to follow him and stop the play on net.

as it stands this was part of the lesson plan that Wilkie had for the day; to instruct the class he set up a traditional goaltending coach's exercise, which was to tie ropes to each goalpost and hold them in one hand tight while skating around the zone. The ropes showed the possible range of angle that a puck could be shot from at any position on the ice that would result in a goal (similar to what i discussed in camp #3 post as well) ; goalies were made to adjust their depth and angle to the ropes as the position of the ropes changed.

Wilkie also went into the concept of the butterfly slide and backside leg recoveries.

The butterfly slide is the motion of sliding laterally across the ice in a butterfly position to follow the puck around the zone when you do not have time to recover and shuffle or if you are anticipating a low, quick shot. Most often the butterfly slide is used to follow the play after an initial shot & rebound, and is also one of those techniques that i find much easier to do in a game situation without thinking than when i'm in practice and focusing on it deliberately. One of the drills we did consisted of shooters on both sides of the net; the goalie would hug one post and then push off to butterfly slide toward the shooter on the opposite side to cut down the angle of the shot.

Backside leg recovery refers to the technique of recovering from a down stance onto your "power leg", the leg that needs to be used to move you toward the puck's position. For example, if i went down in a butterfly and made a leg pad save that rebounded the puck to my left, i would need to first get up on my right leg; with my right skate back on the ice and under my body, i am in position to push off to the left in a butterfly slide to regain angle position to the puck or, if time permits, to regain my normal stance and shuffle off to the left.

With fewer goalies around we each had more time in the drills and by the end i was pretty beat, especially with the last drill we did. i'm not sure what it's called but it involved putting about a bajillion pucks in a semicircle about a foot outside the crease and having a shooter fire any puck he wanted at any time and forcing the goalie to make as many saves as possible. it was a great scrambling drill but holy moley was it tiring.

all in all a great session and the best part was that i really put the new concepts learned into action at this week's league game; having finally seen for myself how little net i gave, just by standing on the post , to shooters attacking on sharp angles , i played much more confidently and controlled the play in those situations much more often. now if my defense could just understand why it's a bad idea to constantly allow opponents to screen me and hang out on the backdoor of the crease...

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