Goalie Saves

Obviously, the most important job for the goalie is to save the ball. The first thing that a coach has to do is get his goalie to see the ball. Many young goalies move too soon. As a coach, you can distinguish many of your goalies’ bad habits by faking shots at them during warm-ups.

The ideal goalie does not flinch or move when a shot is faked at him because he is waiting for the ball to be released and then react. Many young goalies give away their tendencies when a shot is faked. Some have a “false step” to either the left or right. This means that no matter where the ball is going, on every shot they take a step in either direction before they react to the ball. Another bad tendency that young goalies have is that they drop their stick as the shooter winds up. Finally, many goalies fall forward as the shooter winds up and get themselves off balance. All of these bad habits obviously take away from their reaction times and keep them from saving the ball.

Stepping to the Ball

Stepping to the ball has long been thought of as the most important skill to teach goalies. Does a baseball player ever move towards the ball when he is trying to make contact? No. Does a tennis player ever run forward as he is hitting the ball? Not unless he has to.
If the ball is coming right at him, then he can simply make a stick save. If the ball is going to one side or the other of the goalie, then he can take a horizontal step to get his body across. The traditional way of thinking teach goalies to get their body behind the ball in case they miss it with their stick. This new way of thinking makes goalies learn to get their stick on the ball as much as possible.

Basically, the goalie draws an imaginary square around himself in his stance. If the ball is shot directly inside that square that he is in, then he just reacts with his stick. If it is outside of that square, then he steps horizontally. To step to one side, he wants to push off his back foot as if he was ice skating. So if he is stepping to his left, he wants to push off and explode off his right foot. To go to the right, he explodes off his left foot. This is much more efficient and powerful than stepping with one foot and dragging the other one across. To know which way he has to step, the goalie wants to draw a line down the middle of his body. If the ball goes to the left of that line, he wants to step to his left. If the ball is to the right of the imaginary line, he wants to step to his right.

The movement of the stick is based on where the ball is shot. If the ball is shot stick-side high, then the goalie simply keeps his stick up and catches the ball. Surprisingly, this is a tough shot for goalies because they tend to drop their sticks as the shooter winds up. If the ball is shot off-stick-side high, then the goalie brings his top hand over his bottom hand to get his stick head across. Young goalies should first learn to catch passes to off-stick-side high. Young goalies tend to “stab” their sticks at the ball on this shot. Remind them to keep their stick head flat on the pane of glass in front of them and catch the ball like an egg.

On stick-side hip, they just lower the head of their stick to their hip to catch the ball. On off-stick-side hip, they bring their stick across their body by dropping the stick head to their hip and then getting it across. Due to the distance of this movement, this is the hardest shot for goalies at all levels to save. On stick side low shots, they simply drop the head of their stick and try to get it perpendicular to the ground. On off-stick-side low shots, goalies do the same thing, only they have to get their stick to the other side of their feet. On all low shots, it is ideal to have your stick perpendicular and stabbed into the ground, so the ball does not get underneath the head of the stick.

Some great tips to get you going:

Never Stand Still

When you have the ball, never stand still - keep moving all the time - if necessary run backwards and forwards - but keep moving. When you are ready to make a pass, take one step back quickly and move. If you are standing still, you're wrong.

Move to Meet the Pass

Always move to meet every pass, and circle away from your defenseman.

Be an Outlet

If an attack man is being ridden hard and can't dodge or get away - the nearest man on each side goes to help him.

Back Each Other Up

Always be in position to back up shots and feeds. When a cut is made, or a shot is taken, the whole attack must play a part, moving to be in a position to backup a pass or a shot. Control the ball!

Pick a Corner

Place all shots, usually for a far corner, and shoot hard. When within five yards of the goal, the shot should be for a top corner.

Take Quality Shots

Shoot plenty, but only if you feel you have a good shot. Shoot to get hot, shoot to stay hot.

Cut Hard and Fast

Make full cuts - go through and out - don't cut at half speed or hang around the crease after your cut.

Outside Shooting

On all long shots, a man must be on the crease.

After the Pass

If you receive a pass after cutting and haven't got a good shot, hold onto the ball.

Teamwork is Key

Always remember that teamwork is the key to a good attack.

Time Your Cuts

Time your cuts, don't cut if the man with the ball is not watching or not in position to pass.

Make Him Play You

Make your defenseman play you and you alone every second you are in the game. Keep moving all the time so that he must center his attention on you an not be in position to help out his fellow defensemen.

Away From the Defense

In moving the ball around the circle, make all passes sharp, short, and to the outside, away from the defense man.

Don’t Force it

Never try to force in, with the ball or by a pass, if the defense is drawn in. Pull them out first.

Loose Ball on the Ground

When there is a loose ball on the ground, go after it fast and hard, you must have the ball!

Balance the Field

Always keep your field balanced in order that you stay in better position to back up, and give your teammates space to work in.

Circle Away From Pressure

Always move to meet every pass, and circle away from your defenseman.

Don’t Rush at Him

Don't rush at a man when riding - particularly behind the goal. Force him to pass - force him in the direction where there is help. Talk all the time and run hard. The success of an attack depends on their riding ability and their desire to have the ball.

Try Some Dodges

Every man on the attack should try at least two dodges every game. Learn at least three different types of dodges.

Ride Hard

When you lose the ball, ride it. The close attack must ride and ride hard until the ball is past midfield.