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Why Stopping Pucks Is Not Your Main Focus

To bring in the New Year I thought it would be a good idea to talk about a myth that some goalies and players believe. Our job as goaltenders is to keep the puck out of the net, so naturally it would follow that becoming proficient in stopping shots should be our focus. While I am not saying that you should stop all drills in practice that focus on shooting, I am saying that it should not be your main focus. Let me explain.

According to the folks over at Quant Hockey, their number crunching of NHL data shows that on average each team takes around 30 shots per game. I do not know the exact time it takes from the release of a shot to reach the goaltender, but lets assume it is about 2 seconds. By taking the average number of shots along with how long each shot takes you end up with approximately 1 minute. So out of an entire 60 minute game in the NHL a typical goalie will spend 1.67% of their time stopping pucks. Well what are they doing the rest of the 59 minutes?

For the other 98.33% of the time the goalie is getting into position in anticipation of a shot. As a goalie you are skating in and out of your crease (known as telescoping or Skulling), sliding from post to post, getting in and out of your aggressive stance, preparing for face-offs, playing the puck, etc… These are the actions a goaltender takes the majority of the time during a game, so why is there so much emphasis on stopping pucks?

It is obvious from what a goaltender does during most of the game that they need to be great at skating, balance, cutting off angles, getting square, and puck tracking. This is what you should be focusing on during practice and training. If you cannot get into position in time or fail to match the speed of the shooter on a breakaway or cannot read where the pass is going, it does not matter how great you are at stopping shots.

For most beer league goalies the shot count can sometimes be as low as 10 and we only get a 5 minute warmup before a game. I tend to use most of that short time working on everything but stopping shots. With such low shot counts compared to the NHL at times, we are moving around like crazy. With Roller Hockey specifically there is even more skating involved and there is less room for error with angles, being square, and timing.

So if you want to improve I suggest you start getting better at skating and working on those drills that will help you at finding your angles quicker and tracking the puck.

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