Home > Game Situations, Goalie Terminology, Technique > Three Key Things To Be In Position

Three Key Things To Be In Position

I would guess that many of us beer league goalies never had formal training or attended goaltender camps. We learn by repetition and experience, figuring out what works and does not work. This can lead to some bad habits which get exposed when we jump into a higher division or play against different player types than we are used to. I am just as guilty and also have heard of and seen goalies who sometimes get into position relative to the shooter instead of the puck depending on the game situation that is developing. This is not the way you should approach a shot and it will end up burning you more often than not.

One of the game situations where a goaltender might incorrectly get into position relative to the shooter is when a Winger is breaking down one of the sides and the handedness of the shooter is to the side of the boards they are skating down. Picture standing behind the goaltender and the player is skating down the goalie’s left side and the shooter is right handed. For the other side, the shooter would be coming down the goalie’s right side and the shooter is left handed.

The theory is that the shooter is going to try to pull the puck into the opposite side of the net and not really try for that short-side goal. If they are trying to go to the opposite side it means that you are too far over towards the boards and exposing that side of the net. If you get into position relative to the shooter instead of the puck you are exposing more of the net on the boards side and any decent player will shoot short side for an easy goal, with you reaching out in desperation and failing.

One of the most important things to understand and implement as a goalie is to always be on the proper angle, be square, and have the correct depth from the net relative to the puck, NOT the shooter.

Proper Angle
By being on the proper angle each half of the goalie takes up an equal portion of the net. If you take up too much glove side then you are exposing an unnecessary amount on your blocker side and vice versa. To be on the proper angle imagine there is a line extending out from the center of the net at the goal line. This line comes out and goes straight through your belly button and continues on till it meets the center or the puck.

The puck is not coming from the center of the shooter, the puck is coming from where it is on the shooter’s stick. If you are on angle to the shooter when he releases the puck, you just exposed an area of the net that otherwise should have been taken up.

To help with getting the right angle every time I always start with my back against the crossbar with my body centered. As soon as the play develops into my zone, as long as I am aware of where that imaginary line is, I get a head start on setting my angle and I find it quicker. Some goalies like to hang out of their crease and when the play develops they skate back, figure out the center and then come out to get on angle. To me this seems like a waste of energy and effort. If your back is on the crossbar you are ready to react instantly.

Being Square To the Puck
Squareness to the puck means having as much surface area of the goalie available to stop the puck. You can be on angle, but if you are not square the puck can zip by an area you thought you had covered. The best way to think about being square is to draw a perpendicular line in reference to the imaginary line you created for being on angle. You want your shoulders, hips, arms, and legs to cut through this perpendicular line.

When you also have active, forward hand placement in conjunction with being square you now are exposing the maximum surface area possible to the puck. By combining squareness with being on angle you reduce the chances of needing to make a desperation reach save, increase your chances of making the save, be situated better for rebound control, and trap the puck better.

Correct Depth
Let’s say you are on angle and you are square to the puck but you are too deep in the net. Just be aware that the size of the goaltender contributes to how deep they can play and still take up the same amount of space. In general, the deeper you play in net the more net you expose to the shooter and puck. The further out you play not only reduces the amount of exposed net but also cuts down the time the shooter has to react and take a shot.

If you are on angle and square but too deep in net the shooter will be able to snipe the areas above both shoulders and to the outside of your leg pads. By misreading the angle of the shot coming and thinking it is coming low when it is actually high, being too deep will cause the puck to go right over you and in. However, if you are at the correct depth the puck will hit your head, shoulders, or chest. Playing too deep will also increase the chance you need to make a desperation save.

Putting it All Together
Whenever the play starts to develop in your zone make sure to execute the three principles of being in the proper position: On angle, squareness, and depth. By combining all three you give yourself the best opportunity to make the save.

We all know that the game of hockey is not static and players don’t always come in on a straight line. There are 7 to 9 (depending on ice or roller) other players on the rink moving around trying to get open or trying to prevent someone from getting open. The opposing team could pass the puck around from deep in the zone out to the point. Someone can setup right in front of you hoping to get a tip in or backdoor goal.

Always keep a laser focus on the puck and track it wherever it goes. As it moves around the zone readjust your angle, squareness, and depth. Take notice of where the other players are and try to anticipate the game situations right before they unfold. Believe me this is easier said than done but by practicing these 3 aspects of our position over time you will not have to think about it and you will get into position automatically.

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  1. February 1, 2012 at 4:03 pm

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