November 21, 2013

Blinded By The Light

I have been wandering the wilderness of beer league goalies for some time now. This summer and fall I've been playing average to poorly on average to poor teams. Yes, there have been a few bright spots but for the most part I've felt a little lost.

Last night I finally managed to find a break in my game schedule to attend a skills camp at one of my local rinks. I've been keen to get out because of a man I met at a party in October. His name is Bill Ivey. Bill is an old, salty character who has played and coached for years- including some high level goalies- and he instilled more knowledge in my goaltending database than any time since I lost my goalie coach way back in April.

I would have thought that the best Bill could offer me were a few minor tweaks to my technique and maybe some insight into the game of angles but boy, was I wrong. Just a few samplings of what Bill was able to bring to light include;

 Skate & stance

Having grown up playing stand-up, I had to learn an entirely new stance for the butterfly and I thought that was one of the solid parts of my "new" game. It turns out I have been missing a huge element which is my skate position. Even though my stance is wide and my pads create a 'V', I've been standing on top of my skates with the blade perfectly perpendicular to the ice. I should have the boot angled over on a 45 degree with my cowling almost making contact with the ice. This change makes my pushes much stronger, my movement quicker and almost eliminated the upper body bobbing I was doing when pushing parallel to the crease. In only a few minutes of drills I realized what a huge difference this will make to my mobility and net coverage.

Lead with the stick, Lead with the gloves

I've been pretty lazy with my stick position when moving. Simple instruction from Bill has turned me into a "where the stick goes the body will follow" guy. In only a few minute of drills, my movement was crisper and my preparedness for the shot was greatly increased. No longer was my stick face flopped somewhere to my right when I arrived for the shot. It's now on the ice and covering the 5-hole. Leading my "T" pushes with my gloves also instantly put me in better balance and took some of the slop out of my initial move. I expect to see improvement here in the coming months.

 Stick hand position

Bill had me take my stance and drop into my butterfly. I have always felt that one of my strengths is that  I don't collapse my upper body when I drop and that my stick remains firmly centered. Bill immediately pointed out that my hand and arm position- while keeping my stick out front was creating a huge six hole under my elbow. By pushing the blade out further, angling it to 45 degrees and pulling my elbow into my side, I was not only reducing double blocking but virtually eliminating my six hole. It also puts my arm in a much stronger position make a stick save.

I realize this is a lot of technical talk that bores many of you so left me finish by saying how excited and almost re-born I feel by finding Bill and starting a new journey of education and improvement.

Just when I was feeling resigned to my level of play, I now have set my sights on greater things.