Lerg: Add quickness to your game

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By Jeff Lerg –

Are you still missing that x-factor in your game? Now that the season is underway, it’s time to build on your foundation and take your game to the next level. One thing that every goalie can always work on is his quickness. You will never hear a scout describe someone as being “too quick.” We can all work on having quick reactionary skills, quick recovery skills or quick movements around the crease.

Here are a few ways to increase your quickness:

Reactionary skills

Work on your hand-eye coordination at home with a racquetball. Stand in a goalie stance and throw the ball down toward where the wall meets the floor. Have the ball hit the wall first and then ricochet off the ground and up to your hands. Work on catching the ball with one hand and have your eyes track the ball directly into your hand. You can also work on the quickness of your reactionary skills on the ice. Have the shooters pile the pucks at the hashmarks and place yourself just above the goal line. The shooters can shoot to score, but I wouldn’t recommend slap shots. Work on reading the puck coming off their stick and react accordingly. Staying deep in the crease will make you work harder on covering the majority of the net with your quickness.

Quick recovery skills

It is not very common to see a goalie who is lightning quick on the ice and completely out of shape off the ice. The one simple solution to quick recoveries is overall body conditioning. The heavier you are up top, the harder it will become for your legs to pick you up. Strong and conditioned legs and hips are essential for goalies. Don’t make them work harder by having to pick up more weight than necessary. Get your quick-twitch muscles firing by working at them consistently. Finish out each practice with 15 rapid butterflies. Get up five times with your left leg, five with your right and then five by using your groin/hips to recover with both legs at once. One easy exercise off the ice would be the step-up with a high knee finish. This routine mimics the recovery from a butterfly position. Stand next to a bench that is about 12-24 inches high. Step up on the bench with your leg closest to it and then drive your opposite knee to your chest. Bring the high knee back down to floor, step down and rapidly repeat.

Quick feet/movements

This is the most important area to consistently work on as a goalie. Don’t let yourself go through the motions and slow your muscles down. Get them used to working at a quick pace on a consistent basis. When in practice, make sure to do drills at a high pace and explode into each movement. Goaltending is a game of one-second explosiveness on a repetitive basis – down, over, up, slide, push, up, down, etc. It is easy to get away from this because it is hard work being quick in your movements. When working on your game on your own time or with a goalie coach, try to do drills that take the thinking out of the equation. You should not be thinking about your next movement; you should react to it. Drills should be done at high pace with a short rest period. Most drills that I do involve 2-4 shots from different areas of the ice and involve me having to cover every part of the crease. One sample of a quickness drill would be to put a pile of pucks just inside the top of the circles on each side. Have the goalie start in the middle of the net on top of the crease. The drills starts with the goalie exploding down into the butterfly. One shooter will fire immediately and the goalie pushes (while down) over rapidly to make the save. Once the puck hits him, the other shooter gives him another second to explode through the crease and make a ‘desperation’ save to the other side. There is no time to think as a goalie; you must train your body to react rapidly. When you get tired and want to quit, just remember that if you want to be the best, you must outwork the rest!

Jeff Lerg is the head director at Future Pro USA Goaltending.

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