All Goalie Notes Videos filmed and edited by Amy Blackburn
The first thing I want to cover is the most important and I want to preface it by saying something even more important - I have a saying that I learned from another coach that I stress to all my goalies - better skater = better goalie. Being a better skater will allow you to get to your spot quicker, you'll also get there ready and balanced and able to get set for the shot. The question is, what makes a better skater? Being a better skater does not just mean the fastest. Being the fastest means nothing if you are pushing to the wrong spot. Or your hands are up over your head doing the YMCA. It means being fast, balanced, disciplined, and ready for a shot at all times.
A term that has come up relatively recently is the idea of "tracking the puck". I've heard it mean many things but I usually define tracking the puck as "following the puck wherever it goes while keeping your eyes on the puck, being balanced, and ready for a shot at all times. Tracking the puck starts when the puck is dropped and ends only when the whistle blows.
Here we will be covering short distance tracking - following the puck short distances while there is always a threat of a shot. Below we have a common occurrence, a player carrying the puck down the wing. Often times, especially with younger goalies, I'll see the goalie turn his chest and hands but keep his toes and waist facing forward. They basically back up as the puck is moved laterally. Watch what happens as the goalie stays facing forward and backs up. Net is always open on the sides.
On top of this, the goalie is not square to the puck and, therefor, lacks the ability to move laterally into the shot. If the shot comes short side, the goalie will have to reach backward in order to make the save. If the shot goes far side, the goalie is forced to punch out at the puck, directing the rebound right out to the slot.
Now let's look at what happens if the goalie stays square to the puck - using short shuffle steps to keep his chest, hands, hips, and toes all square to the puck at all times.