Common Goalie Mistakes & How to Correct Them

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common goalie mistakes
Photo by Tony Schnagl

8 goaltending errors and what to do about them

By Warren Tabachnick

In the fast-paced world of hockey, goalies stand as the last line of defense, entrusted with the crucial task of keeping the puck out of the net. While goaltending is an art that demands a unique set of skills, even the most seasoned netminders find themselves tangled up in common goalie mistakes that can turn the tide of a game.

This article looks at some common goaltending blunders, breaking down the 8 errors that plague the position and offering insights into how to avoid them.

1. Overcommitting to the Shooter

In the heat of the moment, goaltenders often succumb to the temptation of lunging towards the puck carrier, leaving themselves vulnerable to quick dekes and well-placed shots. This over commitment is a classic goalie mistake that arises from their eagerness to make the save. We cannot emphasize the importance of maintaining a balanced stance and reading the play, so that goalies react efficiently without sacrificing their positioning.

2. Ignoring Net Awareness

A goalie’s spatial awareness is paramount to success. Failing to keep track of the boundaries of the crease can lead to unnecessary goals. Goalies should establish a mental map of the goal area, understanding their positioning in relation to the posts and the net’s depth. This awareness minimizes the chances of leaving open spaces that crafty opponents can exploit.

3. Neglecting Rebound Control

The rebound is the goalie’s greatest “frenemy.” While stopping the initial shot is crucial, failure to control the rebound can prove costly. It goes without saying the significance of directing rebounds to safe zones, away from goal-hungry opponents. By mastering rebound control, goaltenders can nullify second-chance opportunities and keep their team in the game.

4. Overlooking Stick Position

The goalie’s stick is a versatile tool, capable of deflecting shots and disrupting passing lanes. Yet, many goaltenders neglect the importance of stick positioning. We cannot stress enough the need for a goaltender to be proactive and use their stick to challenge shooters and cut down passing options. By incorporating the stick effectively, a goalie can elevate their defensive capabilities.

5. Poor Puck Tracking: A Common Goalie Mistake

In the chaos and confusion of the flurry of bodies and sticks in front of the net, losing sight of the puck is a common blunder for goaltenders. It’s important to recognize the need for goalies to track the puck diligently, following its movement and predicting its trajectory. This proactive approach enables a goalie to square up to shots, increasing their chances of making the save.

6. Poor Communication with the Defense

A goalie is the eyes and voice of the team, responsible for orchestrating defensive efforts. Failing to communicate effectively with the defense can lead to defensive breakdowns and open scoring opportunities. It is crucial for goalies to clearly communicate with their defense, providing information on player positioning, potential threats and developing plays.

7. Misjudging the Angles

Understanding the geometry of the game is key for goalies. Misjudging angles can result in unnecessary goals, as the puck slips through gaps that shouldn’t exist. Goaltenders must understand the importance of constantly adjusting angles based on the shooter’s position, ensuring that they cover as much of the net as possible.

8. Inconsistent Depth Management

Finding the optimal depth in the crease is a continual challenge for goaltenders. To be effective in the crease, a goalie must acknowledge the significance of maintaining consistent depth, striking a balance between challenging shooters and being prepared for backdoor plays. Inconsistent depth can lead to unguarded portions of the net, leaving goalies susceptible to clever offensive maneuvers.

The game of hockey and especially goaltending is constantly evolving. That’s why the ability to learn from mistakes and adapt is the hallmark of a resilient netminder. To excel in the crease requires a continuous commitment to improvement, fostering a mindset that embraces every nuance of the position. By recognizing and rectifying these common goalie mistakes, a goaltender can strengthen their skills and stand tall between the pipes.

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