Mastering the Shootout: 5 Tips for Goalies

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mastering the shootout
Photo by Andy Hall on Unsplash

For goalies, mastering the shootout requires special skills. They face a unique challenge, as it becomes a one-on-one battle with the shooter.

By Warren Tabachnick

Mastering the shootout takes a special skill set. A goalie is selected for their ability to stop pucks during regulation time, but when it comes to the shootout, they must deal with a unique challenge. Shootouts require goalies to not only be physically skilled but also mentally tough, as they face a one-on-one battle with an opposing player. However, with the right mindset and preparation, goalies can master the shootout and become a valuable asset to their team.

The pressure is on, your teammates and spectators are watching, and the game is on the line. In this article, we’ll explore shootout strategies for goalies and what it takes for them to become proficient in the shootout. As a goalie, you’ll discover how you can improve your skills to become the deciding factor in the outcome of a game.

Reading the Shooter

The shootout is a high-stress situation for any goalie, but it’s also an opportunity to shine. A goalie’s ability to read the shooter, anticipate their moves, and react quickly can make all the difference in how the game finishes. The key to mastering the shootout is practice. Just like any other skill in hockey, the more a goalie practices the shootout, the better they will become.

One of the biggest challenges for goalies in the shootout is dealing with the mental aspect of the game. The pressure to make a save can be overwhelming, and it’s easy for a goalie to get inside their own head. To combat this, many goalies rely on visualization techniques. They imagine themselves making the save, and focus on positive thoughts and feelings. This helps them stay calm and steady during the shootout.

Another important shootout strategy for goalies is studying the opposing team’s shooters. Goalies need to know the tendencies of each shooter, including their favorite moves and where they like to shoot. This allows the goalie to anticipate the shooter’s moves and react accordingly. In the NHL, goalies often study video footage of previous shootouts to get a better understanding of the opposing team’s shooters.

In addition to studying the opposing team’s shooters, goalies also need to work on their own technique. A goalie’s stance and positioning can make all the difference in making a save. During the shootout, it’s important for goalies to stay square to the shooter and to be in a low, balanced stance. They also need to be ready to move quickly from side to side, as shooters will often try to deke out the goalie.

A vital aspect of mastering the shootout is patience. Shooters will often try to fake out the goalie and make them move first, so they can shoot into an open net. But a patient goalie can wait out the shooter, and make a save when the shooter finally makes a move. This requires discipline and mental focus, as it’s tempting for the goalie to make the first move.

5 Tips for Mastering the Shootout

  1. Stay patient One of the most important things a goalie can do in a shootout is to stay patient and not commit too early. If a goalie rushes out of the net too soon, it can leave them vulnerable to a deke or a quick shot. By staying patient, the goalie can entice the shooter to make the first move and then react accordingly.
  2. Read the shooter’s body language Goalies can also try to read the shooter’s body language to anticipate where they might release a shot. For example, if the shooter leans to one side, it might indicate they are going to shoot to that side of the net.
  3. Use the poke check The poke check is a technique where the goalie extends their stick out towards the shooter in an attempt to disrupt their shot. This can be effective when the shooter is in close and doesn’t have much room to make a move.
  4. Challenge the shooter Another method is for the goalie to come out of the net and challenge the shooter, cutting down the angle and making it harder for them to score. This can be risky, but if executed properly it can be very effective.
  5. Stay square to the shooter Finally, goalies need to make sure they stay square to the shooter and keep their body in good position to make the save. This means keeping their legs shoulder-width apart and their glove and blocker in good position to make the save.

Finally, goalies should not be afraid to take risks and be aggressive in the shootout. While caution is important, taking calculated risks can increase the goalie’s chances of making a save and winning the shootout for their team. Also, a goalie needs to have a short memory when it comes to the shootout. If they make a mistake and let in a goal, they need to quickly reset and forget about it and move on to the next shot. Dwelling on a mistake can lead to more mistakes, and can ultimately cost the team the game.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, mastering the shootout is a crucial skill for goalies. It requires a combination of mental focus, technical skill and practice. By studying the opposing team’s shooters, working on their own technique, and staying patient and focused, goalies can become a valuable asset to their team in the shootout. And by having a short memory and quickly moving on from mistakes, they can ensure that they give their team the best chance to win the game.

So the next time you see a goalie make a big save in the shootout, remember the practice and preparation that went into making that save possible. With hard work and dedication, any goalie can master the shootout and help their team come out on top.

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