Rebound Control: 7 Tips for Better Saves

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Rebound control is one of the most valuable skills a goalie can possess

By Landyn Desmarais

Rebound control is one of the most valuable skills to have as a goaltender. It is not enough to just make the save. You need to control the rebound to prevent another possibility of a goal from being scored. And to do that, you need to know how to improve your rebound control. 

When we let in a rebound goal, often the first person we turn to is our defenseman. “Why didn’t you clear the puck? I made the first save so my job is done.” But the burden should almost always be placed on us. In fact, defensemen cannot control where the puck goes—but we can. 

Implementing these rebound control tips in any practice drill is vital, and guarantees you will see improvement. After reading this article, you will know how to improve your rebound control in every situation and ensure you only have to make one save, every play.

Here are 7 ways to improve your rebound control. They will be covered more in-depth below:

  • Track the puck from release all the way through
  • Use your stick 
  • Sink back on shots to the breadbasket 
  • Hold your glove and blocker out, away from your body
  • Follow the rebound 
  • Be aggressive 
  • Cover the puck 

How Do You Improve Your Rebound Control? 

There are several little things you can do that will make a big difference when learning how to improve your rebound control. How and where you control them also comes down to your style of play, to a certain extent; however the fundamentals remain the same.

Track the Puck 

It sounds easy, but this is an extremely common mistake many goalies make: not watching the puck as it’s released on the shot and travels right into their equipment—no matter where the shot goes. By following the puck with your eyes, you will be far more effective at preventing a rebound, or controlling where you want it to go. 

Use Your Stick 

All goalies know you must keep your stick in front of you to block your five-hole. However, your stick is one of the most valuable pieces of equipment used to control a rebound, even more so than your pads. You should use your stick to direct pucks to the corners, stop the puck in front of you to cover it, or even ramp the puck out of play to get a whistle.

Sink Back on Shots to the Breadbasket

If you employ the proper angles, you will see a large number of shots going right into your chest area (otherwise known as the “breadbasket”). When the shots come in, the best way to control the rebound is not to try and catch it but to sink back with the shot, bend forward, and bring your arms in to keep the puck from falling out. By doing that, the puck won’t bounce away and will give you perfect rebound control.

Keep Your Glove and Blocker Out 

This goes along with maintaining a solid goalie stance. Having your glove and blocker extended out in front of you instead of right beside you will take up more room, and significantly improve your ability to control a rebound with your hands. By being able to see your gloves, you will be able to track the puck into them much easier, allowing you to catch or direct the rebound more easily.

Follow Your Rebound 

Although this tip does not directly affect where your rebounds go, it is vital for having good rebound control. By tracking your rebound wherever it goes, you are in a position for another shot if there is a shooter, or in a position to react to whatever the next play is. How you follow your rebounds depends on the play: On some plays you will have to power push for a quick reaction, and other times you will be able to recover onto your feet. 

Be Aggressive 

I know being aggressive does not fit everyone’s play style, but to some degree it should. By coming out of the net a little bit more, you are taking up much more net and making it a lot harder for shooters to pick corners. As a result, shots go right into you or even miss the net entirely. Those who wish to play more aggressively can poke-check skaters when they get too close, kick the puck far out with their pads, or jump on any loose puck they possibly can. Because the best way to control a rebound is not to have a shot in the first place. 

Cover the Puck 

Whenever possible, you are going to want to cover the puck. Not only does that leave no room for rebounds, but your coach and/or teammates will appreciate being able to get fresh legs on the ice and slow the game down. That being said, there are times you may not want to cover the puck, such as at the end of the game on the penalty kill, etc. Use your judgment but as a general rule, cover the puck. 

The Bottom Line: Goalies, give these 7 tips on rebound control a try in your next practice or game. We guarantee you will see improvements in your ability to control the game. And the best way to develop every skill is to always keep them in mind, before, during, and after the game. Every time you face a shot, remember these points and react.

Landyn Desmarais is a goaltender and goalie coach in Fort Erie, Ontario. He currently attends Niagara College and works for the Fort Erie Hockey Association. Among his numerous achievements, Landyn has played AAA hockey as well as Junior B hockey for his hometown. He now continues his hockey career as a goalie coach, and created LID Athletics to share the knowledge of hockey and sports he acquired throughout his life.

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