Last Thursday, one of the AAA teams I work closely with had our first summer skate leading up to training camp. I hadn’t had the opportunity to work with either of my goalies over the summer, so this was our first time on the ice together since tryouts after last season ended.
I had a bit of time alone with them before the team got into flow drills, and we went through a very basic set of drills. Stuff they knew how to do without thinking, with the intention of getting their legs and lungs into hockey shape.
What I actually got was much, much uglier. My guys were making simple mistakes. Lazy post integration. Not hitting their targets with pushes. No visual attachment to their targets in the first place. Things we’d nailed down so early in the season last year that it was an afterthought by mid season.
But that was last year. I know these kids have all these skills, but they hadn’t trained them in almost 3 months. It reminded me of a quote I’ve heard before…
The grass is always greener…where you water it!
It’s not as if they forgot how to play goalie overnight. It was simply that the skills it takes to be the best at your position take consistent reinforcement to stay sharp. The skills didn’t stay “green” (sharp) because they weren’t getting any “water” (practice) all summer!as
Now, I’m a big believer in taking time away from the ice once your season is done. Your body and mind need that break. However, once the time rolls around to start ramping up to the season, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can pick up right where you left off last year. The foundation of your game is going to need some refreshing. There’s not much sense trying to build a new set of skills when those fundamental pieces aren’t fully operational.
The best thing you can do is make sure you’re taking time to work on the skills that will have the most impact during the season.
- Skating – Not for the sake of making you the most tired possible, but to work on how you’re pushing and stopping, going down and getting up, to make sure you’re working as efficiently as possible. That way you’ll be as sharp in the third period as you were in the first.
- Tracking – One of the more overused terms in goalie coaching, but we’re working to ensure that your whole body is involved in the save, moving towards the puck and placing the rebound appropriately.
- Recovery – Deciding how to attack your new angle in the best way, based on the new situation.
As soon as you have the ability to get on the ice, start “watering” all those major areas of your goaltending “yard”, so that when it really counts in the winter, you’ll be in full bloom!
PS. If you’re reading this, and you feel like you don’t know where to start, but you know you want to be as prepared as possible use the contact form in the About Me page to get in touch, and I’ll do the best I can to get you going in the right direction.