Insight to Tryouts for Goalies

With many tryouts in the next two weeks, I thought it would help goalies to have an understanding of what coaches are looking for when selecting their tandem. The information I am sharing is based on being part of many selections at all youth levels as well as speaking to many coaches, both head and goalie, in different organizations throughout the years.

Although there is no exact science with goalie selection, the list below should give the goalies insight to how they are selected.

Movement

  • Skater – Goalies need to be one of the top skaters on a team. If he is not, it will cost the team.
  •  Goalie-Specific Movement within Net – Goalie can’t stop pucks without strong position-specific movement in the crease
  • Is the Goalie Quick? – Goalie does not need to be fast, just quick (i.e. does goalie make too many movements in getting from Point A to Point B? Is the goalie able to move into position before the shot is released?)

Positioning

  • Angles and Depth – For all shots, is goalie on angle and have correct depth? If skater with puck passes to teammate, does goalie understand the depth/angle relationship to get self in proper position again?
  • Body Squareness – Being square for first shot is easy, what about the rebound?

Anticipation

  • Read Developing Plays – Is goalie slightly “in-front” of the play or is he having to catch-up? Does goalie seem surprised with different offensive tactics?
  • Puck Watching Goalie is not going to have any idea where the rebound is going if not concentrating on the puck.

Saving the Puck

  • “Blocking” or “Reactive” Style? – Does goalie simply allow to puck to hit him or does he adjust body to best react to shot. The “blocking style” worked in the 1990’s and early 2000’s – not so much today.
  • Unnecessary Shots Against? – Does goalie control rebounds or consistency have to make another save?
  • Predictability – Is the goalie consistently making the same save on the same shot every time or is he erratic?

Competitiveness

  • Work – Does goalie work to save all pucks or just every few?
  • Fighting Spirit –Many goalies today do not have the “fighting spirit”, or heart, to be a successful goalie. They simply don’t control their surroundings. Examples, are rebounds allowed to sit in, or around, crease area? If the goalie can affect the play so a shot is not faced (poke check, eliminating the shooter’s stick, smothering the loose puck) does he? If shooter appears to have goalie beat, does the goalie battle to make the save? It can be argued a goalie’s competitiveness is the most important component he can bring to a team. Technique and tactics can always be taught but the goalie’s fighting spirit is internal and rarely can be developed through coaching. Either the goalie has heart or they don’t and coaches rarely pass on the kid who does. Battle, battle, battle!!!!

Presence in Net

  • Comfort – Does goalie seem to be confident, enjoy his job and the opportunity?
  • Small or Big? – When last cuts are about to be made, does the goalie elevate his play or tank it?

Emotional and Mental

  • Coachability – Does goalie seem to want to learn or does he already know everything? If he acts as if he knows everything he may as well get off the ice as his tryout is essentially over.
  • Focus – Does he allow bad goals during scrimmages appearing like he “got caught napping?”
  • Enjoyment – Is goalie just going through the motions or is he motivated? If the goalie is going through the motions in tryouts, can you imagine him in January?
  • High Maintenance – Is the goalie going to be more work (off-ice) than worth it? Are his parents?

Many coaches say they only want a goalie that “can stop the puck.”  This is a bit misleading if you take it at surface value.  All of the above go into stopping the puck for a coach. As a goalie, if you can commit this list to memory and work hard to improve in all the above categories, your goalie future will be very bright.

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