How To Be A Street Hockey Goalie? [Expert Review!]

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You’re 13 years old and dreaming about being the next Pele. You’ve dedicated your childhood to football and, after watching YouTube videos of goalies from the NHL, you’ve decided that this is what you want to do when you grow up. You save your money and, inspired by Tim Krul’s and Patrick Kane’s street hockey tactics, you buy the necessary gear: chest protector, arm pads, and a helmet.

But your parents, worried about what your friends will say, tell you that you’re too young to be a goalie. They drive you to the hockey rink every week and encourage you to play in-house football games. When it comes time for varsity high school hockey, you’ve got enough skill but not enough confidence. You’ll play behind a defenseman and, when the coach needs a goalie for a couple of shifts, he’ll call on you. You freeze when the situation comes up but, when it doesn’t, you lack the confidence to stop a water balloon or a soda can with your head.

You’re not alone. As a kid, you probably imagined yourself in a Hollywood movie facing off against an opponent in a comically large hockey helmet. But, if you’re really determined to be a goalie, you’ll need to overcome a lot of obstacles. Here are some of the things you’re going to have to do to become the best goalie possible:

Invest In The Right Gear

To play hockey, you obviously need hockey gear. But, in addition to jerseys, pads, and helmets, you’ll also need specialized gear for the position. You’ll need a chest protector, which will protect your ribcage from getting injured by a puck, as well as an arm guard, which will protect your upper arms from getting injured by a slapshot. Make sure that the gear fits comfortably and has all the necessary padding. You don’t want to be in pain during the game, especially as a goalie. Having specialized gear also makes it much easier to play in wet or cold weather conditions. If you have the money, buy top-notch gear and regularly have your equipment adjusted so that it fits securely.

Don’t Be Foolish

You’re a hockey goalie, so you know what happens when the ice is slick. You can’t control the speed of the ice, which means you can’t control the speed of the puck, which means you might get hit. Never, ever play on a surface that’s too fast or too slow for you. This is why youth leagues have a maximum player age of 18. The older you are, the less agile you become and the more likely you are to get injured. Always wear protective gear when playing on either surface. You’ll thank us later.

Practice

This one might seem obvious, but you have to practice stopping the puck. A lot. Like, a lot. Practicing is important for every position on the field, but especially so for goalies. You have to be able to stop the puck with your head, even if nobody is shooting at you. This is why you practice with a football or a basketball, as both of those require you to use your head and stop the ball. It might not seem obvious at first, but after you’ve been doing this for a while, you’ll see how vital it is to have a good practice routine.

Play In High Pressure Situations

This one might sound like a no-brainer, but in actuality, it’s not. Rookie goalies get nervous in high pressure situations and make sloppy play. The more you play, the more you’ll learn how to handle these situations. Always enter a game ready to play and make the right play, no matter what happens. When you make the right play, you’ll feel more relaxed and confident, even in high pressure situations. If you make the wrong play and get hit, at least you had the presence of mind to make the right decision. This will make you a better hockey player in the long run.

Know When To Walk, When To Run

This one might seem obvious, but it’s important to know when to run and when to walk. There are some situations where you’ll have to run after the puck, but for the most part, you’ll need to walk. You need to move slowly and calmly towards the puck, never rushing into a tackle or a slide tackle. This is most important for your health, especially if you want to keep playing the game. You don’t want to injure yourself because you played too aggressively.

Face Your Adversary

As a baseball pitcher, maybe you’ve faced a left-handed pitcher. In that case, you know what kind of pitch to expect and can make the right adjustment. A hockey goalie’s job is almost identical to a baseball pitcher’s, except you’ll be facing a live audience and, potentially, one of the fastest people on the planet. Naturally, this is a whole different ballgame. You need to learn how to deal with the speed and the aggression of an opponent. In addition to adjusting your positioning, you’ll need to focus on your technique and what you’re doing with your legs and arms. You might find it helpful to study the defensive strategies of the top NHL goalies and implement them into your own game. For example, one of the best defensemen to ever play the game, Chris Pronger, implemented a push-block strategy that he learned from watching videos of top goalie Mark Boucher. The idea is to push the puck carrier away from the puck so he doesn’t get a scoring chance. If you want to stop a scoring chance, you have to prevent it from happening in the first place. This might require you to take a hit, but at least you’ll do so while protecting your team’s best interest.

Play In Front Of A Big Audience

Speaking of which, you might want to consider playing in front of a big audience. There are numerous benefits to playing in front of an audience, especially at younger ages. It might help your confidence or at least give you the motivation to play better. It’s always good to test your limits and see how well you can perform under pressure. In front of a big audience, that pressure is doubled. You might find that, under pressure, you have improved your play or that your play even compares favorably to when there’s no audience. This one is debatable, but having an audience can certainly make a difference. It’s like having a coach yelling at you from the sidelines.

Watch The Others

Hockey is a team sport and, as the name would suggest, you’ll need to learn from watching the others. You might look at how a particular goalie performs and try to implement their techniques into your own game. But, more importantly, you need to be looking at how the entire team is performing, not just what individual players are doing. The entire team needs to have a sense of urgency about stopping the puck, otherwise, you’ll never be able to master the position. Never be afraid to ask for help. If you’re struggling with a specific part of the game, don’t be afraid to come back later and ask someone who knows more about it than you do.

These tips will help get you started. Just remember: you’re a goalie, so wear the gear, get the practice in, and protect those ribs!

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