Goalies Learn To Play Better Angles

Have you ever heard a coach or parent yell "cover that angle"? This article is dedicated to exploring what that all too often used statement really means.

Anyone who has ever uttered those words, needs to do the following. Go out onto the ice and have a goalie stand in the middle of the net, at the top of the crease, perfectly in line with a puck about 10 feet away in the slot. Now take a good look at the positioning and the open net the goalie is giving up. There should only be a few inches of room in all four corners. Once you have satisfied yourself that the goaltender is in the correct position, take a walk over to the players bench and stand where the coach stands during the game. Take a good look at the goalie remembering that he / she is in perfect position. What you will see will astound you! The entire net will be wide open, your first thought will be that anyone should be able to beat your goalie in their current position. Then the light bulb will go on! It is impossible to tell if the goalie is properly lined up with the puck from any place in the arena, except directly behind the net. This will be obvious because as you already knew, the goalie IS IN THE CORRECT POSITION. (This is becomes even more magnified from the fan's points of view, or an elevated perspective.)

To properly teach your goalie how to play an angle, we have found the rope drill to be very effective. Following is an explanation of this drill: get a 30 to 40 foot length of rope and tie the ends to the top of each post (two routes may also be used and tied to the top and base of each post.) Have a goalie get into position, starting at the goal line. The rope should be dropped to form a "V" and a puck should be placed at this point. Always instruct your goals to keep the puck straight in front of themselves and that if in correct angle coverage position, the puck, their belly button and the center post in the net should all line up (another rope may be used to further demonstrate this. )

With the goalie in correct angle to the puck, but still on the goal line, make note of the open net that is visible. This will convince those goals that like to play deep in their net that they are giving up a whole lot of scoring space. Now gradually have the goalie move out toward the puck, stopping every couple of feet. Be sure to point out how the open net is diminishing with each move forward. When the goalie reaches the point where only six inches remain open at each lower corner, they have reached the correct location to play an oncoming shot. This location will almost always be right at the top of the round crease. If the goalie comes out any further than this point they are risking the possibility of a deke or making it impossible to recover / react to a pass across. With the goaltender in correct position reinforce the importance of "lining up with the puck" by having each player (forwards too – then they will know what to look for) get down to ice level and look at the goalie from exactly where the puck is , the scoring locations will be few. Then have someone stand where a player would be if carrying the same puck, the results are not as dramatic as the coach's view on the bench, but they are similar. Now it's time to prove just how important correctly lining up with the puck is. Have the goalie (still in correct position) move six inches to either side. Repeat the looking process. What will be noticeable is that for every inch a goalie is out of position to his / her left or right, two inches will open up. Meaning if the goalie is twelve inches too far to his left, twenty four inches would be open on the right. Take this one step further by having the goalie line up with the shooter and repeat the looking process. BIG MISTAKE !! But common.

Have fun with this drill and involve the whole team. Move the puck location around and continue to use the rope. You will notice that the deer the puck is into the corner, the deeper the goalie should be. Teach them to envision the routes at all times.