How Carey Price is so smooth

I was talking to a client that we train, who’s one of our masters athletes and she is an equestrian. That means she rides horseback. She competes, and it’s one of those sports that you don’t appreciate until you really get a solid understanding or a rudimentary understanding of what it takes to make it look as easy as it does.

I know when I started training Virtue and Moir, the figure skaters, some of the hockey guys would be like, “Oh, that’s not that hard.” It’s so hard and the skill is, they make it look easy. It’s a lot like how Carey Price plays goal, so that’s what got me thinking.

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It’s like when you see a good equestrian. This client who’s an equestrian, she’s also a sport physiotherapist. It’s very cool, because she has that understanding and background. She gave me some articles to read, a chapter from a book to read about how, it’s dressage that she does, so how the rider and the horse interface. Then she gave me some videos to watch of world champions just to see how they do it and how it compares to a rider at a lower level. The best in the world, they make it look very easy. It looks like they’re doing nothing.

That’s what got me thinking about Carey Price, how it looks really, like he knows where the puck’s going to go, and he could effortlessly get there. When I was reading this chapter on the equestrian, or on dressage, it was talking about how the pelvis of the rider communicates with the spine and the limbs of the horse so that’s how they communicate.

Myself, I’ve been on a horse once in my life, and I wasn’t … someone else was riding it and I was on the horse too. I was a little kid. I would have thought that you squeeze with your knees, and you poke at it with your thing, and you pull on the reins, but no. Apparently that’s not what you do.

It’s very subtle movements of your pelvis that tell the horse where to go, which got me thinking back to Carey, and made this connection when I was talking to Thomas Magnusson at the Network Goal Tending Symposium. Somebody was doing a talk, and they’re talking about Carey and they showed him on the horse.

It clicked, because I remembered oh yeah, he probably doesn’t do it now, he’s probably not allowed to, but he’s ridden rodeo. I went back and looked at some pictures of him riding rodeo. Even the horse is turning, but he’s not holding on, or his knees aren’t squeezing, he’s got that control.

What we’re really talking about is an awareness of where your pelvis is in space, how to control it. For him, for any goalie, it’s maintaining neutral pelvis. That’s what we’re going to chat about today. Don’t kind of glaze over and be like, “That’s not jumping up on a six foot ball box.” This is a critical thing.

A lot of you go around with an anterior pelvic tilt. Some of you think your butt sticks out the back and you think, man, I got the big hockey players butt. It’s not, at all. It’s the fact that your pelvis is dumped forward. A lot of you are tight in the front of the hips, I know that, and it pulls your pelvis forward. Those tight hip flexors, and part of it is your position, that you’re always flexed at the hips. Part of it is that a lot of you are in school, or at work, and you’re sitting all the time, so those muscles get chronically shortened.

They get chronically shortened, they pull your pelvis forward and here you are. My hip flexion is relative to my pelvic position. My pelvis is dumped forward, that’s all the hip flexion I have. Is that enough hip flexion… Basically my femur, my thigh bone is smashing into the front of my hip joint, is smashing into the front of my acetabulum.

Now, when you look at that range, it’s like, if I were in my butterfly, is that giving me enough range to actually recover my skate underneath me? Probably not. If our pelvis is dipped forward, it’s also probably going to have you sitting your bum back in the net a little bit, which you don’t really want to do. Let’s just say my pelvis is forward, and that I need to recover. I might only be able to get my leg lifted somewhat, before I run out of room in the front of my hip. Or, it might have to get out a little bit more, to get that clearance.

I can’t get straight right up to get a nice powerful position, or the most efficient position, I should say. Or, I can, but I would have to kind of lean back with my torso to get that position. I think you can see how it decreases your efficiency in the net. It’s not something that you would be like, “Oh I can’t lift my leg.” Your body is going to find a way to compensate, either by setting that foot out a little bit, which is a less efficient position, or by rocking your body back a little bit to make that clearance, which again, you’re not maintaining your good solid position.

The other thing, that you might not realize, is the impact of just bumping the femur off the front edge of your acetabulum, as you try to get that range of motion and run out of room. Some of you were born with these beautiful goal tender’s hips. They let you do everything, and you’ve got a wide butterfly flair, and you can do the splits, and it’s great. This might not be as important to you, or as big an impact for you. But some of you were born with hips that can barely tolerate the demands of being a goalie.

All our hips aren’t the same. We have little intricacies, just like a baseball pitcher’s shoulders, they’re not all the same. Some guys can make it through their career, but they have to be so careful with their shoulder, and they kind of barely make it through a long career. Some guys can’t. Some don’t even make it out of high school as a pitcher, because it isn’t meant to be. Then some guys have a long major league baseball career without major trouble. You’ve got to know where you fit, and where you want your wear and tear to come from.

That can be a problem, especially if you don’t have that perfect pristine goalie’s hips. If I wear shoes that rub on my heel over and over again, what do I develop? I develop a callus. The same thing will happen if I’m hitting, hitting, hitting, I’ll develop a callus. In this case, it will probably be a bony callus, which maybe you had a little impingement, it wasn’t a problem. Over time, you’re going to make it bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and then it will be a problem.

So what’s the answer, and how does this relate to Carey Price? We just want to talk about Carey. I think he has such a good awareness of pelvic control, and maintaining pelvic neutral, even dynamically. Even when he’s moving, he can keep that good control. I don’t know if he can even get it in a position where he knows it’s going to improve his range of motion on pushes. I don’t think consciously, but maybe reflexively from doing rodeo and being a goalie.

For you, what we want is to establish neutral pelvis. There are three landmarks we’re going to find. This is my pelvis, like right there. These little bony prominences are called your ASIS. That’s your ASIS, and this is your pubic symphysis. Those are your landmarks, ASIS, and your pubic symphysis.

I lie on the floor with our knees bent, our feet flat. We’re going to put our thumbs on our ASIS, and our index fingers on our symphysis pubis, or pubic symphysis. Then we’re going to rotate to find, to get those points levelled, so that if this was a bowl, the bowl would be holding the water level. I want you to just start with your knees bent. That might actually, you might have to anteriorly pelvic tilt a little bit from there, because with our knees bent, we’re putting slack in our hip flexors. I just wanted to show you the difference.

First, we’re going to find that neutral. There will be a little arch underneath your back. Your low back won’t be pushed into the ground. Then, what you’re going to do is extend your legs, and then see where that triangle is. For most of you, it will probably be tipped this way a little bit, and you’ll have to kind of use your abdominals to just kind of pull it back underneath to get those landmarks level again. That is your neutral pelvis position. Notice how you have a small arch in your low back, this is nice and level, and that’s where you’re going to start.

If you pay attention to if you’re just laying down, when you first lay down, did you have a bigger arch, and did you have to use your abdominals a little bit to pull it underneath. The next thing, would be trying to find that neutral pelvis position when you’re in tall kneeling, so a little bit more of a functional position. Again, just getting on your landmarks, maybe don’t do this in the gym, because someone might call the police. Just getting on those landmarks, ad tilting just your pelvis, to again make them nice and level.

Now, if you get them level, and you’re leaning far back, you’re not using your pelvis, you’re using your whole torso. Get tall in your torso, and then tilt that pelvis to find where those are all lined up and level. For me, that’s about it. I actually feel like I’m tucking my bum underneath me a little bit to get in that position. That would be the next step, to get in the kneeling position.

Then, your goal would be to do some movements, just some random movements and come back and see. And don’t try to correct that after you’ve done that. Come back and say, “Where am I?” I can feel I’m tilted again, like really tilted again. Here, I’m going to correct it, pull it back to neutral. Okay, I’ll do a couple movements, but trying to focus on keeping it. That’s something you can do in your off ice, just to practice.

It won’t feel natural. What you normally do, which for most of you is anterior pelvic tilt, is what’s going to feel natural. It’s going to take quite a bit of time, and deliberate practice to actually find, and use that on the ice. When you do, and I think it was helpful for me to hold my hands there, because I could feel if I was losing it. When you do go through those drills, feel also how much more freedom you have in your hips as you do that.

The final stage would be finding that position in standing, and then again, being able to do some agility drills, even some squat drop and jump, and then checking again to see if you’re in that position. Now, I know when you’re in your ready position, you’re not just standing up tall. Your ready position can still be kind of a neutral pelvis, relative to my spine. I’m not rounding my back, or arching my back. I’m rotating forward from my pelvis, so it’s almost pelvis on femur rotation. That’s okay. I’m not saying in this position you should be tucked under to try and get that flat. It’s a little bit of a different thing. I just wanted to make that distinction, that it’s not always straight up and down, it’s just finding that nice neutral position in different functional patterns.

Don’t forget about goalie training lab, which is a private Facebook group we have, but it’s free and anyone can join, as long as you’re a goalie and not a jerk. I think that’s what I had for neutral pelvis and Carey Price. Think about it, it makes sense. Get in touch with your pelvis a little. See ya, it’s Maria from