Better Than Juggling

I mentioned this a while ago and a lot of you were right on board with me, which I appreciate because you are the ones who are out on the ice taking pucks day in and day out. I am just the strength coach looking for ways to help you achieve your goals and ultimately live your dreams – whatever that is for you.

So here’s what I am thinking…

Juggling doesn’t really make you a better goalie

That may be a little harsh, but stick with me on this.

Juggling on its own is a dexterity drill. It helps you perform a predictable skill in a repeated pattern with coordination. I think it is similar in some ways to basic agility ladder training that you see goalies doing at camps. Do they really make you ‘quicker’ on the ice? With the basic patterns I would say “No”.

But, they do improve your vocabulary of movement and your fine control with your feet. Can you execute the pattern without stepping on the ladder?

Can you juggle two or more balls without dropping any?

So juggling improves your vocabulary of movement with your hands.

Does it really help you interpret the flight path of a puck and respond with the proper movement based on that interpretation? Not specifically, no.

So How Do We Train It Without Expensive Gear?

This will be one of the big things in goalie training as I mentioned in the article the other day and already there are gizmos and gadgets that can help you work on interpreting visual stimulus and responding with a specific movement.

I want to give you some techniques anyone, anywhere can do with a minimal investment.

Here’s what you need:

At least 6 balls – tennis, lacrosse, racquet, whatever and a Sharpie marker.
Write the number 1, 2 or 3 on at least four sides of each ball in big clear font.

1) Hard – Tracking

• Place all 6 balls in a bag or box
• Knee in front of a wall with the bag or box in front of you
• Without looking reach into the bag, pull out a ball and throw it at the wall – try to throw it so the trajectory is from low to high or low near the floor as most shots in hockey are
• As you follow the ball into your hand for the catch – try to pick up the number on the ball before it hits your hand – call it out loud
• Put it back in the bag and pick the next one.

2) Harder – Odds & Evens

• Place only the balls labeled “1” or “2” in the bag
• Place a small cone or marker on the floor approximately 2 meters to your right and 2 meters to your left. Your starting position will be in the middle
• You will be moving for this one, so hold the bag in one hand as you pass and catch with the other – make sure you alternate hands (yes it will be hard to throw with your non-dominant hand – get over it)
• Reach into the bag, throw the ball at the wall with the proper trajectory
• Read the number on the ball before it gets into your hand. If the ball has an odd number “1” you will shuffle laterally to the cone on the right. If it has an even number “2”, shuffle to the cone on the left. Always shuffle back to the middle for the next throw.

3) What the??? – Super Odds & Evens

• Same set up as above with only the balls labeled “1” or “2”
• Throw the first ball, if it is a number “1” you will shuffle to the right as above.
• Throw the next ball and add its number to the first number, i.e. if you threw a “1” first and a “2” second, the sum is “3”, so you will shuffle to the RIGHT side cone again because it is an odd number. If the next ball is a “1”, the sum will be 4 (3+1), so you will shuffle to the LEFT side cone because it is an even sum.

BONUS: RXN Ball Off Rebounder

Yes, this one requires specialized equipment, but it is one we have used a lot this summer at RevCon, so I wanted to share it with you.

The Reaction Ball adds an element of unpredictability and the rebounder dampens the variability slightly and lets us adjust the angle of the rebound.

Just so you feel better, here’s how awful I look when I try to do them…

Have a beauty day!

PS – your puck tracking is a small piece of the puzzle this season, make sure you are doing these 3 simple steps that help you gain momentum as the season wears on.  If you want to be that goalie who is hitting his/her stride come play-offs when other goalies are burning out and breaking down, just click here to make sure you are doing the right thing.