No Red Lights: Hockey: Watching the Puck (Behind the Net, part 1) - Goalie News And Instruction By Roxanne Gaudiel

Watching the Puck (Behind the Net, part 1)

One of the more technical areas of goaltending is watching the puck behind the net. At first, behind the net play seems docile and unalarming... I mean, really, the forward cannot shoot from behind the net so how dangerous can they be? The truth is they are not dangerous until the goalie loses sight of them. There are three main technicals that should be understood which will make the behind the net play an easy save.

The three parts are:
1) watching the puck,
2) dictating the forward, and
3) stick work.

Mastering all of these three topics require discipline and sound technical skills and are all extremely simple to master. The underlying assumption with these three topics is to REMAIN CALM. When most goalies panic behind the net, they tend to over-react and lose sight of the puck and the player. This when the goalie gets into trouble. By frantically turning their head from one side to the other in search of the puck, they have panicked and are susceptible to letting in an easy wrap around or tip-in.

Key all the time rules:
1. Watch the puck. This proves to be a bit tougher in practice than in theory. There are two main methods of watching the puck behind the net.

A) Old School. The goalie hugs the post and as the forward moves behind the net, the goalie moves their head to watch the forward, and then moves to the other post as the forward passes the middle cross bar.
B) The 1-2-3-4 method. I first heard about this method a few years ago, and it is picking up popularity. I think it took so long for this to catch on because it goes against the natural feeling of watching someone.
Old School: The natural way to watch someone is to move your head first, then once that person moves out of your line of sight, only then do you move your body. This is the first reaction of many goalies. To sit on the post and to turn their head to follow the puck.

The 1-2-3-4 method advocates moving the body first to the middle of the net, and then turning your head. The idea is that you are only moving your head when you are in the least vulnerable place (when the forward is behind the net). Because the forward cannot shoot or pass from this position (pass to a player that can shoot quickly on the net that is), the goalie has more time to turn their head and does not have to worry about being caught out of position. Here's how the 1-2-3-4 works:
The 1 Position: Hugging the post.
The 2 Position: Still looking over the same shoulder and in the same direction (as you were on the post), but shuffle to the middle of the goal line.
The 3 Position: Turn your head to look over your other shoulder.
The 4 Position: Move to and hug the other post.

Personally, I love the idea behind the 1-2-3-4 and use it in conjunction with the traditional style. I try to move my head the least amount that I can. This allows me to keep my eyes on the puck for as long as possible. Then when the forward has committed to one side of the net (the side that would require me to turn my head), then I will turn my head. Maybe more on this later on...

My one big takeaway is to keep your eyes on the puck as long as possible! Turning your head takes your eyes away from the puck, which is why I promote moving your head the least amount as possible. Stay tuned for the second post on this topic which is controlling the forward. The forward does not have many options when behind the net, and this means that the goalie can dictate the forward.