No Red Lights: Hockey: Playing Like A Box (aka being boxy) - Goalie News And Instruction By Roxanne Gaudiel

Playing Like A Box (aka being boxy)

The art of being boxy. Being boxy simplifies the position of goaltending. The basic goal is to look like a box by moving all your moving parts (shoulders, arms and hands) at the same time and in the same motion. These parts do not move during the movement, and hence you would look like a box because everything would be square. Let me flesh this out more; Boxyness or "being boxy" is the ability of a goalie to keep their arms in, hands out and chest forward when doing all movements. This includes moving laterally, dropping into a butterfly and recovering.  Many great goalies (although not all are known for their boxyness) This is important because it shows a goalie who is control. Now, don't get me wrong. I had been known to break out the "fish style" (i.e. playing like a fish out of water, flopping all over the crease) just as good as the next goalie. And actually, I am a big proponent of this desperation, jump across the crease save. It shows athleticism and competitiveness... and it's also a lot of fun. There is also a method to this madness, but I digress. This article is about control not anarchy.

Challenges to Hand Control. The physical forces at play make boxiness difficult. There are vertical forces (gravity) and horizontal forces (rotational forces, aka torque). For the younger goalies, recovering is the hardest challenge. They want to use their hands to get up as they do not yet have the leg strength to get up without that momentum. For older goalies who have mastered recoveries and butterflies, it tends to be in their lateral movements. The torque generated from squaring-up requires strong core-strength, which is not developed as quickly as leg strength. Aside from strength issues, body weight control and hand-eye coordination also contribute to the challenge of boxyness. When the hands and arms do not work in unison, it becomes difficult to control the boxyness.

Improving Hand Control. But do not fret. There are ways to improve your boxyness. Improving strength will give you the ability to improve your boxyness. Luckily, all of this is improved with strength training and especially improved with per body strength training. I am a fan of this type of training because it can also be done in the creature comforts of your home. So, while you're watching tv, do some wall-sits. Or before hopping into bed, do some situps. And any rotational situps/crunches you can do will help the rotational strength. But strength alone will not train your body to move as one. Try untraditional methods of coaching that will force you to separate your upper body from your lower body. Lay your goalie stick over your arms and then do butterflys and slides. Do not let the stick drop. This will force you to keep your arms level and to move your arms together. Such methods will allow you to train your body to work as two separate parts: your legs and your upperbody. This is the key to playing boxy.

In the next article, I will cover the hand-eye-stick diamond strategy of squaring up. This strategy requires a strong understanding of boxyness and angles.
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