The most important piece of equipment to a goalie is not his mask, not his helmet, not his glove or his blocker, but his skates. To stop a shot, goalies must be able to move quickly and gracefully to be facing the puck. For that reason, beginning goaltenders often find themselves doing more skate work than stickwork or glove work. Drills involve very little or no live shots in the early stages.
The basic movement that all goalies need to learn to slide around the crease is known as the T-Push. Goalie coaches will talk about a lead leg and a drive leg, with the lead leg being the one in the direction the goalie needs to go. If a goalie needs to slide to his right across the crease, then the left leg is the drive leg and the right is the lead. In a T-Push, the goalie drops the heel of the lead leg back and points it toward his target spot, then pushes off with his weight on the inside of his drive leg. The lead leg gets tilted inward to slow the momentum and stop.
The parallel shuffle is similar to the T-push, but used for shorter movements. With the parallel shuffle, the weight of the drive leg is transferred from the inside of the foot to the ball of the foot. The lead leg maintains its position and stability. The parallel shuffle is used for keeping square to a shooter who is in close. It allows the goalie to quickly yet slightly adjust his angle on the shot.
There are many drills that test a goalie on both the T-push and the parallel shuffle. A three-puck drill has the goalie using a T-push from the right post to the top right corner of the crease, again to the bottom left corner of the crease, and returning to the right post. The off-post small shuffle has a goalie T-pushing from the right post to the top left corner of the crease, then shuffling to the top center of the crease before T-pushing to the left post. As the goalie becomes more comfortable with the T-push and shuffle, more complex patterns and combinations can be used.
Regardless of position, the first thing that youth players are taught is how to get back up on their skates after falling. "Recovery," as goaltending coaches will refer to it, is more complicated for goalies. In this case, the lead leg is the one that is extended to make a pad save, and the drive leg is often on its knee. After dropping for a pad save, the goalie should extend his drive leg skate in front of the lead leg knee, then push up with the weight on the balls of the feet of the drive leg. The lead leg needs to remain extended to maintain angle and balance. Goalies often drill by modeling a left leg kick save, then recovering quickly to model a right leg kick save.
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