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Save reaction...concious or subconscious?


RichMan
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This is something I've been dealing with or more so reflecting on for some time now.

I've noticed that for the most part, when I make a save, it's a tie between reaction and calculation. When the play develops and I recognize if and where a shot will come from - that is the calculation part. Once the shot is released, although I see it leave the stick blade and know where it is heading, there seems to be a .05 sec. gap where I have no visual contact with the puck yet I managed to move the proper limb to make the save, or at least attempted. It almost feels like guessing, yet it's not. Is there a momentary subconscious level of involvement going on that we don't perceive yet is in full action enabling us to actually complete the proper movement in correlation to the puck's trajectory?

I track, follow, view (use whichever term you please) the puck to the best of my abilities, much easier on deaks, but I rarely will have a full continuous visual contact with the puck from point of release to point of save or blocking.

Best example most of you will relate to is when you do a windmill glove save at the shoulder or ear level. How often do you really turn your head towards your glove as you see the puck entering the pocket. I know that it's rarely for me. The no-look save. Sure looks good though, eh :D 

This brings me to wonder if there is any weight to all this "tracking" buzz of the last few years. We've always followed the puck as a necessity otherwise we wouldn't have the ability to square up or recognise passing threats. Maybe there's something deeper going on that we should explore. * Science geeks chime in right here ;) 

What has been your experience with all this?

Edited by RichMan
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You've touched on something I love about the position and you're definitely on the right track.  Go look up FutureProGoaltending on IG, I don't want to just parrot what he preaches because he targets the kids who are legitimately trying to make the pros (and is very blunt in doing so), but a lot of what he talks about applies to everyone in some way.  He's a little rough in his commentary, but there's video and photo examples of what you're talking about.

Even when I was 15 going to goalie camps, I had a coach who was already telling us that by the time we reach a level where anybody has a half decent shot, it's already out of the realm of human reaction time being able to track the puck all the way to you.  Take a look at any picture of an NHL goalie making a glove save if you can find it where the puck is first hitting the glove.  None of them are looking at the puck, some of them have their eyes closed. 

It's not because they aren't "tracking" the puck, it's just how the position works at any decent paced level, beer league included.  Tracking the play and reading signals like you described is like us putting a bunch of variables into our graphing calculator brains, and then when we detect puck release, we press enter and our brain tells our body to do a bunch of things that would take too long to consciously think of and execute individually.  Ben Scrivens had a couple good articles on that kind of stuff in the Players Tribune a few years ago:

Part 1 https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/2016-6-9-ben-scrivens-nhl-goaltending 

Part 2 https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/2016-6-30-ben-scrivens-nhl-goaltending

Those articles are a better read than Keeks on IG, these won't make you feel like you're an idiot after reading them :) 

I love this stuff, because you're absolutely right, it's not guessing (unless you're just being lazy and assuming certain variables instead of looking for them in the play haha)

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@Mroy31 is spot on for sure. I think there was a players tribune article with Quick that mentioned that he considered 90% of shot reading occurring before the shot is released. And I think many of us can somewhat attest to that too.

I play on two different team in two pretty different divisions. My upper division team I have to rely more on positioning and reading the shot correctly before the shot comes off. I'm more aggressive with my depth and I have a greater trust in my defense in covering back door plays and they rely on me to take that first shot.

My lower division team I play the complete opposite. Since shots are slower (and I can't trust my D worth a damn), I play a much deeper game as I'm more than able to react to shots after the release and I need to cover my ass for back door plays as guys are more likely to be open.

Though, I will argue with Rich about seeing shots clearly in all situations. The best games I play, that puck is as clear as day, regardless of the skill level I'm up against. I find that when I'm not seeing the puck very clearly, I end up fighting off shots and never feel "in the moment"

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1 minute ago, coopaloop1234 said:

@Mroy31 is spot on for sure. I think there was a players tribune article with Quick that mentioned that he considered 90% of shot reading occurring before the shot is released. And I think many of us can somewhat attest to that too.

I play on two different team in two pretty different divisions. My upper division team I have to rely more on positioning and reading the shot correctly before the shot comes off. I'm more aggressive with my depth and I have a greater trust in my defense in covering back door plays and they rely on me to take that first shot.

My lower division team I play the complete opposite. Since shots are slower (and I can't trust my D worth a damn), I play a much deeper game as I'm more than able to react to shots after the release and I need to cover my ass for back door plays as guys are more likely to be open.

Though, I will argue with Rich about seeing shots clearly in all situations. The best games I play, that puck is as clear as day, regardless of the skill level I'm up against. I find that when I'm not seeing the puck very clearly, I end up fighting off shots and never feel "in the moment"

All of this ^^^

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1 hour ago, Mroy31 said:

You've touched on something I love about the position and you're definitely on the right track.  Go look up FutureProGoaltending on IG, I don't want to just parrot what he preaches because he targets the kids who are legitimately trying to make the pros (and is very blunt in doing so), but a lot of what he talks about applies to everyone in some way.  He's a little rough in his commentary, but there's video and photo examples of what you're talking about.

Even when I was 15 going to goalie camps, I had a coach who was already telling us that by the time we reach a level where anybody has a half decent shot, it's already out of the realm of human reaction time being able to track the puck all the way to you.  Take a look at any picture of an NHL goalie making a glove save if you can find it where the puck is first hitting the glove.  None of them are looking at the puck, some of them have their eyes closed. 

It's not because they aren't "tracking" the puck, it's just how the position works at any decent paced level, beer league included.  Tracking the play and reading signals like you described is like us putting a bunch of variables into our graphing calculator brains, and then when we detect puck release, we press enter and our brain tells our body to do a bunch of things that would take too long to consciously think of and execute individually.  Ben Scrivens had a couple good articles on that kind of stuff in the Players Tribune a few years ago:

Part 1 https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/2016-6-9-ben-scrivens-nhl-goaltending 

Part 2 https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/2016-6-30-ben-scrivens-nhl-goaltending

Those articles are a better read than Keeks on IG, these won't make you feel like you're an idiot after reading them :)

I love this stuff, because you're absolutely right, it's not guessing (unless you're just being lazy and assuming certain variables instead of looking for them in the play haha)

I'm very familiar with Keeks and have seen his recent IG posts, reason why I created this thread :D. You might of seen my post to it as my handle IstopLapuck. I love that he's as real as it gets, no fluff, unicorns and strawberry ice cream. This is how it is and man up to it, adjust, adapt, work hard, no short cuts. Hockey players don't need to be cradled, the game can be as harsh as life itself so you gotta own it. This will have to be in a separate thread lolll.

I remember when Valiquette made this big bang in the sports articles about "tracking". I questioned it only because they made it seem like this brand new thing yet we've been doing it since forever. I always told my students to SEE the puck. If you can't see it, how you gonna stop it? The rest will fall into place.

As @coopaloop1234 mentioned, playing at a higher level, we work more on positioning and timing which helps a lot.

Thanks for the Scrivens articles. Don't remember if I've read them but it's always a good refresher.

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THIS in the Scriven first article - I've said it so many times. We complicate things too much sometimes. Skating (positioning) is everything.

Quote "This won’t be an article written only for goalies, chock-full of reverse-vertical-horizontal (RVH) and backside-recovery references. Goaltending doesn’t have to be complicated. Analytics are good thing for hockey. Advanced stats are becoming mainstream and accepted, and I view that as a positive change, but I also need to see a goalie in action to fully evaluate his or her skill. At the end of the day though, the only question that needs to be answered is, Did the puck stay out of the net?"

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@RichMan I found myself trying to reply to his post about "tracking" buzzwords vs. just watching/seeing the play intently and every kind of justification I had for why "tracking" might be a necessary term to differentiate it just boiled down to "having intent" vs. "being lazy."  

For example, head tracking, making sure you are pointing your head in the direction you are looking to help guide your body.  To say that term is necessary is to say that only moving your eyes and never your head is an acceptable alternative.  It also doesn't mean that your eyes are locked straight ahead and your head does all the looking, so is it really a necessary term?

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9 minutes ago, Mroy31 said:

@RichMan I found myself trying to reply to his post about "tracking" buzzwords vs. just watching/seeing the play intently and every kind of justification I had for why "tracking" might be a necessary term to differentiate it just boiled down to "having intent" vs. "being lazy."  

For example, head tracking, making sure you are pointing your head in the direction you are looking to help guide your body.  To say that term is necessary is to say that only moving your eyes and never your head is an acceptable alternative.  It also doesn't mean that your eyes are locked straight ahead and your head does all the looking, so is it really a necessary term?

Makes absolute sense. I mean, if you mean to rotate and slide left to cover a low slot pass one timer, you have to look where you're going, right. Obviously you don't look at the dot or corner of your crease to get there. You look at the puck and move your body there by simple logic and instinct.

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3 hours ago, RichMan said:

THIS in the Scriven first article - I've said it so many times. We complicate things too much sometimes. Skating (positioning) is everything.

Quote "This won’t be an article written only for goalies, chock-full of reverse-vertical-horizontal (RVH) and backside-recovery references. Goaltending doesn’t have to be complicated. Analytics are good thing for hockey. Advanced stats are becoming mainstream and accepted, and I view that as a positive change, but I also need to see a goalie in action to fully evaluate his or her skill. At the end of the day though, the only question that needs to be answered is, Did the puck stay out of the net?"

I agree with this completely. Of the four positions (center, wing, defense, goaltender), I would argue that the physical and mental demands do not necessarily equal those of defenseman or center on a game-to-game basis. Wing, perhaps, but likely not at the upper levels. I do believe that a goaltender's preparation is ostensibly more demanding than any other position, but I have no evidence to back this up. That said, so much of the game is rooted in general awareness (regardless of position) that it is difficult to determine the gradients of something called "puck tracking". I do feel that the 'eye test', especially to the trained eye, says a whole lot more about a goaltender than statistics often do. It is a rare goalie that can pass both the eye test and statistical evaluation with flying colors for any length of time. Being in the right place at the right time is the result of practice, all other things being equal. As in life, as in goaltending...

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Agree strongly with pretty well everything written in this thread.

Since I discovered/developed it at the start of my tending tenure, my main go-to has been, and probably always be, reading the stick. While I don’t consciously look away from whatever part of my body I will block with, I never have been a big fan of the “track it into your glove” fandom – I’m too old and slow. Same with the big hoopla of pushing “turn your head and look”. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a goalie who sits there and says, ahh, screw it I’m just gonna cranky my eyes way over and track that puck, too hard to turn the whole head. Honestly I think I would really have to work at not following by cranking my neck.

As far as reaction time is concerned – yes, there is a point when the combination of distance and shot speed will make it impossible to rely on reflex as human reaction time is limited – with the flexible sticks currently being used reflexive save time has become a small window. For me, my only defense beside depth is reading the stick. Further to @Mroy31's comment about the glove save, if you look at most "fantastic" glove saves made by NHL goalie in slow-mo replay, the glove was in the right position before the puck was shot (probably due to reading the play/stick) - the only reason it moved up by the ear was either due to trying to "cushion" the shot (to ensure it stays in the glove) or to sell the save (i.e the quintessential windmill).

My assumptions that this is a valid tack is born out in the following thoughts:

Why are 1-timers and slapshots (and to some extents tips) so hard to stop? To me because there is no time to read the stick – the blade angle is pretty well “covert” ‘til contact is made with the puck and by that time too late for a reaction save ( in those cases good depth combined with physically tracking the puck with my whole body is my best defense).

@coopaloop1234 stated that in his lower level group he relies on reflex more. I am assuming this works because the not only are the shots slower, but there’s more time to read the stick (conversely I find I struggle with lower level groups because I read the stick and react, but a lot of the times with lower-skilled players, the puck does not go where the stick “says” it’s going i.e. the classic blooper shot that does about 17 flips in the air before it gets to the net instead of that nice crisp shot you catch or blocker to the corner)

More proof is what I call the “extrapolation save: I can see the original shot being taken - say from the slot - and by the blade position I can see where it’s supposed to go - just before it  disappears into a massive screen. I can’t say how many times I’ve extrapolated where the puck should go (assuming it’s not deflected), put a pad or a glove there and voila – shot stopped. That in itself seems to go against the theory that you need to see the puck all the way to your pad and support the theory we rely on more that just reflex.

Edited by Colander
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  • 3 weeks later...

What font should I use for sarcasm again?... I was lightly commenting on how Price could probably make saves while he was asleep that we never could.

16 hours ago, CJ Boiss said:

We react to things that our eyes don't track all of the time. Only makes sense that, sometimes, it would be the puck we're reacting to. And, sometimes, we'll make saves that way.

I experience this just enough to know that must be doing something right, but not enough to go to any tryouts.

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