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Need Training and Game Tips to Improve Tracking off the Stick


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I have been playing since the 1960's and have developed a very specific tracking issue. I've evolved into a very aggressive blocking style from my original standup and have recently noticed that after setting my position on a shooter and seeing the puck on his blade, I sometimes lose sight of the puck just after release until it hits me. Fortunately most of the time it does, but that tracking gap hinders my rebound control, especially my ability to catch the puck cleanly with my trapper.

Does anyone have any in game tips or practice routines that could help me solve this problem? Or is this just a symptom of my advanced age...........  :)

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9 minutes ago, CamWardFan said:

I have been playing since the 1960's and have developed a very specific tracking issue. I've evolved into a very aggressive blocking style from my original standup and have recently noticed that after setting my position on a shooter and seeing the puck on his blade, I sometimes lose sight of the puck just after release until it hits me. Fortunately most of the time it does, but that tracking gap hinders my rebound control, especially my ability to catch the puck cleanly with my trapper.

Does anyone have any in game tips or practice routines that could help me solve this problem? Or is this just a symptom of my advanced age...........  :)

are you talking about clear cut shots with no bodies between you and the shooter? 

It sounds like you are closing your eyes. Are you?  How do you feel when you see that a shot will come?  Do you feel anxious?

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I would start with simplest drill possible. Get a player in front of the net with bunch of pucks and let him shoot catcher and blocker. Start on your feet and after he clear all puck do the same in butterfly. With every shot track pucks from his blade to your glove and/or boards.

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29 minutes ago, CamWardFan said:

Yes, talking clear view to the shooter's stick. Don't believe I am closing my eyes but anxiety may well have something to do with it.............

For sure if you are feeling anxiety or apprehension you are tensing up and I bet at least squinching (is that a word?  It's a word......) and maybe closing your eyes.  Either way, you aren't focusing on the puck, its flight path, and hitting you, which are all keys to good tracking.

@Nohtaram is spot on.  This is for sure something you can work on, you just need free ice, a shooter, and a ton of pucks.  You can't really train for this playing hockey.  You have to condition your eyes and your body to track the puck.  And, if you are getting anxious and squinching(?), this repetition training is also conditioning your brain and your emotions to relax and begin to perceive the puck, its flight, and it hitting you as, well, mundane and boring. 

It sounds like it's a "big deal" for you right now and so your goal should be to make it boring, second nature.  With the repetitious shot training, it's not "making saves" your training for because if the puck is going to hit you, there is no "making saves" needed.  You are holding your blocker in position and the only thing moving is your head and your eyes, following the puck from the shooter's stick to your blocker.  Repeat to the glove.  Repeat to the chest. Each pad, Your stick. Etc.  It's the same drill and same technique, just different locations.  Once you start getting the hang of this, you can start challenging yourself in games.    A puck hits you: did you see it hit you?  You whiff and let one in: did you see it?  If so, great.  If not, why not?

I can't really speak to your age and its effects on your specific physiology, but we are talking about puck tracking and you can for sure train that, and pretty easily too.

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39 minutes ago, seagoal said:

For sure if you are feeling anxiety or apprehension you are tensing up and I bet at least squinching (is that a word?  It's a word......) and maybe closing your eyes.  Either way, you aren't focusing on the puck, its flight path, and hitting you, which are all keys to good tracking.

@Nohtaram is spot on.  This is for sure something you can work on, you just need free ice, a shooter, and a ton of pucks.  You can't really train for this playing hockey.  You have to condition your eyes and your body to track the puck.  And, if you are getting anxious and squinching(?), this repetition training is also conditioning your brain and your emotions to relax and begin to perceive the puck, its flight, and it hitting you as, well, mundane and boring. 

It sounds like it's a "big deal" for you right now and so your goal should be to make it boring, second nature.  With the repetitious shot training, it's not "making saves" your training for because if the puck is going to hit you, there is no "making saves" needed.  You are holding your blocker in position and the only thing moving is your head and your eyes, following the puck from the shooter's stick to your blocker.  Repeat to the glove.  Repeat to the chest. Each pad, Your stick. Etc.  It's the same drill and same technique, just different locations.  Once you start getting the hang of this, you can start challenging yourself in games.    A puck hits you: did you see it hit you?  You whiff and let one in: did you see it?  If so, great.  If not, why not?

I can't really speak to your age and its effects on your specific physiology, but we are talking about puck tracking and you can for sure train that, and pretty easily too.

Thanks, that's really good advice..  I may be squinching (like that) or momentarily closing them completely. I will try these things.  Thanks!!

 

33 minutes ago, seagoal said:

@CamWardFan

First 3 or so minutes of this video.  Look how simple and easy and boring this looks....but watch the goalies overall body/limbs vs watch his head/eyes. 

 

Thanks, great video.  I appreciate it.!!! Tension is certainly part of it...........

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2 minutes ago, CamWardFan said:

Thanks, that's really good advice..  I may be squinching (like that) or momentarily closing them completely. I will try these things.  Thanks!!

 

Thanks, great video.  I appreciate it.!!! Tension is certainly part of it...........

Another really important tip:  try to focus on keeping your hands in front of you where you can see them.  Think of yourself more like a baseball catcher in stance and project your hands forward (though not as straight forward as a baseball catcher).  If you are looking forward at 12 o'clock, try having your hands at 11 and 1, or 10 and 2.

So many glove saves we glamorize are made beside our bodies, right?, at say 9 o'clock, with the big swoop up, bending the arm in, etc.  Even blocker saves, it's easy to project sideways rather than forward.  If we focus on our hands in front in our actual field of vision, we can better train our eyes to track pucks and we can learn to see our saves.  Or let's say on a 2 on 1, pass right to left, left hand glove.  Sure we could drop sooner with our glove reaching back or to the side and catch it, but, we could also keep our hands in front and move our whole body into position to the left.  This requires a technical butterfly slide of some sort, but it is possible.

Pekka Rinne always had a sensational glove hand and he emphasized hands forward.  He would challenge himself even to make less belly saves and catch more pucks (just like a baseball catcher, actually). 

This should help you, as well.

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2 hours ago, CamWardFan said:

Yes, talking clear view to the shooter's stick. Don't believe I am closing my eyes but anxiety may well have something to do with it.............

If you've got a shooter and old stick that you don't care about wrecking, try this

Cut off the blade of of the stick.  Start on either post.  Have a shooter line up pucks in the slot and shoot low on you so you can chip the puck off your stick into the opposite corner (so your shooter will be alternating left/right where he puts it).  Follow the rebound to the opposite post, repeat.
You can either T push from the post to get to the top of the crease, or C cut to the corner arrow, pivot and shuffle to crease center to take the shot.
Your focus points:

  1. Crisp and sharp movement
  2. Solid knee drive with as little vertical head movement as possible*
  3. Body mechanics, shoulders slightly in front of your knees**
  4. Visually track the shot off the blade into your stick and into the corner.  Hacked off blade will keep you honest, and you want to take shots off the heel anyway as that is where you have the most strength and control of the stick.

Is the drill overly simplistic?  Probably, but it forces you to engage your eyes, head, and hands to track the puck

* IMO a lot of beer leaguers start in too high of a stance.  Keeping your head at roughly the same height from shot-ready to butterfly eliminates a lot of "processing power" needed for your eyes and mind to connect with your body, making it easier to track the flight path of the shot.  Pasco Valana has a short video on this on Youtube. (link)
** Forces you get your gloves forward (which helps eliminate horizontal and vertical space) and frees up the gloves for a quick smother

37 minutes ago, seagoal said:

Another really important tip:  try to focus on keeping your hands in front of you where you can see them.  Think of yourself more like a baseball catcher in stance and project your hands forward (though not as straight forward as a baseball catcher).  If you are looking forward at 12 o'clock, try having your hands at 11 and 1, or 10 and 2.

Thumbs should be in line with the outside of your shoulders to minimize double coverage.

Angle is a bit misleading on these pics, but I elected for these rather than a straight on picture as you can see the gloves are forward

image.png.5e3403bd629477e2012764467589ee6a.png

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3 hours ago, Chenner29 said:

If you've got a shooter and old stick that you don't care about wrecking, try this

Cut off the blade of of the stick.  Start on either post.  Have a shooter line up pucks in the slot and shoot low on you so you can chip the puck off your stick into the opposite corner (so your shooter will be alternating left/right where he puts it).  Follow the rebound to the opposite post, repeat.
You can either T push from the post to get to the top of the crease, or C cut to the corner arrow, pivot and shuffle to crease center to take the shot.
Your focus points:

  1. Crisp and sharp movement
  2. Solid knee drive with as little vertical head movement as possible*
  3. Body mechanics, shoulders slightly in front of your knees**
  4. Visually track the shot off the blade into your stick and into the corner.  Hacked off blade will keep you honest, and you want to take shots off the heel anyway as that is where you have the most strength and control of the stick.

Is the drill overly simplistic?  Probably, but it forces you to engage your eyes, head, and hands to track the puck

* IMO a lot of beer leaguers start in too high of a stance.  Keeping your head at roughly the same height from shot-ready to butterfly eliminates a lot of "processing power" needed for your eyes and mind to connect with your body, making it easier to track the flight path of the shot.  Pasco Valana has a short video on this on Youtube. (link)
** Forces you get your gloves forward (which helps eliminate horizontal and vertical space) and frees up the gloves for a quick smother

Thumbs should be in line with the outside of your shoulders to minimize double coverage.

Angle is a bit misleading on these pics, but I elected for these rather than a straight on picture as you can see the gloves are forward

image.png.5e3403bd629477e2012764467589ee6a.png

Thanks, great stuff!!!!!

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