We cannot say it enough: Comfort is king. While the game is at hand, questioning yourself should never be in the back of your head. Many coaches never really stress levels of comfort when teaching goalies and it will become troublesome in the long run. Some coaches shy away from “doing what feels right” simply because it gives you, the player, too much leeway to freelance. The coach wants to teach the fundamentals based on how he wants to manage the team. If he allows you to throw sidearm, most likely (in his mind) you will continue to throw side arm cranks, eventually distancing yourself from what you learned the week before. While we can’t blame the coaches, we feel that one of the most important positions, if not the most important, should primarily focus on comfort: goalie. After all, goalies are the psychos hopping in the cage facing shots up to 100 mph so why not tell them to stay calm.
The focus for goalies shouldn’t be on just technical elements. We’re not saying that proper form and technique are not imperative; but are merely saying that goalies should develop their own sense of ease and presence by breaking it down even further. Take your minds away from unnecessary thoughts that arise in the course of action. Focus on what is literally in front of you: your hands. Your hands are the amenities that catch the shot. The calmer and still you are the quicker you react to the ball. Our advice to you, lax goalie, is to rely on your hands to do most of the work.
Gripping your stick is probably the quickest instruction to run through and it can often be the ripple that sends you down a slippery slope because not enough time is set aside for it in a standard two hour practice. Coaches might never know how to make you feel as comfortable as possible and that’s why it is up to you to figure it out.
So what does all this have to do with equipment? It actually comes down to something even simpler: tape.
The best way for a goalie to get comfortable with their grip, is by setting it up with a good tape job. Holding your stick in a strong, stable, and secure position is crucial. Sliding up and down your shaft amidst reacting to a shot is not where you want to find yourself. We recommend starting out with regular athletic tape and begin taping around the top of your shaft at the base of your head where your top hand rests. Wrap tape around 3-4 times so it is just enough that you can feel it. Now do the same where your bottom hand rests. This may be tricky because everyone is different and in result everyone has varying levels of comfort. We prefer to hold our bottom hand about 8-10 inches from the top hand. Wrap tape around 3-4 times. Over time and repetition your hands will grow accustomed to handling your stick at this length. If this seems too close to hold your hands, it’s because it is. The farther apart your hands are allows more room for error while also delaying reaction time. Your whole body will be thrown off balance and will be more likely to stray away from a base stance.
The closer your hands are, the more able you are going to be able to zone in on a shot and making the save without having to rely on your body to make up for a miscue. Remember, by taking your focus away from other distractions you will soon begin to hone in on the most vital instruction. Comfort is king.
Goalies, drop some knowledge on how you like to tape up your wand. Better yet, upload pics of your best tape jobs! We would love to hear from you.