Rick Dipietro was moving along the boards in front of the New York bench before a practice early last season, but the Islanders goaltender was moving like he was camped out in the crease.
Dipietro made quick, precise t-pushes and stops to the top of his imaginary blue ice, stopping with a spray of snow then pushing back towards the would-be post in a butterfly slide. Over and over, with slight variations in the movements and target points, Dipietro performed these crease movement patterns while teammates skated casual warm-up laps.
Well over an hour later, after everyone had stretched and Dipietro has taken extra shots for as long as his teammates wanted to fire them, he returned to the sideboards. The t-pushes, shuffles and slides start all over again.
“I like to do both – before and after practice,” Dipetro told InGoal minutes later. “I’ve learned along the way, especially at this level, that skating, because I’m not a big guy, is just so important for me. To be at your spots early and set, that’s the biggest thing. You see lot of goals scored because goalies are moving and not set in their position. I like to try and beat most of the plays and the passes on my feet and give myself an opportunity to be set and ready to make the save, so skating is obviously important to me.”
Dipietro also does it before games, saying the routine – and it’s not uncommon for other NHL goalies to spread out a few pucks in roughly the shape of the crease to ensure they stay contained in that area – helps him loosen up in a position-specific manner.
The extra skating he does after practice is over helps him push harder physically.
“You are a little bit tired and not feeling that great it’s an opportunity to push yourself,” said Dipietro. “There’s always those elongated shifts during a game where you have pucks in your zone and you have to be in your stance a long time and it’s a good test and chance to work on those little muscles because I don’t think people really understand – it’s one thing to be in
shape and another to be in goalie shape. We use a lot of different muscles that no one really understands, so those are good drills and movements and something I always try to keep up even if it’s just a little bit here and there.”
While the goal is to get faster with these movements, the key is doing them properly to begin with, he said, rather than rush things and do it wrong, building bad habits along the way. Done correctly, these movements will make you a better skater.
The fact InGoal sees so many NHL puck stoppers doing it on their own time re-enforces that, so we put together a few basic patterns that goaltenders of every age and ability can use to warm up. Be sure to read the entire article and check out those crease movement patterns in the October edition of InGoal Magazine.
There is another related article by goaltending coach Corey Wogtech that teaches you how to incorporate those warm-up movements into a lesson plan by using patterns that will be part of that session’s movements, creating a progression of learning that will not only make it easier for the goalie to learn and improve, but also ensure there is no wasted time or energy in warm up. Be sure to also check out that article, which includes a video demonstration by NHL goaltender Dan Ellis.