Catching Drill To Build A More Reactive Glove Hand
Tuukka Rask is known for his skill with his glove.
The Finns almost define the athletic, reactive goaltender today, with hands that aren’t blocking extensions of the body but tools to access and control pucks in and from almost any position, whether it be high, low, along the ice or even across the body.
So how do you build a more reactive and athletic glove when you’ve been raised on basic stand-there-and-catch-pucks-from-your-stance drills? InGoal Magazine had the opportunity to spend a week at Eli Wilson’s Elite Prospects camp and took away this simple, if slightly unusual, drill.
Walk into the rink while Eli Wilson Goaltending students are working the Glove Positioning Drill and you’ll probably wonder what exactly is going on.
Standing at the top of their creases goaltenders seem to be over exaggerating the old-school baiting of a shooter on a breakaway, waving their glove hand back and forth, up and down as they await a shot.
“Look at my glove, just try to beat me here,” seems to be the message. But at Wilson’s camp it’s far more strategic than that.
Goaltenders move their gloves in and out, up and down as they await a random shot. The elite CHL and NCAA shooters probably feel like they are in a carnival, watching the targets moving around and looking for a chance to catch the goaltender by surprise and fire one under a glove that has just moved up, or over one that has just moved down. But there’s thought behind this seemingly random drill.
Check out the goaltender message boards and there may not be a more hotly-debated topic than glove position. Weigh in on it and you had better be prepared to feel the wrath of the internet and all those ‘experts’ who are certain their magical hand position will cure all that ills your game. To be sure, there is something to be said for considering hand position. As detailed in an old issue of InGoal, Henrik Lundqvist found great success by raising his glove, for example. But coach Wilson has a different look at the concept:
“Look at the guys that have the best glove hands in hockey and are most successful with it and ask why? They are the most athletic, the most coordinated, they move their glove the fastest,” he said. “They track the puck. It’s not necessarily about glove position. You see everyone starting to raise their glove – guys will shoot under it. They drop their glove and guys will shoot over it. There’s guys in the game with a high glove position that are really good with their glove, there’s guys in the game that have a low glove position and are good with it.”
So Wilson wants goaltenders to move from the robotic to the athletic, to focus on glove position as secondary to the ability to catch pucks with speed and accuracy in any situation. He uses this simple drill as part of his toolkit to build athleticism and an ability to react to pucks.
“I want the goalie to be able to catch pucks high when the glove is low and when the glove is a bit higher to catch pucks low,” Wilson said. “No matter the situation or what we do with video and how we break down shooters, the guy that is the fastest and most accurate on this side of the net has the best glove hand. It’s not where he’s holding it.”
Read the entire article, with a complete explanation of the drill and video of it being performed in the September/October edition of InGoal Magazine by clicking here or on the image below. (Please note, this issue of the magazine, which was available for free for more than a year, is now available as an archive issue for the small sum of $1.99).