It was a simple warm-up drill but it wasn’t the usual mindless skating from spot to spot and that’s what we loved about watching Buffalo Sabres rookie Devon Levi and Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Jet Greaves working with Levi’s personal goalie coach, Marco Raimondo, for a week in Montreal this summer.

Rather than doing simple crease movement patterns, Raimondo placed two pucks just off the sideboards, about as wide apart as the posts would be. The goalies skated between the two pucks like they were going post to post, making a quick stop on the coach’s stick blade in between, going back to the first puck, then across. By moving that stick blade around, even switching from right- to left-handed, it adds a cognitive processing element to Levi’s warm-up movements.

“I really like it just because it gets us focused on leading with vision everywhere we go and I like when we’re working in quiet, straight lines and getting set and I think that once we have that down and we feel good in our movement, that’s where we can start getting into tracking the puck,” Raimondo explained. “You’re really focused on your eyes getting there first, you work in a straight line, and you want to make sure your routes are short and crisp.”

Adding the moving stick blade makes sure your goalies aren’t just going through the motions.

“I like the fact that we’re getting our brain going,” Raimondo said. “I’ve tested it enough to know that when I give the goalies all the answers, right off the hop in practice, I find it takes a little bit too long for them to start thinking for themselves. In the past with redundant skating patterns, I felt like my first drill was almost automatically bad and I was just like, ‘this is happening way too much for it to be a coincidence,’ so I tried to figure out a way to get them more engaged off the bat. At the same time, we need to practice the proper mechanics.”

You can add another element with what Raimondo called “ghost shots,” fake shot attempts that force the goalie to read the stick blade and body mechanics to determine blocker or glove.

“It makes them, again, start to get into some pattern recognition,” he said. “It’s the same thing, you’re focused on your brain getting involved. So much of goaltending is having to make reads and trying to calculate what’s going on and all those calculations are happening in your subconscious. That’s why I flip my stick around. I want them to read lefty or righty.”

If you haven’t already, check out our podcast with Levi and Raimondo, where both delve into the benefits of some of these approaches to practice and preparation. It’s quickly become our most popular episode of the summer, earning praise from all over the goalie world.


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