Imagine one change you could make that would make a massive difference in nearly every aspect of your game. You’d move more effectively and more powerfully. You would have better balance and have access to more pucks, more efficiently. You would seal the ice better. You would protect your hips and your back. Even your reads would be more effective. Would you be willing to take a few minutes to learn about and eventually implement that change?
The neutral pelvis has the potential to do all that – and we’ve got a great video from Adam Francillia for our Members that will begin to unlock the possibilities and what they can mean for your game.
Neutral pelvis is a term we have begun to hear more and more recently — but here at InGoal we’ve seen Francillia teaching it to pro goaltenders for many years now. When we stopped by his studio this summer (don’t worry, the camera is more than six feet away!) he took some time to demonstrate exactly what he means by neutral pelvis and we are excited to share it with you today.
Engage with your learning
Typically when we share one of Adam’s videos with you we suggest you watch it all before trying the exercise. This one is different. You will probably want to watch it several times and while you do we encourage you to stop it frequently, try what he is demonstrating, get a feel for what is happening and how it affects your stance and movement. There is no better way to learn than to engage with your learning — and that means getting involved with this demonstration. You’ll want to work with it off the ice and really begin to understand what is being taught before you try to put it into your game.
Taking it on the ice
As with everything Adam teaches us, the goal is to tie your off-ice development and neuromuscular patterns into what you do on the ice. There’s a lot to learn today and it won’t become second nature without a lot of repetitions. So take some time when you’re on the ice, whether it’s warming up before practice or between reps or any other time you can grab some time and try to see how this applies when you get into your gear. See if you can feel what you have learned in a simple static situation — taking your stance, for example. Then see if you can apply it to some butterfly drops or some simple crease movements. Make it a habit to try these things every session and with time you will find it becoming a part of your game.
With those points in mind, take some time to work through the video now.
As promised there is a tonne to digest here.
As Francillia notes, a stance we often see in goaltenders with an anterior pelvic tilt that often comes from trying to hard to have a straight back — we are so often told to straighten our backs to protect them — can actually have the exact opposite effect than what we want. The key muscles of the glutes and abdominal wall are turned off. It jams up our lumbar spine (lower back) and our hip flexors. Lengthened muscles while we are in extension are less effective and actually more vulnerable to injury.
But when we work towards the neutral pelvis with more of a posterior tilt that all changes and we protect our hips and our back — all while becoming more efficient and effective in our stance and movements. It will eliminate delay as we move towards the ice ensuring our response to our reads is correct.
How often have you had one of those practices where nothing seems to go right? You get beat, you make some adjustments to the feedback you are feeling and you get beat again. It can spiral into what feels like an endless cycle no matter what you do. In the rifle and scope analogy Francillia comments on one small aspect of the neutral pelvis that is actually a significant lesson for us in so many more situations. In other words, when things aren’t going well you may feel like your reads or your positioning or your save selections are wrong, when in fact a different error is leading to all the wrong feedback.
In this case he’s referring to the delay getting to the ice caused by the anterior pelvic tilt makign you think you are leaving too late. But the same applies to countless other situations: The goaltender who is beaten glove side too often may change his glove position when in fact he is simply off angle. The goaltender who is beaten on the back door too often starts to lunge and go early when in fact he just needed better rotation from proper mechanics. Of course one mistake or cheat opens something else up for skilled shooters.
So experiment with the neutral pelvis and see how it affects your game. It has potential to help with more than you might imagine. Be patient and work at it. Remember Francilia’s words:
“Goaltending is a position of perfection, unlike any other position on the ice, it is a position of perfection. So the amount of detail, the amount of precision we must have in our execution has to be spot on and pelvic angle makes a huge difference.”
Want more great off-ice knowledge from Adam Francilia? Check out his counter-rotation series including Horse Stance Dynamic 90-degrees, single leg kneeling abduction, the supine lateral ball roll, the prone lateral ball roll, and the tube hold and the single leg rotation hold. Together the exercises can make up a 30-minute core workout done as part of your regular off-ice training.
If you’d like to learn more about counter-rotation, a great place to start is Carter Hart’s excellent pro-read where he calls himself out for making this common error that causes delay in movement that will also challenge your ability to remain square as you push to move laterally.
Please also check out some exercises from Adam Francilia that will support you in desperation mode, including the swing leg pushup and a one-arm pushup designed with goaltenders in mind. You should also try the Swiss Ball Groin Buster.
For those who missed our introduction to Francilia in earlier articles, a quick refresher: He jumped into the NHL spotlight for the off-ice transformation in 2017 that “helped propel Winnipeg Jets No. 1 Connor Hellebuyck to a Vezina Trophy nomination in 2018, but was working with goalies like James Reimer long before the NET360 camp, where we first me, started in 2015. His current client list includes more than a dozen other NHL-contracted goalies like Reimer, Devan Dubnyk, Matt Murray, Laurent Brossoit, Eric Comrie, Thomas Greiss and Troy Grosenick.
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