Importance of Edge Control for ‘Tight Zone’ Play
Excellent edge control allows goaltenders to make critical quick, short, powerful moves.
These directional changes enable a goalie to make saves when rebounds are created in “Tight Zone” play.
The development of superior edge control naturally takes time and effort. There are different drills and ways to go about developing this component of the modern game. A few basic drills are presented here with what is hopefully a beneficial explanation.
Once the basic biomechanics of a power push, or slide, are understood and some degree of competence is established, the following line drill is commonly used to provide lots of practice to develop muscle memory and leg power.
In this drill the student begins in the down position loading the power leg. The torso is upright for vertical coverage. The stick is properly positioned for five-hole coverage [NB: It is not uncommon to watch goaltenders pushing in tight with the stick in paddle down position. This can be a very effective play. The author however does not teach this drill with such positioning].
The trapping glove is held open and in front of the body. Upon command, the goalie pushes on a repetitive basis from the goal-line, to blue-line and back. It is important that proper form is maintained. If form cannot be maintained then the student may not ready for this drill. Also, the distance covered and speed of movement will naturally differ based on age and ability of the athlete.
Once deemed too easy, another level of difficulty can be added.
To foster even better edge control, along with conditioning and power development, the coach can request the goalie alter direction for one push. The interval can be advanced over time from 4:1 (four pushes forward, to one push in the opposite direction) down to 2:1. When a goalie can maintain impeccable form, speed and control at 2:1 then the drill has served its purpose.
The second video segment demonstrates the drill at a 3:1 ratio:
Another commonly employed drill is “The Pendulum.”
In this drill the goaltender again begins in the down position between two pucks or pylons positioned a short distance apart. The technical considerations discussed above remain the same. Upon command, the goalie begins to rocker back and forth on the inside edges.
The drills can be altered several ways:
1. The coach may choose to increase, or decrease, the distance between pylons to promote quicker transition from one edge to the other.
2. The number of swings can be increased with time (e.g., 10, 20, 30 or 40).
3. Finally, a decision can be made to perform the drill on a timed interval (e.g., 10 seconds, 20, seconds or 30 seconds) basis. This is done with the intent of training a specific exercise energy system.
A similar variant to that noted in the previous drill exists. The coach may ask the athlete to make two short pushes one way and then change direction for two pushes. A mature goaltender will likely not require more than two pushes to manoeuver across the crease so this number should suffice.
This article has briefly discussed the great importance of edge control to “tight zone” play.
With fundamental drills, focus on technique and with time, power will come. Once a sound level of edge control is established, more complex skating and scramble drills with two, three or more shots become part of the developmental process.
The decision was made not to present examples of these drills in the current article.
As always, work beats talent, if talent doesn’t work!