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Look Before You Push: an Important Habit Too Many Goalies Ignore

Look Before You Push: an Important Habit Too Many Goalies Ignore
Montreal Canadiens Carey Price Look article

During a recent InGoal photo shoot for CCM equipment, Montreal Canadiens star Carey Price was always looking in the direction he was going to move before he started moving, a habit too many young goalies ignore.

It’s a simple piece of advice, one that we learn as toddlers, when our parents drill it into us to “look both ways before we cross the street.”

So why do so many young goalies move around their crease without first looking where they are going?

There are a lot of possible reasons, including too many predictable drills that end with shots from the exact same spot, making it easy for the goaltender to get lazy with their visual habits because they know exactly where they need to be on every repetition without having to look first. Whatever the reason, it’s a habit goaltenders need to break.

Eli Rassi of PRO Goaltending schools is here to help with a series of drills and instruction in the latest edition of InGoal Magazine designed to improve visual habits, including when and how to look off the puck for other threats.
PRO Goaltending article Montreal Canadiens Carey Price illustration
“The most valuable asset we have when moving is our vision. The more we see and understand what is happening around us, the more we can anticipate and prepare for what may come,” wrote Rassi, who is also a goaltending coach for the Junior A Carleton Place Canadians.

“The same concept applies for goaltending and while it appears obvious, goalies at all levels struggle with consistently looking away from the puck when the play is in a non-threatening area. As a result, they are often caught behind the play and unable to move into position, get set and prepare for the shot or pass.”

Rassi outlines several tips on body position, zones on the ice to focus on, and what to look for in the article. He also outlines a series of drills – many with moving parts and changing variable – that will help young goalies build strong visual habits and ensure they learn how to manage and track their surroundings, and perhaps most importantly, “look before they push.”

You can read the entire article, and three handy drills, in InGoal Magazine. And be sure to check out the website for PRO Goaltending, whose clients include top prospects like Malcolm Subban (Boston Bruins), Mark Visetin (Phoenix Coyotes) and Scott Wedgewood (New Jersey Devils).

About The Author

Kevin Woodley

Kevin Woodley is a rec-league target and former contributing editor of the Goalie News magazine. He has written about the Vancouver Canucks and NHL for The Associated Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and The Hockey News for the last decade, and covered the 2010 Olympics for The AP.


  1. Steve McKichan

    Why wouldn’t you look AND initiate movement in an undetectable simultaneous manner?

    The repositioning should be like a golf swing, smooth and seamless.

    I often see goalie coached to exaggerate the head turn look THEN move their body in an awkward segmented way.

    Anyone with a biomechanical expertise recognizes the folly in that.

  2. Steve McKichan

    You should never look before you push. You should look as you push. Huge difference.

  3. Eli Rassi

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for your feedback! You’re right, the idea of looking ‘as’ you push is how a movement should be executed at game speed. However, in my experience, too many goalies are moving without identifying where a threat is. They are, in effect, moving without really even looking at all.

    My point is to slow the movements down: practice looking before you move, recognize the threat, and then once the puck moves off the stick, look and move. Of course, when executed with enough practice and at game speed the movements are seamless (like you said, as a golf swing would be). There is that moment, though, when the eyes move fist, enabling a goalie to process where they need to move, how fast and what type of save selection they should use.

    Exaggerating the ‘look’ is all about conditioning goalies to do something that they aren’t doing. The more they look, the more they are able to increase the speed of recognizing where they need to go and it hen get there with optimal speed, power and depth.

  4. Eric

    In the end, by exaggerating the look, you create a habit that forces you to look slightly before you push off. In real time, it LOOKS like the goaltender looks simultaneously with the push off. BUT in reality the goaltender is looking just before the push off.

  5. Steve McKichan

    With a 10 year old you might break it down this overtly.

    However, once it is done a couple of times you would NEVER need to do this again. You would simply just need to remind goalies to visually lock on the puck if any tracking issue arise.

    Anytime I see a goalie in a game with ANY stagger in their watching a puck and then moving I see concrete proof of Mis coaching.

  6. Joe boutette

    Atta boy Steve give em hell!!!

  7. Shaun

    you look right before you push because you have to see where you are going and where the puck is.

  8. Adam

    I think the “Look both ways before you cross the street” is a good analogy for this. As a kid you are taught to stop, look both ways, then go. As an adult, I don’t even think of this process anymore… I just do it all in one fluid movement as my food leaves the curb.

  9. Elias Rassi

    Steve, I wouldn’t characterize this as mis-coaching. It’s a step by step breakdown of how to get in the habit of looking as you push in one fluid motion (as mentioned by some of the comments here.)

    Far too often, I’ve seen goalies of all ages and levels not even look at all. Meaning, they don’t look off the puck to identify where they need to go, let alone look as they move.

    That’s the point of the article.

    • Steve McKichan


      You are not understanding my point.

      If I see an established goalie with segmented visual lock then a distinct separation before movement.
      It is wrong period.

  10. Elias Rassi

    Steve, I do understand your point. You’re saying that if a goalie looks and has a delay before moving that it is incorrect. Right?

    I’m saying that I agree with you. The point isn’t to look, take a few seconds, and then move.

    There are two points that I’m trying to make:

    1) look away from the puck when it is in a non-danger zone. When you look off the puck to find where the other threat(s) are, you know where you need to move next, how fast and at what depth.

    2) once the puck moves, shift your gaze in the direction that it’s going (track it) and then go.

    If you look at the picture of Carey Price, you’ll see how for a brief moment his eyes move before any part of his body. He wasn’t even used for this article – it’s just something he does all the time.

    There shouldn’t be a pause before movement, I realize this, and it’s not something I teach or what the article suggests.

  11. Steve McKichan

    One more point…. Do you believe goalies move in random directions BEFORE they locate the puck?

  12. Elias Rassi

    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what you mean by ‘random directions’.