How A Medicine Ball On The Ice Can Build Better Goalies
Long-time NHL goaltending coach Mitch Korn simply calls it “The Goalie Stabilizer.”
To most it’s just a medicine ball. But listen to Korn, who left the Nashville Predators this summer to join the Washington Capitals, and it’s clear how powerful it can be when integrated into on-ice workouts and movement patterns.
“It develops power. It develops quickness. It develops body control. It develops core strength. It develops arm discipline, which brings stick discipline,” Korn said in the teaching article. “It helps a goalie with balance, agility, power, quickness — it does all of those things.”
So how do you use a medicine ball to become a better goalie? Simply put, drop the gloves and hold it against your chest while doing everything you normally would on the ice.
For Korn, who implemented the medicine ball at training camp last year to help Carter Hutton, it started with skating drills holding a ball. But as Korn saw the benefits, the drills evolved to include everything else — even stopping pucks.
“It was not just skating patterns,” he said. “We stopped shots with it, we did wraparounds with it, butterfly and rebound saves, 5-hole saves, down-up-down-up, shuffles — everything but high shots. We played goalie holding this ball, and it produced power and quickness while stabilizing both the core and upper body movement. It really is amazing how it can tighten up every aspect of your game.”
The genesis of this discovery was a desire to increase speed and power while at same time reducing arm movement. We’ve all seen goaltenders, including established NHL stars, with a tendency to let their arms flail away from their body, especially when making lateral recovery pushes from the knees. For most it’s a natural balancing instinct, and some see it as a momentum build, but few would argue it is a good thing.
“If you lift your right leg to push with power to your left side, your arms swing to the leg that is lifted because you are loading with your arms – and you shouldn’t be,” Korn said. “You should be loading with your legs and your arms should be leading the way instead of going opposite to the direction in which you want to travel.”
You can get the rest of Korn’s thoughts on using a medicine ball to build better goaltenders, as well as some thoughts from San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, who inspired the idea with his use of a weight plate during movement drills, by clicking here to read in the September edition of InGoal Magazine. And to see the medicine ball in action with the Capitals, check out this great video from the Washington Post: