Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giant pads + Me + Ice = Yikes

So, I went out to SLICE at lunchtime with my pants, pads, glove, and blocker and set goalie skates to ice in gear for the first time today.

I'll start with the good stuff:

  • Not once did I think, "WTF are you doing? This is ridiculous. This isn't going to happen." It was just as difficult as I thought it would be but not much more. But more importantly, it just felt like the right thing to be doing. Every bit of it. Dropping to a butterfly in the crease, trying (not really well) to move around the crease as though I were centering on the puck, just doing "goalie stuff" all felt right. As much better as I've gotten skating as a forward, it's never felt like what I should be doing. I looked like an idiot, but I was smiling. These don't usually go together for me.
  • Once I ditched the gear to do a couple of laps and cool off, I was doing some c-cuts down the ice and I heard a figure skating instructor telling her student, "See what she's doing? Bend your knees like that..." Coach Stalin would be so proud.
  • As I was leaving the rink with my pads slung over my shoulder, a couple of young boys in hockey skates (not rentals, so I'm assuming they play) were getting a drink out of the soda machine and I heard one of them say, "Ohhh! A GOALIE!" to his little friend. It was all I could do to turn the corner before I broke into a huge grin.
But the good list pretty much ends there.

Skating is clumsy but I expected that. It got better when I loosened the pads a bit during a break. The inner-thigh pads on the pants are the biggest problem. There are 3 layers of pads there, so I'm going to poke around in there and see if removing one would help (and not hurt).

Stand-up mobility in the crease is... passable. Not good and I'd get lit up pretty easily, but I know what I need to do to improve there.

Ohhh, but the butterfly. The butterfly. So, I'm in the crease and I drop. And... there... I... sit... The puck better just hit me where I sit because there is no moving. Well, there's flapping one or the other pad out like pinball flippers, but no lateral movement.

Now, I know you're supposed to be able to push off with your skate to move across, but that's a lot harder than I thought it would be. It was difficult to get enough traction to move and when I did, I just kinda spun in a circle. It was the height of coolness, I tell ya.

I occurred to me after the fact that maybe I'm supposed to be taking some pressure off my knee and onto my skate cowling? I dunno. But clearly there are some skills here that I don't have and don't know how to get. I'm not looking for anything fancy here. It's just unacceptable to drop into a fly and be completely stuck there. It's not like I'm getting back on my feet with any speed yet.

So, tips? Help? Anybody? Bueller?

Now, am I ready to do this for 2 hours on Sunday night? I don't know. I'm so much better in my head than I am actually on the ice that I'm having a hard time gauging it. :) I do recall thinking, as I left the ice today, "No way in hell I can play 2 hours on Sunday." But I'm not sure how to get there, which is what's bothering me the most right now.


buddhafisch  November 26, 2008 at 5:46 PM  

OK, first things first, calm down. Being a goalie is all about patience. Let it come to you.

Now, for the big stuff. First, lose the butterfly. You are a beginner, not Brodeur. Butterfly is a high end technique, not a starter type of thing.

Start by keeping your pads together. Tight together. No gap, no five hole. Drop to your knees, and get back up. A bunch of times.

After that, worry about your stick. keep it flat on the ice at all times. This is harder than it sounds. Work on where your glove hand is at.

Biggest issues I have seen with beginners is trying to do the butterfly, dropping down too much, not keeping the stick flat, and angles. Watch your angles. Angles make you bigger.

LOSE THE BUTTERFLY! It will come later. Work on the fundamentals first.

Moving in the crease comes only with practice. Coaches will tell you all kinds of ways to get better. It really is all about how you do it, and how you are comfortable doing it, at least at this point.

Once you have positioning, moving, all of that down, work on stacking your pads (sliding save style).

Butterfly is so far down the road from where you are... not that you are incapable, you just aren't at that point.

Buliding blocks. Keep smiling though, and keep that attitude. You'll get there faster than you think.

Ms. Conduct  November 26, 2008 at 7:10 PM  

No no, Buddha. I AM BRODEUR! :)

I am patient. Hockey has taught me two things: Humility and Patience. But even when the road is long and I'm willing to travel it, if I can't FIND the road, I get antsy.

Now when you talk about keeping my pads together... do you mean standing? And when I drop to my knees (up and down up and down)... am I in the fly? I'm confused. Use crayons.

Nick in New York  November 26, 2008 at 7:40 PM  

I agree with Buddha: grasshopper must first learn how to walk before trying to run.

Get used to skating around in your gear. Start from a stop, little push, glide a few feet and stop - remember to use both feet to stop. Then after you stop a few times, stop and then push back. Try to get it so that you can get out and back in the same number of pushes. Economy of actions. Start on one post, push off diagonally towards the near face off dot. Stop at the top of the crease, back to the originial post. Then do it from the other post, with the other dot. Then go from the left post diagonally across to the right face off dot position at the top of the crease. Then switch it up. Angles, angles, angles. You have to know the dimensions of your crease, relative to the net. Start and finish each of those actions by tapping the post with your glove (if left post) or stick (if right post).

Get used to your "ready" position. Ask one of those kids to help you by standing out a ways and telling you where your holes are when you think you're in a ready position assuming they had a puck and would have shot from where they were standing.

Work on sliding - in a standing position - from side to side. Get used to trusting that you can slide on your goalie blades differently than you can in your skater blades. Remember that, unlike your skater blades, in your goalie skates your foot is not pitched foreward at all and you have a lot more blade flat on the ice all the time. It's like that for a reason.

Then, once you get some familiarity with all that, fall down. Figure out what your mobility is like sliding around on your pads on the ice before your groin starts to disagree with you. Don't push it though. Just define limits. But I'm talking about several open skates of the other stuff before you start with the hard stuff like going down.

These first skates are going to be tedious, hard work. Your feet and ankles will get tired. It will be frustrating when you think you're right on the post, and go to tap, but discover that you're no where near where you thought you'd be. But better to do all this now than in a live game. It's all additive, and from what I can tell of your personality and attitude, my guess is you're going to have a blast.

(Another great learning experience is the harness drill. I'll email you the details as I have to think a bit about how to describe it.)

Nick in New York  November 26, 2008 at 7:44 PM  

Buddha's spot on about the stick. Not only is it harder than you'd think, but it's critically important. That alone can help you make up for butterfly errors.

I had it explained to me that your blade should be on the ice, evenly between your feet. And you should pretend you have a laser starting right in the middle of the blade pointing outward. You want that laser to be on the puck all the time. But you also want to keep that stick blade on the ice, and evenly between your feet all the time.

Very hard to do, but so, so important.

Ms. Conduct  November 26, 2008 at 7:53 PM  

So what this is sounding very much like to me is that I need to a) be practicing at stick and pucks where I'll actually have a net to work from and can bring my stick on the ice and b) get a coach for a few lessons so I'm not learning this stuff wrong. In learning to skate, I found that, left to my own devices, I find wrong, lazy ways to do everything. :)

Nick in New York  November 26, 2008 at 8:02 PM  

well, yeah it will be easier if you have an actual net to work with. For sure. Maybe find a stick and puck and hope there aren't many skaters, then tell the skaters that are there that it's literally your first time on the ice and you'd like to either not face shots for a while or that, if you do, you're only going to be standing up so please don't get frustrated with you.

Ms. Conduct  November 26, 2008 at 8:11 PM  

Well, stick and puck is just code for pick-up game around here. Not sure if that's how it is everywhere. You almost have to be working with an instructor and force the pick-up game to be blue-line to goal-line. Pain in the ass. I wish they'd have an honest to god stick and puck where people can just work on skills.

Nick in New York  November 26, 2008 at 8:13 PM  

maybe talk to the rink and ask if you can get a net on the ice for the last x (15? 20?) minutes of an open skate? Explain the situation? Offer to pay a bit extra?

Ms. Conduct  November 26, 2008 at 9:00 PM  

I just need to talk to the guy there who's sort of the go-to guy for hockey stuff, teaching, etc. I've just hesitated to because some instructors don't like to work with adult goalies.

I notice that the new "Hockey Analyst" for the Aeros is a goalie coach, too. But I wonder if I'm crossing some kind of professional boundaries there by pursuing that.

buddhafisch  November 27, 2008 at 12:19 AM  

When you go down, the pads stay together.



buddhafisch  November 27, 2008 at 12:23 AM  

Don't know that getting some help with golaie stuff is crossing the line. Heck... you might even have him tell you to go talk to Brusty...

Ask everyone you can. Get their take. If all else fails, come to MN. We have goalies and goalie coaches everywhere.

Kevin Jacobsen  November 27, 2008 at 2:08 AM  

I don't understand the difficulty. Being a goalie is easy. Here's all you need to know:

Stop the puck.

I mean, c'mon. Who doesn't know that? Make it happen.


Ms. Conduct  November 27, 2008 at 7:03 AM  

I did have this marvelous story idea where I had Brust or Schaef help me out. But I couldn't figure out how to turn it into anything other than "fangirl gets to make an ass of herself in front of goalies who'd rather be playing golf right now."

Kevin... I wish!!! If I were 6'5", I'd probably roll with that exact attitude.

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