There are many things a goalie can do to improve their hand-eye coordination skills. From off ice hand-eye coordination drills, to setting a pre-game hand-eye coordination routine, overall hand-eye coordination improvement is one of the simplest ways to improve your skillset as a goalie. It goes without saying that if you want to become better at glove saves and simply be a better goaltender in general, you must possess elite level hand eye coordination.
Great hand-eye coordination skills in a goaltender are one of the main things that separate a high-performing goalie from one who is simply average. Not only do scouts value goalies who can track the puck well, better hand eye coordination will help in reducing rebounds.
Goaltenders need to have top-level hand-eye coordination skills to stop pucks that at any point can move upwards of 100 miles per hour. When it comes to goalie preparation, developing above-average hand-eye coordination skills can make all the difference between the pipes.
So why is hand-eye coordination as a goalie overlooked? I see a ton of goalies overlook hand-eye coordination drills, I will show you the best ways to improve and maintain your hand-eye coordination throughout the season. When it comes to off ice goalie training, developing and improving your overall hand-eye coordination is one of the easiest things a goalie can do to build their game.
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The Importance of Hand-Eye Coordination
Hand-eye is very important for hockey players especially goalies because of the speed of play. It is also very important because every shot requires your eyes to see the puck and send signals to your brain and then back to your hands to make the save. Almost every shot will require some level of hand-eye coordination. Developing better hand-eye coordination will help every aspect of your game as a goalie, particularly stick saves and allowing you to catch more pucks, reducing the amount of rebounds you give up.
Having great hand-eye coordination as a goaltender will allow for quick reactions, controlled rebounds, and keen ability to steal or maintain a win for your team.
Improves Puck Tracking Ability
Ones hand-eye coordination can directly relate to ones position in the crease. If you locate the puck and you are in the correct location this will allow for that much more chances of stopping the puck.
Improving hand-eye allows the body to be able to see plays happening and scenarios that occur. One can then have time to focus on which hand the players shoot and what they might most likely due to shooting that specific hand. I wouldn’t worry about this too much but it may be something to think about while playing at higher levels of play such as high school/collegiate levels.
A tip I have on puck tracking is having your feet set by the time the puck has been shot. You want to be set so that you can focus solely on the shot and not the skating aspect of the play.
Now this doesn’t always happen, but the difficulty level increases significantly if your feet have not been set in place. Such as one-timers, they are harder stop because you are a lot of the times still in motion when the shot takes places, so tracking the puck becomes incredibly more difficult.
Improves Rebound Control
Rebound control is based a lot on knowing where the puck is at in the first place. It involves proper angles and being square to the puck, knowing where pucks will inevitably end up after a save is made. If you use hand-eye coordination to make the first save then you can work off that to put the puck into a non danger position after the save.
Working on controlling your hands and eyes will help you in controlling every shot.
Another tip I have is to watch the puck all the way from shot to save and in the direction it goes from there. I personally have the tendency to stop watching the puck after the first save and it ends up hurting me more than it helps me.
Improves Ability To Manage A Game
Think hand eye coordination has the ability to determine the outcome of a game? It does. Goalies with elite hand-eye skills can choose when they’d like a stoppage in play simply by holding on to the puck.
Goaltenders are constantly peppered with high-speed shots all game long, with different angles, depths, releases, deflections, and odd bounces. The goalie has to be prepared and develop a skill set to win hockey games. This means, goalies have to have the ability to stop the puck and freeze it for a stoppage in play. Goalies who can see the puck better, can stop the puck better. Goalies who can stop the puck better can pick and choose when they get a stoppage in play. Day in and day out, the games top goalies make literal game time decisions on when they should move or freeze the puck, all allowing them to better manage the game.
5 Ways To Improve Hand-Eye Coordination for Goalies
Hand-eye coordination drills can come in many different shapes and sizes, today I will show you the top 5 ways I personally use to hone my skills to become the best goalie possible.
Developing A Daily Off-Ice Hand-Eye Coordination Training Routine
I have developed a daily training routine that I focus on every day to maintain my hand-eye coordination. I first start out with a simple 3 juggle exercise, I do this by remembering to control my hands and be very controlled with every movement.
I then like to move to a single hand 2 juggle exercise with ever so changing movements such as one eye closed, balancing on a single leg, and vice versa. I keep changing up the coordination until I have gone through almost every different movement with my eyes and balance.
After this I juggle off of the wall in different patterns, then I move to simple racquetball and tennis ball exercises.
An easy / cheap tool used to better your hand eye coordination.
20 Hand Eye Drills for Goalies
If you’re struggling to develop a daily off ice hand-eye coordination routine, check out the video below. These are a handful of excellent hand-eye drills that can be done with just a tennis ball, from anywhere in the world (no ice required).
Additional Hand-Eye Goalie Drills
This video is from our friends over at Pro Hockey Europe. There are a handful of excellent ball drills for goalies in this video.
Tennis Ball Training
Tennis balls can be used for many different drills such as throwing off of the wall into your glove or even juggling into the air.
I usually start out my tennis ball hand-eye training by juggling with 2,3, and 4 balls. If you can’t currently juggle there are many youtube videos out there that will teach you. It may seem intimidating at the start but realistically it isn’t too hard if you can control the balls and keep a good rhythm going.
Another great drill that can be done with a tennis ball is either painting them to a specific color or writing specific numbers on them. You can do this so that when you throw the ball against the wall you can say the color or number out loud. This allows for quick reactions to the color or number whilst still catching the ball. This may seem easy on paper, but go give it a shot.
Racquet Ball Training
Racquetball training is personally a favorite for me because of the bounciness the balls have and the speed at which they come back at me. Raquetballs are better for hand-eye training in goalies who have already developed the ability to see the puck well.
I generally like to either throw these at the corner where I can practice a simple deflection/ different angle shot. Then I throw it low enough so that it also can hit the ground after the wall and provide a different angle of reaction. I also like to simply throw it against the wall and catch it. You can increase or decrease the difficulty on all of these by moving closer or further from the wall and increasing or decreasing the speed of the ball thrown.
The key with hand-eye coordination drills is to have fun with it. If you aren’t having fun with it then it will be very hard to keep pushing yourself through it, this is also true with all types of goalie training.
VR Training With Sense Arena
VR training is something that is newer to the market and is killer in improving ones hand-eye training.
Sense Arena focuses on hockey specifically, it was designed to help athletes who want to get an upper advantage over competitors. It does this by having goalies react virtually to plays developing and helping them to read and react to shots that are very capable of happening on the ice.
Coaches can analyze and monitor players performances and make adjustments to best fit each athlete’s needs. This allows athletes to perform at peak performance no matter the day.
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Playing Other Sports (outside of hockey)
Lots of athletes that play goalie also enjoy playing other sports, but if you don’t I highly recommend it.
Many experts say that baseball is a sport that is very helpful in developing success in hockey. Baseball is almost entirely based on hand-eye. There are so many skills that can be learned from baseball, such as hitting the ball which resonates the most with hand-eye coordination. Also fielding and throwing the ball to other places greatly improves one’s skills.
Developing A Pre Game Hand-Eye Coordination Routine
Developing a pre-game routine is different for everyone, this can include juggling for some, simple glove and blocker movements for others, while others may simply throw a racquetball around to warm up their hands.
I personally love to start out with some different juggling exercises then move into some simple racquetball throws against the wall into my hands. I gradually increase the speed and difficulty with the throws and eventually focus on catching the ball with my glove on.
All the while I like to keep a ball moving whether it’s against the wall or into the air, it all depends on what I think will be best for me pre-game.