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Goaltending is a position that is demanding on one’s body as it twists and pulls on joints and muscles. So how can goalies protect their bodies either to extend their careers or to enjoy Beer League late into their lives? Garrett Sparks, tendy for the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears and admin of the massive Facebook Group, Goalie Gear Sluts United (GGSU), wrote a great article for GGSU about how to be a solid goalie without destroying your body. Here are some excerpts and you can read the whole thing at the GGSU Blog:

“Like a runway model craves a thinner waistline, a goalie craves that perfect flare; toes covering from post to post, an 11” wall of jenpro & foam with a vacuum tight seal to the ice. What a lot of people don’t realize is the toll it ends up taking on your body, and to be quite blunt, how truly pointless it is. I’m here to dispel the importance of the ‘perfect’ butterfly and tell you that you can still be an effective, if not great goalie, without abusing your joints every time you fall.

“I have learned a lot about my own body’s limits in the past few months and how to adapt my game to help avoid future injury as well as maximize the use of my strengths. As a goalie I find that those strengths are my size, flexibility, and ability to read plays as they unfold. Coupling those reads with good, hard, crisp pushes from point A to point B rather than dramatic slides has greatly changed the way I play goalie and made me a much more in control goalie. I paired this refined style with a new core program to stabilize my body from the center out and have watched a transformation slowly unfold one day at a time. Where I used to spread out, J. Quick, sack dragging across the crease as I split from side to side, I come across the crease in one solid piece. Where I used to shoot a leg out to the side, I now trust my positioning, depth, and eyes to handle the shot with ease, not extending myself beyond exactly where I need to be. Say what you will about blocking goalies like Corey Crawford, someone chastised for a lack of perceived ‘skill’, but I have never been more athletic, acrobatic, or in control of my body in 14 years as a goalie.

“So when I heard from this fellow goalie who has been suffering from goaltending related injuries the question that kept coming to my mind was if I can find a way to adapt my game to be easier on my body, why can’t a goalie playing men’s league do the same? And the answer I arrived at is there’s absolutely no reason they can’t. The changes are simple in the fact that they are a use of fundamental skills. T-pushes and shuffles preferred over butterfly slides and extended split saves.  A heavier emphasis on the most basic building blocks of goalie movements is the easiest way to reduce stress on your body from the position. Good skating will get you in good position every time. And if you are in good position on a puck (Angles + depth) there is no reason to ever extend out of your body’s comfort zone.  Good position is defined differently for different goalies based on size in the net as well. But to have a higher sense of self-awareness in net and put more emphasis on your on-feet skating movements will reduce stress on your body to basically nothing.”

Read more at GGSUnited.com.

You can also learn more about how to be a better goalie from Garrett Sparks, Scott Darling, and Mike Condon at the GGSU Legends Camp

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