When it comes to goaltending, flexibility plays a major role. Not only is it needed to make the big saves, but it plays a major role in injury prevention. In all honesty, goaltenders young and old should make stretching a major part of their practice and game time routines. Not only before and after games and practices, a smart goalie uses their stretching routine on some of their off days.
When it comes to stretching at the rink, it is important for a goalie to try to stretch in the dressing room or hall before you hit the ice, and then to stretch again once you've done a few laps on the ice and maybe have taken a few shots. Essentially, many of the stretches you'll do are similar to some of those that you may have done in gym class growing up. On the ice, you are slightly constricted by your gear, but you also have the advantage of the ice to help you push out a stretch. Areas to focus on are your groin and your hamstrings.....both of which are important to have limber, for not only making saves but also for injury prevention. Here are a few exercises that we'll do our best to describe:
- Get down on both knees. Slowly spread your knees by pushing towards the ice/ground with your pelvis. You should be able to feel this in your groin.
- With one knee on the ground, place the other leg straight out to the side, with your knee facing forward. Push down and out with your pelvis to stretch your groin and hamstring. Repeat with the opposite leg.
- Get down on one knee. Rest your elbow on the knee that is up and slowly push out to 10 or 11 o'clock (you'll know what's comfortable). Repeat with the opposite leg.
- Repeat stretch number two above, but this time have your knee point towards the ceiling. Lean forward to stretch out the back of your leg.
- Sit on your backside with your legs spread in a "V" in front of you. Have your stick in hand and lean forward to place it from blade to knob between your legs. Use your stick to pull yourself forward while pushing your legs farther apart.
- Another good exercise to get your lower body going is to squat down like a bat catcher, pushing your backside towards the floor. Sit in this position for 10-15 seconds.
When it comes to game prep, stretching is a key part. However, so is simple warm-up. Remember to do some laps, crease work, and light leg movements to get you warm. It'll not only help you with your stretching, but it will help you be ready for game situations. One of my favorite warm-up exercises is the alternating one-pad save:
- Take off your gloves an put them on the net.
- Grab either the top of the net from the inside or the cross-bar, which ever gives you the best feel and positioning for your size.
- Slowly open your legs and slide towards a split position.
- Use your arms to pull yourself back up out of the position.
We hope that you'll be able to take what you need from this article and for those of you who may have more questions, be sure to "Ask the Vet".
- Fall into a butterfly position.
- Take a minute or two to stretch your groin by sliding your pads out an pushing down with your butt.
- Return to the butterfly position.
- From the butterfly, slowly extend/kick one leg out, and then return to the buttefly position. Do this a few times on one leg.
- Repeat this with the opposite leg.
- Then, move to alternating legs. As you kick out and pull in one leg and then the other, slowly build the speed that you do so. Just remember to start slow and then build up in speed.