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Tips for Tenders
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Tips for Tenders
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Most of you know that I'm a mathematician, so let's have a little geometry lesson: if the puck starts on the ice, and has to go over your body, it generally has to go in an upward direction. Once it passes you, it will usually continue to go upward.

Have you ever wondered how someone like Dominik Hasek will be sprawled out on the ice and still manage to make a save? Think he's just lucky? I've got news for you -

goaltenders in the National Hockey League

can't get by on luck. What Dominik, and others, know is that the "vertical angle" is a very important part of goaltending.

When you come out of the net, towards the shooter, you look like you fill more of the net, even though you remain the same size. The "vertical angle" theory uses the same approach. Let's say that you do a "two-pad stack" right on the goal-line - if your pads are one foot across, you're covering two feet of net; that's 50% of the net. On the other hand, consider the following:

There's a shooter twenty feet from the net, and you - in an effort to get a piece of the puck - two-pad stack so that you're ten feet away from him (and ten feet out of the net). Assuming that the shooter makes a good shot, one of two things will happen - it could hit you, certainly. Suppose that the shot goes over you - here's where the geometry comes in. To get over you, that puck has to climb two vertical feet. Unless the shot is a flopper, that puck's going to continue to rise - in fact, by the time it travels ten more feet to the net, it will be over the crossbar.

That example, of course, was just to prove a point - you're usually not going to two-pad stack ten feet from the net. Remember - if your vertical angles are covered, the shooter will either hit you or shoot over the crossbar. Have you ever seen someone miss the net low? Of course not - it's physically impossible! Use this to your advantage.

A lot of goaltenders I've talked with tell me that they like to keep their skates as dull as possible. Their rationale is that they're more able to perform their post-to-post movements this way. To that, I say "SHARP SKATES!" Have you ever heard the mantra "the goaltender needs to be his/her team's best skater"? Well, it's true, and with the number of things a modern goaltender does with their skating (playing the puck, challenging the shooter, etc.), it's imperative to have your skates sharp. But what about lateral movement, you say? Work on it! You'll find that your movements are just as crisp with sharp skates; maybe even sharper, now that your skates are sharp enough to push off with. What do I recommend? Well, I use a 3/4" radius on my goal skates, and have them sharpened about once per month. Your mileage may vary, though, so try a few hollows and see what you like.

I've often heard other goalies complain about stick vibration caused by heavy shots, especially those who use non-Kevlar-reinforced sticks. A few years ago, I was one of them, but I figured out how to cure this problem with any stick. What I do is simply wrap a band of tape around the top of the paddle about 1.5-2 inches below the handle, and another at the same distance above the heel. On my sticks, this band is a little less than 1/4 inch thick, with regular stick tape. Ever since, even very hard shots haven't produced the same bone-numbing effects as they used to.

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