Coaches Corner - Fixing the Top-hand Hitch
One of the most crippling mistakes we see in goalies, especially young ones, is the dreaded top-hand hitch. On high-high shots, the goalie will slightly (or not-so-slightly) dip their hands down THEN punch to the ball. This puts even the quickest goalies at a disadvantage that can be avoided.
As a coach, fixing this should be the highest priority, as it will always make a quick difference once fixed. The first step is to make goalies aware of this hitch, as they oftentimes don’t feel it on their own. Make it coaching cue as you warm them up high, as this will show up in goalies even when they KNOW it is going to be a high shot. We are talking more about a “tic” of sorts than goalies dropping hands to anticipate a low shot.
If you’re looking for a drill, a great one is “butt-end saves”, which we see @noah_dac from @leadingedgeelite demoing here. Because we’ve made the stopping area so small, any little hitch will make it VERY difficult to catch back up and make the save. We like to use an easy pace to start, and then build as we go, but always keeping it controlled enough that it’ll be a technical flaw/hitch that leads to goals, not blowing it by a goalie with a small area to make the save.
A second drill (not shown) involves having goalies take “shots” from their knees will help to work on keeping their hands up and a good punch, as the length of the shaft provides instant feedback when they dip their hands. The butt-end will hit the group and let them know immediately about any hitch/dip. This can be done in a ball-toss drill or with controlled shots focusing on shots above the shoulders.
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