Top ten tips on how to become a good street or ball hockey goalie

When you read articles about hockey or you hear it talked about, the debate about 'who is best' always seems to revolve around some forward, usually a centre. Goalies are almost always never in contention.

Yet, when you think about it a player is concerned good with a 20% shooting percentage. Sometimes lower if they get a lot of shots. Imagine if a goaltender was only successful 20% of the time!! They wouldn't win a single game. As a goalie the margin for error is slim and the potential for glory not much better. This is true in street hockey as well. Certainly people will want the goalie that they think will help them win, but what if you could take your play to the next level, and be talked about and praised after the game and fought over for your services?

Now most people aren't willing to make a huge commitment to something that is usually done on a casual basis with a bunch of friends, but you CAN take your game to the next level with just a few insights and tips and enjoy a new level of confidence in your play. Some of this may apply in a lot of ways to Ice hockey too, but it is intended for street hockey players.

1. Be flexible: Go to the library, or even your gym if you have a membership and learn good stretching techniques. Not just warm up stretches, but to increase your overall flexibility. You don't need to spend a ton of time on it each day, but over time you will increase your range and mobility within the crease and open up new options for yourself for stopping shots.

2. Know where you are: We've all seen it happen, even with pro goalies. A goal is let in because they didn't have the right angle and they 'lost the net'. Can be tough not to do when the net is behind you, and even harder when you don't have things like a face off circle to help orient yourself. There is one small trick to this. Some of you may remember a goalie named Ron Hextal. He had a habit of facing out from his net and hitting the goal posts with his stick before a game. This was usually considered a superstition, but it is also very useful. It connects a physical act and sensation to your relative position to the net. This will help imprint a sense of where the net is in your brain. The better that is, the better you can play the angles.

3. The ball has eyes: Try to imagine the ball has eyes. It can't hit what it cant see. This may seem silly, but having this mindset will be a huge help.

4. Too much of a good thing: As a general rule, it is a good idea to move out and face a shot square to the shooter. This gives a lot less net to shoot at, effectively blocking the 'eyes' of the ball. However, you must remember that the further out you come to cut the angle, the further you will have to come if the shooter manages to pass to an open player. If your defense is good, and you have confidence that they can block a pass across, then cut the angle aggressively. If not, then it may be wise to hedge your bets and compromise a little in favour of being able to move quickly from post to post. Curtis Joseph is a good example of a goalie who tends to play a little deeper in his crease.

5. Play the shot not the shooter: Some players will try to fake and fool you, but simply don't play along. No matter how good a player is, the ball still has to obey the laws of physics. The more you can keep the ball centered with your navel, and the less net it can 'see' the better your chances will be of stopping the shot.

6. Be aggressive and decisive with your stick: Learn to maximize your goal stick as a tool. We all know the value of a good poke check, but you can also use it to break up passes, block pass outs and wraparounds from behind the net and so on. Learn how to time these moves to take the opposing players by surprise. You will enjoy feeling less at their mercy, and they will learn that they cant dipsy doodle in front of you all day.

7. Have no shame: Release your inner Haskek. Be one with the power of Tim Thomas. It is good to know a technically sound butterfly, but at the end of the day it is all about getting yourself or some part of yourself in front of that shot. Never worry about how it looks and always make the attempt. It may look and feel less than graceful at times, but nothing makes you look better than winning.

8. Never make 30 saves: Think about it. If a professional hockey player were to take thirty shots on you, probably a good chance a lot would go in. I mean we do this just for fun right?

Well what about only one shot? That sounds more doable. It might take a bit of luck, but you'd have a decent chance of stopping one shot right? Then why not think of every shot as that 'one shot'. This will help you focus on what you need to do, and not worry about what came before or comes after in a game.

9. Practice right: Find someone willing to help you work on your goal tending and not just their shot. Have them bring a few street hockey balls and take moderately easy shots on you one after another. Get used to how the ball moves, and how it reacts when it hits you. Try to absorb the ball or even 'pulling' it off to the sides like a batter pulls a ball in baseball. This will help with your anticipation in following the play as well as helping you control your rebounds. From there you can move on to harder shots once you're warmed up and work on your reflexes and reaction timing. Finish with a few rounds of breakaway practice.

10. Don't catch what can hit you: As exciting as that big glove save can be, if you are reaching to make saves more often than not either you, your defense or possibly both are not doing something right. If you have to reach for a shot, that probably means you are out of options if you give up a rebound. Stay centered and square to the ball and keep it's 'view' of your net blocked. Then if they get a rebound you can still flash out the glove, or kick out a pad sprawl into a snow angel and so on as you work through your save options. Just don't give it up all at once.

Good luck and happy goal tending!!

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Comments 49 comments

yeeeeya 7 years ago

thanks for the tips ussually im ok in net and i don't mind playing but i wanted to improve and get a little better. i am a butterfly goalie and my main reason for looking at this was to see how to make my pads last longer thanks and please respond if u have any ideas.

kyle 6 years ago

MY pad last because of the great invention of....


richie 6 years ago

thanks for the tips they help me a lot im a butterfly goalie on ice and road and i'm doing so much better with my skill

code 6 years ago

if you have access to and know how to use responsibly fiberglass can save those crappy canadian tire road hockey pads from wearing out on the knees and around your feet. but at the end of the day its all about duct tape.

great tips, a couple in there i don't think about on a regular basis and im gonna work in to my game (focusing on that "one shot" brilliant!) oh and by the way, every goalie butterflys, name a goalie that doesn't i dare ya.. NO SUCH THING AS A STAND UP OR BUTTERFLY STANCE GOALIE. you start standing, and you butterfly appropriately right? maybe in road hockey but even than the best street goalies can butterfly.


Schoolyard Puck 6 years ago

Good tips. If you can play goalie on the street you can play it anywhere. Players are more likely to try that fancy stuff out on the street that's harder to defend. In real games you probably get more straight shots.

person  5 years ago

the puck has eyes really helped :) thx

sam 5 years ago

why make less than 30 saves

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DDS 5 years ago from Toronto Author

@Sam: It isn't a matter of making less than 30 saves, it's about focusing ont the save you can do something about, the one one that is 'right now' and staying focused.

THANKS!!! 5 years ago

Thanks for the tips. My friends have been bagging on me just because i've let a couple of shots go in (but we are still undefeatable). Hopefully this helps. THANK - YOU!!!

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DDS 5 years ago from Toronto Author

Ok well I hope you come back and give a report on if all of this helps you or not!

goaliegirl 5 years ago

thanks for these tips i am usually really good but i feel i could be better so thanks for the help

goaliesrdabest 5 years ago

thx for the tips, they were great

Doyle 4 years ago

thanks so much for these tips, they help a lot in floor hockey with a ball or puck, and with regular hockey too :)

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DDS 4 years ago from Toronto Author

@Doyle: Thanks! I love hearing feedback like that! Very glad to help!

Doyle 4 years ago

@DDS do you have any tips that will help me with my reaction time and vision? those are my only major problems in net, I react slowly and tend to lose track of the puck/ball, any help would be greatly appreciated :)

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DDS 4 years ago from Toronto Author

@Doyle: Give me a bit and I'll get back to you with an answer. Likely after new years is over.

Until then, don't get discouraged.

jim 4 years ago

I want to catch the ball with my hand and not my pocket and its really letting me down. besides getting the baseball glove out and throwin around a ball you got any tips? and have you heard of any alternatives to fiberglass for the pads like contact cement or anything? Oh and thanks for the tips! very helpful. good street goalies have to be a little abstract like timmy and hasek, we cant slide back and fourth and keep kerry price like form. awesome advice

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DDS 4 years ago from Toronto Author

@jim: Thanks! As far as catching with your hand, Im not sure what you are playing using a trapper, glove or bare hand? (ouch!)

josh 4 years ago

i am not great at goalie and hopefully these tips will help. but my pads wear through very easy and i don't know what you mean by fibreglass, and do you have any other ideas to make the pads last longer (pleas NO DUCT TAPE RESPONSES I HAVE ALREADY USED 20 ROLLS OF IT JUST TO GET THROUGH ONE SUMMER)

GKPwnage 4 years ago

Ive got a big ball hockey game today i net and ima try these tips. Il get bck 2 u later

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DDS 4 years ago from Toronto Author

@GKPwanage: Yeah let us know how you do! Play hard and stay focused and never ever give up on a shot!

justin 4 years ago

i play road hockey, ice hockey and i am goalie and with the tips you gave i am on a 4 game shutout streak and i have a championship game on home ice and i will use every tip you gave. if we win this will be my second year championship win.

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DDS 4 years ago from Toronto Author

@Justin: Wow! Nice job and I feel really great about playing a part in your amazing streak!

Report back and tell us how the championship game turns out! Shut out number 5? Hopefully, but if not then battle hard for the win!

Goalie 4 years ago

The ball has eyes trick is really working. I was recently playing a bit of 4 balls to stop in hockey with mini sticks and since I'm quite a Hasek myself, I do recommend using a slide before. I had a tournement a month ago, and I would've gotten scored on if I didn't slide for a save first. We won 11-3 though!

thx 4 years ago

MY friends usally scream at me cause I let a lot in but know im picked first saving breakaway after breakway THANKS!!!!!!

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DDS 4 years ago from Toronto Author

what part helped you most?

Casey 4 years ago

I am the best goalie of the bunch I play with in my driveway. Now not saying I am the best goalie that has ever lived, I am very far off, but this will help me be a better goalie thanks a lot.

Chris 4 years ago

Just started goalie about 5 games ago in ball hockey. Really lovin' it but came here for some tips. All very good tips, especially about having a short memory (which applies to any position in any sport).

I also like the play the ball not the shooter tip, I think that's the one that will help me the most. I struggle at times because I can't fit my glasses in my mask and I don't have contacts so shots from far are a bit of a problem for me. My glove and blocker reflexes aren't the greatest either, especially since I changed to heavier equipment but I guess that just takes practice!

btw your wife has a lovely voice :)

evan 4 years ago

thanks for the tips,i just started playing goal again,,,after 19 years,,,my girl friend has a son and ive,,weve been going to his games,relized i missed playing,,so i gave it a try with no trapper as i lost my arm in the work place,,must of did all right they keep calling me to see if i would play for some one that couldn't make it,played for different teams,,now they want me to play in this years league,,so if been loking for advice that y im on here thanks for the tips,,and your wife voice is beautiful thanks again Evan

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DDS 4 years ago from Toronto Author


Rebecca says thank you! Good luck with getting back into goaltending!!

abrey vampth 4 years ago

ive been good at it

CapitalSportsClub 2 years ago

Awesome article. There definitely isn't a lot of training for goalies playing road or ball hockey. Its why our club is opening up ball hockey player and goalie clinics April 2014.

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DDS 2 years ago from Toronto Author


Sounds good! In what city? Maybe I'll work as a consultant? ;-)

Erica 2 years ago

Hey, thanks for the tips, I will try to use all of them. My team sadly lost 3 of our games, but I think my team can use those tips for big improvement. Once again, thank you!

Jacob Garza 20 months ago

I have been having troubles in being a street hockey goalie and I never gave up. This article helped turned my future around. Thank you. I have a playing style of Corey Crawford and Jonathan Quick as well.

Thank you: PS go Chicago Blackhawks CCrawford50!

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DDS 20 months ago from Toronto Author

@Jacob Garaza : I am very happy that I was able to help. That makes me feel really good!!

Jacob Garza 20 months ago

I am very humble about goalkeeping. Right know I am playing street hockey for school and I have a very important question to ask. If you where to choose would it be better to have a playing style like Jonathon Quick/Tim Thomas or something different like Corey Crawford or Henrik Lunquist because I cant choose.

Thank You

Jacob Garza

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DDS 20 months ago from Toronto Author

@Jacob Garza

Well, without knowing you or seeing you play, I can't really say for sure, but what I would suggest is use the style that for you allows you to make the initial save with the least amount of effort/work/movement and that after the second save allows you the most options/coverage of the net. On top of that, you need to work with your own natural and innate style.

Maybe learn techniques, more than outright styles from other goalies, and borrow the parts you like from al of them, and apply them intelligently to your game.

Jacob Garza 20 months ago

Thank You very much I took all of my favorite styles from each goalie and it work to my advantage. I was being very aggressive if I had to describe my playing style. Thanks to your good advice I only gave up for goals in four corner hockey. The score was 4-5-9-9 . Thank you so much for your advice and Ill let you know sometime in the future if I need help on something else.

Thank you so much

Jacob Garza

Jacob Garza 19 months ago

Because of these tips I have become better in my ability to block pucks, or street hockey balls. Yet I still have one difficulty that I can not overcome yet. My reaction time to stop the pucks ( mostly on my glove slide ) I still have a problem lifting my hand to catch the puck, but when I do, it either bounces off my glove and then I give up a rebound, or I try to make a flex save to catch it but that doesn't work

So if there is any techniques that helps this problem I will be really appreciative you can give me some tips

Thank You Jacob Garza

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DDS 19 months ago from Toronto Author

@Jacob Garza

Well you could maybe try a Google search on some tips, but really like anything worthwhile, you'll need to put some time into it, to get something out of it. Practice!

I would also recommend looking into some good Tai Chi classes. Being nice and loose will help your reflexes a lot!

Jacob Garza 19 months ago

I am playing in a tryout game for my school today and I would look up the Tai Chi class to get loose.


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DDS 19 months ago from Toronto Author

@jacob Garza

Awesome! When looking into the tai chi class ask if it is done 'single weighted' if not, I would avoid it if possible, as proper tai chi should be done single weighted.

As for the try out, focus, but also have fun and enjoy yourself, and just remember that you know what you know, and show 'em what ya got!

Jacob Garza 17 months ago

I have progressed a lot and I am becoming a better goalie. The one thing I have been having trouble on was low shots. I have been afraid to go into a low position, (butterfly) to stop low shots. Is there any kind of drills or techniques I can do to learn this position.

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DDS 17 months ago from Toronto Author

@Jacob Garza

Well I guess the first question is why are you afraid..?

Main thing you'll want to do in the meantime (whether you end up being a butterfly goalie or not) is work on your flexibility.

Jacob Garza 17 months ago

I really don't know. One reason can be is I am not doing the correct formation of the butterfly correct. I am afraid that I might give up a rebound when I do preform the butterfly and when I do preform the butterfly, I seem to lose sight of the puck/ball

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DDS 17 months ago from Toronto Author

@Jacob Garza

I am not sure I can help you there, without knowing what you are doing our how your coaches (if any) are trying to develop you.

While most today are butterfly goalies, not all are, so that is not an impossible option.

One thing to keep in mind, is that the ability to quickly find the puck is something that you learn and gets better with experience.

Work hard and focus and be aware of all your dreams and goals in practice. In games, forget all your goals, stay in the moment and have a blast.

Jacob Garza 16 months ago

Do you know if the Marc Andrea Flurry Reebok street hockey pads can preform the butterfly technique.

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DDS 16 months ago from Toronto Author

Well to be honest I don't know., and I have never been a butterfly goalie myself. I suspect that most properly sized pads will allow you to learn the technique, but why not send reebok a message and ask directly..or post the question on Marc Andre Fleury's twitter..who knows you might get an answer and a pro tip or two. :-)

Also, do you know of any butterfly goalies in your area, maybe ask them?

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