Too small for goalie? (+ tons of other noob questions)

Discussion in 'The Rink' started by Skarjak, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. Skarjak

    Skarjak Registered User

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    Hey there.

    I'm 21, I started watching hockey about five years ago, back when Cristobal Huet dragged the Habs into the playoffs, and I've been a big fan ever since. I figured that I should probably start playing the game I love to watch instead of just being a couch potato, which is why I bought some ice skates a while ago. I'm starting to get better (balance is not an issue at all, although I have problems stopping and haven't worked on skating backwards yet). At first, I figured I'd try being a winger, but I've been thinking for a while about how my favourite player is always the #1 goaltender of the Canadiens, and how my hand-eye coordination and reflexes might be good skills for a goaltender.

    So I'd really like to give this a try. I won't be able to really get into it this season because of my lack of free time, but next year should not be a problem. Still, I'd like to start preparing for it, buying some equipment in the next few months and maybe starting to train off ice.

    The one thing that worries me though, is that I might just be too small. I'm 5'6", ~130 lbs, not exactly the Berlin wall. Do my dreams of being a goaltender end here? When I bought my gloves and stick at the store near where I live, the employee who gave me advice told me he was a goaltender, and he couldn't have been more than an inch taller than me. I also know another guy of my size who told me he used to be a goalie, so that gives me some hope. Am I going to be mocked for my height if I try to play goal? Are people going to want me on their team? I'm psyched enough about this that I'm not too worried about getting chirped at (I'm pretty good with comebacks anyway :p) but I just want to make sure I can actually help a team. I used to practice a sport (kendo) where my size was somewhat of an advantage, but this isn't really the case here.

    I assume that to be effective, I'll probably have to adopt a hybrid style, since I won't be covering much of the net in butterfly. Is there any good book/DVD that I could get advice from to become a hybrid goaltender? While we're on the subject of training, I currently can't do a very wide butterfly, and I'm looking for some exercises I could do to help my flexibility. Any help would be appreciated there. I figure if people can learn to do the split, I can probably widen my butterfly a bit.

    I've been searching online for advice on what gear to buy, but at lot of what I see is contradictory. You've got people saying that you can probably buy a full set of used gear for 600$, but then you've got others saying you really want to buy the pro stuff, going on to suggest you buy 600$ pads... What do you think is a reasonable total price to pay for the full goalie gear for a beginner? I will do my best to get deals, although I'm not sure if there will be much used gear at my size (also, I'm going to play with the catcher on my right hand, it just feels way more natural to me to catch things with my right hand, even though it is my dominant one).

    What would you say is the gear that you really shouldn't skimp on, that you should buy new and high quality? I already know I'm going to get myself a good mask (mostly to be able to take vanity pics with it :p) but I'm not too sure about the rest.

    By the way, I've read contradicting advice about skates. Other than for pleasure, is there any point in me training on player skates until I get goalie skates? I've heard some say the transition between the two is very difficult. Are there any moves I should be practicing with player skates that will help me once I get the goalie ones?

    Anyway, I'm pretty excited about this, even though my first game is still some months away, but I'd like to have a clear idea of where I'm going first.
     
  2. Jarick

    Jarick Doing Nothing

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    Being small definitely has disadvantages, but you should be fine playing beginner and D-league rec hockey.

    You'll have to be athletic, being able to drop down and pop up quickly, have strong positioning, and have a good glove hand and blocker. You'll have to be more active than other goalies too going side to side and what not.

    I have no idea how to play goal. I was thinking about borrowing my goalie's equipment and giving it a shot one of these days, but I'm too obsessed with scoring goals.

    For equipment, I'd go used. There should be a lot in your area, especially at your size, as a lot of teenagers will be outgrowing equipment that should fit you.
     
  3. pirate94

    pirate94 Registered User

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    Pads, i'd go with a cheap modern butterfly style if you can, ones that allow you to do a butterfly comfortably.
    Being 5'6" and 130 pounds i'm guessing you'll be flexibe, which is in all honesty 1/2 the battle right there.
    Going Hybrid is ok, but do what feels natural to you. If you're more comfortable playing on your knees and you have good hand eye coordination, then Butterfly is a good way to go.
    Watching goalies is a great way to get a handle on what direction to go.

    You'll find at first just doing what you can do to keep the puck out of the net at whatever cost is key.

    things to remember, positioning in the net, stance, not rushing into situations and anticipation of the play.
     
  4. sherwood sniper

    sherwood sniper Registered User

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    ....
     
  5. Skarjak

    Skarjak Registered User

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    :laugh: That's kind of a burn.

    Alright, thanks for the advice everyone, I'm totally going forward with this then. And I'll be registering to the goaliestore forum to get some tips.

    It's true that it would probably be easy for me to find some equipment here, so I might as well start shopping for it now.
     
  6. RainingRats

    RainingRats Registered User

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    I didn't read anything you wrote but learning to play goalie (I'm going to assume you don't have a ton of free time) is going to be difficult to get enough practice time in and learn the position without coaching. Stick and puck sessions aren't the best time for goalies to hone their skils, especially compared to a forward or d-man. It's much easier to jump into hockey playing as a forward than goalie. Just my two cents. If you really want to do it, go for it, but I think it's worth considering.
     
  7. Skarjak

    Skarjak Registered User

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    That's true, but at the end of the day, I don't just want to "play hockey", I want to be in net.

    Besides, I see this as a long term thing. I'm not going to just play for a few years and call it quits: I'd be picking up this sport to play for a long time, so it's not so bad if I start out slow. I'll consider getting a coach, if money/time permits, however, but I'm not sure if that's super relevant to do before I have more experience and know what I want to improve.

    I have read stories of people playing their first game older than me, with no previous experience whatsoever, so even if my first game ends in a crushing 20-1 defeat, it probably won't be the worst first outing ever.
     
  8. Fixed to Ruin

    Fixed to Ruin Come wit it now!

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    I'm 5'8 and I play goalie.

    I play the old school stand up style (now known as hybrid, since i learned how to play goal in the 80s) and I think that would be the best style for you.

    Try to play the angles aggressively and practice your lateral movements.

    I think most small goalies play that style anyways, since guys like us don't fill much of the net.

    Youtube old videos of Mike Vernon, Mike Richter and maybe Manny Legace. That should give you an idea how the small goalies play in terms of style.

    For gear, if you are constantly watching kijiji, you should find some old gear in your area for a decent price. If you want new stuff check out some online stores.
     
  9. Bear of Bad News

    Bear of Bad News HFBoards Escape Goat

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    It's okay for it. I went from "never skated" to ACHA hockey by (essentially) four years of pick-up hockey and intense study (there are some tremendous books out there).

    As for butterfly style, at the OP's size, a predominantly butterfly style may result in a lot of top-shelf goals. Although you should learn the butterfly (it will still have its uses), I'd recommend more of a hybrid.
     
  10. biturbo19

    biturbo19 Registered User

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    being short is certainly a big disadvantage playing goal, but don't let it deter you from doing what you want. there's no reason you can't play goal just fine at 5'6". it might be a bit more of a struggle at times and you'll have to learn to adapt your style to compensate, but it's doable. and to be frank, picking up goaltending at 21...i would really doubt you're ever going to be playing serious competetive hockey or anything of the sort. so as long as you're having fun, it's all good. :) and you probably won't be facing as many top-notch shooters anyway. ;)

    the advice about being extremely comfortable and strong on your skates is key though. effective goaltending requires strong skating skills, something many people don't seem to realize. for example, you mention that you're still learning to stop and skate backwards. those are the sort of skills you will depend on heavily in net. quick, powerful movements. strong push-offs and stops, etc.

    and as for the equipment...at 5'6", you'll likely have the advantage of being able to fit into intermediate sized gear, which should end up saving you some cash in the end. other than that, i don't have a lot of advice.
     
  11. canuck44

    canuck44 Registered User

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    I've seen this chick that plays in net, she's definitely no taller than 5'4. She plays in mens tourneys. I dunno her hockey background, but she can definitely play C, maybe even B.
     
  12. Thepandamancan

    Thepandamancan Registered User

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    I'm 5'5"...5'6" on a good day haha...and I've started playing goalie too. I guess you could say I'm going with the "hybrid" style but I drop into a butterfly a lot and tend to stay there comfortably.

    It's all about quickness and positioning. Like others said, get up quick and position yourself well. You may need to come out a little more, which is what I'm learning as of late. Even at our size, we end up covering a good portion of the net.

    For equipment, think big...but something that allows you be agile and flexible. The bigger equipment will allow you to cover more of the net, considering your smaller frame. You may want to try Reebok for a chest protector...the shoulders on those are wide and tall and have made a couple saves for me. Get pants a size or two bigger...I look like I'm wearing a barrel out there. Just make sure you're not hindering your movement.

    Most importantly, have fun. I lost my first game and gave up 10 goals. It was bad, but every time I made a save it was the most satisfying feeling in the world.
     
  13. Harv

    Harv R.I.P. Pavol.

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    Jeff Lerg is 5'6'' and played NCAA D1. I think he signed with the Devils this summer.


    [​IMG]
     
  14. Gino 14

    Gino 14 Registered User

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    Just remember, it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. If you want to play in net, get your ass out there and play. I had a bigger disadvantage than you, I started playing when I was over 40. I am glad I took the chance, it's been a ball. PS, I suck in net but I never am at a lack of ice time.
     
  15. Skarjak

    Skarjak Registered User

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    Wow, I think this pretty much settles it.

    Ha, that's good to hear. I had heard that goaltenders are kind of a rare resource, but I was worried I wouldn't even get considered.

    Thanks for the advice everyone, I will start shopping for equipment as soon as I've got the time.

    It's kinda funny when you think about it that my favourite player is 6'3", 219 lbs, and is a butterfly goalie. You'd think I'd be a fan of smaller players, but for some reason, I've always rooted for the big guys.
     
  16. SJGoalie32

    SJGoalie32 Registered User

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    I'm 5'6", 29 years old, and been playing for almost 20 years (though didn't play in a league until I was almost 14). Played intermediate and advanced house leagues, junior traveling teams, and some national tournaments during intercollegiate roller hockey.

    Here's some advice I can offer.....

    I completely disagree. Stick/puck time and pickup sessions are the absolute BEST ways to learn the postions.

    Goaltending is a nearly impossible position to coach because the entire position is little more than read and react. See puck, stop puck. Even learning butterfly/hybrid style is somewhat irrelevant. All that matters is stopping the puck. How you do it doesn't matter. Whatever works best for you, your skill set, your physical abilities, etc.

    A coach might be able to give you a few pointers here and there on positioning or technique, but the great thing about goaltender is you get your own immediate feedback. You don't need a coach to tell you when you've done something wrong, the scoreboard will tell you right away.

    The best thing a coach could do for you is give you lots of attention, lots of 1-on-1 shots from various angles. Play enough pickup or stick/puck and you'll get that anyway.

    Right now, just focus on yourself. Get used to your equipment, your skating, your movements, get a feel for the puck, learning to block it, etc. Repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, constant constant repetition is the best coach a goalie needs, and it's the only way to learn the position. Repetition will both improve your reactions, and it will improve how you read the developing play.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011
  17. SJGoalie32

    SJGoalie32 Registered User

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    I play the butterfly style, and I don't find myself giving up noticably more goals up high than any other goaltender. Then again, I also have a fast glove.

    Yes, being 5'6" means fewer pucks just hit my mid-section, but that just means I have to make up in other ways. Most every goaltender I play against is bigger than me.....very few other goaltenders I face are as quick, flexible, or nimble as I am.

    Being a "tall" goaltender used to be considered a liability because they would take longer to drop to the ice, longer to get back up, and would have less control than a smaller goaltender (it's harder to quickly move 200lbs on a dime than to move 130). So whatever you may lack in what I call "net blocking," you can more than make up for in speed, agility, reflexes, etc. which the bigger goalies won't be able to have.

    The butterfly didn't develop such popularity because you take up more net on your knees, it developed because 70%+ of the shots you face are going to be 18" or lower along the ice. The butterfly allows goaltenders to take away more of the crucial lower part of the goal. Those stats even apply at the higher levels of competition.

    I'm not going to say blocking the top half is irrelevant, because it isn't, but consider your initial competition. I played forward in a co-ed adult beginner league with my wife and my cousin (he was a forward trying his hand at goalie). If he just laid on the ice with his pads stacked, fewer than half the players in the league would've been able to elevate the puck over him if you gave them 5 pucks and a sheet of open ice. Most beginner/intermediate players can't elevate the puck (or not ccurately), and even when they can at the higher levels, they still only make up 30% of the shots. IME, it is always just better to take away the ice level shots first and foremost, and use your hand-eye coordination for whatever extra shooting area you may be giving up top.
     
  18. SJGoalie32

    SJGoalie32 Registered User

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    Definitely go with used equipment. Not only will it already be broken in, but it'll be a great (and cheap) way for you to figure out what styles you like, what works for you, etc. No sense in dropping $500 on a glove you don't like, or $1,200 on pads that are a bad fit for you that you'll feel obligated to keep for 10 years. Figure out what you like/need, and then in a few years when you know better what you want (and can afford it), then go get the premium stuff.

    If your dream is the NHL, it ended long ago. If your dream is to be a decent goaltender who faces and surpasses a few challenges and has fun along the way, there's always going to be a level for you.

    Of course they will! But don't take it to heart. People will mock you for everything. We're guys, that's just what we do. If you weren't short, they'd mock you for being tall......or for being a goaltender, or for having a stupid haircut, or for listening to Captain & Tenille. There's always something, but no....it won't be serious.

    If you're good enough they'll mock you for being short....which is always better than being mocked because you suck.

    Depends on how good you are/how good you become. Like I said, goaltending is just about seeing the puck and stopping it. If you do that well, people will want you. If you don't.....well, some people will still want you because you're a warm available body with goaltending gear, it'll just be at lower levels.

    Again, I find my smaller, more athletic, more reflexive frame to be an advantage.

    Not sure what you mean by a "wide butterfly." Is that how you stand, or is that how you end up on the ice. Remember, you want your knees together on a butterfly to take away the 5-hole. If your pads are too far apart, the puck will go right through you.

    I like a wide stance myself, but a wider stance also limits your side-to-side skating ability. I'd suggest donning the pads and skates first before tinkering any more with your stance.

    As for exercises, before you get the gear, any of the standard groin/hip stretches that improve flexibility should suffice. Do them every day, maybe even twice a day to improve your flexibility. Once you've got the leg pads, either in roller blades or shoes, stand in your room and work on dropping into the butterfly technique and then getting back up (even if you decide to stand up more like a hybrid goalie, you'll still need to learn how to drop down to make a save). Find a goaltending book, learn how to do the half BFly and full BFly, and.....repetition, repetition......do 50 of each side, plus 50 full every single day.

    No. The transition between the two is very difficult, and none of the movements are the same. I have a very hard time making goalie moves in forward skates, and I actually know how to. They are different blades, different boots. It's helpful to learn how to skate first, but since it sounds like you've got the basics down, not much more you can do with forward skates.....might even stunt your ability to make the switch.


    Sorry for the length.....hope this helps.....good luck!
     
  19. Bear of Bad News

    Bear of Bad News HFBoards Escape Goat

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    I couldn't disagree with this more - goaltending is eminently coachable. On the most basic level, it's pure mathematics. And on another level, the "I want to stop the puck more than you want to put the puck past me" level, it's pure psychology.
     
  20. Skarjak

    Skarjak Registered User

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    Thanks for going through my post and giving me this advice.

    I think instead of "wider butterfly", I should have said "wider butterfly flare" (I think that's what I've seen it called). By that, I meant that I couldn't get a large angle between my legs when I was dropping down to make a butterfly save. You look at the pros and and it seems like their pads make almost a straight line (parallel to the red goal line) when they're down, but once you try to do the same you realize that it's not so trivial and that you get more of a triangle. Since I wrote that post though, I read through a thread on another forum, and a lot of people there couldn't get a bigger angle between their legs than me, so I guess my butterfly flare isn't as narrow as I thought it was. Even then, some goalies apparently purposefully keep a narrow butterfly to try to trap pucks, so I could always try to make this a part of my game.

    It's funny, once you start studying this, you realize the incredible amount of details involved in playing the position. As a fan, you can only really judge pros by their reaction times, net coverage and puck handling, but you read a little on the subject and all of a sudden you realize a lot of these guys have their own techniques for movements and saves.

    Anyway, the one thing I'm wondering is how I should go about finding some equipment. I'm not sure if I should visit a nearby shop and try on some equipment first, even though I have no intention to buy anything from them. It's not like I can drive around and try everybody's old goalie gear to see if it fits.

    It's good to know that even if I suck, the scarcity of people with goalie gear will ensure I still have a team. :laugh: Is it true that in most leagues, goalies can get away with not paying fees?
     
  21. Hounsy

    Hounsy Registered User

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    I started on ice I think six years ago now so will add a few things. Definitely start with used gear as no point in spending good money till you know what gear will suit you. In my first two years went through four sets of pads, three catchers, and three C/A's. Spend the money on new when you better know what suits you.

    As well search ATK(ankle to knee) on the goalie store board as it can help you find pads that fit as I know that was also something that concerned me when I first started and wanted to buy pads on line.
     
  22. cmcdmania

    cmcdmania Registered User

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    I hope this reply isn't too late, but it might make you feel better. I'm 21 and started playing hockey as a goalie less than 2 years ago. I'm only around 5' tall (5'1" on my good days) - without skates. I haven't had any problems with players not wanting to play against me, or with me. Pick up people are just glad they have someone to shoot at.

    I'd really recommend the goalie store bb. And a good helmet. It might just be me, or it could be that shorter goalies get hit in the head a lot.
     
  23. Hades

    Hades Registered User

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    I don't think size should be something to worry about at your age. It's not like guys that start around our age are gonna make the big league or anything. We all play for fun.
     
  24. Copeland

    Copeland Registered User

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    I don't know about the OP, but this makes me feel a little bit better... 5'4 and will probably be 28 when I start playing goal (a couple years from now :( ). My biggest worry is, will people still be "glad to have someone to shoot at" if the goalie is absolutely horrendous? LOL Will I have a shot at all at getting into *any* league at all?

    And something I've always wondered... Teams usually only carry one or two goalies with the rare one that has three, so why does it seem like someone's always looking for a goalie? Why does it seem as if they are "rare", when there's only two spots on a team? Or is it that teams want good goalies only, and all the bad goalies lose out on the competition? LOL I dunno, just something I've always wondered, no-one has to answer, really.
     

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