This one is for all of those goalies out there. A question that I get often is, “Do you practice your left (off) hand?” Here 5 quick thoughts for this Friday about using your off-hand as a goalie!:
- In Goal…probably not. That is not to say it has never been done, in fact there have been goalies known to switch when on their pipe (even at the NCAA DI level), however to practice it is probably not using your time most effectively. Very few goalies are competent enough in their strong hand to warrant practicing their off-hand on a consistent basis. I’m all about working smarter, not harder. For every minute, hour, practice you’re trying to get that off-hand to make a save, imagine had you dedicated it to getting your strong hand that much better.
- Unless it’s for scouting. One situation I do condone practicing your off-hand in is during a scouting session. Why? Because it’s more than just benefiting yourself. In this instance, you’re helping your teammates prepare for an opponent, and switching it up does help you stay on your toes- in fact you’ll have to remind yourself of the fundamentals which may actually get you back to basics (a good thing!). Furthermore, it should help you with your tracking to that side of the body. While it’s not something I’d commit to practicing every day, it is something that can be a great tool to mix in every once in awhile if it’s serving a purpose.
- Wall ball, line drills and with a partner. Now working on your passing game with your weak hand is something I do recommend working on. For two main reasons: passing with your weak hand means you’re seeing a ton of reps to your weak side. It allows you to work on your tracking at slower speeds and really focus on seeing the ball into your stick. The second reason is that it gives you more confidence in the field. Especially if you’re a goalie that comes out of the cage, knowing you can pass with your weak hand is important. While it’s not something you’ll use every game, or even every five games, the moment when you need it and you have it, you’ll be happy.
- Under pressure. It may sound obvious, but you can’t just practice against a wall. Try it out in practice. Why? First off it forces you to practice under pressure. But more importantly you learn your limitations and what you can do. It’s like field goal kicking. Most kickers can nail 60 yard kicks in practice. When a defense is on the line, a game is coming to a close, how many people can actually hit that? Very few. Which is why most coaches choose to punt and play field position. So, use practice as a trial and error. Under pressure how far can you throw, when are you successful and when are you not? Better to mess up when it doesn’t count than when it does.
- Strong is the new weak. Not every time do you need to put your stick in your weak hand to make a pass from your weak side. Check out the top attackers, especially box players. They are so comfortable with their stick that they can throw from any angle with their strong hand. Figure out if maybe this is the approach for your to take. While you won’t be able to throw it nearly as long, having the ability to negotiate pressure situations and get your hands free will help you get the ball out. Don’t be afraid to try new things, especially those that make you uncomfortable!