Simply playing catch is one of the most overlooked aspects of development...
Think your goalie knows how to play catch? That's the assumption of many parents. In the past when kids were out playing ball in the backyard all the time, kids were more skilled at playing catch and unknowingly developed hand-agility. You may have kids that do that on a regular basis, but if you're like most, you have kids that don't touch a ball because they think it doesn’t relate to hockey. Video games and TV normally win out over going outside and playing catch, especially during the winter season when the weather isn't usually the greatest. NO EXCUSES! The lack of out-of-the-box thinking is the result that goalies are often lacking fundamental hand agility skills that many coaches expect them to have.
I am often asked by parents and goalies when around the local rinks if I had any tips for developing a better glove hand. If you find yourself catching the puck with more your glove palm than in the pocket/basket, I offer this, a baseball training tool.
Using a tennis ball,
1. Hold the ball in your glove-hand with your PINKY and RING fingers
2. Using another ball play catch against a wall or with a partner
3. Keeping the “hold ball “in your fingers, catch the “throw ball” with the same hand using your 3 fingers (THUMB, INDEX & MIDDLE).
4. Follow the ball with your eyes into your glove-hand.
The simulation of this technique will help develop consistency of catching the puck in the glove pocket, helping eliminating the dreaded glove palm rebound. Much like all techniques, the development of muscle memory applies in this case as well, more reps is encouraged.
Above all else, becoming an overall athlete is the key to becomeing a specialized athlete. Goaltending is one of the most physically demanding position in sport and arguably one of the most athletic. Catching is a small part of the equation but unfortuantely we are seeing more and more goalies lacking this basic skill.