Puck Tracking - Where should I start?
In many specific goalie sessions today we ask the goalies to “track the puck” and execute specific techniques that helps them develop muscle memory within the athlete. As Goalie Coaches we find ways to breakdown elements of a technique or drill that our goalie will understand and retain. So with that said, using the theory of “Breaking down the elements” if we are asking the goalie to track the puck by using their eyes in an efficient and effect manner, shouldn’t we start with an eye-exam.
I bring this point up only as a point of interest as sometimes answers to an issue do not have to be complicated. This past August I attend a Goaltending Coach Symposium in Madison, Wisconsin, where Goalie Coaches from all over the world at various levels (minor hockey, Jr.A, AHL, NHL etc.) would collaborate and share experiences and knowledge that would make each coach more diverse. “Tracking the puck” was on the menu and spoke about how we teach etc. One coach spoke about the struggles of one of his goalies had tracking the puck on a specific side (he was an AHL goalie, no names required), the coach tried all he knew and could not understand the struggle why. His technique was good, square to the puck, but sometimes would get beat on a shot that clearly he could stop but was inconsistent from that shot location. So as a last result and with a back to basics frame-of-mind he suggested an eye-exam. The result was amazing; they found that the goaltender was deficient in one eye.
You’ve heard “the goalie looked like he/she didn’t even see it” we’ll sometimes that maybe the case.
Importance of Eye Exams for Sports Performance
Playing sports, you probably understand just how important it is that athletes remain as healthy as possible to compete. You schedule annual physicals to ensure you are in good health, but what about your vision? Poor vision and other eye problems can not only affect your health, but athletic performance as well. During an eye exam, tests are performed to ensure that the athlete’s eyes are functioning and developing as they should. Eye exams tests for everything from near vision and distance vision to focusing skills, eye movement skills, hand-eye coordination, and peripheral awareness.
Some athletes may have poor peripheral awareness or focusing skills, then sports vision therapy may be recommended for treating and potentially remedying these problems. Ultimately, sports vision therapy for children and adults alike can lead to better vision, eye health, and performance in sports. For example, those who may have struggled with hand-eye coordination due to ocular problems in the past may improve their game after sports vision therapy.
So, I’m not an Eye Doctor or own shares in eye-care stocks, just simply a Goaltending Coach suggesting an approach to “breaking down the technique” of which to start from. With the amount of dedication that families invest today in specific goalie coaching, I can only suggest that maybe this is an approach to at least give your athlete a basis of which to eliminate an already difficult position to develop. I would also suggest that this is not an age and or hockey playing level approach as indicated with the AHL goalie experience mentioned above.