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Starting in Goal as an Adult

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So I've been thinking about trying goal, mostly because I don't see myself as ever becoming an especially great skater/shooter/stickhandler. Also I played goal as a kid (until I quit at age 8). I was a catcher in baseball and actually get a bit of a thrill at the idea of an object flying towards me at ridiculous speeds :)

So my question is: where do I even start? Obviously I'm not going to just one day buy some pads and just start playing goal for a league team, but on the other hand as an adult there is almost zero opportunity for practice. Pickup is as much practice as you can get around here.

So where do I start? Buy some pads and work on basic movements at home? Just buy a glove and work it in when I'm watching TV so it's good to go eventually? Buy skates and get used to how they fit (do goalie skates feel all that different when just skating around?)

I really don't want to go all out and just buy an entire set of pads, C/A, skates, everything else right away without having a plan in place.

Any advice is appreciated :)

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I'd start from the ground up.. get some skates.. hit some open skates and get used to the way they feel. Some people say switching from player to goal skates is a huge transition... but I've done it from one game to the game right after, and I never had any issues. Then work your way up with some good leg pads, and again, just take some time to get used to them, and skating with them on your legs. It's going to take some time to get used to the positioning, and playing/skating style, but stick with it. Watch some youtube vids, and a lot of nhl games and just focus on the goalies and how they position themselves in different situations etc. If you have the time and $ to take in a goalie camp, they'll be a great help too. When you feel ready, go find a laid back drop in somewhere, and just get a feel for it, and slowly work your way into it. Also, invest in some knee braces. The new style butterfly pads aren't very friendly on old knees.

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I was in the same boat a couple years ago and would be happy to help with any questions you have.

The biggest transition was and is still the skates. I skate on a pretty flat profile on my player skates, but the lower cut boot in goalie skates and the much flatter radius tends to trip me up a bit.

Injury prevention is the next big one. Stretch, improve your flexibility, especially in hips, knees, quads, hamstrings, IT bands. There's some great videos on YouTube for stretches for goalies. They've really helped me.

Watch the pros and other goalies for positioning tips. See when goalies go down, how they play angles, timing, how far they come out, etc.

If you can buy used gear to start (especially C/A, pads, glove, blocker) it helps. I'm lucky to have a buddy who sells me most of his gently used high-end gear when he gets the urge to buy new stuff every year. The stuff will be broken in a bit and might be a bit friendlier for someone just getting started.

Invest in a good goalie jock, good knee/thigh pads, and a good helmet. Make sure all the equipment you buy "fits". This is pretty self-explanatory, but it still needs to be said. Lots of guys wearing improperly fitted gear.

Some of my best sessions for learning came through local goalie schools who work with adults. These 30-45 min classes really help address any areas where you're struggling and give some individual teaching time. I actually rented ice with some buddies at the start and had them take shots on me. It cost me a lot for late night ice for just myself paying, but it was great to learn movement and get a feel for the puck in a non-game situation.

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I added "goaltending" to my hockey "abilities" about a year ago. If it helps you, I can outline what I went through.

I've always played out (except for a few fill-in games in pee-wee), but I've always wanted to play in goal. Unfortunately, the costs associated with playing in net was prohibitive. Fast forward more than 10 years, and after working for a while full-time, I was given the opportunity to do what I always wanted to try. My team's goalie was trying to get rid of old Vaughn V2 pads that he was sitting on for a year after upgrading. We were similar in stature, so I figured all of the equipment would fit (he gave me pads, pants, c/a, and gloves). It was a little while after that where I learned that fit is everything with goaltending gear.

I bought the rest of my stuff (helmet, skates, jock, misc. accessories, stick) shortly after receiving the main items. I bought skates used and they didn't work out, so I flipped them right away. Everything else, now including skates, I bought brand new. I made sure that the skates and helmet fit. This is very important because if your feet hurt when playing, nothing makes you want to quit playing faster. And it goes without saying what the importance of a proper-fitting helmet is to your general health.

My first few skates were pretty miserable- almost to the point of thinking of selling everything at a small loss. But wanting to really make sure I wanted to do this, I kept at it and really worked on things like positioning and slides. I was (and still do from time to time) getting torched due to bad angles. But the constant learner in me wanted to keep working at it to get better.

In the months to follow, I played with the equipment and learned what I wanted in a set. Being a fairly good skater, the transition from player to goalie skates was very minimal (I can easily switch between the two nowadays). My biggest issue were pads that were an inch too big. I eventually replaced my c/a (it was an older pro model that was a tad small), gloves (the old ones were beyond stinky). and now pads (I have a custom pair of CCMs coming my way in the coming weeks).

I love playing in goal, hence my increased commitment dollar-wise to the rest of my equipment. I'm actually trying to ramp down my player-time and trying to latch onto teams still looking for a consistent goalie.

TL;DR version:

If you really want to try out the position, there's no better place to start than to look for some equipment. If you can score some used equipment, it's a great cheap gateway into the position. But make sure everything fits before committing your hard-earned cash. in some cases, buying brand new is a better way to go (think skates, jock and helmet). Like stated above, the things I'd invest the most money on (to make sure they fit properly) are:

  • Helmet
  • Skates
  • Jock
  • Knee protection/pads/guards
  • C/A (look specifically for good heart protection but most modern units are very beefy in that area. Another thing to note is the neckline and how low it sits. If it sits low, you'll likely need a throat guard to add to the protection in the area).

The rest of the stuff like leg pads, gloves, pants, accessories are all personal preference. I went through a few iterations of gear setups to figure out exactly what I wanted in a set.

It's a really tough position to play. Play for at least a dozen or so times to see if you want to stick with it. If you do, then you can start looking to fine-tune your gear to cater to your strengths. If you can't swing lessons (which I think are a great idea as it gives you a solid foundation to build upon), then there are a million youtube videos (for a good starter/primer, search up "Wogtech") to help you out. But remember that you need to practice these movements before you can be proficient with them, so you'll also need to find adequate ice time to do so.

Good luck with the journey. Feel free to post back with any questions and, as you can already tell, a lot of us would be happy to help.

Edited by m3thods
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I was going to type a lot, but m3thods pretty much had the exact experience I did. If I could offer any advice, I would say to try not to get too frustrated with your play. When you first start playing goal at pickup, you're inevitably gonna get absolutely torched. The silver lining to it, at least in my experience, is that I noticed improvement in my play every time I strapped on the pads. I've only been playing goal for about a year so I'm no expert, but like the other dudes in this topic I'd be more than happy to help you with any questions.

P.S. Thank you for helping bring the site back up! I don't post super often but I'm here almost every day and it was kinda weird not having it around for awhile, haha.

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Wow, thank you all for such awesome advice!

I think I'm definitely going to start with what Gummer suggested, and get a pair of skates and just see how that goes. We have GoalieMonkey close by here, so I'm going to make a trip up there sometime soon. I don't want to go crazy on skates, something in the 250-300 range I'm sure will do just fine.

P.S. Thank you for helping bring the site back up! I don't post super often but I'm here almost every day and it was kinda weird not having it around for awhile, haha.

You can't even imagine how often I'd click on the site from my browser start page and say out loud "oh, right... crap" during that time! It was a huge void for all of us! :)

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Wow, thank you all for such awesome advice!

I think I'm definitely going to start with what Gummer suggested, and get a pair of skates and just see how that goes. We have GoalieMonkey close by here, so I'm going to make a trip up there sometime soon. I don't want to go crazy on skates, something in the 250-300 range I'm sure will do just fine.

Even if GoalieMonkey is close by, you probably get a better deal ordering online with their coupon codes anyways ;)

That amount would be plenty for goalie skates. I picked Bauer One80s for just under $250 CAD, and they're awesome. I only hear better things about the Reactor series (assuming they fit). You might want to try on a bunch, but pay attention to the stiffness. Unlike my player skates, I prefer a softer boot for goaltending as it's more comfortable moving around the crease in. I find the upper-end skates with the composite boots to be too stiff, but that's just my personal opinion. Perhaps you'll find it otherwise.

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Hah, you're probably right (though I'd rather order from IW whenever I can), but if they get me fitted I might as well get them there.

The last player skates I had that I liked before I went to the Makos were RBK, so I imagine that would be the place to start. But definitely going to try everything.

Edited by OptimusReim

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Start working on reflexes and hand / eye with a hacky sack or small soccer ball for legs and feet and a hand ball or tennis ball for hands.

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One thing I had to get away from was trying to catch everything everywhere. As a kid I used to play a lot of catch and baseball/softball with the family, so naturally I would continue that reflex onto goaltending. It took me a while to realize that I needed to use my blocker side for saves and not reach over to catch the puck.

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One thing I had to get away from was trying to catch everything everywhere. As a kid I used to play a lot of catch and baseball/softball with the family, so naturally I would continue that reflex onto goaltending. It took me a while to realize that I needed to use my blocker side for saves and not reach over to catch the puck.

Oddly I seem to have the opposite problem, I keep trying to throw my body, blocker and/or stick in front of everything that comes at me, and keep forgetting about my glove. It got a bit better last week when I finally got a glove that fit. I definitely need to stop trying to catch and block at the same time, though. I think, anyway.

(I just started playing street goal a few weeks ago, borrowing most of the pads, and I am dutifully attempting to resist the pull of playing on ice.)

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Getting in the habit of blocking isn't a bad thing- it teaches you to get anything in front of the puck for a save. Add some fundamental goaltending and you'll be set!

Ice hockey goaltending is the best kind. But it's also the most expensive. Try to score some ice pads to borrow if you're really interested before you go committing funds, because it will add up VERY fast.

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Getting in the habit of blocking isn't a bad thing- it teaches you to get anything in front of the puck for a save. Add some fundamental goaltending and you'll be set!

Ice hockey goaltending is the best kind. But it's also the most expensive. Try to score some ice pads to borrow if you're really interested before you go committing funds, because it will add up VERY fast.

Heh, yeah, I think about all I've got going for me right now is "get between ball and net". I think I'm getting better though. I can track the ball pretty well and anticipate the players' actions. I was nervous about dropping, for a while, but I've mostly learned hey, I'm wearing big squishy things on my legs, I'll be fine.

As it happens, the pads I'm using (other than the blocker) are all ice pads. The C/A is a bit worn and probably won't do much against pucks at this point, but I have an idea of what might fit and what to look for. And the player I'm borrowing them from isn't actually a goalie, so I could probably acquire the pads from him permanently for a nominal sum.

I just keep telling myself Badger, no, you don't have a car, taking skater equipment on the T is one thing, taking goalie equipment is liable to make half the greater Boston region hate you. :laugh:

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I think everyone has chimed in with some good advice. The best thing you can do (other than properly stretching) is just try and have fun. PLaying goalie is great fun, but it can be terribly frustrating too if youre not playing well. Have patience with yourself and dont worry about it too much when you let in some goals.

As far as gear goes... buy used on ebay or craigslist. Invest in a quality mask and jock though;)

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Alllllrighty. So as you may have seen in the Show It Off thread, I picked up a pair of skates today:

tGYvCZxl.png

Bauer Reactor 2000, Size 8EE. A bit odd since my makos (and previously my Vapors) were 8.5D, but these are extremely well fitting. The best way to describe them is the toe box of a Nexus with the heel of a Vapor. He said I could bake them but really there was no point since they're such a low end model, and that if I decide to stick with goalie they can pull the cowling off and put it on my Makos later on if I wanted).

The very first thing I noticed was the complete lack of ability to rock forwards and back onto my toes and heels.

They asked what hollow I wanted but I didn't know (I always thought goalie skates used larger diameter hollows, but apparently not?) So they gave me a 1/2" because that's what I used before I went to FBV on my player skates.

A friend of mine who plays goal also suggested I could get them profiled at a smaller radius so it's not such a completely different feeling, and then gradually go back to whatever is on them now (I think he said 30'?) Not sure if I'll go this route.

I also had him size me for leg pads. Kind of awkward since I had no idea how to actually put them on, he had to show me all the straps and how the toe tie worked. Whatever, I can't be the first he's had to show. Anyway, he came to the conclusion that if I buy CCM or RBK, I should go 32" but if I buy just about anything else (Bauer, Warrior, Brians, Vaughn) I should go 33". But he said because I was basically in-between (32.5) that I could PROBABLY go either way with any of the brands and LIKELY (he stressed that) be okay. The nice thing with 32" is that they're going to be cheaper because that's INT size.

He also suggested I try the intermediate gloves instead, after he looked at my hands and I told him I wore a 13" player glove. I tried on both SR and INT gloves, and he's right - the INT were definitely more comfortable and fit to my hands better.

I looked at masks but didn't try any on. I certainly plan on going back again at some point in the semi-near future, depending on how the skates work out. Going to give those probably a couple months of skating on before I even think of buying pads.

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The nice thing with 32" is that they're going to be cheaper because that's INT size.

He also suggested I try the intermediate gloves instead, after he looked at my hands and I told him I wore a 13" player glove. I tried on both SR and INT gloves, and he's right - the INT were definitely more comfortable and fit to my hands better.

I looked at masks but didn't try any on. I certainly plan on going back again at some point in the semi-near future, depending on how the skates work out. Going to give those probably a couple months of skating on before I even think of buying pads.

As someone who has just recently done this, let me push you away from INT equipment. The glove and blocker, while it may feel like it fits a bit better, has the downside of being smaller overall, and will appear smaller to the opposing forwards, showing more net. Larger surface area of SR gloves will take up more net. Also, you WILL feel a difference. Not on every shot, but the ones that mean something will HURT.

As for leg pads, same issues arise. INT is 10" across as opposed to 11". Doesn't sound like a big difference, but every little bit of net that we can cover is appreciated, especially for us beginners. Also, it will not use the same materials for interior padding, nor the same amounts. They are designed to stop teenager shots, not necessarily adult shots.

The big price difference is quite enticing, agreed. I'm just giving you my (unsolicited) $.02 I purchased INT pads and gloves before upgrading to SR. Quite an expensive mistake to make.

If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up. I played out for 20 years, and then got the whim to play goal. Have been doing it for about a year and I love it.

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Don't you love being able to wear intermediate or junior size equipment? Surprising how much that lops off the end price...

Good luck with your skates, Optimus. :)

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As someone who has just recently done this, let me push you away from INT equipment. The glove and blocker, while it may feel like it fits a bit better, has the downside of being smaller overall, and will appear smaller to the opposing forwards, showing more net. Larger surface area of SR gloves will take up more net. Also, you WILL feel a difference. Not on every shot, but the ones that mean something will HURT.

As for leg pads, same issues arise. INT is 10" across as opposed to 11". Doesn't sound like a big difference, but every little bit of net that we can cover is appreciated, especially for us beginners. Also, it will not use the same materials for interior padding, nor the same amounts. They are designed to stop teenager shots, not necessarily adult shots.

The big price difference is quite enticing, agreed. I'm just giving you my (unsolicited) $.02 I purchased INT pads and gloves before upgrading to SR. Quite an expensive mistake to make.

If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up. I played out for 20 years, and then got the whim to play goal. Have been doing it for about a year and I love it.

Not all intermediate pads are 10". When shopping for my current set, I was set on buying the CCM E-Flex Custom in intermediate. The only difference between a 32 INT and 32 Sr was the available custom options. Otherwise, they were the same pad inside and out. Same for the 18k intermediates that I was eyeballing. Vaughn 1100's are also another example of intermediate pads being the full 11" width. I believe manufacturers are seeing that either kids are getting stronger, or smaller adults want to play the position more often, so (for leg pads at least) they're closing the gap in manufacturing between the two sizes.

As for your comments on gloves- you're spot on. If one has smaller hands, I'd look into the GNetik catcher and blocker (which are excellent btw, if the break fits you).

And Optimus- nice skates! I love the new Reactor series, and they fit me better than the outgoing models. But I can't justify the swap for a minor change in fit :(

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You guys suck. I'm tempted.

My youngest daughter started playing goalie this season, and it would also be good to see the ice from her perspective.

Two of my c-league friends borrowed pads for the last drop-in of the season this spring and had a blast. Neither of them was too bad, either.

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You guys suck. I'm tempted.

My youngest daughter started playing goalie this season, and it would also be good to see the ice from her perspective.

Two of my c-league friends borrowed pads for the last drop-in of the season this spring and had a blast. Neither of them was too bad, either.

If you get a chance, you should at least try it once or twice. It really does offer a great change of perspective. I think it helps with playing out, too, seeing the strategy from the other side. (and, of course, you gain a whole lot more sympathy for goalies).

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Thanks Badger. I probably will. A big part of the reason I'm loving hockey so much right now is the learning curve...and that will simply be that much more to learn about.

Both rinks have loaner gear available...as long as the leg pads aren't waaay too short (I'm 6'-6"!)

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I'm beginning to think we should re-name this the Goalie Enablers thread...

MT, you'd appreciate the craigslist selection down here ... seems like all the absurdly tall people are getting rid of their pads. 35 + 1", 36", 37"...

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Yeah and there are probably only 30 adult goalies in Montana. har har.

I wonder how awful shipping would be...hmmm...stuff them in a golf bag and use Sports Express. :)

My biggest concern would be getting a good fit not knowing what dimension I need.

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Yeah and there are probably only 30 adult goalies in Montana. har har.

I wonder how awful shipping would be...hmmm...stuff them in a golf bag and use Sports Express. :)

My biggest concern would be getting a good fit not knowing what dimension I need.

I bet shipping from Mass. is just about the cost of gas driving across MT to one of those other goalies to buy his old gear! (or try it on)

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I'm gonna make another quick suggestion...make sure you buy goalie knee pads and make sure they're on snug so they don't slide down your leg...because the one time your kneecap is exposed, you are going to get hit with a puck there and it's not going to be pleasant.

ow.

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