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Goalie Reaction Training

Updated: Jun 19, 2019

Catchball Goalie Reaction Training
The Original Catchball

Reaction time is a measure of how quick one can respond to a stimulus, and reflexes are generally involuntary, and quicker than reactions, triggered by seemingly dangerous situations and used to protect the body. Reaction and reflexes can be improved, but they also have to be trained and maintained in order to keep them sharp. The Catchball is the perfect tool for training both reaction and reflexes.

Just a few minutes per day with the Catchball, wether it is warming up before practice, cooling down post practice, or even before a game, are enough to notice development in the following aspects of a goaltender's game:

Reaction and reflexes, hand eye coordination and other crucial visual skills, goaltending technique, and anatomical activity.

Reaction, reflexes and hand eye coordination are complex cognitive activities that require the goaltender to unite their visual- and motor skills: their hand is guided by the visual stimulus their eyes receive. This means that the eyes send a signal to the brain and the brain to the catching hand in a split second. In addition to that, the catching hand has to be placed in the exact spot where the predicted flight pattern of the object can be intersected. A slap shot from the blue line reaches the net in under .5 seconds, this means that there is no time to think and decisions have to be made in split seconds. So while catching a puck may seem as a simple, fast reflex, it is actually a symphony of hundreds of thousands of neurons producing a conscious decision. This requires daily training and fine tuning.

Improvement in these complex cognitive activities is accompanied by improved visual skills like tracking, which is the ability to follow a moving target. Tracking is essential for goaltenders as they have to follow moving objects or switch their attention from one focus point to another countless times during a game. As we know, it takes time for visual stimuli to reach the brain, which in turn, adjusts the eye to keep tracked objects in focus. Tracking fast objects moving towards the eye is especially complicated as this skill is not used much outside of hockey. The Catchball is the ideal tool for improving tracking as it allows to practice many similar tracking sequences in a row.

Along with improving these cognitive and visual abilities, the Catchball is used to fine tune goaltending techniques such as head trajectory, hand positioning and body lean. The theory of head-trajectory states, that if goaltender's eyes are locked onto the puck and their head follows, their body will follow too. Like many other techniques, it has to become unconscious and automatic. The same principle also applies to hand positioning and leaning towards a puck when making a save, which are keys to "box control". When a goaltender's glove is pushed forward towards the puck, and the goaltender's body leans into the direction, a big part of the "box" is already taken away, which is one of the main factors to a successful save. This also needs to become second nature, because as we know, there is not much time for decision making when making a save and everything has to become almost automatic. The Catchball is ideal for building muscle memory, because it is designed to maximize controlled repetitions.

Along with improving cognitive and visual abilities, fine-tuning technique through muscle memory, training with the Catchball will obviously have an impact on a goaltender's speed in the core and arm area, because fast twitch muscles are the muscles being worked while making repeated saves with the Catchball.

There are several benefits of the Catchball over a regular ball for reaction training: not needing an adequate wall and ground to bounce the ball off is one of them, but the main benefits are more ball speed, more reps and the ability to add exercises like lunges, jumps or even running to your reaction training. The kinetic energy created by the Catchball-elastic will throw the ball back with more velocity than a bounce off a wall would. Additionally, the Catchball can be thrown harder because of the confidence that you won't have to chase it or even lose it if you miss a catch.

As you can see, the Catchball is a very simple, yet effective all-around training tool for every goaltender, as the elements mentioned above, are some of the main keys to a goaltender's success. You will see a noticeable improvement in your ability to stop pucks when using this reaction training tool the way it was intended.

The Catchball is THE ideal reaction and hand-eye coordination training tool for goalies.

​There are countless drills that can be done with the Catchball.

More training videos will be available very soon.

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