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In hockey one of the most effective ways at beating a goaltender is to change the direction of the shot on goal by tipping the puck. Tips along with unintentional deflections or even a threat of a tip can prove to be a challenging play for goaltenders to master. As players become better at executing tip plays it becomes increasingly important for goaltenders to not only anticipate tips but also make correct save selections to defend the tip. Below we outline three key skills when defending against tips.
As a side note Goaltender’s BFF makes a great product called the Deflector that allows for goalies to get great repetition in finding your tip technique.
Find the new angle
A tip means that the puck will change its angle to the net from its original angle. This requires the goaltender to be square to the tip angle by the time it leaves the tipper’s stick. Finding the tip angle often requires the goaltender to pivot their body and become square the tipper’s stick blade. The tipper’s stick blade is an important mark to find as it gives us the best indication as to where the new angle will be coming from. The goaltender’s goal should be to place the middle of their body inline with the tipper’s stick blade. This will ensure the largest area of coverage to defend against the many directions the tip may go.
Since the goaltender will have little time or ability to read exactly where a tip may be going it becomes increasingly important for goalies to make a blocking save selection that covers as many “holes” as possible. The most common holes goalies give up are between their arms (6 and 7 hole) or between their knees (5 hole). When defending against a tip you are aiming to move a solid wall into the tip lane. By keeping hands down and tight to your body, as well as ensuring your knees snap together are a skills that must be learned and protected if you want to be consistent in stopping tips. Also be sure to pay attention to your balance so when you arrive to the tip lane you have both knees on the ice and your hips up. Often goalies loose their balance during the slide. This can causes them to lean and open up holes in the arms and on the ice. Be sure to pay attention to the balance in your blocking technique.
Great technique and effective anticipation of the tip can be nullified with poor depth. For the purpose discussion lets assume there are two main locations for effective tips, one that is near the top of the crease (Traditional) and one that occurs in the high slot- hash mark area (High Tip). Both of these scenarios require different depths in the net however both situations benefit the goalie the closer they are to the tip. In a traditional tip it is important for the goalie to recognize the threat of the tip and to keep the potential tipper in front of them. This will ensure the goaltender can pivot and adjust the new angle without having to back up in the crease while the shot is taken. This may mean a goalie has to sacrifice depth on the puck carrier to be ready to defend a straight shot or a tip.
In a high tip situation there will likely be less pivoting required and more of a lateral slide into the new shot lane. It is important for the goaltender to be prepared with their hands to defend a tip towards the upper portion of the net on a High Tip, something that is rarely needed on a more traditional tip. Active hands on a High Tip may be required due to its location on the ice and space for the puck trajectory. Do not lock your hands in a High Tip scenario.
Tips can be one of the most successful scoring tactics therefore we must focus on developing our ability to anticipate a tip as well as perfect our technique in getting to the new shot lane. By paying attention to the new angle, adjusting your depth and getting there with a seal on the ice and body you will be well on your way to consistently defending tips.
Article by Justin Johnson, Founder of MEGA Goaltending and University of MN Men’s Goalie Coach