Tuesday, May 01, 2018

The Process

Eli 16.9 is going through an interesting phase right now in his pursuit of higher level goalie play.

We were at a USA Hockey District tryout camp last weekend. If he's selected he gets to go to a regional camp, and if he were to be selected again, he'd go to National Camp.

He played well, and I think he's got a good chance (won't know for a week), but right now, he's a hard kid to evaluate.

98% of the time, he looks unbelievable. Every single skill a goalie should have, excellent decision making and communication, and an unreal level of polish.

The other 2% of the time, he's letting in clunkers.

The good news is the 98%, and we agree on the 2% he needs to work on. But it's agonizing to see him play at such a ridiculously high level, then occasionally fail to make much, much easier saves.

The other good news, in terms of addressing this, is that his best ability is refining his game based on repetition. We've done probably 4,000-5,000 reps on the ball machine in the last five weeks, and his glove was rock solid all weekend. Same thing needed now, just with different drills.

He did an interesting thing a few weeks ago. His goalie coach criticized his play at times last year as being too mechanical. He didn't scramble well, partly because his game is built on technique and control, so pucks aren't bouncing in front of him very often.

I thought this was a mental thing, not physical.

Two months ago, he was on the ice with his trainer (who also played college hockey and works with him on-ice in drills that Eli organizes), and I saw him doing something I'd never seen before: he'd created a scrambling drill.

That blew my mind.

It was very specific, and incredibly athletic, and after he got off the ice I asked him about it. He said, "I think the reason I don't scramble is because I don't practice scrambling. I just need reps where I'm overloading on scrambling, and when I have enough reps, a desperation save isn't desperation anymore--it's a specific type of save that I can put into my toolbox and use when I need it."

Well, he was right, because he scrambled better last weekend than I've ever seen him, and I think it was due to that drill that he's been practicing in every on-ice session.

It's exhausting, watching this. The amount he's needed to improve every year is overwhelming. He's been able to do it, though, and he's only going to be out of chances when it stops.

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