When most people think about mobility for goaltenders the first thing that comes to mind is Jonathan Quick in a full split position making an unreal cross-crease toe save.
Because of this, and rightly so, many goalies spend hours on end stretching their groin and hip adductor muscles to achieve this position. While this is great, and I do encourage it, it is important for goaltenders to consider a few other areas as well that are important to mobilize, both in order to achieve optimal positions and reduce the risk of injuries.
In this article, we explore some of the most valuable mobility exercises for goalies to add to their routine.
Goalie Mobility Exercise #1: Hip Internal Rotation
In my opinion, great internal hip rotation is the most important area for goaltenders to improve, yet rarely is it the main focus.
It is what allows for a wide, sealed butterfly, and is imperative for reverse VH position which almost all goalies are now taught to use to seal off the post. Furthermore, by improving hip mobility, we can take some of the stress off of the ankle and knee, which many goalies find sore after a lot of time on the ice.
This first stretch is a great way for goalies to target this area and will quickly carry over to many more comfortable and fluid movements on the ice.
Goalie Mobility Exercise #2: 90/90 Stretch
This one is used by both players and goaltenders due to its versatility, and ability to target both internal and external rotation of the hips. It has a ton of variations and will again help with a variety of your on-ice positions.
As previously mentioned, not only do goaltenders need internal hip rotation for almost all saves they make but having greater mobility in this area will also provide as a bit of a cushion against injuries.
Unfortunately, goalies aren't protected from contact and when players crash the net or are pushed through you by your own defenseman, your flexibility is forced even further. The more range goalies can have in their hips the less likely it is for a hip, knee, or ankle to give out and leave you sidelined.
Goalie Mobility Exercise #3: Couch Stretch
Another common stretch that all of our hockey players do is the couch stretch and for many of the same reasons, it is a key one for goalies.
The stance position that goaltenders spend a ton of time in can lead to a lot of tightness in the hip flexors and the rectus femoris muscle specifically. This quad muscle extends the knee and flexes the hip, and when tight it can cause knee issues by tugging on the patellar tendon, and can even cause low backaches as the hips are often pulled out of position.
It is one of the first stretches I give all goalies and is tremendous at keeping many joints functioning smoothly.
Goalie Mobility Exercise #4: Toes Elevated Ankle Stretch
Although the reverse VH position is efficient at sealing the post, it can require a ton of mobility.
The ankles must be able to both dorsiflex, and evert significantly for this position. Since its introduction, I have personally found the reverse VH tough on my ankles (inside ankle against post), and have talked to many goalies at the OHL and collegiate level, that have complained of similar soreness.
In addition to improving hip internal rotation (which should reduce some tension down the leg), we can target the ankle specifically with a simple stretch. This one hits the ankle in a few different directions and should help make this position easier to consistently achieve pain-free.
Goalie Mobility Exercise #5: Lat To Pec stretch
Goalies are taught to keep their hands in front of their bodies to make saves, and most of the time this is great, but staying in this position for an extended period of time can create chronic tightness across the upper body.
Being stuck in a posture with the shoulders rolled forward (one that often happens as we fatigue in our stance) not only can cause a build up of unhealthy postures, but can also spill over into performance by restricting goalies from having full reach.
In order to open this area up, any Banded Lat Stretch or Pec Stretch can be a great choice, as these are the muscles most often responsible for tightness across the shoulders. Not only can these promote better posture in the shoulders, but they may provide an extra inch of reach that we all know that can sometimes be just enough to make the save.
Goalie Mobility Exercise #6: T Spine Rotations
The ability to quickly square the shoulders up to a shot is one of the first things all goaltenders are taught and is one of the first things that has to occur with any movement throughout the crease.
The thoracic spine (mid to upper back) is primarily responsible for the rotation of the torso but can often get tight and locked up. Loosening up this area will help with the quick rotation, required to square up to a shot and can also help greatly when a desperation save is necessary.
This exercise has multiple names including Book Openers, Thread the Needle, or Moose Antlers -but regardless of the name, it's a great exercise to enhance rotation and create more mobility in the upper back.
All elite goalies have mobility and stretching routines.
While stretching your groin and hips is a fantastic place to start, these are some exercises that we recommend to all goalies to include in their routine.
If you're looking for more goalie-specific training content, check out our article series specifically written for goalies here:
- Mobility Drills all Goalies Need to Be Doing
- Should Goalies Train Differently than Players?
- What kind of Conditioning Should Goalies Do?
- How to become a More Powerful Goalie
- How Goalies Should Train Their Core
About the Author:
Isaac Seabrook, B.Sc/CSCS
Isaac is a Strength & Conditioning Coach who earned his Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from Queens University, where he also interned as the Kingston Frontenacs (OHL) Strength Coach. Also interning with Gary Roberts & Hockey Canada, Isaac has worked with some of the world’s top hockey players. A former Goalie, Isaac serves as the Goalie Performance Specialist at Relentless Hockey along with continuing to work with elite players of all levels.
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