My dad and I used to play table tennis every night after dinner. He was my teacher, and above all else, he taught me how to stay one step ahead of your opponent. This, he said, comes from careful analysis of your opponent’s options.
The dissection of an opponent’s options, assists in the prediction of his actions. As a goalie, predicting allows you to anticipate the save you will have to make, which will give you a better chance to save it. Essentially, recognizing all of the things they can do allows you to anticipate what they will do.
It takes a combination of positioning, athleticism and anticipation to make a save. When I play, I go through a couple of questions as I analyze a puck handler’s options.
Where is the puck handler in the zone and where are his passing options?
Knowing where the player is allows me to position myself in case he shoots. Knowing where his teammates are tells me where I would have to move if he does choose to pass.
Can he shoot, hold or pass the puck?
If he shoots, I should already be in position to either save or block the puck.
If he holds, I need to adjust my position to his movement. He could either attack the net, or move and create space to set up a teammate for a pass.
If he passes, I already know which direction I have to move based on his position, and can begin to analyze his options.
And the cycle continues. With every pass in your defensive zone, it is important to analyze their position, their teammate’s positions, and the possible actions they can take to attack. Seeing the play before it happens helps you to stay one step ahead of your opponent.