Starting with reaction training, please check Rachel’s Tips on the OBO website. She has a good tip on REFLEX TRAINING. I do a lot of work with tennis balls in place of hockey balls in reaction drills but obviously that’s pretty tough on your own. I like to work on aerial saves with just a helmet, hand protectors and a stick and having someone hit tennis balls with a racquet. You can further add to the reaction element by facing your back to the hitter and turning on their call be fore the shot so you have to find the ball first.
In regards to working on your own, one device that’s pretty cool is called a reaction ball and I believe it’s available through Just Hockey in Australia and specialty stores for strength and agility training. Reaction balls are rubber balls that have knobs so they’re not round and when you through them off a wall, they’ll take irregular bounces (hence the reaction part). You can work on reactions by throwing the ball off a wall and trying to catch it or keep it in front of you. If you have a training partner, try this drill. Stand five to seven meters from a wall facing it. Your partner stands behind you with the reaction ball. As you face the wall, they stand behind you and throw the ball. You have to catch or stop it.
As far as reaction work for feet out of pads, I like to use a size three or smaller soccer ball and work on kicking off a wall. I’ll set up cones 1.5-2 meters apart and work on footwork by going around a cone in between kicks, i.e. make a kick, go around a cone, have to kick with appropriate foot, go around the other cone, kick, etc. Start ten meters away from the wall. By varying the distance you are away from the wall you can mix the emphasis between reaction and technique work. Even better, if you have access to a racquetball court or a corner with a two sided wall or a narrow hall way you can work off the different walls and focus on changing the angle of the ball.
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