This post was originally posted to Lax All Stars.
The ESPN Sports Science episode with Paul Rabil is blowing up on YouTube right now. He has the record for the fastest shot at 111mph. He gives goalies only .19 seconds to respond to his shots. While this is all a credit to Mr. Rabil’s shooting ability, it is also a credit to any goalie who has ever saved on of those shots.
How is this even possible to save a shot that fast?
As a goalie springs to make a save, a well-defined sequence of movements jump into action. This sequence is flawlessly executed in a fraction of the amount of time it takes to blink your eye. The elite goalies who perform at the highest levels have broken down this sequence and trained their body to react without thinking.
The key is training muscle memory.
Muscle memory takes place in the motor and somatosensory cortices of the brain. Basically put, it makes your memory system work mad efficiently.
Focus on Small Parts
Boosting your muscle memory begins by targeting and isolating the desired movements. Break down every facet of your movements: feet, legs, hands, and eyes.
Practice each phase of the save until you hit it just right. Then do it 50 more times.
Like cogs in a factory stamping out metal, pound out that movement into your brain.
Quality Over Quantity
When you repeat movements, the brain remembers both good and bad. Make sure that you are practicing the right fundamentals.
Take the time to study the experts at their craft. Slow down the tape and focus on the individual movements. After studying, immolate what you learn.
Power of Compounding
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.” – Albert Einstein
Turns out Einstein was a genius at sports training, too. By practicing isolated movements over time, you will further hone your craft. Each tweak will become smaller and smaller and your improvement will continue to grow on itself.
All of the pieces will come together to form faster player, ready to make the save.