Before most hockey games, it’s common to see an NHL goalie stretching his body to seemingly inhuman lengths in preparation for a night’s work. That being said, few netminders have ever contorted their bodies to make saves quite like Boston Bruins star Tim Thomas.
When asked if his award-winning 2010-11 season and playoff run validated his occasionally criticized style, Thomas called himself the “redneck of goalies,” explaining that he “duct tapes” different techniques and ideas together to get the job done.
That being said, there’s one weapon in Thomas’ tool box that might make him more of a “hippie netminder” than a “redneck of goalies”: his long-time use of yoga. The world-class goalie began using those techniques once he truly gained traction at the NHL level with the Boston Bruins. He discussed as much way back in 2007, as you can see in this story in The Hockey News.
“I also did some yoga, which sounds kind of funny,” Thomas adds. “I actually didn’t know how much it was going to help, but it helps balance out your body. They try to find weaknesses in your body and work on them so they catch up with the rest of your body. Your body is more balanced overall in terms of both flexibility and strength. A lot of the techniques have to do with balance. Not that I think my balance was bad, but it certainly is better now.”
Maybe it doesn’t earn many macho points, but athletes are known to look for an edge in every avenue possible. Some do so by disparate measures like boxing training or dancing. Yoga and pilates seem like an ideal match for the goaltending position, so it makes sense that Thomas, Cam Ward and Henrik Lundqvist are among its most notable proponents.
It’s likely that those flexibility and balance-boosting exercises might make the most sense for more athletic types such as Thomas, but more rigid butterfly goalies could probably benefit from it as well. Perhaps some might think that Thomas looks silly in the NHL.com video featured below, but those practices help him avoid the worst look of all: the puck going in his net.
(H/T to USA Hockey.)