Whether that’s simply skating out of the crease to handle the puck or moving side-to-side, Swayman’s ability to get himself positioned correctly in the net has been crucial to his early success in the NHL.
Well, it turns out there’s a reason why he’s so good, and you’ll probably never guess it.
Ballet – yes, ballet, the dance – is the secret to Swayman’s success.
Swayman took ballet classes at the University of Maine and it has stuck ever since
On a recent episode of SportsNet’s 32 Thoughts: The Podcast, Jeff Marek sat down with Kevin Woodley of In Goal Magazine and NHL.com to discuss all things goaltenders. And one of the things that was brought up was Swayman and the ballet classes he took at the University of Maine.
This is what Woodley had to say about Swayman’s experience in the toe-tapping department.
"“I’m also a big Jeremy Swayman guy and because I’m me, I’ve got to you an aside here. Do you know that Jeremy Swayman’s breakthrough year at the University of Maine, he credits part of it to ballet? He actually took a ballet class … His mom teaches barre, he took a ballet class, cause some of the senior skaters had taken it, and he really felt it improved his movement, his dorsiflexion through the ankle, which is key for goaltenders.“And him, and the goaltending coach at the time, Alfie Michaud, they agreed like they could just see a difference in his movement. The way he was getting around the ice. And they really felt it was linked. So not only has Jeremy kept that as part of his off-ice training routine and it helps when your mom’s an instructor. And so he’s open about using that as part of the way he trains.”"
It honestly shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. This clip below from Matt Porter of The Boston Globe was popular among the Bruins Twitter community at the end of last month. And knowing what we know now, it makes complete sense why Swayman was as graceful as he was getting around the ice.
It’s not the first time I’ve heard of athletes taking ballet classes. Football players have been known to take ballet classes to build up their footwork. Wide receivers can certainly benefit from it, needing to be balanced and strong enough keeping two feet in on sideline catches.
But this is likely the first I’ve heard of ballet with goaltenders. Regardless, it’s helping Swayman out to a great start to this season and his young career as a whole in the NHL. Swayman is 5-2-0 this season with a .914 SV% and a 2.16 GAA. The ballet is certainly paying off.
If this is something that the University of Maine is instilling in its goaltenders, perhaps we need to keep an eye out for more Black Bear goaltenders making their way to the show.