Are You Coaching Your Goalies Too?
Goalies always used to make me feel guilty. As a head coach I never felt like I was giving them the attention that they needed and deserved. Sure my team got them lots of shots in practice and we took care of warming them up but ultimately, I knew we could do a better job with improving the skill set of my goalies.
About ten years ago I made a concerted effort to make sure my goalies became as well coached as the rest of the team. I started scheduling a full hour every week dedicated to all of the goalies in our program (8-10) and hired an outside goalie coach to run the hour long sessions. It made a huge difference in the quality of our goaltending and helped at recruiting time as well.
Here are a few things to incorporate into your team’s season plan to make sure your goalies are taken care of:
1) Assign someone on your staff to be responsible for your goalies. This coach doesn’t necessarily have to be a “goalie coach” but there should be someone who is going to make sure the goalies are taken care of properly at all times - someone to advocate for them every day. Head coaches can get distracted with everything else that goes into coaching a hockey team. One staff member should be in the head coach’s ear about the goalies when needed.
2) Find ways to get proper instruction on a regular basis for the goalies. If there isn’t an experienced goalie coach on your staff, then make sure you either have someone come in frequently or send your goalies to goalie specific instruction.
3) Make sure 10 minutes of every hour of practice is dedicated to working on goalie skills. This could be giving your goalies one end of the ice for 10 minutes with the person responsible for them, or running a drill with the entire team that is goalie specific. For example, you could work on goalies battling through a screen in front of the net in a drill while teaching your forwards how to screen properly and your defencemen how to shoot through a screen effectively.
4) When it comes to which goalie is playing from game to game, make sure that your plan is clearly communicated. If it’s not a regular rotation, find out if your goalies like to know early that they are starting or if they want to be told when they get to the rink. Some goalies don’t want to know in advance and others need to know early.
5) Goalies often get mentally prepared to play a little differently than the rest of the team. They may not want to be in the dressing room before a game because of the distraction of other players getting “psyched up” and you as a coach getting the team ready to go. Let them get mentally prepared in their own way. Ask them what works best for them.
At the end of the day, goalies are a critical part of your hockey team and need to be taken care of appropriately. Don’t just have them stopping pucks in practice. Make sure they are being instructed properly and improving through the season. They are an integral part of your team’s success.