Each year at countless rinks, coaches and parents ask me for goalie
drills they can use. People will come to my goalie schools or
clinics to video drills or copy them down into notebooks. It is too
bad that they are all missing the point that it isn't the drill that
improves the goalie, but understanding the concept the drill is
Many coaches get hung up on acquiring fancy drills that no one in
their area has seen. Whether it is a shooting, passing, situational
or skating drill, all coaches get caught up in running the drill
instead of teaching the concept in a way that the players can
identify how or when to utilize it in games. Goaltending in
particular requires a lot of hands-on instruction, but most coaches
settle for giving them drills which have them face lots of rubber.
Instead of having mistakes in technique corrected, the habits get
reinforced by all the repetitious shooting.
Far too often, goalie practice is synonymous with shooting drills
like the arc where the goalie gets pummeled by a multitude of shots.
How often does a referee stop a game, line players up in an arc and
let them blast away? If coaches expect to improve their goalies,
they must provide them with game situations or drills that reflect
them. Many coaches believe goalie practice is a separate entity from
the regular practice when, in actuality, the goalies can become an
active part of every drill.
The key to giving goalies quality drills is merely giving them
responsibilities as you would give a forward or defenseman and then
watch them to make sure they are paying attention to their duties.
If the team is practicing one-on-ones, give the goalie some keys to
focus on. For example, in a one-on-one, it is very important that
the goalie does not back into the crease because the offensive
player will be able to move in between the defenseman's body and the
goalie's. The goalie must hold his or her ground so the forward has
a tough time cutting into the lower slot from the wide angle. The
goalie also looks to pokecheck if the puck-carrier gets real close
or moves to him in an aggressive shuffle if he cuts a little farther
away. When the goalie knows you are looking to see if he executes
his responsibilities, it is easier to create an environment where
the goalie is learning.
During breakouts, does the goalie make effort to stop the puck? Does
he set the puck so the defenseman has a quick transition away from
the net? Does the goalie pass the puck promptly to the correct
location? In skating drills, does the goalie goof off at the end of
the line because none of the coaches are watching him? Can you make
the goalie skate the drill in a stance or can you make a slight
alteration to the drill so the goalie can benefit from it?
My point is that you don't need to disrupt your practice to improve
your goaltenders. Here are some simple things to do on a regular
don't have the drills run so fast that the goalie doesn't have the
time to set up for the next rush properly. Make the shooters play
rebounds. Rebounds will provide your team more scoring opportunities
in games, so it is helpful to practice the same way. Goalies must
learn to instinctively play rebounds because in games there is only
one puck, not the multitude they see in practice. Give the goalie a
few seconds to follow his rebounds.
make your shooters take game-like shots in practice. If the shooters
pass off in the slot or take slap shots from five feet away, they
won't score in a game and the goalie won't be seeing game-like
don't let the goalies play deep in the crease. Remind them when you
see them coasting back to the goal line when they should be at the
top of the crease.
observe whether the goalie's head and shoulders are turning in the
direction of the saves or whether they are behind the body. If the
goalie turns properly, it is easier to be in position to play
Coaches, teaching goaltenders is not rocket science. If you pay
attention to some basics and give your goalies responsibilities in
drills that they can be held accountable to, they will improve.
Saying you can't teach goaltending is a lazy copout.
This article was contributed by
Fred Quistgard of Quistgard Goalie Training.