As ice hockey moves along the 21st Century, goalies still find
themselves in the Dark Ages. Most head coaches still are not
comfortable coaching their own goalies and assign that task to a
goalie coach. The sad part about this arrangement is when a head
coach pays no attention to what the goalie coach is teaching the
goalies. Simply being a former goalie may not be enough of a
credential if that coach has not been paying attention to the
changing needs of today's goaltenders.
What exactly does
the goalie coach do?
He or she not only teaches techniques
to the netminders, but also mentors them in other aspects of their
lives. The goalie coach helps them deal with frustration, periods of
insecurity, personal problems, or advice about relationships with
their peers. The goalie coach is a psychologist, teacher, friend,
and taskmaster. A bond must be formed between the goalie coach and
goalies for this relationship to be successful. A head coach directs
the lives of twenty or so players in a practice with minimal
interaction. The goalie coach deals in a one-on-one situation where
communication skills are essential.
How exactly does
the bond of respect and friendship begin?
When first dealing with the goalies,
the goalie coach should sit down with them and go over his or her
philosophy on goaltending. Ask the goalies how they position
themselves to handle different game situations. Ask the goalies what
they expect of their goalie coach. Establish lines of communication
and let them know that they can talk to you confidentially without
the fear of you running to the head coach and ratting on them.
Once you begin on-ice practice, don't be heavy-handed in your
coaching. Observe the goalies before you try to implement your
system. Your job is to troubleshoot and fine tune their game, not
make them into a new version of you. Always compliment them on their
save attempt and offer another way of handling the same play. If you
become combative and force the goalies to do things they don't want
to do, you will alienate them. Your job is to let them see the
ramifications of their actions and to open their minds to other
ideas. Increased knowledge will always lead to improved goaltending.
By mid-season, you should have a pretty good rapport with the
goalies. If someone watched you at practice, they might think all
you do is stand around. What that person doesn't see is the eye
contact and the body language between you and your goalies.
Paragraphs of dialogue can be exchanged with a nod, look, or hand
gesture. They instinctively know what you expect from them and don't
need you hovering over them.
In the late season, the goalie coach puts the goalies on a
maintenance plan. Focus on one or two key areas of their game that
needs work and correct them with drills that reinforce the correct
techniques. Don't make any drastic changes in their game unless
absolutely necessary. You want to keep things simple so they can be
confident and ready for the post-season.
Communication and respect for their individual personalities are two
essential ingredients to being a good goalie coach. Your goalies
should always have objectives in the drills they do at practice.
Simply blasting pucks at the goalie is not acceptable. They should
always control rebounds, be in position with the body under control,
force shooters to make mistakes, and learn to instinctively read the
plays that approach the net. Being a goalie coach is demanding and
you must be with them on a regular basis. Once a month is not
enough. You must make the commitment to them if you expect them to
commit to you. Take pride in being a goalie coach because the
rewards of mentoring young athletes so they mature into solid young
men and women are many.
This article was contributed by
Fred Quistgard of Quistgard Goalie Training.