During youth hockey games, the outcome of the contest can often come down to the success of the goalie. If your goalie can’t stop the opponent’s shots, it puts your club in a tough position to win. 

Because of this, it’s important to make sure youth coaches are prepping goalies appropriately to succeed in competition. This can include how they are coached in practice, as well as in games. 

To ensure your goalies are prepared for games and they are developing the skills needed to advance their talents at the position, use these hockey goalie coaching tips when coaching youth players.

Allow Them to Warm Up at Practice

The key to a good practice session can start with a solid warm up. According to PureHockey.com, it’s important to not start peppering goalies with shots to block as soon as they take the ice. They first need to properly prepare. Goalies can join their teammates for a group warm up, but since they likely don’t need as thorough of a skating warm up as the other players, PureHockey.com suggests giving hockey goalies specific drills and exercises focused on the muscles and skills they need to target. They can complete these on their own while the rest of the team goes through their warm ups.

Tailor Practice to Their Skill Level

It can be tempting for coaches to feel the need to take as many shots as possible on hockey goalies during practice. However, USAHockey.com recommends showing some restraint and focusing on shots that are appropriate to the age and skill level of the player. The website states that having adult coaches pepper shots at youth players — shots that are likely going to come at a higher velocity than shots by other youths — can potentially cause the goalies to fear the puck. It can also create frustration. Instead, coaches should focus on hitting the puck with the strength and skill that’s appropriate for the player’s ability. USAHockey.com says doing this will help goalies develop more confidence, which is crucial for players in that position.

USAHockeyMagazine.com also recommends not letting non-coaches (such as parents) take shots on the goalies, as they might not be familiar with the player’s abilities and can hit shots that are too hard.

Tailor Practice to Their Skill Level

In this section, your club should define which personnel roles are responsible for player development, and list ideas for how to help athletes take their skills to the next level. It can be tempting for coaches to feel the need to take as many shots as possible on goalies during practice. However, USAHockey.com recommends showing some restraint and focusing on shots that are appropriate to the age and skill level of the player. The website states that having adult coaches pepper shots at youth players — shots that are likely going to come at a higher velocity than shots by other youths — can potentially cause the goalies to fear the puck. It can also create frustration. Instead, coaches should focus on hitting the puck with the strength and skill that’s appropriate for the player’s ability. USAHockey.com says doing this will help goalies develop more confidence, which is crucial for players in that position. In this section, your club should define which personnel roles are responsible for player development, and list ideas for how to help athletes take their skills to the next level.

USAHockeyMagazine.com also recommends not letting non-coaches (such as parents) take shots on the goalies, as they might not be familiar with the player’s abilities and can hit shots that are too hard.

Practice Their Skating Skills

Because hockey goalies spend their time in the net, it can be easy to overlook the need to work on skating skills. However, USAHockey.com says it’s important for goalies to have strong skating skills in order to get in position to block shots and move around quickly in the net.

Let Them Play Other Positions

USAHockey.com recommends if you have a couple of goalies, let the one who’s not in the goal play in another position rather than sit on the bench. This allows the goalie to work on his or her skating skills, and to develop a better understanding of the game as he or she learns new positions and sees the contest from outside of the net.

Give Specific Goals for Each Practice

Goalies know their main objective is to prevent shots from scoring. To keep them engaged in practice and to help advance their skills, USAHockeyMagazine.com recommends giving players short-term goals and specific tasks to work on during practice sessions. Some examples the magazine recommends are focusing on positioning, handling the puck during a save, trying to prevent goals from either the left or right side, and focusing on not letting goals score through specific areas, such as between the legs.

Incorporate Goalies Appropriately Into Practice

During practice, coaches can get wrapped up on skating drills or skills with defensemen and forwards, and they might forget to incorporate the goalies until later into practice. It’s important for coaches to make a solid effort to include goalies into these drills or in other areas of practice so they aren’t isolated all training session. When involving goalies into drills, PureHockey.com warns against having goalies only defending one type of shot, such as a breakaway shot, or a shot they are unlikely to see very often in games.

Simulate Game-Like Situations

To give goalies beneficial practice, it’s important to try to create real-time game situations. This allows goalies to practice defending shots they are likely to see in games, and to practice situations they typically see in real action. In drills, the goalie usually knows who has the puck and which side he or she is going to shoot from. In games, goalies need to track the puck to see who has it and where it is, so it’s important to work on this skill in practice.

Give your Goalies an End of Season Evaluation

Feedback is crucial for any player’s on-going development and especially important for goalies that can ultimately decide the outcome of each game. Providing your players, specifically goalies, with an end-of-season evaluation will give your athletes direction and focus regarding what skills they should improve in the off-season. If you use player evaluation software like TeamGenius, coaches can look at each player’s past evaluations at the start of each season to know where each player’s strengths and weaknesses are.

End-of-season evaluations are also a great opportunity to recommend off-season camps and clinics that your program runs to increase attendance give each athlete the opportunity to attend.

Check out the TeamGenius player evaluation app to make end-of-season evaluations a breeze >

Comments are closed.