Providing hockey and skating opportunities for the boys and girls of Northwestern Connecticut.

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By Steve Carroll
USA Hockey’s Minnkota District Goalie Coach-in-Chief

Sometimes I am amazed how often I hear this question.  From my prospective the answer is absolutely yes.  I know plenty of coaches who never got near the power play, but feel quite comfortable running one in practice.  Coaching is about teaching.  An effective coach like an effective teacher accumulates knowledge and then finds ways to pass that knowledge on to his or her players.  Coaching a goalie is certainly different and takes some special preparation but is well worth the extra effort.  I think we can all agree that hockey goalies may be the most important individuals in team sports.  It pays huge dividends to take the time to learn some basics about goaltending and work together with your goalies to raise their level of play. 

There are three basic things you can help your goalies with on a day-to-day basis; goalie skating, positioning, and rebound control.  Goalie skating is quite different than player skating but if you think about it a little it is not that complicated.  Your goalie needs good balance, which can be achieved by having his legs shoulder width apart and with good knee bend.  The key to goalie skating is control, he or she must make crisp movements while maintaining their ready position, always prepared to stop quickly, change directions, or execute a save fundamental.  You can work with your goalie every day on skating getting him or her to simulate skating patterns that might occur in a game.  These repetitive movements will create a great base for skating under the pressure of a game.

Proper position is essential for success in the goal and even at the pro level needs to be monitored on a regular basis.  A well-positioned goalie has the best chance to make the save under any circumstances.  You want your goalie centered on the puck, square, and out on the angle.  A goalie is centered on the puck if you can draw an imaginary line from the puck through the middle of the goalies body into the middle of the net.  Being square is when the goalies chest is facing the puck.  Pretend the goalie has a spotlight in the middle of his chest; his goal is to shine that light directly on the puck.  The angle refers to how far out of the net the goalie is.  In general terms a goalie should be able to set up with his heels on the outside of the crease and adjust back as the play gets closer to him.  Your goalies skating ability will often dictate how aggressive he or she can be in playing the angles.  Once you get into the habit of monitoring your goalies positioning on shots you will quickly be able to determine if he or she is exactly where you would like them to be. 

Rebound control is another area where a little attention on your part can make a big difference for your team.  Much of goaltending is about creating good habits.  The habit of controlling rebounds or directing the puck to safety is well worth developing.  Obviously sometimes it is physically impossible to control a rebound, as just getting a piece of equipment on a point blank shot is all the goalie can do.  But nevertheless you need to work with your goalie to gain the mindset that the save is not finished until the puck is out of danger.  With your help and constant vigilance this essential habit of good goaltending will be developed.  You can turn almost any shooting drill into a rebound drill with a little extra thought.  Additionally you will be developing your scorers as they get into the habit of following their shots to the net in pursuit of rebounds.

Anyone with the desire can effectively coach his or her goalies.  Use your imagination; try to put yourself in their shoes to see the game through their eyes.  If you do this what seems confusing to you will become much clearer.  There are also many good tools available to help you, web sites like flexx-coach, books, videos and magazines on goaltending.  Believe me it will be time well spent; I can guarantee that you will become a much better coach if your goalie makes more saves.