How Organizations Can Better Support Their Goalies

minor hockey organization support for goalies

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    Goalies are very rarely given the support and training they need to succeed from organizations. This usually leads to families seeking outside private training, and a lot of families cannot financially swing it. A lot of times, this can lead to organizations struggling to find enough goalies to fill all of their teams, or to have quality goaltending at all levels of their organization.

    It is also very common that goalies pay the exact same fees as players for a fraction of the development (or none at all). This leads to a lot of frustrated goalie families who are asking themselves why they are even playing the position at all. It is an organization’s responsibility to provide all of their members a chance to excel in a sport they love, and this includes their goalies. So how can you as an organization provide a better environment for their goalies to thrive?

    If you would like help with setting up your organization to better serve your goalies, reach out to us.

    Training Coaches

    Unfortunately, most coaches have little to no understanding of the goalie position. This is where a lot of the issues come from when it comes to a lack of support for goalies. How many times have you heard a variation of the following: “I don’t know anything about goaltending so I just leave the goalies alone.” Not only does this isolate the goalies, but it also usually leads to practices that are not goalie friendly.

    In my dealings as a goalie coach, I have dealt with many coaches of teams at all levels. There are coaches who, unfortunately, have been less receptive to listening to constructive criticism and adapting their approach to practices and how they handle their goalies. This is why it is important to have a standard organization provided training.

    The coaches may be more receptive to adapting their style if the training is provided by the organization and if the organization sets a standard that they must adhere to. This also allows a baseline for the organization to go back to and reference, should any issues arise throughout the season.

    This training can be as simple as working with a local trusted goalie coach or organization to put together a series of videos and/or workshops that can be given to coaching staff at the start of each season. Workshops are great as it has an in person element that can provide an opportunity for coaches to ask questions and have more open discussion. However, budgets can get in the way and the video course route may be more feasible for some organizations.

    Coaches don’t have to become goalie experts, and not all coaches have to have an understanding of the position, even. But at least one coach from each team’s coaching staff should have enough knowledge to provide some guidance for the goalies on their team. And every coach in the organization should understand how to create a goalie friendly practice (read our article on running goalie friendly practices) and how to talk with and deal with their goalies.

    For more information on how coaches can be involved, check out our Coach’s Handbook to Supporting Their Goalies.

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    Provide Goalie Training

    This one is a bit of an obvious one, but providing goalie-specific training is really what is going to help goalies succeed. Just like bringing in a power skating instructor helps players become better skaters, bringing in a goalie coach will help goalies become better. The economics of this are a little tougher as there are at most 2 families per team paying fees to go towards goalie training. However, investing in the success of goalies can help the organization have better success as well. Better success usually translates to more interest from players, and this can help increase the program’s value.

    There are a few ways organizations can help to provide goalie training. The most common one is having organization wide goalie sessions. These are usually weekly or monthly sessions where a goalie coach or goalie coaching business comes out to run drills for the goalies. This is a step in the right direction, but a lot of times what happens is the development gets watered down. 18 goalies on the ice at once is tough to ensure there is proper development happening, even with the best goalie coaches out there. If you are going this route, ensure the ratio of goalies to coaches is reasonable; split them up into groups if that helps. We find a 3 to 1 goalie to coach ratio or less is the ideal situation.

    Another option is team-specific training. This one is ideal because it allows a relationship to develop between goalies, goalie coaches, and coaching staff. It offers a great development environment as the sessions are usually two to one or one to one. The problem this has is that it can be costly and add up when you have multiple teams and are offering multiple sessions throughout the year to each team. Again though, it is an investment into one of your best assets.

    Another option to go is the private training credit. This is where goalie families receive a credit to a partnered goalie coaching business or goalie families are reimbursed a certain amount for private training they receive during the season. This one can be easier to budget for as you know the set costs going into the season, and the families can plan how many sessions they can attend with this budget.

    Consider a hybrid approach as well, where maybe on top of a $300 credit for private goalie training, there is also a bi-weekly goalie session the goalies can attend. (Maybe you run weekly sessions but one week is u7s to u11s and the next week is u13s to u18s). Do what you can with the budget you have and try to offer the best quality possible for your goalies.

    Offer Virtual Resources

    If in person coaching isn’t overly affordable, offering virtual resources may be a more feasible alternative. This helps goalies get some sort of guidance on what they can be doing to improve their game. Yes, it puts the onus on the goalie to do the work themselves, but it is better than nothing.

    Now, if you can offer virtual resources on top of in person coaching, you’re laughing! If you are worried about providing these resources to your goalie families and them not getting used, you could always reach out to the providers of these resources to see if they can track progress or use of the resource. You could also instead ask to see if these providers would offer a discount code you can pass on to your goalie families to purchase themselves at a significant cost savings.

    Some resources that are offered online for goalies include:

    You can also encourage your goalies to check out some free Youtube channels that have lots of information as well, such as:

    the best app for hockey goalie drills and goalie tips and tricks

    Encourage Kids to Be Goalies

    One of the things a lot of organizations struggle with is the inability to ice enough goalies for every team that they have. This can lead to shutting down teams and leaving players left in the dark because there was no one to fill one position. This is where a proactive approach can make a big difference.

    The most common thing that organizations do is try goalie events. Now, pretty much every minor hockey organization out there goes through a rotation period in the u7 and u9 age groups where everyone has to try playing goalie at least once. But outside of that, partner with a local goalie coaching organization or work with your goalie designate (more on this below) to put together an event where kids from your organization can come out an experience being a goalie. This means a fun (emphasis on fun) environment where they can learn some of the basics of goaltending and parents can be taught proper equipment sizing. Hopefully you have the resources to put together a couple of full goalie equipment sets for kids to use.

    The other thing you can do to encourage kids to be goalies is use the older goalies in your organization as mentors. This is rewarding for both parties involved, as it gives the younger goalies someone to look up to and provides the older goalies with some leadership skills and the ability to feel like they are contributing. Get a few of them to come out and talk to some younger goalies about why being a goalie is awesome to them, what they like most, maybe a couple of things they would do differently to try to help the younger goalies avoid making similar mistakes. Have them come out to the younger goalie’s skates and show them a few things on the ice. This helps build a collaborative culture within the organization that really helps everyone thrive.

    In today’s day and age, it is very easy to get in touch with anyone around the world. A lot of people higher up in the hockey community love to give back and help grow the game at a grassroots level. Reach out to some current or former high level goalies or goalie coaches. Have them do a video call with your goalies where they can tell the goalies what to expect in the position and answer questions. A bonus if they’re local and actually come in person to speak. The younger goalies get super excited when they can have a conversation with anyone who is involved in higher levels such as Junior, Major Junior, College and the Pros.

    Providing these sort of experiences for the athletes and families within your organization also shows that you care about investing in your goalies. This will lead to more kids wanting to try out the position, and a lot of times when kids have the right mindset about being a goalie, they never want to go back. This can help grow your pool of goalies and make sure that you are always equipped between the pipes.

    Have a Goalie Designate

    A goalie designate goes by a variety of names. Director of Goaltending. Goalie Development Coordinator. Goaltending Liaison. Whatever label you put on it, it is important to have someone in your organization who oversees goaltending. This doesn’t have to be someone who is extremely knowledgeable in the position, but they should be someone who does at least have a passion for learning and growing the position.

    A lot of times this person will be a goalie parent who advocates for the goalies within the organization. This is an option. If someone is not knowledgeable in the position, they can always play more of a coordinator role to get the right people out who can develop your goalies. From there, as they go out to work with these goalie experts, they will pick up a lot of knowledge that they can then start to use more and more.

    The other route is to hire someone who is knowledgeable in the position. A local goalie coach can partner with your organization to outline a development plan and plan events such as try goalie events, classroom sessions, etc. This option usually comes with a cost as opposed to a volunteer option, but offers a lot more experience right off the bat. You can also take the hybrid approach where an experienced goalie coach takes on a consultant role and trains someone or a few people on your staff to be goalie designates. This can be offered virtually too, and is something we at the DIY Goalie can offer as well.

    The role of your designate should be to listen to feedback from goalie parents and come up with ways the organization can better support their goalies. They can schedule goalie sessions, mentorship programs, classroom sessions, etc. They act as a sort of middleman between you and the goalie families to make sure both parties win. This person basically becomes the organizational advocate for goalies, so please listen to this person when they bring up ideas and concerns.

     

    The idea of investing in your goalies is one that is trending in the right direction, but is still often overlooked. Take charge and be the change we need to see to giving goalies the support they need. This also has major benefits to your organization as well, as it shows that your organization has a culture of development and collaboration that attracts players to come play for you. After all, an organization’s lifeblood is the athletes that play within it.

    If you would like help with setting up your organization to better serve your goalies, reach out to us.

    Sign up for our email list to receive three exclusive videos to help improve your game as well as monthly tips and goalie specific practice plans!

       

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