For goalies, it can be incredibly hard to find good quality goalie coaching. Unfortunately, it is a position that few play, and those that do play don’t necessarily make good coaches. Since goalie coaching can be expensive and hard to find, you want to make sure that your investment is going towards the right person. This article outlines some things to work on that help to ensure you are getting the proper value from your goalie coach.
Breaking the Position Down
One of the biggest pet peeves of mine is when a goalie is run through a drill and there is no feedback given. It starts to become a bit like a goalie assembly line, and there are some goalie coaching entities that seem to prioritize the amount of goalies on the ice (aka profits) over the quality provided to each goalie, especially during summer camps. When it comes to coaching goalies, the goalie coach should have the approach of making their job obsolete. I want my goalies to tell me what they did wrong during a goalie session rep or a goal against during a game. When goalies become a student of their own game, and can understand what went wrong, the growth and development become exponential.
Ensure your goalie coach is taking the time to explain the position to their goalies. What are they trying to accomplish with their drill? Why is it that they are telling their goalies to do a specific thing? What situations will that work and what situations will it not work? The more a coach can help the goalie to understand and to think, the better the results in the development.
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As the cliché saying goes, you can’t build a strong house without a good foundation. The same applies to goaltending. A strong foundation of fundamentals should be established and the goalie should be able to accomplish the basics incredibly well before moving towards the next concept. It is hard to jump into algebra without first having a working knowledge of multiplication and division. Ensure your goalie coach is putting together their sessions and their drills with a focus on a natural progression in mind.
Now, this can be easier said than done depending on their situation and your situation. It is tough if there is a high turnover of goalies from session to session and the goalies they are working with are different every time. But when working through a full season with the same coach, or at a goalie camp that extends for a whole week, it should be obvious that there was thought put into progressing the goalie from basic fundamentals through to higher level situations by building concepts on top of each other.
Real Time Correction
As a goalie coach, one of the first things that I tell any coaches who come into my organization is that any corrections should be done in real time. There are way too many goalie coaches out there that run a goalie through a drill and give them feedback afterwards. The goalie is going to forget that feedback by the next time they have a chance to implement it.
Instead, goalies should be corrected in real time. A goalie is off their angle while the coach is skating through the rep about to shoot? The rep stops there and the goalie is shown how far off their angle is. A goalie does two reps where they don’t make a hard stop at the end of their push? The coach has them try it again and explains to them they need to make that hard stop and why (FYI, it’s because it allows the goalie to be set quicker, and it is much easier making a save being still than when moving). This real time correction helps to quicken the learning curve as the goalie starts to understand a situation as it unfolds, and can quickly implement corrective actions for the next rep. A goalie coach who isn’t doing this is not giving their goalies the maximum opportunity for development.
In terms of consistency, this applies more so to organizations that employ multiple coaches. It is quite common that when working with a goalie coaching company, whether on your own or through your organization, that you may work with multiple coaches. This can be good as each coach has a different way of teaching and a different perspective which might help some things resonate with their goalies. The key, however, is to ensure that the quality is consistent from coach to coach.
I have seen a lot where a goalie works with an organization for most of their career as a student, then once they start to age out of their playing career, they hop into a coaching role with that organization. The problem is, it usually entails a “here, go coach our u9s” type approach. A lot of these new coaches aren’t given the proper tools to effectively coach, and although they may be really good goalies, coaching involves a different skill set. Ensure that you are getting a similar quality when working with different coaches within a company.
Consistency with the same coach is important as well. Although it is less common to see an individual coach provide a wide range of coaching styles and approaches, it can happen, especially over a longer period of time. Some coaches try and use a lot of fancy tools as they go. Maybe your coach can be super friendly and motivating to your goalie one day, and then yelling and condescending the next. Find yourself a coach who remains committed to a consistent approach that goalies know what to expect and what is expected of them.
Accessibility and Communication
The world of goalie coaching is a busy one. The demand is high and the supply is low, so unfortunately there may not always be time to talk to your goalie coach. However, the sign of finding a good coach who is a keeper is one that takes time when they can to answer your questions or to offer advice. This accessibility will vary based on your coach’s personality and how busy they are, but they should be able to offer some insight and advice where needed. That being said though, reserve the questions for when they are absolutely needed, as the coaches do tend to have a lot of clients and be quite busy and may be rushing out to their next session (email works great if you have it, then they can reply when they have time).
Your coach should also be communicating well with their goalies. Explain why they are doing certain drills. Offer a suggestion when they see that their goalie’s stick is too big, or their pads don’t fit. Coaching in general is a relationship business, and building those relationships takes communication with athletes. It is great if your coach can joke a little bit with your goalie, ask them about how tryouts are going, where they want to be in the next year, 5 years, 10 years, etc. This goes a long way in getting a lot of development out of the goalie, so make sure your coach is communicating well.
As much as a coach’s first job should be development, it has to be fun. Otherwise, why are we here? Sports were invented as a way to have fun and healthily channel our competitive nature. Your goalie coach should tie into that and bring out that competitiveness. The phrase “you can’t teach battle” is true in a sense that you can’t draw up a strategy to battle on a board, but you can put athletes in a position to battle hard by performing fun compete drills. This allows the goalies to want to keep coming back, and to also push themselves a little bit further.
If your goalie is dreading going to their goalie session, maybe it is time to look for coaching elsewhere. Unless, of course, they are on their way to a goalie power skating session. Then you can tell them to deal with it because they need to work on their skating! 😊
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