Why Goalies Become Goalies

By: Brian Daccord and Patrick Malone




Goaltenders require abilities such as physical strength, flexibility, hand-eye coordination, balance, endurance, skating skills, as well as the command of technique, systems, and strategies.  Many years of practice and training go into becoming a goaltender to enhance the level of individual performance, but when does it begin?  When do goaltenders initiate their journey to learning the position and why do they do it?

Becoming A Goaltender

The Foundation for Goaltending Research & Education surveyed 100 parents with children training as goaltenders to find out why, when, and how their journey began.  Many young goaltenders try the position prior to becoming full-time goaltenders, therefore, we asked parents about their children to find out exactly when this transfer occurred.


Inside the Numbers

The takeaway from these two individual study focuses is the gap between the first experience and full-time training of goaltending among children.  53% of the parents responded that their child has his or her initial goaltending involvement as a Mite (Ages 7-8).  However, 43% of the parents confirmed that their child became full-time goaltenders as a Squirt (Ages 9-10).  All aspects considered, young hockey athletes that attempt the position initially do not decide to become permanent goalies until a year or two afterwards.  In some cases, certain youth organizations prohibit players from becoming full-time goaltenders until they reach a certain age.

Financing Goaltenders

In some scenarios, both goaltender equipment and training can cost substantially more as opposed to a regular skater playing forward or defense.   That circumstance may play a factor in parents allowing their son or daughter to take part in that specific position.  We asked parents for their thoughts on the matter.


Inside the Numbers

It is reasonable to presume that, generally, parents do not let the additional amount of money necessary to persuade them away from allowing their child to play goaltender in hockey.  Furthermore, it should be noted that 16% of the parents did have cost as a factor in their decision, however we recognize that their child is currently a full-time goaltender nonetheless.

Discounting Goaltenders

Certain youth hockey organizations offer discounted player rates to those who choose to serve as a team goaltender, a position that is rather uncommon (to some extent) compared to forwards and defenders.  Reduced costs among goaltender fees may allow for a greater amount of participants to become goalies, likely encouraged by parents.  We asked parents about their own local youth organizations.


Inside the Numbers

It is unlikely for organizations to offer alternative player costs, considering that 70% of the surveyed parents responded “no” to the matter.  For those who replied, “yes” to lower prices, there was an additional option to enter a 50-character statement as to how much was discounted.  Of the 30% of parents that confirmed discounted goalie prices in their youth organizations, 13% responded that there is a half-price reduction while another 7% showed that there was a quarter price reduction.

What Makes Players Choose Goaltending?

Role models provide character and personality for younger individuals to look up to.  Many young family members follow along in the footsteps of those who have already begun to grow and mature.  We spoke to the parents of goaltenders, asking if other siblings or family members have also played goalie.


Inside the Numbers

The statistics show that a greater majority of goaltenders begin playing on their own terms as opposed to because of a family role model.  24% of the parents we surveyed expressed that their son or daughter is in the process of following the footsteps of a family member.

Why They Chose Goalie

Everyone choses their position for a reason, but with goaltender being a spot that is not entirely common among young hockey players, we wanted to find out exactly what motivates children to do so.


Inside the Numbers

The results display that when parents completed the survey, “Suggestion of a parent” lead the way, receiving a 5.3 ranking score.  “Suggestion of a coach” was the runner-up response with 4.8, while “More ice-time” trailed with a 4.3.  Hockey competitors will usually be influenced at a young age, listening to the suggestions of parents and coaches.  With these statistics, we can link together the information relating to the past two study subjects.  Although 76% of goaltenders we have surveyed do not have a family member that played goalie prior, it is seemingly uncommon to find a goaltender that simply tried the position on his or her own.  There is an assortment of alternative motives that captivate an individual into becoming a goaltender.

Other Sports

Children often get a taste of a variety of games and sports, developing fundaments and basics before gaining quality skills and talents.  We studied the general options for young hockey players and what alternative sports they are active in.



Inside the Numbers

The majority of the surveyed parents showed that their children play other sports, especially soccer and lacrosse.   Those that chose “Other” responded with a variety of different sports including field hockey, gymnastics, basketball, rugby, wrestling, tennis, softball, etc.  Goaltenders of these ages will likely not be solely committed to hockey, having involvement with other areas of interest.

Goaltender Safety

Not everyone enjoys the idea of piling on a substantial amount of equipment and standing in the way of a puck’s flight-path.  It is vital to comprehend the mentality of both parents and the actual goaltender regarding their concerns for safety.


Inside the Numbers

The figure displays that parents, without surprise, have a higher concern level for allowing their child to play goalie.  We were able to learn exactly how much alteration there was in concern level, understanding the essence of the approach from both parents and goaltenders.

Youth Organization Needs

Parents were questioned if the youth organization they are part of requires goaltenders.  More often than not, goaltenders are required among teams and youth programs.  In some situations, children are called up or brought down to different levels due to the lack of a goaltender.  Some organizations experience shortages of goaltenders, forming the idea of mandatory goaltender involvement.


Inside the Numbers

The FGRE survey concluded by asking parents if there were any alternative reasons that should be noted as to why their child chose to become a goaltender.  Many responses included similar mentalities relating to the young athlete enjoying the pressure and always having a critical effect on the team’s success.    Other responses included being influenced by family members, friends, or favorite players.  Several children had competed as a goalie in other sports, making it a natural selection to play goaltender in hockey.


~ Brian Daccord is a former goaltending coach of the Boston Bruins and currently the goaltending coach of Adler Mannheim in the German DEL.  He is a co-founder of the Foundation for Goaltending Research and Education and founder of Stop It Goaltending.  Patrick Malone is former multi-sport athlete at Woburn Memorial High School a current Sport Management student at Endicott College.