The Foundation of Goaltending Research and Education encourages all youth hockey teams to include an “Assistant Coach Responsible for Goalies”. The following is a description of the position and its function within the team. This is a blueprint and can be tailored to meet the needs of each team and level.
The Assistant Coach Responsible for Goalies
This position is created to ensure that the team’s goalies are preparing for games, maximizing their time in practice and there is a clear line of communication. The AC responsible for goalies does not need to be a former goaltender or even know the technical skills of goaltending… but is responsible for following this protocol and making sure that the goalies are working hard and improving. The AC responsible for goalies will report to the head coach and will also communicate with the organization’s director of goaltending development with any questions or concerns throughout the season.
- (Games) The assistant coach responsible for goalies should make sure there is a system in place that clearly spells out the expectations of playing time. Whether it is an equal rotation or play to win system, the head coach, AC responsible for goalies, the goalies and parents should all understand the coach’s policy in order to eliminate any issues throughout the season. The assistant coach responsible for goalies should be responsible for the following game specific components…
- Goalies are arriving at the games on time.
- Goalies prepare for the game physically (ex. Dynamic warm up/ball drills)
- Goalies are mentally focused and prepared to start the game and throughout.
- Goalies are supporting the other goalies and teammates.
- Goalies receive constructive feedback before, during and/or after the games.
- Goalies play with passion, control rebounds and the clock/tempo, know situations.
- Goalies are respectful to teammates, coaches, officials and facilities.
- (Practices) The assistant coach responsible for the goalies will make sure that the goalies are working hard, tracking the puck and maximizing their practice time. This coach should add positive reinforcement when the goalies are practicing hard and create accountability if they are not physically or mentally putting forth the effort to challenge the other players and themselves to improve. The assistant coach responsible for goalies should be responsible for the following practice specific components…
- Demanding a high compete level.
- Controlling rebounds.
- Staying visually attached to pucks..
- Covering or clearing loose pucks.
- Following rebounds.
- Being vocal during situational Drills.
- Interacting with teammates.
- When the players are participating in on-ice warm-up drills plan to have the goalies do 5 to 10 minutes of their goalie-specific skating drills at the beginning of the ice session. Goaltender skating drills are different from player skating drills, so this allows goalies time to get their work in. The AC responsible for goalies should know the drills and drill progressions.
- Encourage the head coach to adopt the five-second rule to your team’s practice drills. After a shot is taken in drills, the players often go directly to the next line, and neither the shooter nor the goaltender follows the rebound. To create a game like situation, tell the players, that after each shot is taken, to imagine five seconds left in the third period of a tie game. This will prompt the goaltender and attackers to play the rebound, allowing for scrambles, walkouts, pass-outs, wraparounds, and so on. These drills will make not only the goalies better but the shooters as well. It will also add tremendously to the goaltenders’ conditioning and not affect the tempo of practice. When utilizing the five-second rule in practice, have one coach at each end responsible for making sure the effort is 100 percent. To make it fun, the coach can yell a countdown of 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 to create a sense of urgency.
- Encourage the head coach to play to the whistle in practice drills. Once again trying to create more game like situations, coaches can use their whistles not only to start drills but to end them as well. In this situation, the players and goalies are trained that, after the initial shot is taken, they should continue to play until the whistle. The next group starts only after the whistle is blown. This creates a number of situations for the goalies to handle, and it helps in their training of following the puck and battling until the whistle.
- If there is going to be downtime for goalies in practice, prepare accordingly. If a head coach is going to work just one end of the ice and leave the other goalie standing around at the far end, the coach responsible for the goalies should be prepared to work on skating drills, reaction drills or dump pucks in to work on passing and clearing skills. If practice is split sheet and only utilizing one net, find an area of the ice that the goaltender not in net can do skating drills, reaction drills or passing and clearing drills.
- Let the goalies know they are part of practice. So many times coaches are consumed with practice and do not take time to recognize the goalies. The assistant coach responsible for goalies should make it a point to include the goalies and communicate with them in practice. This will create more accountability and add to goalie and coach relations.
- Don’t treat your goalies differently from any other player. The old cliché of “just leave the goalies alone” has long passed. A goalie is a member of the team just like anybody else. They should be encouraged, instructed, and held accountable just like any other player on the team.
- Create a goaltending department within the team. In practices both goalies compete hard to make themselves and the other players better. Competition between goaltenders is encouraged because they will push each other to improve at a faster rate. When the puck drops for a game the goalies are supporting each other because the team depends on the goaltending division in which both goaltenders contributed through preparation.
- Communicate with your goalies. The number one problem in any relationship is communication. The more you communicate with your goalies, the better they will be able to play. By keeping them guessing or playing head games, a lot of negative energy can be created. Try to create an environment where there is open communication. Make a point of once a month taking a few minutes to sit with the goalies before or after practice to review their practice and game performance level, get feedback and review or reassess goals. A goalie is only as good as his confidence level. Be cognoscente of that fact and remember to build confidence throughout the season.
- Communicate with the head coach so that he is in tune with what is going on with the goalies and whether they are putting in the mental and physical effort. Communicate with the director of goaltending development and identify any issues that can be worked on at the private training session or receive suggestions on how to get the most out of the goalies in practice and games.