How To Train A Hockey Goalie

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In the world of hockey goalie training, there are many things you can do to prepare for success on the ice. For many goalies, knowing where to start when it comes to their training is half the battle. Since we started Goalie Coaches, we’ve been asked just about every goalie training question you can imagine. In this comprehensive goalie training guide, we’ll do our best to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we get as Coaches.

You cannot become a better goalie without training. It’s like any skill in life, the only way to improve at it is to practice the position. Whether it’s on the ice, off the ice, or by studying film. If you commit yourself to training, you will likely see a marked improvement very quickly.

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There are many components to training a hockey goalie. The three most important things for goalie training are working on goalie-specific drills, on-ice training, and off-ice preparation.

Components of A Goalie Specific Training Plan

There are 6 main ways to train to be a hockey goalie. These are on-ice training, off-ice training, training with a private goalie coach, attending a goalie camp, and working on skills individually (using Sense Arena is a bonus).

On Ice Training

On-ice goalie training is the single most important things goalies do throughout their career. When it comes to building a goalie training plan that will make you a better goalie, follow a simple rule: the goalie’s job is to see the puck and stop the puck.

Of course. So what does that mean? 99% of this rule means becoming an elite skater. Well, what does it take to become an elite skater? Repetition. Repetition and skill progression. To develop a sound skillset and become a better skater, you must repeat the same movements over and over, until you’re proficient. Once a goalie is proficient in a certain area, it’s ok to move to another progression that incorporates this basic skill.

One of the most important parts of developing a goalie training program is skill progression. It’s important that goalies build a solid foundation of strong skating and puck tracking ability before moving into more advanced techniques and scenarios.

As a rule of thumb, doing something is always better than nothing.

Professional goalies train using the exact same methods an entry-level goalie uses, as the movements are the exact same. The only difference? Professional goalies are much faster than beginner goalies. If you’ve got an hour of open ice and you’re unsure of what drills you should be working on, do some simple crease movements. Throughout your career, you’ll be doing these exact same movements thousands of times. It’s far better than getting an hour of open ice and spending it trying to hit the crossbar from the blue line.

Tips for On-Ice Training

  • If you’re unsure, attend a camp or hire a coach
  • Doing something is always better than doing nothing
  • Download the goalie training app for more drill ideas (and the ability to upload videos for review)
  • Follow a skill progression, meaning don’t attempt to do RVH recoveries or complex movements before you’ve mastered the basics

Skill Groups Goalies Should Focus on In Their On Ice Training

There are many different components to on-ice goalie training. It’s not just stepping out onto the ice and skating around aimlessly. Goalies should be able to identify which areas of their game need the most attention, and start there.

If you’re needing more goalie drill ideas, check out the Goalie Coaches App.

Off-Ice Training

Off-ice goalie training is a huge part of becoming a better goalie. As a coach having worked with thousands of goalies, if I see goalies miss in one area, it’s how they train off the ice. There is no excuse for not training when you’re not on the ice, especially if you’re trying to become a Division 1 or Professional goalie. While we’re on that subject, dream big! There’s absolutely no reason you (yes you, the one reading this), can’t become a professional goalie. If you want to be a pro, you’ve got to train like a pro.

This means, training off the ice. There are millions of body-weight exercises that can be found on Youtube, or Instagram / Tik Tok. You don’t need fancy equipment to train off the ice. After all, the best training plan is the plan you follow.

Things To Work On Off The Ice (for Goalies)

Off ice training should be fun, or a goalie is less likely to actually do it. One of our favorites is Sense Arena. This is a program that has gamified goalie training and it’s one of the truly revolutionary developments in goaltending technology.

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Hiring A Private Goalie Coach

While it’s not necessary to hire a private goalie coach, it can make a huge difference in your career. Don’t get caught up in which coach has the best credentials. When you start your search for a goalie coach, we recommend seeing multiple.

The reason goalies should work with as many coaches as possible is to add as many different viewpoints to their game as possible. You wouldn’t rely on just one exercise to become stronger off the ice, so why rely on just one goalie coach on the ice? If you have the luxury of working with multiple coaches, be open to it and take advantage of it.

Tips for Working With A Goalie Specific Coach

  • Work with as many coaches as possible, the more viewpoints you get on your game, the better
  • Skate as often as you’re able
  • Don’t get caught up in credentials, the best coaches often have the least amount of professional playing experience (see John Cooper, head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning)
  • Be willing to learn and accept new ideas

Attending Goalie Camps

While not necessary to playing the position, attending a goalie camp is a great way to learn from other goalie coaches and to see how you stack up against your peers. I often tell folks, the value in attending a goalie camps is not just in your hours on the ice during camp.

How To Get The Most Value Out of Attending A Goalie Camp

  • Ask questions! You paid to be there, take advantage of it. You’re working with folks that are super passionate about the position (believe me, they’re not in this for the money), coaches love to talk about it.
  • No question is a bad question
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for criticism, coaches want you to leave feeling like you received value from their camp, so when you ask, they’ll answer!

Individual Skill Work

One of the single best ways to train as a hockey goalie is to train individually, by yourself. If you can find the ice time, take advantage of it. The entire reason Goalie Coaches exists is to help develop better goalies.

The goalie is one of the most important, yet underserved positions in sports. The goaltender is to hockey much like a quarterback is to a football team. Yet, even at the Division 1 level, there are many teams without a paid goalie coach.

Learning how to learn and what skills you need to work on are imperative to your development as a goalie, whether you can afford to hire a goalie coach or not.

How to work on Goalie Skills Individually

  • Create a plan (our goalie training app has the ability to create practice plans for yourself) so you maximize your ice time
  • Find a friend willing to bring a few pucks to shoot throughout your skate
  • Record yourself training! Even if you’re not sure what you should be watching for, learning from your own mistakes is one of the best ways to improve your skillset as a goalie

Basic Skills Goalies Must Develop

There are a many components of a well rounded goalie. These include basic things such as learning how to become a better skater, how to make glove saves, stick saves, blocker saves, and more. We’ve written about all of these topics extensively and further reading can be found below.