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Five Ways to Incorporate Goalies into Practice

By Tom Bly, Chair, Coaches Program, 01/24/18, 2:00PM EST


Are you maximizing your goalie's practice time?

Photo Credit: Rick Schroeter Photography/SilverPeak Studios Canada

It’s one of the more popular questions from minor hockey coaches: How can I incorporate goalies into my practice plans?

Nobody wants to see a goalie standing idle in their net while the rest of the team is warming up or doing other drills. Even if it’s just working one-on-one with a coach, goalies should be active as much as the players. Coaches don’t have to reinvent the wheel to get goalies involved in practices, it just takes a bit of creativity and a concentrated effort. Practice doesn’t mean peppering goalies with shots; they need dedicated, goalie-specific drills for a portion of the time on the ice.

The Hockey Canada Drill Hub offers hundreds of practice tips and drills for goalies and players. Here are five of our favourite ways to incorporate goalies into a practice:

1. Puck Control

Have a coach do dump-ins and passes to the goalie at one end while the players do passing drills at the other end. Getting a netminder to participate in passing drills teaches them how to confidently handle the puck as well as read bounces off the boards. This is important for when a goalie leaves their crease to play the puck behind the net or in front of them.

Photo Credit: XGen Photography

2. Skate with the Team

Goaltenders should be doing all skating drills with the team, if possible using their goaltending stance. Have them focus more on technique over speed – they aren’t meant to be the fastest players on the ice. It’s important for them to be comfortable on their skates and strong skaters. A member of the coaching staff can take them aside and do crease work drills as well.

Download the Hockey Canada Drill Hub

Looking for new drills and practice plans to help your players improve? Download the Hockey Canada Drill Hub and get started today.

3. Use All Angles

Space out the shooters across the offensive zone and use different distances and types of shots. This will help teach goalies rebound control as well as reading the puck and cutting off angles. Give goalies time to recover in between shots. Try to mimic what a game situation would be like. Bombarding them with 20 or 30 shots in the span of a minute isn’t realistic or helpful.

Photo Credit: Kevin Sousa Photography

4. Scenario Drills

Drills that help goalies improve the most are the ones that they will see in games. Use defencemen as part of the offensive attack and be sure to include odd man rush drills into your practices. Chances are these drills will result in a shot on net but not always from the same player or spot on the ice. Goalies will need to stay alert and follow the puck as the play develops.

5. Goalie-Specific Drills

Use a dedicated portion of the practice for one-on-one, coach controlled drills that are specific to goalies. The position is just as important as any other on the team and shouldn’t be overlooked. There are many drills available both on the OMHA Goalie page and through the Hockey Canada Drill Hub.

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Tom Bly is a Barrie, ON native and holds the position of Chair, Coaches Program in the OMHA.

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