4 Ways to Include Goalies More in Hockey Practice Plans

4 Ways to Include Goalies More in Hockey Practice Plans
"They play like they practice, so they should practice like they play."
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As a youth hockey coach, and as with most youth hockey teams, I do not have a dedicated goalie coach for our team. While I personally took the USA Hockey module on goalie basics and took the additional step to get my goalie coach certification from the organization, I have never played in net.

This doesn’t mean I cannot coach goalies, but I don’t have a lot of experience to draw from. We do have goalie coaches through our club that we utilize regularly, however, with all the training and education I did take, while I may not be a textbook goalie coach, I learned one very important thing.

As coaches, we often forget about our goalies. Look at the language we use. We say “5-on-5,” and when we pull a goalie only then do we say “6-on-5.” Got two forwards breaking in against one defenseman? We call that a “2-on-0.” We call our forwards and defense players, or skaters, as if the goalie isn’t a player on the team and isn’t skating as well.

We ignore goalies in our language, but worse, ignore goalies in practice. We too often assume because they are getting shots during drills, they are getting the practice they need. Or we think that setting up a drill in which they get bombarded by shots from all directions does anything for their development, rather than just a chance to injure them with a shot they are not ready for. Another common mistake is that we yell for our goalies to play a puck they covered in a drill, because we want to keep a drill moving. As if the goalie stopping the puck messes up the flow of the drill.

So, after getting my USA Hockey certification, how did we change our practice plans?

"They play like they practice, so they should practice like they play . . .

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Dan Arel

Dan Arel is the Director of Coaching Education and Development for the San Diego Oilers and head coach of their 12U A team. He was also named the 2020 San Diego Gulls Foundation's Coach of the Year. You can email him at [email protected]

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