Hockey Director’s Goaltending Program Checklist
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Dear Hockey Director,

Do you have a plan for your goalies? If you believe or,,, if you ever said “Goaltending is important”, it’s better not be the afterthought.
Here’s your checklist to go over before the season.

How many teams do you plan to have in your club next season?

If your answer is 10 "A" teams, you must have at least 20 "A" qualified goalies in your mind who are coming or invited to the tryouts.

If you don't have enough goalies, you must discuss with your goaltending director to rethink about your club structure because you can't have a team without two competitive goalies.

Here are some of the items you need to figure out before the tryouts.

  • Do you run an extra ice sessions to evaluate the goalies?
  • Who makes the final decisions on signing the goalies? Head coaches or goaltending director?
  • And most importantly, do you have an answer to the goalie parents when they ask you "what do you plan for the goalie development?"

While it's traditionary up to head coaches to run the show during the season, the club might want to give the guidelines or even policies to the head coaches on how to manage the ice time of goalies in order to ensure proper development.

Managing the ice time of the goalies is extremely important in youth hockey because a backup goalie and his/her family often drive (or fly) all the way to the rink just to sit on the bench.

I even see many head coaches offer "75% starting position" and "25% backup job" to 12 years old kids.

No matter how you phrase it, sitting on the bench won't make them any better. Relying on one goalie won't make the team better because one injury or sickness of the starter could become a major issue if another goalie isn't ready to play important games.

USA Hockey suggests to rotate goalie position in 8U, split each period in 10U, switch by period in 12U then split a game till 15U. Yes, it sounds too radical and I heard many coaches disagree because "It's not the way we've done". However, I believe playing both goalies as much as possible can only make them better and it doesn't take much time for goalies (and coaches) to get use to the concept. In fact, even recent USA U20 National team goalies often split a game in international exhibition matches. Why not in youth hockey?

At least, the hockey director should suggest and encourage the head coaches to rotate goalies every game as much as possible.

There are several ways to incorporate the goalie training into your hockey program.

  1. Weekly Goalies Only Sessions
    Gather goalies into one or few groups according to the age/skill and run goalies only session.
    It's a great way to concentrate only on goaltending and train weekly.
    Finding Ice time, assistants and shooters could be challenging.
  2. Combined Goalie Session with Weekly Skill Session
    Many organizations start running weekly skill sessions. You could combine the goalie session as a part of the skill session in one section of the ice like 4/1 or even 1/6. This allows you to keep goalies in smaller group (2-4 goalies) for better attention and age/skills specific training. In order to avoid the conflicts with skills coaches who demand goalies in nets, I suggest Flip Flop format so the goalies can work on goalie specific drills full time.
  3. Practice Visit
    Practice visit by a goalie coach is widely done around the world. It's very important that goalie coaches have their time and space consistently throughout the season. Make sure to set days and time of the practice visits in advance and head coaches must agree to give up such space and time for one or two goalies for the time with the goalie coach. Giving first 5 mins for goalie coach then have him/her standing around is NOT considered as the goalie instruction if you really think goaltending is important.
  4. Combinations of above
    Travel teams need to have 2 of the goalie session formats above so all goalies work with goalie coach twice a week, like "1 Goalie Only Session + 1 Practice Visit" or "2 Practice Visits". This is simply because once a week is not enough for any skill development in competitive hockey.
    House level would need at least 1 goalie specific session as a part of the program.

Remember, Goaltending Development Program is an essential part of the hockey program.
Therefore, goalie instruction time is never optional, nor extra.

It's very important to have all the head coaches and team managers on board in order to support the goalie program from communicating with goalie coaches to finding shooters for goalie sessions.

If there are conflicts in between team dryland training and goalie instruction time, you should let goalies taking the goalie instruction or find other day/time for the goalie to train with goalie coaches.

While the contents of the goalie instruction is entirely up to the goaltending director, here's the example of the yearly goaltending program structure you can take a look. This method is proven to work very well, at least to me.

Under Construction

Under Construction