Kachinas’ goalie parents and coaches, this is Goaltending Director Hiroki Wakabayashi.

The Best Goalie Habits

“We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
– Aristotle –

Skill training is mostly about acquiring or refining skills and make them as habits so you can perform without even thinking in games.

Goaltending skill training is no different,,, or I must say it’s actually the premium example of gaining excellence through countless GOOD repetitions. Unfortunately, acquiring BAD habits with repetitions work exactly the same way, or even worse because it’s easier to do.

So what are the GOOD habits you have to develop to become an elite goalie? Among many habits that goalies need to develop, there are three essential habits for youth goalies to obtain as early as possible.

Chest Trap

“Everything coming inside of your body should stay inside of your body” 

which means, you don’t want to give up any rebounds from your chest or stomach area. You must tuck your elbows and squeeze the puck with your glove and blocker so the rebound won’t leak out. 

Freeze the Short Rebound

If you give up a rebound within your stick reach, you must cover it with your glove, protect with the paddle of the stick. The opponents around you are trying to hack and shovel the puck so you must fight hard to get a whistle.

Make sure to cover the puck completely because shooters won’t be nice in front of the net and refs don’t have to blow the whistle if they see the puck (by the rule). This habit will save you from crying out “The ref didn’t blow the whistle!”.

Follow the Long Rebound

If the rebound is outside of your stick reach, you must move and re-establish your position to prepare for the next shot. 

When you are down in a butterfly position, you need to get up with the pushing leg so you can get up and move at the same time. Which means:

  • if the rebound is on your RIGHT, you must get up and push with your LEFT LEG.

  • If the rebound is on your LEFT, get up and push with your RIGHT LEG.

This habit will save a split seconds to face the next shot and you goalies know how big those split seconds are in a game.

Following the Long Rebound principle applies to missed shots, blocked shots and shots that hit the post. Treat them all as rebounds and you won’t be late for the next shot. 

 Repetition makes you perfect,,, and perfectly wrong too

So how can you develop these habits?

Obviously by countless repetitions in practices, just like these simple skating drills. I know this is no fun but it’s inevitable to succeed in games and have real fun. 


You must work on these habits not only in goalie trainings but also during team practices because you practice with your team way longer than with goalie coaches.

If you don’t Squeeze, Freeze or Follow the rebound during practices over weeks, months, or years, the lazy habits would become a part of you and those bad habits are tough to break.

I’m very strict to develop good habits and fix the bad ones but there are reasons for it.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Hiroki Wakabayashi
World Hockey Lab LLC. 1140 E Wildwood Drive Phoenix, AZ 85048