Sunday Q&A #5

Q) A lot of head coaches or youth coaches in general, have zero goaltending experience. How can those coaches do a better job of incorporating their goalies in their practices?

A) You must remember that although your goalie is alone in a sense, he or she is still a part of the team. Be open and honest with your goalie and if you don’t have the knowledge, don’t fake it.  

Reach out to someone with a mind for the position or perhaps speak with the parents of your goalie(s) and look for someone that you can agree on to have out once every week or two.  Goalies need the same attention that players do, yet they typically get left behind amongst the team.  

As far as incorporating goalies in your practice plan, use common sense.  Allow time for your goalie to re-set after shots.  Start drills on a whistle, rather than at the pace your players determine.  Set some ground rules for your first 2 drills where pucks must be released at the top of the circles or pucks must be kept below the waist, etc.  Utilizing a proper warm up is so important for any ice time, as it sets the grounds for the rest of practice, and the confidence your goalie will have after feeling the puck for the first few minutes.

There are a ton of great resources with the plethora of social media out there today.  YouTube goalie drills, follow social accounts that provide drills and read up as much as you can.  There is no excuse not to know a few basic goalie movement drills that you can have your goalies incorporate each practice whether on their own or with a coach.

Being afraid or not sure what to do with your goalies is not an excuse to leave them behind and hurt their development.  Include them in your practice plan just as you would your forwards and defensemen, and it will create a much better relationship between you and your goaltender.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to utilize time throughout your practice to work on things your goalie may be struggling with.  Are you noticing a pattern of 2 on 1’s down the right side resulting in rebounds left in the slot? Create a drill that will force your goalie to steer pucks clear and maintain good rebound control.  Working with your goalies does not mean it has to be a controlled “goalie station” type drill.  Be as game-like as possible in your approach.  Ask them questions and get their feedback.  They want your help and attention. 

As I mentioned first, the goalie is still a part of your team.  A confident, controlled and hard-working goalie sets the stage for your team’s overall success.


Q) At what age do you think using a Sports Psychologist is beneficial? I don't just mean in the sense to help with the game, but to help in dealing with situations with coaches, dressing room antics and keeping your goalie in the right frame of mind and tuning out the other noise.

A) This is a great question, but one that I believe is completely a case-by-case basis.  I don’t think there is a magic age by any means, but if your son or daughter is serious about the position, is mature enough to speak with someone and truly wants to improve all aspects of performance, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to talk to someone come their early teens.  We are seeing so much today regarding mental health and the importance of speaking up, that if you sense something is wrong, assessing the situation before it compounds is absolutely necessary.

If your son or daughter is dealing with issues outside the rink that are causing stress to him or her, you must be open with your child and find the root of the problem.  Then one can determine the next course of action, whether they truly need to talk to someone, or if you, as the parents, need to approach the coach with some concerns, and rectify the situation.

Being a goalie is a tough position and in the sense of a team, it is easy for young athletes to point the finger or blame the goalie.  We must reassure our young goaltenders that much responsibility comes with the position, and we must have thick skin, as hard as it may be at times.  I completely understand that can be tough for a young child, but the earlier we teach them about becoming strong emotionally and psychologically, the better off they will certainly be, not just as athletes but people overall.

Wyatt Waselenchuk