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Coaching the Coaches: Drills

This is part five in a series of articles from guest author Ryan Honick, President GDI Southeast, GDI Midwest and Director GDI EAST, WEST. Coaching the Coaches looks not at developing goaltending coaches, instead it looks to provide some support for the many coaches who have little or no experience dealing with the men and women they rely on the most – their goalies. Ryan regularly visits with coaches at all levels to share his insights, a taste of which you will get from this series.


Tampa Bay Lightning Goaltender Coach Frantz Jean told me over the summer; “To be able to evaluate and monitor NHL goalies’ quality of work in practice is extremely important. It’s not about working hard or for a long time, it’s about the quality and efficiency of the work. I am a firm believer that the quality of the goalies’ work will reflect in the quality of the goalies’ performance.”

As previously stated in the list of a goalie’s expectations, competing with teammates in practice and bettering themselves in practice are primary responsibilities. Be sure to demand the most from your goalie in drills, and not by just elevating your tone, but by informing them of what they can and should be doing better if needed. There is nothing like a tap of the pads or a stick whack on the boards from the coach to grow the confidence that they so desperately need. Make sure the goalies are awake and dissecting the drills when you are on the board. When was the last time you bothered to look at the goalie during this time or even asked them to recite what was just taught?

When designating time for goalie drills, it’s key to be sure to get the most out of this time. You don’t need a goalie coach to perform them, any coach can run it. Maybe you are making time before the team takes the ice or maybe it’s just at the start when players are doing skill work. Regardless, have the goalie focus on one thing or another and make this a routine. Have a list of goalie drills from a coach that are simple and don’t require more than one or two shooters. Work on fundamental skills that can tend to fade during the course of a long season. For example, work the stick and the body repetitiously rather than having them dive around to stop three shots coming from three different shooters with no real emphasis on anything particular. Review the key points and expectations with the goalie. It’s about quality, not quantity. Every rep matters, so making the same mistakes repeatedly simply makes the goalie worse.

It is not about save percentage, it is about successful skill building. The saves will come once the skill has been built. Games are a reflection of current ability. You showcase what you are made of. Be concerned with doing it right and building proper habits; have attention to detail. This is the level of discipline that most goalie coaches exude and demand from their students. Working the goalies as a non goalie coach can still have that same value.

Coach Kersner from the Skipjacks Hockey Club feels “Coaches should have a handful of drills that they can use with their goalies to work on some of the fundamentals to the position.  We have worked with Ryan to establish some position specific skating drills and a couple of shooting drills that our goalies can use daily. Both the coaches and the goalies know the key teaching points of the drills and the coaches can help to reinforce the fundamentals with the goalies. It’s important to try and devote at least 5-10 min daily to goalie-specific work.”

We all demand that our players develop “Good Habits”. Goaltenders are no different and should get in the habit of:

  • Completing the save process on every puck
  • Collecting loose pucks that are in their range
  • Developing ice awareness skills
  • Battling on every puck
  • Communicating with teammates
  • Handling the puck
  • Practicing PSM at every opportunity
  • Experimenting with technique
  • Preparing for practice as if it were a game
  • Being first on and last off the ice
  • Avoiding excessive emotions
  • Having Fun!

The provided diagram and video is of a drill that will primarily develop movement, entitled Lateral Targets. It requires the goalie to hit multiple positions using multiple methods of transportation, and then be rewarded by receiving a shot in between the series of moves. The attached video illustrates the drill in a shortened version, as when executed completely, it will be a marathon of work for the goaltender.


Drill Diagram - Lateral Shots

Drill: Lateral Targets

  1. G moves to 3 separate targets and T Pushes back to original position
  2. X1 takes 3-5 shots to anywhere from one position at a time
  3. Switch Sides
  4. No Rebounds are played

Key Teaching Points

  1. Goalies need to constantly maintenance their lateral mechanics
  2. Each positional target creates a unique visual target, rotation of the body, weight load of the push leg, distance to travel, and finished set position
  • Phase 1 – T Push (Feet to Feet)
  • Phase 2 – Butterfly T Push Recovery (Knees to Feet)
  • Phase 3 – Butterfly Slide (Feet to Knees)
  • Phase 4 – Butterfly Backside Push (Knees to Knees)

Be sure to put together a collection of goalie drills that you or your assistants can use on a regular basis. This alone can be the difference between an ordinary coach and one that obviously cares for and values his goalies; the purpose for this entire series. For our next article, we will look beyond just a goalie’s technique and the “best” way to make the save.  There lays an attribute that is very well known, a goalie’s battle mindset!


Ryan Honick is a Professional Goaltending Consultant and is currently the Goaltending Coach for the USHL Green Bay Gamblers and USPHL Jersey Hitmen. Both of these team’s goalies won their respective Goaltender of the Year awards last season. He has previously coached in the ECHL for 6 seasons, along the way working with 4 goaltenders that have now played in the NHL. He consults regularly with College, USHL, NAHL, USPHL and Tier 1 teams within the United States. Ryan has also worked with the 2015, 2014, 2012, and 2010 ECHL Goaltender of the Year award winners, the 2014 USPHL-Elite Goaltender of the Year, and the 2011 EJHL Goaltender of the Year. Based in Washington DC, and Chicago, IL, GDI USA operates year-round and provides clients with a full gamut of programming. Contact Ryan directly for more information.

Ryan Honick
President GDI USA

C: (757) 641-9515
E: [email protected]


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