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Goaltender-Specific Skating Series: Drill 1 of 20

Goaltender-Specific Skating Series: Drill 1 of 20

Drill #1 (Goalpost – T-push- Centre Crease)

HertzCreaseMovement Drill1Over the course of the hockey season 30 goaltender-specific skating drills will be described with accompanying video demonstrations. These drills are very simple and are not meant to represent anything to advanced coaches and goaltenders per say; however, parents and volunteers are constantly searching for something to do with limited time and space to help goaltenders get better.  I hope they will be of benefit to those who want to provide children with good training!

Being a strong skater remains at the foundation of the current Hockey Canada goaltender development pyramid. These drills can be done at any time during a practice. They represent some of the basic skating drills I have used to help goaltenders over the last decade as a private consultant. This includes former Calgary Flames, and current Farjestad BK – Swedish Elite League goaltender, Danny Taylor with whom I worked for a few weeks during this past summer.

The entire series of drills can be performed in an uninterrupted one hour session. They provide both skating and conditioning elements to a training session or team practice.

The first drill simply involves the goaltender pushing of the goalpost towards the top of the crease. Proper goalpost integration is required and a T-push is employed. When performed correctly, the goaltender should be turning his head towards the top of the crease prior to movement. This mimics a pass-out situation.

The goaltender should lead with the hands and stick and also leans into the T-push. Do not remain stiff and vertically upright during the T-push.  Keep the stick blade on the ice! At the top of the blue paint square up to a puck or small cone, and come to a complete stop.

Returning to the post requires a pivot (reverse C-cut) to open up your body for a straight point B to A return to the post.

Some instructors teach their students to lift the pivoting skate off the ice just after the pivot and then drive into the second T-push. It is the author’s opinion this is an unnecessary move that waste time. Just keep the skate on the ice, pivot and push!

The timing must be correct so the goaltender neither falls short of the goalpost nor bangs into it in a clumsy uncoordinated fashion.

The number of repetitions per set, and the number of sets depends on the ability of the student, age, and need for skating development and conditioning.

For team practices where I received essentially minimal goaltender-specific time, I nevertheless had an agreement with the coach that when the rest of the team went to the chalkboard I could have the goaltenders for myself. For very young goalies, we would quickly meet at centre ice and work on a movement pattern for two minutes. For older goaltenders who knew me, I would just stay against the boards and shout out the crease-specific movement pattern and the number of repetitions I wanted.

As I wrote a couple of years ago, this made practice tougher for the goalies but they were better from a conditioning perspective and got something for themselves from practice even though skating can be boring!




About The Author

Tomas Hertz, MD BA

Tomas Hertz has been a contributing author to InGoal Magazine since 2010. He operated  "No Holes, No Goals Goaltending" in Kingston, Ontario for a decade and worked with developing goalies in the G.K.M.H.A. and K.A.M.H.A. He remains active as a timekeeper in the O.M.H.A. - O.W.H.A., the O.J.H.L. (Kingston Voyageurs), and the O.U.A.A. (R.M.C. Palladins). 


  1. Tyrannicide

    I may suggest if you are going to offer instructional/demonstration video’s than you should require your goaltender to keep his glove open and present to the shooter, not angled in. Further, he should be keeping his stick flat on the ice at all times, even during movement back to the post, not floating up and down.
    Doing such drills still requires you to be fully aware of ALL your mvoement and positioning, including gloves and stick location, this is important when doing any drill as a goalie. If you can’t keep your gloves, stick, and body in proper form than you are either trying to mvoe to quick or even lack the basic fundementals which clearly would need more focus and work.
    The video shows poor overall technique in this regard.

  2. Steve McKichan

    The drill is a solid drill and will,allow you to assess any movement issues with your goalies.

    Love the simple fundamentals! Great job! Keep them coming!

    There is one issue I would have with the first video however illustrating a very common error.

    1) the stick should lead “slightly” and not “overlead”

    This is the error you see here. When this young goalie arrives at the top of the crease he has flung his stick past the centre angle leaving the 5 hole exposed. You will note he brings the stick back to fill the 5 hole after he arrives at the cente angle.

    You could freeze this video as his body arrives square to the middle angle and see no coverage along the ice at all, as his stick blade has over lead and has the face of the stick blade square to the side boards instead of the centre angle.

    Great drill, goalie just has some small correctable areas……

  3. Ian Wotherspoon

    I thot the video’s were excellent and show the movement well from both post’s. The one suggestion that I was going to make was to do with the first video with regards to the goalies stick but Steve McKichan already beat me to it. This to me is another reason why video’s are so important for showing goalies what they’re doing right and what they need to work on.

    After just one “SKATING TIP” I feel that this is going to be something that goalie coaches as well as coaches can use to improve the goalies skating and “crease movement.” I’m looking forward to the next one with anticipation.

    Well done.

  4. paul szabo

    What Steve McK calls “overleading” can be corrected by advancing the hands forward of the body axis, so that one doesn’t have to move the blocker so far out of the way of the pad that needs to rotate as the goalies is T pushing. I see so many goalies doing this and about as many coaches never pointing out that it is an error. Kids do this type of skating drill over and over for years and they often reinforce bad habits like not having the stick on the ice, or else the toe of the blade only, or the 5 hole not covered etc.

    • Steve McKichan

      I call that a blocker lock. This is when the goalie rests their blocker on the side of their leg pad, which causes several other issues…..another recent trend I have observed and unsure who teaches this or should I say, mistakenly doesn’t correct it immediately,

      • Steve McKichan


        That is the proper correction. Blocker needs to be out on a plane in front of the body not beside the hip.

  5. Mike O'Brien

    What do you guys think about the position of his back foot when he returns to his post? I’d like to see that back foot get back to just above the goal line…or am I being overly critical?

    Great video and I too look forward to next one!

    • Tyrannicide

      Well, that is a good point and I’d say it depends on where the puck would be when returnign to the post.
      If it is in the lower corner, the postioning is fine as it leaves them more square to the puck. If you want to simulate the puck below the goal line, then I’d like to see the back leg on or behind the goal line (so as to not be something a player could bounce the puck in off of which I’ve seen plenty) and of course the stick and glove in position to block passes out to the slot.

      The return to the post positioning is just situational. It would be good to work on different scenerios!

  6. Ian Wotherspoon

    I was sitting here reading all the comments agbout these two video’s when it came to mind that how much I’m enjoying this site. The comunication amongst goalie coaches and goalies alike is fantastic. A subject is brought up as in these last two video’s and we discuss the good and bad points of the movement. Now, if we could only get some team coaches to at least read what is being said they might learn something about goaltending and how to coach goalies. If they knew more about the position and of how to coach it we might see improvement in goalies playing their position.

    I just wanted to say how much I’m really enjoying this site and all the comunication that is going on. Even this old retired goalie coach is still learning new things. There has been more changes in how a goalie plays than in any other position and therefore a goalie is always learning.

    I just want to thank everyone for participating. Just think if we had all this info 20 years ago.

  7. Rick Besharah

    There’s a couple of great points here for coaches to work with their goalies while using minimal ice.

    Goaltender-specific power skating is essential to growth and development of all goaltenders at any age or level of play. Just like there are plenty of ways to stop a puck, there are plenty of ways to move within the crease. But efficiency should be the primary concern of every movement for a goaltender during a practice through coaches providing an understanding of the “Why’s” & the “How’s” so that they can relate them to specific situations which would be seen in a game. Therefore, having a goaltending coach attend practices to work with the team’s goaltenders would be highly beneficial.

    One way to remain efficient and on time for passes is to ensure that the head & shoulders remain as one unit for this exercise. If the goaltender is situated against the post with their skates along the goal line, it is safe to assume that the simulation of the puck is located below the goal line. In this case the goaltender should be challenging the pass with both his stick along the goal line and his glove to cut off passes both along the ice, and those which are saucered over the blade of the goaltender’s stick for the intended recipient. In the event that the pass does get through, then the goaltender must follow it while remaining square to the puck & in position the whole time. If this is the case, then turning one’s head first, & following up with a T-push second, will only waste time. In a game where every fraction of a second counts, it would make more sense that the goaltender follows the puck with the shoulders & head at the same time after the puck crosses the goal line, and heads toward the recipient of the pass.

    This brings me to my next point:
    The goaltender’s stick is lifting off of the ice during movement because he is not bending his knees enough. Although remaining stiff is not a good thing, an upright back for a goaltender allows them to “play big” & therefore provides the shooter with less of the net to aim for. A goaltender who maintains an upright back will not only take away more of the top of the net from shooters when performing standing movements, but he will also ensure proper coverage of the top of the net when dropping into a butterfly, or a butterfly-blocking slide as well. Doing so will allow for better weight distribution and balance for quick movements and recoveries as more of the goaltender’s weight will be placed directly over the knees. Just like a squating position for weight lifters, a goaltender’s upper body should not lean too far forward or back. This will cause balance issues that may slow the goaltender down for a variety of movements. Goaltenders should trust their standing movements to their legs. Therefore, let the legs do the work and leave the twisting and turning out of the equation. It will do more harm than good by causing a balance issue in the event that the puck changes direction due to the upper body’s momentum heading into the opposite direction. In this case a good bend in the knee is essential for quick movements and powerful pushes.

    Glove & Blocker placement for ready stance and standing movements is unique to each goaltender, however I am a firm believer in having my students close the holes between their core and their arms in order to take some of the thinking out of the game for them (every fraction of a second counts after all). Keeping the hands too far forward will result in the seal between the arms and the core to open, thus creating holes for pucks to slip through. Instead, by keeping the elbows pinned to the sides, goaltenders will merely process the following thought, “if the puck is not coming directly at me, then react to the puck in an outward motion with the arm”. In the event which a goaltender “opens up”, then he will have to process an additional option, “if the puck is not coming directly at me, then I will have to react in an outward motion OR an inward motion with the arm”. It may not seem like much, but it only makes sense to simplify one’s game as much as possible to remain efficient.

    Some goaltenders are being taught to hold their gloves similar to a baseball glove by extending it toward the puck with the outter lip of the pocket pointed to the rafters. This method will give more of the palm of the glove than the pocket to the shooter which can result in frequent rebounds, not to mention that when placed this way, the glove is only covering an area that would otherwise already be covered by the shoulder, in addition to resulting in a slower transitions of the glove to be in position for low, glove-side shots. Goaltenders who use this method are generally susceptible to goals under the glove-side elbow or odd-bounce rebounds due to the downward swatting motion performed on quicker shots.
    Instead, it makes more sense for a goaltender to pin the elbow to the body to close the gap, then turn the glove slightly toward the outside so that they are maximizing coverage of the net in addition to showing more pocket & allowing for an easier transition for lower shots.

    In the event of a high shot while in the butterfly, a goaltender should maintain the seal, keep the glove pinned to the side, & bend the elbow while lifting the arm and shoulder to build a wall between the net & the puck. If the goaltender is in the correct position, then pucks should either hit the arm/shoulder & be directed up and over the net, or hit the arm/shoulder & allow the goaltender to absorb, or freeze it.

    Pinning the blocker arm to the hip will allow the goaltender to create the seal on this side of the body while keeping the correct angle and slant of his stick in front of him. In addition to the seal, by combining pinning the elbow, proper timing, & keeping the shoulders square to the puck at all times, the goaltender will avoid having their stick move out of the way of their 5-hole during T-pushes which can be seen in the videos (more so when moving to the blocker side). By twisting at the waist and guessing where the puck will end up, rather than keeping the shoulders square to it at all times and remaining in position and ready for a shot at any moment, the goaltender will open up yet another option for the shooter between their skates without the proper coverage along the ice.

    There are plenty of theories of how to position one’s gloves, bend the knees, etc. As mentioned above, there is more than one way to stop a puck, but simplifying one’s game as much as possible through placing additional focus on theory & efficiency is always a great start to lay a proper foundation which speed, power, and agility can be built onto as each student progresses.

  8. Greg

    I love this drill and ensure my goalies perform skating drills EVERY practice and during games when the puck is being dropped during a face-off in the offensive zone

  9. Ken Kowalik

    I tend to agree with rick about keeping the upper body square to the puck as the goalie moves off the post rather than twisting and pushing to where it is heading. I’ve always tried to have the goalie treating every movement of the puck as though there could be a shot or redirection at any time. For me I think that tends to keep them square to the shot wherever it comes from and they don’t tend to open their stance up as much .
    I do like the videos and the discussion option, good job!