A Different Role for Goalie Coaches: Helping Shooters
As goalie coaches, we naturally spend our time trying to help goaltenders improve.
We teach them about technical skills, tactical situations, and the importance of working hard both on and off the ice; however, there is a potential untouched market for earning service revenue as a goaltending consultant that some of us may not have considered: training goal scorers.
Over the last decade, I have coached many hockey goalies either on a volunteer basis or paid work for private instruction. If this type of instruction is to be the best possible for developmental purposes it should look at tactical situation from the perspective of both the goaltender and the shooter.
For this to happen, there must be a dialogue between the goalie coach and these two players who are being trained to perform different tasks on a team.
I have worked with two brothers currently playing in the Ontario Hockey League: Francesco Vilardi, a center for the Flint Firebirds, and this year’s second overall OHL draft selection, Gabriel Vilardi, a center for the Winsor Spitfires, along with my son Leif Hertz, a goaltender for the Mississauga Steelheads. The three of them are very close and have been sharing ice for early morning training sessions for close to a decade.
I have tried to teach the Vilardis to look at things from a goaltender’s thought process, and my son to listen to what Francesco and Gabriel say about what they see and think when they are ready to release a shot.
Naturally, the boys know each other’s tendencies well.
Furthermore, if my son was working with his instructor and one shooter at one end of the ice, I would create original drills and work with the other boy at the other end. No one wasted time and everyone worked hard.
The drills were for both common situations and some may have seemed silly: shooting from horrible angles, from the knees while falling down and while hitting them hard or smacking them with my stick.
One of the Vilardi boys’ favorite drills was simply me taking slap shots from the point and working on tip drills. I mostly shot wide of the net on purpose to train eye-hand-puck coordination skills. We just pretended the goalie was squared up close the body of the player in front of the crease. We had a lot of fun.
This concept can also work during team practices but does not commonly occur.
The combined efforts of a head coach and goalie coach could provide the same benefits for all members of a competitive team; however, the head coach must appreciate the potential benefits of this approach. If you understand how your opponent is trained to think, it can help you to beat them during competition. Naturally, at the higher levels of the game scouting reports provide you with information about the certain player’s habits.
To be clear, I am in no way taking credit for the success of these shooters. They created their own success through hard work and the opportunities provided to them; however, the benefit of three boys training together and receiving quality instruction about the respective thoughts in certain situation and what they see has most certainly been of benefit to all three: helping the goalie and those shooting on him.
If you provide private instruction or work as a volunteer or just as a parent with your child, take time to stop the drills once in a while and discuss what is expected in different situations and what everyone is thinking from their individual perspective. For those who operate a business, there may be an entirely new revenue stream available by providing simple clinics that teach shooters about how goaltenders are trained.
This may seem as a betrayal to the goalie craft by some, but a goalie coach can also teach a lot to non-goaltenders.