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A Different Role for Goalie Coaches: Helping Shooters

A Different Role for Goalie Coaches: Helping Shooters
Big Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tyler Myers was one of three NHL players that came out to shoot on goalies like Eric Comrie during a recent OR Sports camp in Kelowna. All talked about the benefits of learning what goaltenders are trying to do, and as author Tomas Hertz explains, that desire can provide a new role (and possible revenue stream) for goaltending coaches. (InGoal Photo by Kevin Woodley)

Big Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tyler Myers was one of three NHL skaters that came out to shoot on goalies like Jets prospect Eric Comrie during a recent OR Sports goaltending camp in Kelowna. All the shooters talked about the benefits of learning what goaltenders are trying to do, and as author Tomas Hertz explains, that desire can provide a new role – and possibly another revenue stream – for goaltending coaches. (InGoal Photo by Kevin Woodley)

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.

Hertz Shooter Article (1 of 1)

Francesco Vilardi, a center for the Flint Firebirds, and brother Gabriel Vilardi, a center the Windsor Spitfires picked second overall in this year’s OHL Draft, have both benefitted by working as shooters for Leif Hertz, a goaltender for the Mississauga Steelheads.

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.

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. Matthew Bourgeois

    Mr. Hertz,

    Great article, I find myself supporting many of the offensive players on the teams that I help. Some are very open to talking about the opposing goalie and others seem to want to do things on their own. My interest in expanding my role came five years ago while working with Tom Dempsey in Ottawa with his summer camp. Tom told me about a young Logan Couture heading into his draft year and how he spent a lot of that summer at goalie schools learning everything he could about what he might expect to see in any situation. I believed that if a player like Couture can see the benefit of working goalie schools, then it should be an easy sell for any player looking to improve their craft.

  2. Todd

    I am a minor hockey goalie coach. I have been working with the offensive in both practices and games to exploit the opposing teams goalies. It’s a great way to earn street cred with forwards by telling them where to score on a goalie.

  3. Steve mckichan

    I have had future pro goalie school for 25 years and have had many of our shooters develop into NHL players. Brian campbell, Logan couture, Andy mcDonald, Nathan Beaulueu, drew Doughty.
    15 years ago I started a parallel goalscoring program charging shooters to be trained at goalie school by the high end shooters and get reps at goal scoring modalities they wouldn’t otherwsie get.
    As a goalie school operator out two biggest expenses are ice and staff. For 15 years my sister staff costs have been covered by the paying shooters.
    Saving about $75k summer…. Old news ha!

    Most kids today are self absorbed and entitled and to get any highschool /junior aged kids to shoot for free is even next to impossible. They want to get paid at something my generation would do for free..

  4. Tomas Hertz

    This is not old news per say.

    First of all, I am not talking about merely watching a goaltender during the warm-up or game to determine his / her tendencies and then passing it on to the head coach. That is not what you are saying either.

    I am also not talking about running two programs simultaneously. If you have a unique and formal curriculum for your shooters then please share it with me since I would love to learn from you and become a better coach! I see nothing to suggest that on your website.

    What I am talking about is offering free ice to goaltenders where goaltending coaches and skill coaches work together to teach shooters goaltending tendencies in a large variety of common tactical situations. Discussions and feedback occur only with the shooters and not the goaltenders generally. If the shooters want to learn what the goaltenders are thinking then they join the conversation.

    In the goalie school model, the goalie gets feedback and the shooter is just there as a robot to shoot where desired without instruction. Some education is naturally gained merely by listening and watching.

    I understand you save a lot of money by having goaltenders and shooters on the ice at the same time but, in my model, you would not be giving everything to either group. If mere repetitions is education then that is sufficient. In my model, the goalies may have to pay a price for the ice to mitigate costs but I am talking about goaltending coaches moving into a market controlled by skill coaches. It’s a consideration.

    Are you saying those shooters are NHL players as a result of having been at Future Pro ? I doubt it but it is good self-promotion and marketing.

    What does your last comment have to do with this discussion?