5 Ways Coaches Destroy Their Goaltenders
This is the second in a five part series by Larry Sadler, the Director of Smartgoalie.com. Check back next Thursday for part three.
After more than 30 years as a goaltending coach I am constantly reminded of how some things just don’t seem to change. Unfortunately, one such thing seems to be very evident – coaches often hurt their goaltenders. In fact, they may slowly destroy them. Now a few coaches do this intentionally, but many do it unintentionally and they do it in many ways. I have categorized some of these mistakes into 5 key points. Check them out to see if you have inadvertently fallen into any of them.
2. Coaches Pressure Them
- Coaches who constantly point out a goaltender’s mistakes. Coaches who criticize their goaltenders without pointing out proper corrections put an inordinate amount of pressure on them and therefore program their goaltenders to fail.
- Coaches who become excessively upset when their goaltenders are scored upon. A coach who becomes clearly agitated when their goaltenders “let in” a goal undermines the goaltenders’ self esteem and weakens the goaltenders’ resolve.
- Coaches laying the difference between winning and losing solely upon the goaltender. A coach who makes it clear to everyone that the goaltender’s performance is the difference between winning and losing puts an incredible amount of pressure on that goaltender. If anything, the coach should be trying to lift pressure from a goaltender’s shoulders so he can concentrate more effectively on the game. Remember, too much pressure makes a goaltender too tense, and leaves his self-esteem brittle and easily fractured. Coaches who blame their goaltenders for all goals against fail to realize that it took a mistake by at least one forward and another mistake by at least one defenseman to get the puck to the net. Sometimes blaming just the goaltender for a goal is like blaming a puddle for the rain.
- Coaches who play a goaltender until he loses. This attitude makes the wins contingent on the goaltender’s performance alone. Minor or youth coaches who continue to constantly play goalies until they lose will cause their back-up goalies to wither and will definitely wear out their first string goalie.
- Coaches who humiliate their goaltender for poor performance in front of the team. Any coach who openly criticizes any player in front of his team mates risks ruining his self-confidence. It is even worse for a goaltender because the nature of his position quite often sets him from the rest of his team already. Coaches who shout out non-specific or critical comments directed to the goaltender from the bench do nothing to help the goaltender’s development and only serve to embarrass and frustrate the goaltender.
- Coaches who pull their goaltenders from a game too soon or keep them in too long. Coaches who pull their goaltenders too soon risk ruining their self-esteem and leaving them in too long, especially in an embarrassing situation, is just as bad. Pulling a goaltender without telling them why also sends the goaltenders a bad, demoralizing message.
- Coaches who send small negative messages by telling their goaltenders they are “starting” rather than “playing” the game. A little thing like telling a goaltender he is starting implies he may not be finishing a game. Tell him he is “playing the game”. Referring to them as “targets” also implies the goaltenders can not be proactive.
- Coaches who tell their goaltenders “It’s all up to you”. By putting too much emphasis on the goaltender as the prime reason for winning a game the coach puts too much pressure on the goaltender.
- Coaches who expect their goaltenders to stop every puck in practice. Setting unrealistic objectives in practice and letting them know when they fail to live up to these objectives will cause many goaltenders to crack. To properly ensure goaltenders develop remember the 70% success rate rule. Every drill should guarantee an average of 70% success or goaltenders will get discouraged.
- Coaches who allow their players to run the net in practice or to humiliate the goalies in practice. Coaches who don’t provide for their goaltender’s safety or who fail to prevent their goaltender’s embarrassment at the hands of their team mates will program their goaltenders to become easily intimidated. That quite often carries over into games.
- Coaches who allow their players to “dipsy-doodle” too much in practice when attacking the net. By that I mean, coaches who allow their players to hot-dog or showboat during shooting or offensive drills by slowing down or dragging out their play in a completely non game-like pace. These non-game specific actions will have a detrimental affect upon a goaltender’s timing. It will also have a negative effect on the goaltender’s confidence.
- Coaches who allow too many shots on net at one time. These shooting galleries, in which players shoot all at once at the goaltender at any time in the practice, could injure your goaltender or negatively affect his focus and confidence causing them to wince or to pull up on shots.
Larry Sadler is the Director of Smartgoalie.com.
For further information on goaltending instruction please contact Larry at [email protected].