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Five Ways Coaches Destroy Their Goaltenders. Part Five of Five.

Five Ways Coaches Destroy Their Goaltenders. Part Five of Five.

This is the fifth of a five part series by Larry Sadler, the Director of

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.




We hope this young goalie is in good hands. Is your little guy or girl?

Coaches Misguide Them


  • Coaches who allow improper goaltending instruction. Coaches who take the first person who volunteers to work with their goaltenders without checking them out first could risk making matters worse. Developing competent goaltending skills requires a competent goaltending instructor.
  • A big problem today is with the number of poor goaltending coaches out there. Many are lack teaching skills or are not very knowledgeable. Think of it this way:  if a head coach knows nothing about goaltending and then selects the goaltending coach how can he properly evaluate that goaltending coach? How does he make sure the goaltending coach is competent and doing his job?
  • Coaches set improper or unrealistic goals. Coaches who set goals, which are too low or too high, allow their goaltenders to develop improperly. A coach who knows his goaltenders (i.e. their strengths and limitations) sets more realistic goals for them. Allowing them to underachieve or forcing them to strive for something they are not ready to attempt is dangerous and could forestall the goaltender’s progressive development.
  • Coaches who allow the goaltending coach to impose an improper style upon the goaltenders. Coaches who allow goaltending coaches to impose a “cookie cutter” approach to their goaltender may program a goaltender to fail. A good goaltending coach teaches proper principles to their goaltenders. These principles are based on a scientific approach based on an understanding of proper bio-mechanics, and statistical analysis. A goaltending coach who just teaches what worked well for himself back when he played without really knowing why can damage a young goaltender’s development. Goaltenders are all different due to individual body mass, height, strength, agility and acuity. A style must be scientifically accurate – based on statistical analysis and on proven biomechanical principles. Coaches shouldn’t allow the goaltending coach to force their goaltenders to become something they aren’t. Allowing them to imitate pro goaltenders without allowing for their own personal differences and abilities will cause problems.
  • Coaches who acquiesce to their goaltending coach. Coaches should know what their goaltending coaches are doing and make sure they are in agreement with the approach taken. Accepting the goaltending coach’s approach without proper explanation could cause confusion down the road and could end up sending conflicting messages to their goaltenders at critical times.
  • Coaches who don’t screen their goaltending coach before hiring him. Coaches have to be sure their goaltending coach has the credentials and track record needed to improve their goaltenders.
  • Coaches who preach using the butterfly in every situation. Coaches who preach the butterfly on every save are programming their goaltenders to fail down the road. Each save is a response to a specific situation. Using the butterfly on every shot does not reinforce proper play reading nor does it allow for quick lateral movement and more effective rebound control.


  • Coaches who use Shots Against stats without taking into consideration the difficulty of the shots. A coach who looks at Shots on Net stats should be sure to qualify the difficulty of shot by where they originated and how fast or slow they were.
  • Coaches who constantly force their goaltender to “be safe” by staying in the blue ice of the crease. A coach who tells his goaltender to stay constantly in the crease or “blue ice” hampers the goaltender’s ability to challenge opposing shooters. By staying back in all situations more of the net area is exposed to shooters. Staying back also considerably reduces the goaltenders’ arsenal by reducing their ability to intimidate the opposing shooters by challenging more.
  • Practice-Related
  • Coaches who don’t require their goaltending coach to clear his practice plan in advance. Coaches must have a comfort level with their goaltending coach. Therefore be sure the goaltending coach states what his practice plans are. This way the coach can ensure he is sending the same message to the goaltender. Also reciprocate the gesture by providing your goaltending coach with a copy of your practice plan in advance so he is aware of what you are planning.
  • Coaches who don’t supervise their goaltending coach. A coach should be sure to periodically see what skills his goaltending coach is teaching, why he doing so and how he is teaching them.


Smart Goalie LogoLarry Sadler is the Director of

For further information on goaltending instruction please contact Larry at [email protected].

About The Author


  1. Kagdwarrior

    I know that i had a coach in my junior time that was just like the above mentioned and after only 2 years he had ruined my love for the game and torn my mental game apart. It was only after leaving hockey and returning back some 5 years later that my love came back. My mental game has been the same though, Second guesing everything, something i had never done prior to those 2 awful years.

    • larry sadler

      I have a good sense of what you went through that is why I became a goaltending coach so as to prevent that from happening to other goaltenders. As for your bouts of doubt remembe we all go through that just do your research to insure you are making the correct decisions and think positively look for the correct move and don’t hover over the poor ones. Visualize yourself making the correct move and you will always make it
      stay in touch either here or on my site