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

This is the fourth of a five part series by Larry Sadler, the Director of Check back next Thursday for part five.

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.

4. Coaches Overwork Them


  • Coaches who play their goaltenders until they fail could end up destroying their goaltenders’ confidence, exhausting them and setting them up for injury. They also risk hurting the development of those back-up goaltenders that patiently waits for their time to play – all the while slowly losing their competitive edge.
  • Coaches who fail to provide their goaltenders with proper game prep time. Coaches who don’t provide their goaltenders with a specific game prep routine ensure their goaltenders will not be at their peak of readiness by game time. Ball tossing in the hall brings the goaltender’s eye-hand coordination up to the required game pace.
  • Coaches who provide no time to the goaltenders for relaxation and focusing. Research shows us relaxation training is an important part of pre and post-game routines, especially for goaltenders. Coaches who don’t allow their goaltenders to have an effective relaxation and focusing routine hurt their goaltenders’ overall performance. The goaltenders don’t need to sit in the dressing room while the coach discusses team play. The goaltenders would be better served by staying out in the hallway or on the bench when the Zamboni is on the ice, mentally preparing themselves for the game.


  • Coaches who allow shooting drills without giving the goaltenders the proper time to set themselves. Coaches do their goaltenders a great disservice when they construct shooting drills which do not allow them the time to follow the puck into their body or glove, or don’t allow them the time to quickly recover. These non-game-like drills force the goaltenders to develop bad habits, habits like not following the puck into the body or glove or not trying to recover as quickly as possible.
  • Coaches who allow head hunting shots. Coaches who allow their players to shoot at their goaltenders’ heads in practice only serve to shatter their confidence.
  • Coaches who allow their players to crowd the net in practice. Coaches who allow the goaltender to be run in the net or to be crowded in the crease in practice could crush their goaltender’s confidence or worse, injure them. The also sends their forwards and defensemen a subtle message that the goaltenders do not deserve their respect.
  • Coaches who allow unrealistic practice drills without a 70% success rate for their goaltenders. Coaches who don’t provide their goaltenders with the opportunity to be successful 70% of the time in a drill frustrate their goaltenders and hurt their ability to develop their skills.
  • Coaches who over-tire their goaltenders. Coaches who work their goaltenders to death in a practice risk injury and risk undermining their goaltenders’ confidence.
  • Coaches who allow their goaltenders to skate non-goaltender specific skating drills. Coaches who don’t ensure their goaltenders skate properly in practice prevent them from developing those skills to the utmost. The goaltending skating drills must emphasize lateral movement, explosive forwards and backwards movement in the proper stance and the unique stopping action that must be used when centering on the puck.
  • Coaches who allow non-controlled slap shots in practice. Coaches who allow their players to take slap shots at the goaltender whenever they want and without proper warning risk undermining their goaltenders’ confidence or will injure them.


Smart Goalie LogoLarry Sadler is the Director of

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


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