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Build Faster Young Goalies With This Fun, Simple Drill

Build Faster Young Goalies With This Fun, Simple Drill

As InGoal prepares to relaunch our digital magazine in August, it’s time to dig into the archives to take a look at past stories that helped get our last edition to over 50,000 readers. And given it’s summer, a time when most goalies are focussed on making improvements that will pay off next season, we thought it would be good to start with a simple drill that can make young goaltenders better and keep training fun.

Originally presented in the June 2012 issue of InGoal Magazine, the drill was outlined and explained by Perry Elderbroom, a former goaltending coach with the Columbus Blue Jackets and the President of Gold in the Net goaltending schools:

We always like to say that the two most important things for young goaltenders are having fun and … having fun.

At the same time we want to introduce even the youngest five-eight year old goaltenders to the important parts of the game – to lay a technical foundation without making anything too complex or taking away important opportunities to have fun.

So while we want a young goalie to learn a proper stance and proper movement around the crease we also can’t pummel them with technical drills. Beyond these few basic skills, what would we like a young goalie to grow up with in his or her game? As we’ve seen again in the recent Stanley Cup Playoffs, Jonathan Quick has redefined quickness and explosiveness. Nothing could be better for young goalies development and for putting fun in their game than this move away from drop and block goaltending.

So here we present a drill that a coach or parent can do with their young goalie that is fun, works on skills, and reinforces the need for explosiveness and competiton in their game – and it’s fun.

GITN kids drill JPEG

1. Start with the goaltender at the corner of the crease standing, or in their butterfly.

2. Place the puck in a similar position at the far corner of the crease.

3. Coach starts in a position where they might be shooting, based on the goalie’s starting position.

4. When the coach says go (or the goalie – they love that) it’s a race to the puck – the coach to shoot and the goalie to get in position to make the save.

This is a simple modification of a drill we all use with older students where we pass to the man on the back door and the goalie has to make a backside recovery to make the save – with one big difference.

This one involves one-on-one competition with the coach (or parent) and that personal connection – and the ease of controlling the competition for the coach – makes this so much better for a youngster.

For the youngest goalies just getting started it’s all about fun and explosiveness. Don’t weigh them down with technical corrections. You risk taking the fun out of the game and they simply aren’t at the right developmental level to handle it. Do you remember the typical attention span of a six-year old?

For slightly older kids who are ready you can talk about a few small technical elements like using a proper t-push, for example, or recovering from the butterfly to push across. But – and this frankly is a teaching point we’d all do well to remember even with older students – you’ll get a lot further pointing out things they do well than correcting errors.

“Wow, you beat me there. That t-push worked so much better then the shuffle you used last time!” will work far better than “Beat you there Johnny, don’t shuffle next time – use the t-push and maybe you’ll be faster.”

Another benefit of this drill is you don’t need extra shooters to do it.

Modifications: This drill is easy to modify for the speed and skill of the goalie. Simply move the puck closer or further – or change the coach’s starting position – to keep the competition close.

Take Note: While you’d love to see your youngster slide across in a perfect butterfly with the right angle and depth, this is about fun and competition and developing explosiveness. Don’t take the fun away by over-drilling the technique. Even a five-year-old who can barely get into a butterfly with no shooter to face can get a lot out of this drill.

Take Note #2: Please – don’t do this so the youngster makes every save. We all want to raise a youngster brimming with self-confidence but if he makes every save he won’t develop the explosiveness we want to see, he’ll never learn to deal with being scored on, and frankly, he won’t have as much fun!

Watch a kid play a video game some time, what level does she want to play at? The answer is almost always one harder than they can do now. Kids naturally choose to be challenged, so try this little drill on for size some day and you’ll have a happier – and faster – little goalie.

You can find this complete article – and more than 100 pages of goaltending insights and expertise – in the June 2012 edition of InGoal Magazine. Be sure to check out all the back issues of InGoal Magazine by clicking the “archives” icon in the upper left corner of any issue. And look for more instruction, equipment reviews and NHL goaltending insights in the upcoming August edition.

For more information on the camps offered by Elderbroom and Gold in the Net franchises all over the world, check out their website.

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