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Goaltending and the Long-Term Athletic Development Model: Part II

Goaltending and the Long-Term Athletic Development Model: Part II
Young Goalie

There's a lot that goes into the development of a young athlete. The Long Term Athletic Development model was created to help young goalies like this develop into the best athlete they can - while enjoying the experience of playing the game that we love.

In part one of this article the seven stages of the LTAD Model were presented along with their respective elements. In part two, the ten influencing factors that affect what, how and when to train certain features of athletic performance will be discussed.  The influencing factors are:

  1. The “ten year” or “10,000 hour” rule
  2. Fundamentals
  3. Specialization
  4. Growth, Development and Maturation
  5. Trainability “Window”
  6. Mental, Cognitive and Emotional Development
  7. Periodization and Training Principles
  8. System Alignment and Integration
  9. System of Competition
  10. Continuous Improvement

The 10 year or 10,000 hour rule is straightforward.  It relates to the duration or number of hours required for a technique to become a learned skill. Ten thousand hours is a tremendous amount of ice time! This would appear to contradict my previous statement that more is not always better; however, a significant amount of training is required before reaching the ‘Training to win’ stage. Appropriate muscle memory must be established and refined to the point that goaltender-specific movements occur without conscious thought. If you take 1,000 hours of skill training per calendar year, that averages out to close to three hours of ice time daily. Is this feasible? I would say yes but it realistically leaves little time for academic work or to be a kid. Also, can a nine-year-old child learn and perform effectively for three hours of instruction and have quality development? The answer is yes, (as an 11-year-old Patrick Kane was on the ice 350 days, played 300 games and went to nine weeks of summer hockey school)(1) but it depends on the kid!

Part of this article conveyed that a foundation of skills must be established by age 11 (girls) or 12 (boys) to establish a skill foundation for further progression. It is called physical literacy and is the sum total of basic motor skills, and fundamental sport skills. This includes agility, balance and coordination but also traits such as speed, dexterity, reaction time and time-space orientation. The wide range of athletic attributes required to excel is the reason the multi-sport approach is an integral part of the LTAD model. Many coaches and parents don’t view multi-sport participation as being advantageous to becoming an elite hockey player and choose to focus solely on hockey.

This leads to the idea of sport specialization. Certain sports, like gymnastics, require the athlete to have single-minded focus from an early age. Hockey is defined as a “late” development sport.

Research indicates that early specialization in a late specialization sport results in: (1) an increased number of injuries (2) an increased rate of “burnout” (e.g., Bantam aged hockey players) and (3) really only results in age-specific group performers. What does this mean? It means that those players focusing solely on hockey will initially move up the developmental curve faster but are also more likely to peak and level off before reaching the ‘Training to Win’ stage.

Three other observations: (1) the best athletes begin sports between the ages of seven and eight and focus initially on general development. (2) Athletes begin to excel after 5 to 8 years of specific training and (3) systematic training and specialization should occur between the ages of 15 and 18. The bottom line in simple terms is therefore athlete first, and goaltender second.

Steve McKichan supports this approach and frequently uses the term “Cookie Cutter” goalies. This is meant, in part, to describe too much focus on technique and insufficient athleticism in young goaltender development. In an article in Goalies’ World Magazine

McKichan wrote, “ One of the things that NHL scouts look for are multi-disciplined athletes. If an athlete can learn and excel in other sports requiring different skill sets and physiological requirements, then it bodes well for his or her ability to play the current sport at a higher, professional level. An argument can be made that multi-disciplined athletes have a far greater chance of success at the pro level than those who lack this skill.” (2)

The current goaltenders for the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League are both examples of the athlete first process. Both Malcolm Subban and John Chartrand (whom I know personally) only began to play goal at the age of 12. In the case of Subban, he quickly moved from house league to the ‘AAA’ level. He is presently the number one North American ranked goaltender by Central Scouting for the 2012 NHL entry draft.

Yet another consideration is the four to five year potential difference between chronological and developmental age in some athletes. Research suggests that despite a child being placed in a certain age group based on birth year, the physical, cognitive and behavioral maturity must be considered when dealing with one athlete or an entire team. This brings us back to the debate whether it is fair to have first and fourth quarter births trying out and competing against each other? If fourth quarter births are physically smaller is there a bias against them at try-out time? (Editor’s Note: InGoal looked at NHL goaltender’s birth dates two years ago – then roughly 65% were born in the first half of the year) This suggests that the potential “late bloomers”, by not getting selected, will not receive access to the best coaching, training or competition. In fact, they may not bloom at all!  I will provide some interesting data to that effect in a future article titled “From Minor Hockey to the Ontario Hockey League: A 10-year Retrospective Analysis.

The LTAD model repeatedly makes reference to “training windows” and trainability.  These windows are opportunistic periods during which any athlete is more sensitive to certain types of appropriate training. There is more progress during these time periods and hence it is referred to as accelerated adaptation. The factors that may be improved are referred to as the 5 S’s of sport performance. They include: (1) Stamina (endurance), (2) Strength, (3) Speed, (4) Skill and (5) Suppleness (Flexibility). (3) These factors can all be improved throughout an individual’s life but improvements decrease with advancing age! These sensitive periods vary in males and females and from one individual to another. They are related to an individual’s PHV (Peak Height Velocity), the onset of menarche (females), chronological and developmental age. Training priorities are generally based on PHV. PHV is the period of maximal vertical growth in both sexes.  As a parent of a goalie, you can chart and monitor for these changes and then seize the chance to accelerate your child’s training efforts when appropriate. There is more to the topic than monitoring for PHV but interested readers can learn by pursuing references provided in part one of this article.

The physical, mental, cognitive and emotional development of an athlete is extremely important and often ignored in minor hockey. This likely affects the goaltender more than anyone else. A head coach generally does not talk a lot to the goalie during practice. The coach may scream something generic like “stand up”, “come out” or  “your angle is off!” Another problem may be the coaches not getting to know their players on a personal level or asking parents about what makes their child motivated and learn best? Does the coach know how things are at home or whether things are well at school? Are the coach and parents working together or, more often than not, are the coach’s efforts being sabotaged by parent coaching at home or from the stands? Is the coach teaching the team to deal with distractions? Does the coach communicate according to the age of the players or just bring an old school approach to the bench? If an association provides two practices per week, is it realistic for the coach to know your child well when they only see them a few hours per week? I would say absolutely not. Does all this affect how quickly a coach may give up on some players and categorize them as not coachable? I say definitely! I don’t see a good solution to this issue in the current system, but clearly developmental opportunities are not being maximized

Periodization is an organized approach coaches use to help their athletes. It is defined as the “ideal sequencing and integration of training, competition and recovery activities” during different periods (pre-season, competitive season, post-season), phases and cycles (macrocycles and mesocycles) of a 52-week program. The entire process is geared towards having your goalie in top form for all the major competitions. In minor hockey, this includes tournaments, an important league game or the play-offs. As a goaltending coach, you have to have a plan in place for different parts of the season. The bigger problem however is coordinating with, and getting the cooperation of, the head coach.

Integration is simply putting all the athletic parameters together over time and seeing progressive improvement within the context of a periodized program. There is clearly overlap between general training and sport-specific training. This should eventually lead to better performances over the course of the athlete’s growth and development. (4)

Competitive calendar planning is the responsibility of the head coach; however, there should be a coordinated effort between head coach, goalie coach and other members of the staff. Since hockey is a team game this does not relate solely to the needs of the goaltender.

In conclusion, the Long Term Athletic Development Model is an excellent science-based framework for developing elite athletes. It has been adopted by Hockey Canada. The purpose of my article was to inform unknowing coaches, goalies and their parents that there is a systematic and progressive ways to move through minor hockey and develop.   As a goalie parent, I have never relied on my son’s head coach or the association in which he plays to help develop his skills. It is sad to say, but this would have been developmental suicide. Always ask questions, read as much as you can, accumulate resources from wherever you can, and do not assume everyone is an expert despite what they may say. Goaltending is an expensive endeavor and you only get one shot to help your child and do it correctly. Enjoy the journey with your child!


  1. Campbell, K. The Two Hundred Thousand Dollar Question; The Hockey News, September 2, 2008, pp. 20-25
  2. McKichan, S. Be an athlete first. Be a goalie, second: Goalies’ World Magazine, Issue 80, P. 36, 2011
  3. Dick, F. From Senior to Super star: Ottawa: CAC, SPORTS, May 1985
  4. Bompa, T.O., Total Training for Young Athletes: Proven Conditioning Programs for Athletes Ages 6 to 18: Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. , 2000




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. Pat Roy

    Wow great amount of info there. Thx!

  2. BeninLondon

    One caveat to the last few points about coaching that I would like to be considered is the following;
    True it would be developmental suicide to leave everything in the hands of the coach or association but there is a point in development where a contrasting or complimentary viewpoint (I feel anyway) will enhance the learning curve. Don’t assume that everyone is an expert just because they say they are, but on the flip-side don’t assume that everyone is an idiot because they don’t view things exactly as you do. As a non-parent goalie coach and long time hockey fan I have seen too many examples of parents assuming the coach is an idiot because they don’t share identical views and as a result “poisoning” any development or help that the coach offers. This does work both ways as I have seen coaches immediately dismiss anything a parent says as well. The goals of a parent and the goals of a coach are often very closely linked, in my experience, and as long as the lines of communication remain open and all parties remain open and accepting of differing viewpoints the child will stand to benefit.
    That is just a little rant from my experiences in coaching and playing that I felt compelled to share, take that for what it is.
    Cheers again on another interesting article

  3. Steve McKichan

    The problem with these ivory tower developmental models is they miss the entire point.

    There is not a consistent curriculum of the actual technical skills and breakdowns in a detailed way.

    It is great to have some long term development model, but when local goalie coaches have no certification on actual technical instruction, we will be forever stuck is Mis coaching and earnest but incorrect content delivery.

    The reason Finland excels in this area is not some trendy development model. It is because all goalie coaches teach a very consistent, technical , specific goaltending curriculum.

    To wax poetic about the 10,000 hour rule is ineffective if the 10,000 hours is spent trying to perfect a skill that isn’t taught consistently and properly.

    In all these reports do they actually describe detailed biomechanical development of things like backside recovery.

    If I asked a peewee volunteer goalie coach in Red Deer how to correct a slip out issue on a backside recovery would this report help?

    There needs to be a peer reviewed and generally accepted set of detailed core goalie technical inputs that coaches must be tested on and certified in.

    Otherwise all this stuff is useless.

  4. BeninLondon

    I think it would be a huge benefit to have some sort of standardized testing for goalie coaches or some form of recognized qualification. The only concern would be that it would run the risk of creating “cookie-cutter” goalies.

    Hockey Canada has a tiered system for trainers qualification and coaching qualification; something like that for a goalie specific program I think would be a huge benefit. With the lack of goalie coaches on each team and available, it would be tough to enforce a minimum standard since some teams don’t have any coaches at all to fill the role of goalie coach.

    It would be nice to have a nationally recognized set of guidelines that could be offered to anyone interested and treat this similar to a coaching certification. With goaltender development varying greatly from person to person there would have to be some flexibility about just how technical to get in certain situations (ie. it would be almost useless to teach a novice houseleague goalie coach how to troubleshoot issues with V-H technique etc).

    I think your point is a great one Mr. McKichan and I really hope that you have enough pull in Hockey Canada, or at least have the ears of people higher up to get something like this in place.

  5. Tomas Hertz

    The LTAD model is an athletic model, not a goaltending model. I agree that determining what tehnniques should be taught, when they should be taught, how to teach them and how to correct technical error would all be beneficial. The model by itself is by no means useless. If you believe that athletic skills are transferable and greater general athleticism can ultimately help someone become a better goaltender in the long run then the LTAD model is beneficial. I do believe this and by virtue of the Goalies’World Magazine article I would think Mr. McKichan would agree but I dont know. I chose this title because I believe it is important to have athletic skills to become an excellent goaltender. The model is merely a skeletal framework to which much must be added. It is not a panacea for anything and it does not address all the position specific needs of an ice hockey goaltender. The is overlap between developing athletic skills through multiple sport participate and all the position-specific needs for a goaltending to succeed.

    The comment regarding 10,000 hours is self-evident but a good one. !0,000 hours of poor instruction and incorrect execution will leave you no further ahead except with poor muscle memory that likely can not be reversed. If you do something incorrectly how can you expect success with it. It reminds me of Einstein’s definition of insanity.”The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expect different results.” The point to the general reader is that a lot of time and effort is required to become skilled at something.

    I found Mr. Sadler’s article on the state of Canadian Goaltending very interesting but there were no surprizes. I therefore undertook the retrospective analysis of the OHL annual priority draft too see how bad things really are in Ontario. They are poor!!The results will only contribute to the issue of Canadian goaltender development.

  6. Steve McKichan


    No offense was intended. I have lived in the grassroots of this issue for over 25 years.

    I am aware and appreciate critical pedagogy. It is the stuff I learned in college. How athletes learn and develop.

    In the real world it has narrow impact

    What the real goalie development world needs is a tiered level of proper goalie coach certification.

    I would argue it is like a car mechanic getting various certifications. Is there more than one way to change a ball joint? Of course.

    However, if you have a certified mechanic it will be fixed properly.

    Right now we have have random uncertified and self proclaimed experts handling our nations goalie development.

    Would you bring your Ferrari to Joel’s garage on the corner?

    This discussion is like bringing your car to an auto car wash versus bringing it a car detailing shop.

    You car make look shiny coming out of the automatic car wash, but when you look closely it misses things.

    The professional detailer catches everything, including things you don’t see.

    No goalie guys will spend any time reading the ADM in the USA and the weak stuff in Canada. It is just words.

    There MUST be a systematic way to ensure that Mt.Brydges, Ontario minor hockey gets the same quality goalie instruction as in Austin , TX.

    It does not need to be a cookie cutter approach. In fact, teaching critical thinking and individualism will generate the opposite of a cookie cutter goalie.

  7. Tomas Hertz

    Steve, No offense was taken. Anything I write about is basic and intended for a grassroots audience. I just feel this information is of value to parents especially as it relates to diversifying your child’s athletic experience. If a goalie parent got but one thing from this two part article, I hope it would be that playing different sports is a good thing and also a healthy thing.

    This past winter I was watching a practice in the Kingston Ice Wolves Girl’s Hockey Association. Two coaches were on the ice and had the Hockey Canada Goaltending manual on the top of the net as they were trying to determine what to do or intrepret the instructions. The goalie was standing there (a good ten minutes)wasting time. I shook my head and went home. These guys were most certainly well intentioned in their effort but wow this is an example of the “goalie guy” who is likely not a goalie and likely doing more harm than good.

    There are so many instructors out there that standardization may not be possible due to contrasting views and no one likes robotic goaltenders. You call them “cookie cutters” and I have always referred to it as a “sausage factory” grinding out the same goalie instead of individualizing instructions based on what may work and not work for certain goalie.

  8. Steve McKichan

    Yes, there are many instructors out there of varying credentials and varying pedigrees.
    These diverse perspectives are welcomed and are not anti requisites for a well thought out mainstream curriculum.
    I would disagree with your premise that creating a standard will create cookie cutter goalies.
    Not one of my goalies or Mitch Korn’s goalie appear the same way, nor are they coached the same way.
    It is like the political spectrum in the USA. There are those on the right, middle and left. It is the same way with goalie coaching. There are extremes as well and mainstream instruction.

    If coaching egos and goalie coaching ethnocentrism can be minimized this can work.

    If you take the top goalie coaches in the world and put them together this can get done.

    By NOT doing this you will get cookie cutter results as insecure goalie coaches mandate their proprietary approach MUST be used by all their goalies.

  9. BeninLondon

    This is a fantastic conversation to follow and I really hope that some sort of goalie coaching and certification program can be completed as I am sure that you will both agree it will benefit all involved.

    The biggest hurdle, other than Hockey Canada, will be the fact that it is tough to teach goalie coaches to deal with individuals. The example Steve mentioned is very true that his goalies and Mitch Korn’s goalies are all different and are coached different, the challenge to that is the fact that you are both incredible goalie coaches and teachers of the game. Mitch and yourself both know how to treat each goalie indivdually and it is something I have aspired to do in my 9+ years of goalie coaching. For John Q Parent however, I think that transition will be tough for them to adapt to and I don’t know if it can be something that could be taught in a course similar to the training and coaching courses available through Hockey Canada.
    That being said it would be great to have some sort of standard that coaches can be held to as well as a Hockey Canada endorsed “bible” that the average houseleague goalie coach could turn to for any troubleshooting. A tiered certification system would allow individual thinking and development of the coach for anything above the basic level of certification.

    Right now being a non-parent goalie coach I have to rely on my knowledge from my playing days in minor hockey and the instruction I have received, the lessons I am learning now as I still play and siphoning through the various resources that are available to try to make some sort of flexible plan that will match the level of play to the goalies ability and development. It can be an information overload but I try to look at it the same way that I look at playing; there is many different ways to get the job done and each piece of information is something that I can add to my coaching toolbox just in case it is needed down the road.

  10. Tomas Hertz

    Coaching certification is one thing. As I mentined with the NCCP program (for which I have Advanced I certification in the old system) you can receive the certification but what POTENTIALLY happens post-certification is something different. Both the NCCP (which is obviously not goaltender oriented) and Hockey Canada have templates for what should be taught at the Atom, Pee Wee, Bantam and Midget levels.This does not mean it is happening or that it is being taught correctly at the grassroots level. Hockey Canada can say they only have certified coaches on the ice and bench but I know plenty of coaches that dont believe what the certification program is saying or teach what Hockey Canada believes should be taught at the aforementioned age groups. I dont blame Hockey Canada for this problem since you can’t enforce it. It is nevertheless a pitfall which could also affect a goaltender-specific certification program. That is not what anyone would wish for but it is a possible concern.
    If we want to stop debate and actually get on with something of practical merit, we could ask the Finns to show us their model.We impliment it and refine it with time and see whether,say over a ten to twenty period, the results are different. Someone in Scandanavia has obviously done a lot of good work. We don’t need to re-invent the goaltending wheel but can learn from others as other nations have learned from Canadian hockey.

    I am certain the NHL could care less that the percentage of Canadian goaltenders (and players in general) has declined progressively. As long as their is excellent talent available it does not matter from where it comes. If you find a talent pool for goaltending (presently in Scandanavia) you will continue to go back to the well. Only common sense and I would do the same thing since the objective is to win!

  11. Paul Ipolito

    With all due respect and acknowlegement that I am a consumer of goaltending school’s services, is there a potential conflict on interest/intention between USA Hockey, Hockey Canada and the many private goaltending instructors in North America? Does such a potential for conflict exist in Finland and Sweden? Obviously there are private goalie schools in both countries. Also obvious is the fact that based on population there probably aren’t as many schools as there are in North America.I’m curious if anyone knows how or if the ice hockey federations work with the private instructors in Finland and Sweden. Wouldn’t some type of national training standard work well in North America to inculcate the basics of the position up to the Bantam level? It seems most instructors say that a young goalie should not have a “style” until later in their development (If such a thing as a “style” does exist).What harm would there be in having kids 14 and under (and their coaches) working from the same page? Hopefully a standard would also focus on training athletes as much as goalies as this does appear to be a significant difference among North American and European goaltenders.Thank you.

  12. Tomas Hertz

    The older I get the less I know what at true style is. A style may be nothing more than “greater tendencies” on the part of the keeper. Do you play deep in the blue paint or are you aggressive with your depth management? Is that style ? Are able to contribute in transitional play due to strong puck-handling abilities ? Is that style ? is the butterfly a style or just and overused technique? Who knows? Ask one hundred goaltenders and they will all give you the correct answer which is their own opinion. It is an interesting question but I am no longer certain it makes any difference. Just stop the damm puck!

    Is their a conflict of interest is difficult to say? All the best instructors at the professionaland junior levels and private instructors can most certainly come to a consensus about many things I would think. Whether private operators would lose income during the competitive season if each team had a competent certified goalie coach at each practice is difficult to say. I would guess yes since if you are getting development during team practices you need less extra training to help your child keep up with progress. The private operator is naturally first and foremost in business to make money. As consumers, all we can do is decide to buy, or not buy, the product. It is a fantastic question to which Idon’t have an answer.

    As far as what happens overseas it is sadly unknown to me. I have had no chance to go and ask questions. I am just a grassroots guy. However, if all this is important to Hockey Canada and the US national development program then stop talking, get to Helsinki and use their template and make it even better. The rest just becomes boreing dialogue that repeats itself over and over without actually coming up with something of value.

  13. Derrick

    As a goaltending coach in Columbus, OH, I can attest to how difficult it is to get quality coaching for ALL youth hockey players.

    It was mentioned that Finland has goalie coach certification; in England, some of the best soccer coaches are actually at the youth level, not the “elite” or travel level.

    But here, goalie coaching is either about making money or your desire to help. I am busy helping out multiple youth organizations, high school, and youth travel teams because the need for good coaching is there. I do it, b/c I love it.

    However, there is a wealth of goalie knowledge in this city, but not all the coaches are in it to share. One of the better coaches in the city worked exclusively with the AAA programs and with the parents who can shell out $150/hr for private lessons. Ian Clark (goalie coach for the BlueJackets) has a son playing high school hockey. The AAA coach just so happens to now “volunteer” as that teams goalie coach.

    Other coaches in the area are either head coaches, with no time or desire to dedicate to minor youth hockey, or they run one or two camps and do private lessons or coach for higher level travel teams for however much money they charge.

    The kids that need the help the most, house leagues, get little to no goalie coaching at all. So while it’s all well and good that there should be a want for national standardized goalie coach certification, you’re still left with the sad idea that those in possession of goalie knowledge purposefully take themselves out of a position to help those who need it the most.

  14. josh

    explain me then? i started playing goal at 7 played one yr, then quit til i was 16..and im playing at a tier 2 junior hockey level at age 20

  15. Tomas Hertz,MD, BA

    If you have strong basic athletic development then it makes it easier to pick up a new sport during the teenage years. Also, since you did not play for along time you did not develop a bunch of very poor habits and techniques from either poor coaching or no coaching at all. Better to have strong basic athleticism and then pick up goaltending at a later age. Both John Chartrand (OHL/LMJHQ)and Malcohm Subban (OHL) did not start playing goal at the age of 6 or 7 so you can make up a lot of ground in a couple of years with a strong baseline and a lot of hard work and instruction. Otherwise you must be an exception to the “general” rule?


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