Warren Strelow Camp Part 2: Drill Progressions
Part 2: The Strelow Drill Progressions
This is part 2 of a three-part series from Justin Goldman, who is a regional scout and mentor with the US National Team Development Program, and took part in this year’s Warren Strelow Camp. You can read Part 1 here.
The on-ice portion of the seventh-annual Warren Strelow National Goaltending Mentor Program was comprised of six sessions with each session including six drills. Each session focused on a different core principle: Angles/Positioning, Puck Retention and Rebound Control, Recoveries, Post Integrations, Reads, and Puck Handling/Traffic Play.
The six drills in each session built on one another so that goalies could easily absorb the main teaching points while also displaying their battle skills. Each session began with a basic movement drill to get warmed up and a basic fundamental drill to reinforce the most vital aspects of each principle. Drills were carefully selected from a vast library within the Strelow program, all of which are refined and updated on a yearly basis.
In terms of skill application and drill progressions, one of the most important aspects of this camp was the pre-camp coaches’ meeting. Shortly after coaches arrived on-site in Ann Arbor, US National Team Development Program goalies coach Kevin Reiter led a meeting that went through each and every drill that would be used.
The floor was open for anyone to speak up about the grid that Reiter created as he collected feedback on what would be the most effective and strategic way to implement the progressions.
During this meeting, the flexibility and open-minded chemistry of the entire coaching staff was on display. Each coach was open to suggestions and ideas and we all worked together with the sole purpose of making the on-ice sessions as effective as possible.
As a result, some drills were moved around and tweaked in order to place a stronger emphasis on certain key elements, including tracking pucks into and off of the body, scanning and evaluating the open ice for potential back-door or far-side threats, and better understanding of progressive post integration tactics and techniques, including the Reverse-VH method. With this productive meeting completed before the camp started, the entire coaching staff was on the same page about the drills and skills we would be teaching over the next four days.
Strelow Drill Example: X-Sequence with Butterfly Slide
The X-Sequence with Butterfly Slide was one of the final progression drills utilized during the first on-ice session that focused exclusively on the principles of angles and positioning. Designed to help the goaltender work on scanning the ice as they move across the crease, the drill also focused on tracking pucks into and off of the body, finding a shot’s location and the appropriate angle, and executing both a full recovery and butterfly slide with efficiency and control.
Starting the drill moving from low-to-high on their skates helped goaltenders learn to travel the appropriate distance to beat the pass and set their feet. Facing a low shot also helped them get their stick on pucks, a key teaching point that was stressed by the coaching staff throughout camp.
From there, the goalie had to be disciplined enough to track the puck off their body if they gave up a rebound, and then execute a full recovery to the opposite faceoff dot. Once their feet were set, the key teaching point was having “early eyes” and turning the head in order to locate the far-side shooter.
While processing information on his shooting hand and blade positioning, the goalie executed a butterfly slide back towards the shooter in order to make a clean, efficient save. This was just one of many drills that was simple in form and function, but reinforced a number of key teaching points within the principle of Angles and Positioning.
Preparation is Everything
No elite goalie camp is complete without a strong off-ice message. In that regard, I was excited to work side-by-side with Reiter to develop the theme for this year’s camp: “Preparation is Everything.”
The purpose of this theme was to reinforce a key mental principle that allowed each goalie to improve their unique identity by giving them the tools they needed to strengthen their preparation skills.
During Reiter’s opening speech to the goalies, he emphasized this theme and made sure they understood the opportunity they had to learn from an elite coaching staff, improve their understanding of the position, and most importantly, represent USA Hockey in a live setting.
Reiter followed up that group meeting by having each goalie fill out a preparation questionnaire. This form asked each goalie for their own definition of preparation, what they do to prepare for a game, both physically and mentally, and how they would like to improve their pre-game preparation techniques.
Each goalie received a camp binder complete with the schedule, a copy of the revised drill progression grid, and a printout of every on-ice drill being used. Thanks to Vaughn, they also took home a backpack that the Strelow Program filled with a reaction ball, a jump rope, an agility ladder, and some tennis balls.
Athletes in camp also received a copy of the book The Power Within. I spent 15-20 minutes with goalies in groups of four and introduced the book, pointing to a few passages that reinforced the theme of preparation, and what it means to be truly prepared in both the physical and mental sense. I also spent a few minutes breaking down video, but instead of giving them direct feedback, the goalies watched their own clips and gave feedback together as a group.
It is important that goalies understand the importance of evaluating themselves in an honest and open manner, so that they can learn to manage their own game, without over-relying on their goalie coach. These off-ice elements helped goalies learn more about their own unique way of preparing for every on-ice session at the Warren Strelow National Goaltending Mentor Camp.