The Best Way to Get Young Goalies to the Next Level
I’m going to cut right to the chase and give you the straight up answer – here it is.
The number one way to get a young goalie to the next level is…
Keep them in love with the game!
How do you keep them in love with the game? You keep it fun, you keep them healthy, you teach them to take the lessons sport has to teach from both wins and losses. The first two fall directly within my realm as a hockey strength and conditioning coach – keeping it fun and keeping them healthy.
One of my clients is a forward who was told he was too slow, too small and lacked the hockey sense to play (even at the OHL level). This guy went on to win a Stanley Cup and win the fastest skater distinction at the NHL All-Star game. He recalled a conversation he had with his best friend since childhood. They were talking about their times in youth hockey and his friend was saying something like, “remember how much you hated going to practice when we were kids?” My client was blown away – he was thinking, “No, I loved going to practice – it was the highlight of my day.”
It was the love for the game that kept him involved in hockey, that kept him working diligently to become a better player and ultimately led him to the NHL. He did not play hockey or train for hockey with the purpose of earning a living as a hockey player, it was to help him have more fun while playing the game.
On a weekly basis I get email from parents who want to know how to train their 8, 10 or 12 year old goalie for hockey success. It is not the parents’ fault, they might see other kids involved in specialized training or maybe the coach tells the kid that he needs to be quicker or he won’t be on the team next year. Then you have the kids who are 6’1” and have a full moustache at the 12 years of age – that is genetics folks, you can’t train that.
In the worst scenario a very well-meaning coach gets his hands on a program that has been handed down from a college or pro program and he thinks he has hit the jackpot. Just think – if this is the training that Crosby does and I get my players to do it, then I will have a whole team of Crosbys out there – woohoo!
When you read it here in black and white, that makes no sense at all does it? Yet it happens all the time! If you want your young goalie to be out of the sport by the time he is 15 – this is the route for you.
On the other hand, if you want to support your young goalie and help them to enjoy their sport, you might try this instead:
- establish the habit of putting in extra work to achieve a long-term goal
- improve their skill as they develop
- make it a positive way to spend a few more quality minutes with your child
For goalies under the age of 12 focus on bodyweight exercises like perfect push-ups, bodyweight squats, single leg balance, chin ups and movement drills. Athletes over the age of 12 can start using dumbbells – don’t worry, resistance training with weights does not cause growth plate injuries, unless they are being used improperly resulting in the athlete losing control of the weight resulting in a fracture.
The goal of resistance training with bodyweight or dumbbells is to learn proper technique, which gives the goalie a head start as they get older and capable of lifting heavier loads, they have excellent technique which will allow them to train safely and effectively as they make the move to the next level.
I have attached three articles describing some stability, strength and power exercises that you can work on with your young goalie. This is the place to start.
Maria Mountain, MSc is the owner of Revolution Conditioning in London, Ontario. She helps hockey players from the professional to the amateur level play at their highest level while reducing their risk of injury. You can access some free off-ice goalie training info at http://www.hockeytrainingpro.com