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This is not safe training for young goalies.

This is a guest post by Maria Mountain, M.Sc.

When I was starting out and building up my hockey strength and conditioning practice, I ran hundreds of off-ice training sessions for hockey camps and junior hockey teams. Some of the coaches and organizations were amazing with a sincere desire to do what is best for the long-term development of the young players.

Other coaches had a strong desire to have their team win the division championships, this year – no matter what. They are the same coaches that would tell me – “Just kill ‘em! Make’em puke!” Hmmm, okay – but I thought my job was to make them better athletes so they can play better hockey. If I wanted to make them puke, I could have invited them all over to my house for a home cooked dinner.

This attitude rubs off some coaches and onto the parents – because they do not know any better. I have seen 8 year olds at a hockey camp and the parents complaining that one day they played soccer for their off-ice training! Your kid has been on the ice for six hours, it is okay if they play a little soccer at the end of the day – it is actually a good way to build stamina, agility and reactivity. More importantly it is fun.

My goal is to give you some idea regarding what off-ice training is not safe for goalies under the age of twelve. These practices are NOT SAFE for young goalies:

  • Stretching of the groins or hips should not be forced and should not be to the point of pain. There are many reasons why one goalie can get a wider butterfly than another and some of those reasons have to do with the actual anatomy of your child’s hip. Trying to force this movement can lead to premature wear and tear of the hip joint.
  • If you enjoy Maria’s articles, check out The Ultimate Goalie Training Program
  • Young goalies should train to the point of technical failure, not physical failure. In other words if your child’s team is doing push ups, the player should be allowed to end the set when they fatigue to the point where they lose perfect form. Allowing kids to crank out eight sloppy reps in a 15 rep set is setting them up for injury and teaching them that poor technique is okay.
  • You will probably see some plyometric training or jump training. Do athletes under 12 need to do jump training – I don’t really think so, but it will happen so here are the things to look for. The coach should be teaching the athletes how to jump and land with proper alignment and technique first and foremost. Then the volume should be very low – 20-40 jumps maximum. The goal of plyometric training is to build power, not to build endurance.
  • I have seen hockey players and goalies put through resistance and agility training drills wearing their skates or skates and equipment. This is a gimmick, not sport specific training. Skates and equipment are for on-ice practice; cross-trainers and shorts are for off-ice training.
  • If the off-ice coach is not taking the time to actually teach technique to the athletes, then they are likely just training the kids to make them tired, not better. The strength and conditioning coach should be taking the time to teach efficient movement patterns during the dryland sessions.
  • Your 10 year old child is not a mini version of Luongo – no one should attempt to train him or her as such.

I hope this helps you to be a better consumer and advocate for your young goalie. You would be amazed at what goes on. If you ever have questions about the training you see your child going through, feel free to email me for my opinion – [email protected]

Finally, I want to be clear that I did not create the Ultimate Goalie Training system for goalies under the age of 14. Are there some 13 year olds who can do very well with it, yes. Are there some 15 year olds who lack the focus and maturity to succeed with it, yes. But as a general rule, if your child is under the age of 14 – you may wish to have them involved in a general sport conditioning program, but keep the specific stuff on hold until they are a little older.

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

About The Author

Maria Mountain M.Sc.

Hockey strength and conditioning coach Maria Mountain, MSc specializes in off-ice training for hockey goalies. As the founder of www.GoalieTrainingPro.com and the owner of Revolution Sport Conditioning in London, Ontario, Maria has trained Olympic Gold medalists, a Stanley Cup Champ and athletes from MLB, NHL, AHL, CHL, CIS and more. Try Maria's Goalie Stretch Solution today.

4 Comments

  1. emil t

    Great article….A lot of which is applicable to any sport and perhaps an even broader age range than we appreciate. Too often talented kids are physically (and mentally) burned up prior to their 20’s, many before even experiencing their main growth/strength spurts.

  2. Maria Mountain

    Couldn’t agree with you more Emil

  3. Tomas Hertz,MD,BA

    I am always amazed how many people, who claim they are knowledgable of sports and sports training, do not understand things like the multisport approach for youngsters to become better athletes first and then excellent hockey players later on. I make reference to this all the time in articles. Develop ABC’s (agility, blanace and coordination) and give the visual and nervous systems different stimuli to develop fully and to maximum potential!!! The Russians understood this back in the 60s and also understood that you want a great 18 year old player not a great 10 year old player. there are clear cut anatomical and physiological limitations to young hockey players and you need no further reasoning than this to understnad why you are not developing somewhat faster merely by doing more. In fact, sometimes for tissue and mental recovery purposes less is more. Eric Lindros even said this when quoted as saying “It is not the amount of time you spend on the ice but what you do with the time you are on the ice.”

  4. Maria Mountain

    Again, I can’t agree enough. You look at the some of the youth training out there and it is frightening. I would love to see a program of development where kids learn gymnastics, tumbling, and a variety of sports – soccer, basketball, hockey – kind of like a fun sports club. The kids will actually get to PLAY! What a novel idea.

    Great feedback!
    Maria