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Goalie Training Key: Squatting To Right Depth

Goalie Training Key: Squatting To Right Depth

Although I don’t have the goalies or skaters I train do Back Squats anymore (squats with the bar on your back), we still use Front Squats.

If you are saying “Why the heck don’t you Back Squat anymore,” the simple answer is risk versus reward.

You see, you can Back Squat heavy with poor technique putting tons of compression and shear through your lower back. Even a good Back Squat will put more load through your spine than a Front Squat.

If you are interested in learning more about why we don’t Back Squat anymore, then Google “Mike Boyle Death Of Squatting” and watch that video.

So now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the Front Squat.

It is a great way to build that max strength in your legs that will fuel your power training in the later stages of your off-season program.

So here are a few tips to help guide your progress and get you squatting to the right depth for you:

  • There is the ideal squat depth and then there is the depth that your body will accommodate. Do not make the mistake of training to ram a square peg into a round hole and squat to thighs parallel if that means rounding your lower back. There should be NO BUTT WINK. And I don’t care if you see guys at the gym squatting a$$ to the grass with 400lbs on the bar and a rounded back. Don’t do it!
  • Find your proper squat depth (the lowest point you can get to without any butt wink, elbows up and a neutral spine) using an unloaded barbell. Set the safety bars or straps of your power rack to that height and test it again with the empty bar.
  • As you squat down make sure you sit down and back with your butt until the bar lightly touches the safeties, then think of driving your feet into the floor to return to the starting position.
  • Once you know your range, you can set the safety bars down a notch or two so they will fulfill their role as a back up if you drop the bar, but you won’t tap them each rep.
  • If you see your knees falling in as you squat; think of spreading the floor with your feet throughout the movement.
  • Keep your elbows up. If you cannot keep your upper arm parallel to the floor throughout the entire lift, then you have a mobility problem – get busy working on your lats and in the meantime you may need to use straps on the bar to help you get the right racking position on the front of your shoulders. You cannot front squat by holding the bar in your hands, it must rest on the front of your shoulders.

And that’s it – remember to start off focusing on proper form and proper range, then work you weight up over the course of your training phases.

Happy squatting!

Front Squat


Squat to Tap



Safety Straps

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 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.