In Part 1 of Incorporating Goalies Into Practice we looked at how goaltenders can often be overlooked in a practice and in a team environment. In a game there is a lot of preparation mentally and physically for a goaltender. In a practice there is just the same amount of preparation, along with indecision and frustration. Once a goalie becomes frustrated in a practice environment, they tend to shut down, inhibiting their development.

If you get a goaltender who talks about not being a practice goalie (you hear that all the time) you’ve got to make the connection to the kid about what he does at practice and how the rest of the team benefits. Some goalies feel that they can do something less at practice, because they will play better in games. They’ve got to make the connection that if it’s easy to score on them in practice, they’re not pushing their teammates to work on their skills to score. Then they get in a game, after beating the goalie at will in practice, and they have trouble putting the puck in the net. They can’t figure it out, because everything seems to work okay at practice. It’s because the goalie is not working at practice. And if the goalie pushes at practice, it pushes the rest of the team and that shows in the game. It is important that coaches incorporate at least 1 “game realistic” drill for the goalie in each practice.

If you as coaches understand the reality of the position a little better, you can drop in some of the drills that make it a little more realistic. You can do drills where there is a deliberate screen, an exaggerated screen, where the whole purpose of that drill is to get them to locate the puck.

An example of a realistic warm-up drill is for players to come out of each corner, they do a give and go, skate to the far blue line and shoot. That’s your warm-up, outside, long shot, from an angle. After the guy shoots, instead of sending him to the other corner, tell him to go to the far post and stand there as a rebounder for the next shooter. Because if you don’t, the goalie starts the day just kicking shots where ever he wants. He doesn’t have to worry about a rebound. So just tell the players, take your shot, go to the far post, if you get a quick rebound then bang it home. You want to create a presence that the goaltender now has to think about what he’s doing there. He will now want to control the first shot a little bit better. You’re giving him a reason to play the drill more realistically.

Keep the goaltender involved and work on game like skills. Skills such as covering the puck, or puck collection, communication orpuck handling can be addressed and worked on throughout some drills during practice. Approach the goaltender as a hockey player and give time for a goalie to work on game skills during practice.

It makes sense to take ten minutes at the start of every practice or at some point where you want to do things with the rest of your team, where the goalie will know it will be there every day, it’s his time. Make it have a specific focus for the goalie (i.e. ReboundControl, Hands, Slides, etc.)

Mix up the drills in practice. Many drills consist of odd man rush drills where the players are skating straight down to shoot on the goalie. Although these drills are very useful, plays that start in the corner, across the zone or behind the net are just as important and are more challenging for the goaltender.

Remember that your goaltender is a huge part of your team success. Although you have many players to look after do not overlook the role of your goaltender and make sure they are incorporated into your team practice.