Faster Game, Better Training
At Performance Goaltending we believe that goalie specific training is critical to proper development. Non-specific training can lead to lazy habits, poor execution and ultimately a regression in skills. Being a ‘target’ in practice is not the same as training. Goalies - just like skaters - require specific education.
At Performance Goaltending we create situations and conditions that will challenge each goalie. Timing and execution are properly controlled in order to create a positive learning environment. Feedback is specific and immediate. Adjustments are fully explained in a positive manner. Using a progressive system of learning, each drill will have its core objective increased in difficulty, constantly challenging the goalie to get better. Comparatively, game action will seem routine!
OUR SYSTEM - KEY INFLUENCES
Nothing gets goalie coaches more animated than the mention of an all prevailing ‘best system’ of play. Throw 10 goalie coaches in a room and you will have 10 different opinions on how to hold the catching glove, where to position yourself and how to get mentally focused. Ask those same 10 coaches how they arrived at their opinion and the answer will often be vague and subjective. Not at Performance Goaltending.
Even with 30+ years playing experience and 14 years coaching experience, Director Dave Wells recognizes that experience alone is simply not good enough. You need a modern, formalized system - a plan that is consistent, well researched, well designed and well thought out.
We know that there’s a huge difference between playing the position and effectively breaking it down and explaining it, especially with young goalies. “Don’t make the mistake of automatically believing that an ex-pro has some sort of monopoly on knowledge or an exceptional ability to educate your child, that’s a red herring. Many of the best goalie coaches in the world never played a minute in the pro’s.”
More important than asking what a goalie did 10, 15 or 20 years ago (who cares?) dig deeper, find out what they are doing now to keep pace with changes in the game. Are they in the arena watching their protégés play or are they content to simply hang around a practice facility? Look at game footage from as recent as 5 years ago - almost everything has changed. Past playing experience is almost irrelevant in the modern game of hockey. You need ongoing expert analysis to keep pace, which is what we have committed to doing.
At Performance Goaltending we’ve widely adopted the teachings of Ian Clarke, goalie coach for the Vancouver Canucks and one of the brightest minds in the game. Ian has contributed greatly to the technical training and understanding of the goaltending position. “We’ve used Ian’s training guidelines for many years and personally tested them to ensure they are sensible. We’ve found his system to be effective and suitable for almost any goalie looking to play a modern style. His success at the NHL and International level speaks for itself.” Even Hockey Canada uses Ian’s ideas and drills in their Goaltending Skills Manual, something we also use as a guide for age specific ideas and progress indicators.
Using Ian’s materials forces one to critically examine the most important elements of the game, right down to the details many goalies rarely consider. We appreciate the depth of analysis Ian brings to the table yet we recognize that not every goalie will be interested in fully digesting this information. “It’s our job to simplify the key concepts and deliver them in a manner consistent with the goalies we are training.”
We have also benefitted greatly from our experience working with Steve McKichan, goalie coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs (2003-2008). Steve in turn was mentored by legendary goalie coach Mitch Korn of the Nashville Predators. We’ve adopted many of the on ice drills and props used by Steve and Mitch including white pucks, mini pucks, screen boards, car wash screens, on ice mirrors, up and down deflectors, vision restrictors etc. The intent, as voiced by Mr. Korn, is to create an environment that challenges the goalie significantly more than a game situation, thereby making game situations seem comparatively easy.
THE PERFORMANCE GOALTENDING APPROACH
We believe that a goaltender must be trained to excel in 3 major areas: Technically (on ice), Physically (off-ice) and Mentally. Any shortfall in one of these key areas will lead to sub-optimal performance.
The Technical Approach
We promise not to complicate things with excess techno-jargon - our overarching theme is always to simplify the process. At the end of the day the job of the goalie is fairly simple: keep the puck out of the net. The best way to do that is as old as the game itself - be on angle, be square, be aware and make the save. Goaltending 101.
For some reason it seems that many goalies have lost this basic formula and are over-complicating the entire process, often with less than optimal results. Technically sound butterfly slides are useless if the puck still ends up in the back of the net.
At Performance Goaltending we are determined to show our goalies how to play smart & play simple.
For us, simplicity begins with proper skating fundamentals, solid positioning and good ice awareness. Everything flows from these three basic pillars. As the goalie learns how to read the play s/he will be in the right place at the right time, able to make a set, on angle and square save that controls the puck.
We do not preach what style the goalie must use. We will accept almost any save technique as long as it is used at the right time, is sensible and controls the rebound without negatively affecting recoveries. Clearly there are some approaches which are more appropriate than others, but we believe a goalie must play to their individual strengths will minimizing their weaknesses. There’s a time and place for virtually every save technique out there. That’s where a good goalie coach earns his money and the cookie cutter coach is exposed.
We are extremely focused on the technical aspects of the game. Proper recovery sequences, lateral slides, puck tracking, rebound control, puck handling - all these skills are practiced regularly to ensure proper execution. We understand, however, that all the technical teaching in the world is useless unless proper positioning and awareness are understood. Accordingly, we spend a great deal of time helping our goalies understand how to play a simple, aware, lateral game.
Hockey Canada has developed a good model for specific skill sets and we follow it closely.
The Goaltender Development Pyramid, courtesy of Hockey Canada.©
Everything we teach is built upon the ability to skate properly. We want our goalies to be the best skaters at their age group. Basic skating skills such as forward and backward c-cuts, free style skating, t-pushes and simple shuffles are used as a warm-up. We then proceed to drill our goalies with position specific skating movements.
At Performance Goaltending we teach the 5 key crease movement techniques including the power t-push, butterfly slides, backside slides, shuffles (long and short) and knee shimmies. We focus on having early eyes, leading with the hands and hips, gathering and loading the power leg and then explosively pushing to the target position.
We do not allow the goalie to do these sequences incorrectly, stopping and correcting them immediately if a bad habit appears. Repetition done properly forms the muscle memory needed to complete these movements automatically in the heat of a game.
Every practice will feature drills designed to work on rebound control; sloppy rebounds are always punished! Goalies are always given enough time to get set before another shot sequence begins.
When we set up a drill we want the goalie to understand why we are doing it. A certain amount of imagination must be used on the ice and we try to explain the scenario so the goalie can relate it to game situations. We explain when and why we use certain save selections, always paying attention to the ability and style of each goalie.
As a goalie develops their core skills we begin to work on puckhandling and transitional play. Communication skills are stressed and we coordinate with the team on tactics and terminology.
For our higher level goaltenders we get into even more advanced positioning skills. We focus on further simplification of their pre-shot routines, situation specific depth adjustments, momentum builds, weak side awareness, tactical rules of thumb, reading the play and advanced rebound control techniques. Technically, we get very nit-picky, demanding excellent execution. Video analysis will often be used to provide specific examples.
In short, we believe in using proven, core principles adapted to work effectively with the speed and puck movement found in todays game. We use cutting edge materials to effectively deliver modern techniques, with a focus on simplicity, repeatability and stopping the puck with control.
The Mental Approach
It’s no exaggeration to say that we quite literally want our goalies to have the smartest hockey minds on the ice.
We believe that as goalies get older the difference between those who move on to higher levels and those who do not is based on their mental approach. Technical skills and fitness levels will typically only vary by 10% amongst peer groups, not enough to be the sole determining factor. A strong mind, singularly focused on doing what it takes to succeed, is a powerful tool. We foster that mindset with our younger goalies and keep our older goalies on track.
To achieve mental success we provide multiple sourced materials to read, discuss and implement. We spend a great deal of time presenting concepts, talking about them in the classroom and on the ice. Video and picture analysis are used to provide specific examples and keep things interesting. We will often use role reversals and ask the goalie to coach the coach, which is one of the most effective ways to learn.
Is your goalie struggling in the net? Maybe lost his or her confidence? No problem, we have you covered!
We can draw on our extensive playing experience and large database of materials to get your goalie back on track. Realizing that different people require different approaches, we work with your goalie to find the best solution for them. We help develop proper pre-game routines, on ice tactics and post game analysis. We help them set long term goals while making sure they understand the importance of a balanced lifestyle.
Being the most physically fit player on the ice shows dedication to your craft and will immediately separate you from others who do not train to your level. It allows you to play as well in the last minute of the game as you did in the first minute. It will help with recoveries, puck handling injury prevention and, most importantly, it’s just good for your general well being.
At Performance Goaltending we have partnered with Hyperfit Hockey to provide fitness training excellence. Under the general direction of Ben Davis M.A, you will be given an age specific fitness plan with a focus on training that allows you to succeed as a goaltender. This plan will be regularly monitored and fitness testing will rank you against other goalies in your age group so you know where you need to improve.
As goalies our needs are different from skaters and we certainly are not training to become body builders or weight lifters. Using goalie specific exercises developed by Roger Takahashi (Strength and Conditioning Coach, Vancouver Canucks) we have worked with Hyperfit to develop goaltender specific exercises emphasizing balance, explosive movement, weight maintenance and core strength.
Our balanced approach to teaching technical skills, being physically fit and mentally strong will have you playing at the top of your game.