Part Four: How to incorporate goalies in practice

When I am working with various hockey organizations one of the most frequent questions asked by coaches is “How can I incorporate my goalies in practice”? Most minor hockey teams don’t have specific goalie coaches so it’s the responsibility of the coach to develop ALL the players on the team. The fact that coaches are even asking this question gives me hope for all goalies out there. Incorporating goalie specific drills only takes a bit of planning time and requires discipline from the players executing the drills.

Possible scenarios:


Goalie should always be encouraged to do goalie specific skating as opposed to whatever the players are doing. Forward and backward skating should always be done in goaltending stance. If the skaters are doing the circles, the goalies should shuffle around the first and last circle. This will take a lot more time but the benefits will be significant. If the skaters are doing crossovers the goalies should be encouraged to work on their T-pushes.

Shooting Drills

Instead of directing the shooters to simply go in on the goalie and shoot, they should be encouraged to only shoot to a specific area. This is mutually beneficial as it helps the players focus on accuracy and goalies reinforce proper save selection and movements.

Variety and Movement

When running a practice, a coach should try to always change where the shot is coming from and where the skaters are moving. Often practices get very repetitive for the goalie; to keep the goalies skills sharp the coach should try to modify each drill so the goalie gets to see pucks from different areas of the rink (Ex Jimmy Howard and Marc- Andre Fleury, goals from the goal line this year).

One on one or weave drills

Most practices include many weave or one on one drills. If the coach staggers the players appropriately the goalies roughly have 3 to 4 seconds between shots. This is a great opportunity to work on proper recovery or t-pushing out to a player to receive a second shot. The players who shot can also act as screeners or deflectors.


A team is not successful without a good breakout. In order to incorporate the goalies coaches can either rim the puck around forcing the goalie to stop it. Another great way would be to flick the puck up forcing the goalie to control the puck for their defense. Jake Allen let in the 5th goal in the gold metal game on this exact play because he was not able to control the dump in. To make this even more game like, coaches should also send in an attacker or two in order to put pressure on the goalies.

Point shots/reverse 2-1

Many drills start with a shooter taking a shot from the point and then retreating for a 2-1 or any other type of odd man rush. I often recommend to coaches that they place 2 or 3 players in front of the net to make it more game like. It’s very rare that a goalie takes a point shot with no traffic in front of the net.

Independent Development

Often the coach needs to focus their time with the forwards or defense which leaves the goalies alone with sometimes nothing to do. In these situations a coach should explain to the goalies before the practice begins what the goalies should be working on. In my opinion a series of skating/crease drills, recovery or shooting drills are all beneficial.

There are many other ways to incorporate goalies into practice. All it takes is for the coach to focus on a specific goaltending skill and then to incorporate it into practice. This will lead to great results as the goalies will not feel neglected and they will have the opportunity to develop their skills in every practice.

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