Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Thanks to our family and friends

May 28th was our 25th wedding anniversary. Wow I feel old...but that's another topic.

Wendy and I wanted to thank all of our family and friends who helped to make the day an unforgettable experience.

In particular I'd like to thank Christina (our daughter) who is an aspiring Event Planner and has years of experience working as our School Administrator. Christina did an awesome job of sending us on a 'trip down memory lane' in a sort of scavenger hunt fashion. Of course our boys did their part and were fantastic in making the day so special.

Thanks to everyone who was there or sent us their best wishes.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Flurey vs Osgood

This isn't about Osgood vs Flurey during of the Cup Finals, I'm thinking more in terms of the 2 men and how their play has improved and progressed over the course of the past season or two.

Lets first look at Osgood. who has been a solid backup or #1 man on strong defensive teams. He has never been considered one of the elite goalies in the league, usually staying under the radar in the middle of the pack, always doing a decent job. He has never been given a lot of respect.

Osgood has been phenomenal this season, even playing behind the awesome 'D' in Detroit, he's been rock solid and has league leading numbers to back it up. The thing that is most impressive to me is that Osgood has reinvented himself by completely changing his style. This is no small feat, especially at 36 years of age.

At our schools we often suggest that students need to incorporate some additional 'tools' (read - skills, new saves, etc.) into their game. This is usually met with resistance, especially from the teenaged goalies, who think they know more than they do.

Osgood has redefined his game by becoming a very good butterfly goalie. Something he was NOT. He has also become so solid positionally that he has been able to extend his career. He was never overly flashy, but his game is now very positional, square to the puck and let the puck come to him - awesome to watch, really.

His butterfly game is now up there with the best, again this is phenomenal for a man who didn't play this way until this point in his career. He is obviously a man dedicated to continual improvement and open to suggestions from his coaches. I will use Osgood as my role model when trying to convince young goalies that they CAN change, with some effort and dedication.

Hats off to Chris Osgood for his determination and if he'd just get a real mask, he might get the recognition he deserves.

Marc-Andre Fluery came into the NHL touted as a 'franchise goalie'. His dramatic and flamboyant style won some fans over and his bright yellow pads made him noticeable. Flurey had enormous talent, but it needed to be harnessed, and he needed sound goalie coaching to make him an NHL star.

If you saw him play in his Junior days or at the start of his NHL career, it is so obvious that he has all the talent in the world, but he overplayed almost everything, sliding past the net on lateral plays and often making saves that looked fantastic and required huge skill, but were a result of his overplaying the initial shot.

The Penguins did exactly the right things with Flurey; they sent him to the minors and coached him to be a solid pro, not a flashy star Junior goalie. This took 3 YEARS!! So when students tell me they can't change, it is frustrating, because anyone can change and improve, if they are willing.

Two years ago when (owner of the Penguins) Mario Lemieux's brother, Alain worked for us, during the summer I mentioned what I saw as Fluery's downfall, we had a long discussion and he said that Gilles Meloche (the Goalie Coach for the Penguins) was working hard to help Flurey understand that he had to change his style to be a pro.

Now when you watch Flurey, he is efficient and usually plays the game in a much smaller area. Gone are the big lateral slides and most of the problems he had coming out of Junior. Flurey is still an amazing goalie with enormous talent, the difference now is that he understands that no matter what level you play at, the better the players, the better you have to be and you must be willing to change or adapt your style to suit the level you are at.

Flurey has matured and recognized what he had to do to be a solid NHL goalie. The final step in his maturity was the changing of his pads from bright yellow to white. He wore the yellow in Junior and he liked the look, I would suspect he liked the attention they drew as well, but this season his gear became a more sedate white with gold and his play improved yet again. Stats proved that goalies with white gear had better stats, so he made the change. This was true maturity on his part.

Flashy goalies are seldom great goalies, that is not to say that great goalies don't make flashy saves, but you'll see them a lot less if the goalie is sound positionally and understands that efficient is better then flashy. You'll always get opportunities to make the 'big' save and it'll be flashy because it has to be, not because you were out of position or trying to look good.

Osgood and Flurey have both changed their styles to better suit the game as it is at their level. Both have made dramatic changes to their 'toolbox' of saves and both are now much better because they were willing to learn, adjust and alter what they did in the past.
If there was a most improved award for goalies in the NHL, both of these man would get my vote, but I guess being in the Stanley Cup finals against each other is certainly a reward for their efforts and one WILL be taking home the Cup as his ultimate reward.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

People are strange!

Sometimes I just can't figure folks out and how or why they do the things they do.

I'm at our Year Round Goalie Training Centre the other night, working with a couple of students and in comes the father of a student I worked with last summer.

His son was 14 at the time and playing AA, but he was really struggling and needed some major changes to his stance and his overall game, to play better and have any chance of moving up. I saw him on average, 2 times a week for many weeks. He worked very hard to improve what I instructed him on and we saw a marked improvement.

His goal was to make AAA in August, which he did. His father was ecstatic and gave me all the credit for showing his son where he needed improvement and how to resolve his issues. He told myself and others, that Puckstoppers was the only reason his son improved so much and made the team.

So back to the other night; This fellow goes a long way out of his way to come and see me, he walks all the way around the rink and into our Training Centre and into my office area. He does the usual 'how are you' and then launches into how thrilled he is that I was able to work with his son and that - and, I quote, "you are the only reason he made it to the next level and I just wanted to thank you again, he's still using what you taught him, we're so happy with your what you did for him".

I'm thrilled his son made the team and I'm happy we got the results that they wanted, so I ask him; "why haven't I seen him back here since last summer - because as everyone should know, you can't work on something and assume its fixed forever - like anything, you have to keep working, learning and training, or you start to 'lose it'.

He stammers a bit and replies "too busy", but I'm no dummy, I've been in business too long and coached too many people, not to know when someone is lying to me. So I ask the next question, just to clarify what I already have figured out. "So will we see him this summer at our school?". "No he's going to another school" is the reply.

Well thank you for the compliment and kick in the Kahonies. Frankly I take this as an insult. Of course I understand that people want to do other camps and may 'need a change' but for someone to tell me that we''re the reason his son made it and "we're going elsewhere" is hard to swallow. The worst part is that I hear this regularly from people - "You've done wonders for my 'son/daughter, we're thrilled, but we're enrolled in someone else's camp".

Maybe it's because I really do give a damn about my students and how they progress, or maybe it's because some people have no tact - I mean go ahead and take your kid somewhere else, but don't gleefully stand in my business and tell me that we did a wonderful job, thank you, and now we're taking our money elsewhere. It's not about the money at all, but it is a business and when we do a great job, care about the student and do everything possible to help them achieve their goals and then get told "see ya" it is tough to take and insulting.

I tend not to have much in the way of an ego, and this isn't about mine, but this actually hurts me when someone doesn't have the brains to understand that they just insulted me.
What is worse, and I see this a lot, is when they come back to me after seeing 'the other guy' or going to 'the other guys school' and I have to spend 5 or 10 sessions reworking their whole mechanics or positioning because 'the other guy' taught them incorrectly or didn't care enough to understand how the student was able to play, given their physical characteristics, strength, mental toughness and ability level. Few instructors even think about these things, but WE DO!

I can't even begin to count the number of times I've had to correct 'the other guys' errors in coaching. This leads to discouraged goalies, upset parents and often I see goalies who DROP to lower levels because they aren't able to figure out what the problem is.

I've seen great goalies quit or wind up in House League, all because their parents thought it would be a good idea to see several other instructors or coaches to 'get many viewpoints'. Not that this is bad, there are lots of good goalie instructors out there, but be sure you take the time to find out of 'the other guy' is a real goalie coach, or a guy who calls himself one, or IF he is a real goalie coach be sure he knows how to work with different goalies and doesn't train everyone the same way. THIS ISN'T COACHING AND IT CAN RUIN A GOALIES CONFIDENCE.
OK this is a bit of a rant and I am admittedly upset that we did a fantastic job and lost a customer. I'm not sure how to deal with it when this happens. but it sure is frustrating. Hopefully his son doesn't run into problems and can maintain the level of play that he worked so hard to acheive.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I'm back

I want to apologize to our regular readers for the time between posts. As I noted, I was off for a bit when I had a couple of scheduled surgeries, one of which was to my right wrist and prevented me from typing for a while and then I was out of town a number of times on business and just didn't seem to have time to post.

I'm back now and I wanted everyone to know I'm feeling much better after the kidney surgery. A big "Thank you" to all those who sent me get well wishes and emails. Now that the wrist is feeling better I can get back to this.

I have been very busy working on our summer schools and 2 of the programs are already SOLD OUT, so if you are planning on attending, I suggest you do not wait to submit your application.

I have also been busier than expected at our Training Centre. This has been a bit of an issue because I intentionally scheduled the surgeries for April because its the end of the winter season and our summer hockey doesn't start until the end of May, the Training Centre has its slowest 2 months of the year in April & May. So I planned well, but because we have been busier than expected, my son (Jamie) has had to come with me almost daily to do my shooting.

Look for more posts this week.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

No Postings?

Sorry to everyone for the lact of activity on the Blog lately. I was in hospital for a while after having some nasty kidney surgery. I have another minor surgery scheduled next week and then I'll be back posting on a regular basis.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Be the example, Do NOT let them see you're rattled

I recently attended the playoff game of one of my better students.

High level, Game 5 in a 7 game series, his team was up 3 -1 going in. He played very well, but had a little issue with rebound control that cost him 1 goal for sure.

The game was 2 - 2 heading into OT and his team should have won it several times in the 3rd, but a couple of bad bounces allowed the other team to stay in it. Just over a minute into his team makes a bad pass all the way down at the other teams blue line and they make a beautiful pass to spring a break away - deke to the backhand and a high shot beats our guy to the glove side.

Now you've all seen goalie lose games and sometimes they get upset and sometimes they show class and skate away. I personally love Tim Thomas' reaction to an OT loss, he sprints off the ice as fast as he can and he's 'outta there'.

Well, our boy didn't have a reaction I was proud of and the problem with a major reaction to a goal, especially in a series, is that it gives the other team confidence and lets them know that they CAN get to you.

Lets just say the 5 or 6 stick slams, the 4 or 5 spinning out of control fits of rage and the smashing of the glass were something the coach should have addressed (I have no idea if he did or not) and something that was embarrassing to watch.

Everyone in the building saw this reaction and if the other teams coach was on the ball (again, I don't know if he was or not) he saw this and made a point of telling his team "we can get to this guy, get him off his game".

'Jimmy' played well and had nothing to be ashamed of, he was beaten by a good shot on a broken play by his team, it happens! But his reaction was something I'd expect to see from a little kid, not a 15 year old very skilled goalie at an elite level.

The students at our schools and Training Centre get 3 seconds to be pissed off, that's it. I would be disappointed if a goalie weren't mad when he/she got scored on. And each of us reacts in a different way. As noted, I allow my guys 3 seconds, you can swear or bang a stick or hit your head, but only for 3 seconds. Then it is imperative that you regain focus and dignity. Even at the end of a game, its key not to let the other team see you 'explode'.

Coaches and parents need to make this a focal point for all players. Everyone should be able to win and lose with dignity and grace. No one wants to lose, but you can't let it get the better of you.

Game 6 went to the other team and our guy didn't play, series is now 3 - 3. One wonders if the momentum switch created by his reaction made a difference. Hopefully he'll get another shot in game 7 and I'll update this post at that time.
UPDATE: Our man got the start in game 7 (that was 5 out of the 7 games he played, losing only 1 in OT) and he put on a clinic, winning 3 to 1, despite being outshot. I was quite proud of the way he handled the lone goal against, no reaction! His team remained composed and didn't score until early in the 3rd period and after that he shut the door. CONGRATULATIONS ON A JOB WELL DONE!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Use your nerves

Its playoff time and the rinks get louder, the games mean more and the fans get more belligerent. Unfortunately the fans DO get more belligerent and abusive in their comments, they also get loud, sometimes, really LOUD. This can all be distracting to a goalie who must maintain focus and poise, especially at this time of year.

Use the energy in the building to feed your fire. When you make a great save and the building gets louder, take it in, tell yourself the noise is for YOU, the cheering is for YOUR save. Or the other teams fans are booing you because your stopped their team. This means your doing well, enjoy their catcalls and boos, knowing that you are defeating their spirit and pushing them to be negative. Relish in the moment of being the focus of their attention.

When the players start to make abusive comments to you, smile, in the knowledge that YOU are doing something so right, they are not happy with you and PO'd that they can't score. Know that the comments toward you are their way of showing their frustration and build your own confidence from their frustration.

If the other team starts to 'crowd the net' or bump you, smile! Again knowing you are frustrating them to the point of breaking. Keep smiling or simply 'going about your business' without reaction because that is what they want.

The hardest part will be to maintain focus, and not to overreact in either direction. Get cocky or start to make your own comments and it can come back to bite you. Maintain your calm and be focused on the NET SHOT, because it is all that matters! What has happened doesn't matter, only the next shot matters. Remember this!

If you are focused and 'into the game' you can block all the distractions out, you need to be so into the game that you don't hear most of what is going on, its just you and the puck that matter. Allow yourself to hear what you need to hear, and build your own confidence from those sounds. Playing in the moment and being laser focused on the NEXT SHOT.

Do what works best for you, but I have always found that you need to turn your focus level up and down a few degrees when the play is stopped or between periods. While you must maintain your intensity level and focus, don't put yourself in the position of being zoned out to your own team and the positive things that are happening around you.

Martin Brodeur is a great example of a goalie who you will see laughing or smiling during a stoppage, but is incredibly focused while the play is on. I have known goalies who completely 'zone out' and become so intense for the entire game time (before, during stoppages and breaks and even for a time afterward) that no one could even speak to them. I have also noticed that most of the 'over intense' goalies, burn out earlier in their careers or can't take the stress they place on themselves and quit as teenagers.

Remember, winning isn't everything, but it certainly is a lot more fun when you do! Regardless, gain confidence from knowing that you have done your best and that you won't win every game or stop every shot, but your attitude should be that you can, and should!!

Most importantly, at any level, no matter what the outcome is, the sun will rise tomorrow and life goes on. Hockey is a game, not life or death, so do your best, enjoy the moment, build your own confidence and relish in the fact you have done all you can.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Common Balance problem for Butterfly Goalies

This past week I went out to help the goalies on my son's former team. they don't have a goalie coach and I had an early night at our Training Centre (finishing at 8:00). They had ice at 8:30, so I jumped in the car and went straight to yet another rink - my third that day (LOL)...

It turned out that only 1 of their goalies was at the practice (it's March Break), but it was Scott, whom I have coached for the past 5 years, on my son's teams. Scott is a great talent (for age 13) and is one of the most technically perfect goalies for his age, I have ever seen. Scott is not very tall, being one of, if not the smallest goalie in the league EVERY YEAR, so I have worked very hard to teach him to PLAY BIG and control his rebounds. He has always done a great job of working on this and has stolen many games with his awesome play.

I was excited to get on the ice with their team and I enjoyed the opportunity to work with Scott to ready him for the playoffs. I began - as any coach should - by simply observing for 10 minutes or so, to see what we needed to discuss and what areas needed to be addressed. Having only seen him a few times this season at our Training Centre and not in game action, as I was so accustomed to, for the past 5 years, I was shocked at the bad habits I saw.

I should NOT have been surprised, but having been his coach and working with him for so long, I guess I thought he'd simply retain the information and training we had worked on. The fact he hadn't only reinforces that goalies need specific and ongoing training. Parents and coaches should be aware that goalies need specific GOALIE COACHING and get their goalies the help they deserve. DO NOT LEAVE THIS TO UNTRAINED PEOPLE.

The areas that had declined in Scott's play were nothing out of the ordinary for a goalie who has not received proper instruction for a period of time, in fact, his new found bad habits are the most common areas to decline with goalies who are left to fend for themselves.

Parents and coaches need to be aware of these problems and pay close attention so they can help their own goalies.

First thing I saw was that he was rotating his entire upper body and catching pucks BEHIND his shoulder. Just about every save to the glove side was being made in this manner and it can cause huge problems with balance and rebound control. The worst consequence if excessive rotation is that GOALS will be scored because the shoulder or glove will rotate AWAY from the puck, allowing it to sail through, or glance off and be angled into the net. Squared up shoulders, will afford the goalie MORE BLOCKING AREA.


Scott has always had a great butterfly with awesome rebound control...but not any more. He was stretching for shots, stick flailing about and falling forward after making saves - the first major signs of this common mistake. This is also one of the hardest things to get kids to understand - MOVEMENT TOWARD THE PUCK. If the goalie learns to make very short lateral movements toward the puck, rebound control becomes much easier, recovery becomes much easier and positioning will vastly improve.

I teach goalies that they need to have their body centered with the shot - belly button lines up to the puck - for best coverage and control. Most young or untrained (or in this case, trained but forgotten) goalies, simply drop down and throw limbs out to make saves, this doesn't work very well and opens up a lot of holes in their coverage. By teaching simple 6" lateral pushes, the goalie will be covering the net much more efficiently.

The hardest part of this is getting the goalie to understand A) the reason for the lateral movement and B) understanding that they only need to move a VERY SHORT distance to make the save - too much movement will leave the net unattended as they slide out (past and/or through) of the desired blocking area. Flurey in Pittsburgh had a real problem with overplaying, when he entered the NHL and has worked hard to improve this problem, although his rebound control is still suspect.

The third problem is a direct result of not moving into the path of the puck - overstretching and stick control, resulting in a loss of balance. When a goalie chooses to 'drop and stretch', rather than using a short lateral push, the results aren't pretty.

Falling to the knees and then quickly trying to fully extend the leg toward the puck will result in bad balance and increases the risk for injury. After the save attempt, the stick usually pops off the ice and the goalie falls back onto their butt or forward onto their stomach. Teaching short lateral movement will improve rebound control, recovery, positioning and most importantly - result in more saves.

I will see Scott and his team again during playoffs and wish them all the best in the stretch run.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Absolutly Ridiculious!

I was at my son's team practice the other day and what I saw made me feel so badly for the kids, all of them, but in particular the goalies.

Just to clarify things; this is an 'A' level competitive Bantam team and every player on this team, won a City Championship last year.

The coach (new guy this year) was on the ice by himself, now this guy has very little hockey knowledge and God bless him for trying, but he shouldn't be allowed on the ice because he doesn't know any drills or how to deal with the kids, but I'll leave that alone for now....

For the first 10 minutes, 3 or 4 kids came onto the ice and skated around, shooting pucks and generally screwing around, no coach - he was busy playing games in the dressing room with the kids, by blocking their way out the door....So 10 minutes wasted.

When the team finally got out onto the ice, the kids did some skating for a couple of minutes, the goalies were made or allowed to skate like they didn't care and didn't skate in stance or work on their form or technique, at all.....another 10 minutes wasted

Then the team did some really lame around the circle drill at a pace that was like watching paint dry, most of the kids were so bored, they couldn't have cared - one even skated over and asked his dad if he could leave. Meanwhile the goalies were flopping around and doing what they wanted, which involved shooting pucks into the air and spinning around on their knees making cool marks in the snow.....another 10 minutes wasted

So THIRTY FRICKEN MINUTES INTO THE PRACTICE the goalies had their first shots, which amounted to about 7 or 8 shots on goal. Then the coach decided that the kids aren't working hard enough and pulls them off the ice and he goes home.

40 minutes of ice and 7 or 8 shots on goal!!!!!!!!!!!

OK, I gotta be honest here, I'm pretty PO'd that I wasted my time coming over to the rink to watch my son practice and saw this. First off this guy can't coach, second, he won't let anyone help him - I offered and his response was "ya, we don't know much about goalies". But he has never asked or responded to my offer to help - so HIS EGO IS IN THE WAY of him doing what a coach is supposed to do - help the kids develop.

Now I'm not the typical whining parent here, I want to help and I know every player on the team because I have coached all but one kid on this team, so I know what they are capable of. They have won 4 regular season games this year and have DOUBLE the next closest team in the league for goals against, both goalies had averages around 2:00 last year and not both are around 5:00.

I is so hard to stand back and watch and egotistical b#*t*rd ruin the kids season, confidence and their love of the game.

Once again - COACHES, please let people help you, don't let your ego in the way of the kids development. Remember; THE KIDS ARE WHY YOU ARE THERE!!!!!

OK, whine over...for now.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Awesome Penalty Shot SAVE!!

This past week I was at our Training Centre, instructing goalies one on one for the better part of the night as I usually do 5 or 6 days a week.

Our One on One Goaltender Training Centre is located at the Ice Park arena. We are in he back corner of the south rink and our area is essentially from the blue line all the way to the end of the rink with the rink boards being one of our walls. When we set up our area, I chose to leave the glass as it was, so we could occasionally watch a goalie playing during a game. This has proven to be a helpful teaching aid, but it is also a form of entertainment for our students waiting their turn or their parents, as everyone gets to watch the games that are ongoing throughout the evening.

On this particular evening, Gerry Ellison, who has worked for us for 19 years and is our Head Instructor and my good friend, was playing goal for his men's rec team. Now, Gerry is a bit of a 'talker' on the ice and sometimes can 'stir the pot'. Tonight Gerry looked to be in fine form making many good stops and getting into a few scuffles with players who came to close to his crease.

In the first period, Gerry had a couple of heated discussions with one player in particular and there were some heated words, shoves, challenges and taunting on both sides (Gerry of course won the war of the words with his quick wit).

Late in the second period, with Gerry's team ahead by 2, there was a big scrum in Gerry's crease and the signal came from the ref "PENALTY SHOT" against Gerry. Wouldn't you know, it turns out to be Gerry's 'friend' who he has been having words with all game, who will take the shot.

Well, we had to stop our session and the 3 students who were in attendance (one from before, the current student I was working with and the upcoming client) and all the parents gather at the glass to watch. Of course I have known Gerry for nearly 20 years, so I have a pretty good inkling of what his plan is and I let everyone know that this will be worth watching.

The player readies himself and slowly picks up the puck off the centre dot, he skates in -ridiculously slowly - with his head down looking at the puck the entire time. I look down to Gerry and see his is at the top of his crease, but not outside of it - I know what is coming.

As the player reaches the hash marks about 15 feet out, Gerry readies himself, as I see his 'drive foot' slide into push position. Without any warning, Gerry EXPLODES off his back foot, he drives as hard as any pro goalie could have, and he launches into a perfect 2 pad stack, at exactly the right time!! The player, who was over 6 feet tall and around 225 lbs, with his head still down, never saw it coming, Gerry slides straight through his skates and he is launched! Up and into a 180, landing half on Gerry's legs and half on the ice behind Gerry in a crumpled mess.

The classic move was made even better as Gerry literally threw the players legs off of his and he jumped to his feet and skated to his bench, without a word. He had said it all by making the perfect play!

It was a sight to see!! I've been around hockey for a hell of a long time and I can say with all honestly

"I have NEVER seen a better play on a breakaway or penalty shot"

It was beautiful!!!

Afterward I asked Gerry about the play. I told him I knew what was coming and his reply was classic Gerry; "yep, no way was he going to score on that play". I asked him what the player had said as he skated back to the bench with his proverbial tail between his legs. "Hell of a save" was his only comment. Fitting for 2 warriors who still love to play and play to win.

Gerry won 5-3

Monday, February 18, 2008

Shuffle vs 'T' Push

This past week I was working with a team and found both goalies using 'T' pushes to make short lateral moves. I'm speaking of short, follow the play, moves of 6" to 10", not corner to corner, or post to opposite side plays. Basic movement at the top of the crease.

On short moves to 'square up' they would turn one foot (the lead foot - not the push foot) and then quickly 'snap' it back into place when they got where they were going. Picture this if the play is moving across the top of the crease from one side to the other, if the goalie uses the 'T' and not the shuffle, they will be 'all over the place' and have very little control or speed to keep up with the play.

These goalies were allowing a lot of low shots in and they were having problems controling rebounds. This is ALL a result of 'T' pushes instead of shuffles. I do not allow any goalie I work with to use the 'T' push for this kind of movement. In fact we havent taught this in about 15 years at our schools, yet there are still many 'old school' goalies who will use this move and still teach it to kids - these people are NOT goalie instructors (or they SHOULDN'T be) and are doing the kids they work with a real dis service. Our certified goalie instructors are always on the lookout for this, and won't allow it to happen!

The problem with using a 'T' instead of a simple 'toes ahead' shuffle is the body control and the ability to drop down from this position. Try it while you read this! Stand up and turn one foot to form the 'T' position, now try to drive both knees down to the floor in a butterfly type of positon. One of 2 things has to happen for this to work. 1. You blow your knee out and need surgery to fix the damage - not a good option..... or 2. Your brain will force your foot to pop back into the 'toes forward' position before you fall down. The time it takes to 'rearrange' your foot position, is the time it takes to stop many goals.

There is also the inability to close the 5 hole while standing up, it is impossible to bring the pads together when one leg is turned, so again, a major problem is created by using an improper movement.

The 'T' push is one of the hardest habits to break in a goalie. I cringe everytime I see a young goalie out on the ice working with a coach and I see the coach show this technique!! I even know if a couple of schools that still make the kids practice the 'T' glide around the entire rink for extended periods of time. Great, engrain the wrong technique even more into their brains and make it even harder to correct!!!!

So always teach or practice using shuffle steps to be square to the play, never use a 'T' push for this kind of movement.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hagersville Goalie Clinic

Thanks to the fine folks of Hagarsville for having us in to run another minor hockey clinic this past weekend. We had our team of goalie instructors there to work with many of the goalies from their minor hockey system. There were several very solid goalies and all seemed very willing to work hard and stay focused. GREAT JOB GOALIES!!

Special thanks to Brennan Brown for his efforts in setting up the clinic and doing all the legwork on his end and to the other volonteers who have helped coordiate our many clinics for various organizations this season. We offer many other services for minor hockey goaltending instruction.

We still have one more minor hockey goaltending clinic coming up on February 24th for the SSE WIld organization.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sometimes the coach IS right!

I received a letter from a parent this week concerning a coach who wanted their son (goalie) to work harder and felt he wasn't making a solid efort for his team while playing much better for an 'alll star' team as well as being called up a division for another team in the system.

I've been bashing a few coaches lately, so I thought I'd print a good one.

I'm always happy to offer advice or help out, but please be aware that I am honest in my replies, sometimes brutally honest. If someone asks me, I assume they want the truth.


Sorry guys, as a (team & goalie) coach I agree 100% with him.

I want the kids I coach to know where they stand the true reasons they are being benched, short shifted or used in specific situations and not others. This is simply good communication. Comparing players is essential when you have to explain why someone is playing more or in different situations, again simply good communication.

I have an issue with the "he's better" part of the comment, perhaps you misunderstood this part, because with Jimmy playing UP, it is obvious that he is capable and likely has better skills and/or ability than his partner, otherwise he'd be the one playing up. The coach should use this as motivation and it sounds like he was trying to get him to realize that as a part of the team, he needs to be there 100% in mind, body and effort. Every player owes this to their team mates and coaches.

If in fact he's "not trying anymore" and I were his coach, I would not play him at all and I would put a stop to his playing up - this is something he earned because he did well, he can't abandon his team because of it. His first priority must be HIS team. He has a commitment and needs to honour and respect it. I'm sorry to be strong on this, but hockey skills translate into life skills and I STRONGLY believe (even at 9) that it is imperative that kids learn this. In terms of comparisons, they happen in every aspect of life; promotions, raises, relationships, interviews, so although they are 9, I really don't see a problem pointing out that his partner is working harder.

The fact the younger kids are much slower will indeed be challenging, but he needs to understand that this is a great opportunity to work on his technical game, be perfect in his moves and positioning and work on every aspect of his game. The speed of the game isn't the key, his focus and his desire to be at the top of his game are the keys and he needs to understand this.

I'm sorry, I know this isn't the answer you were expecting, but I believe in being honest and sometimes this isn't what folks want to hear.


Here is a link to another article on dealing with your coach

Generic Pre Ice Preparation for Goaltenders

Generic Pre Ice Preparation for Goaltenders


You must arrive with enough time to conformably dress, complete this routine and be ready to play. Begin by putting on all gear BELOW the waist. This must be done by yourself with the possible exception of skate tightening.

For younger ages, parents should not be present once dressing is complete.

For older (over 12) ages, parents should not be present unless tightening skates.

15 minutes prior to ice time, goalie(s) should begin their 10 minute pre ice stretching routine. If 2 goalies are present, they should mirror and encourage each other during drills.

Once stretching routine is complete, put on C/A, throat guard, mask and gloves. The next 2 to 4 minutes should be spent focusing on clearing your head and focusing on your job and technique. Listen to the coaches ‘plan’ and hit the ice. Do a quick stretching routine, on the ice, BEFORE stopping any shots.

Remember, work at YOUR own pace, focus on every 2nd or 3rd shot, and make them YOUR saves. If players are shooting high or making dekes, just ignore them and let them score or skate by.


You must arrive in enough time to properly dress, prepare for the game, focus and stretch fully. This is usually 30 – 45 minutes before game time. If you are a social person, the first 10 – 15 minutes will usually be spent ‘hanging out’. Parents should not be present at this time. Goaltenders may want to dress slowly or just be in the room at this time.

30 minutes prior to game time, start dressing, if not already started. Begin by putting on all gear below the waist. This must be done by yourself with the possible exception of skate tightening.
Parents should NOT be present from this point on.

20 minutes prior to ice time, both (if 2) goalies should begin their 10 minute stretching routine. If 2, one mirrors and encourages the other. (Possible team rule – if stretching is not completed on time, goalie will not play that game).

Once stretching is complete, put on the remaining gear and spend 2 to 7 minutes clearing your head and focusing on the game, technique and visualization, you must be mentally ready to play.

Listen to the coach’s game plan and lead your team onto the ice.

Do a quick stretching routine on the ice, BEFORE stopping any shots.

Stop enough shots to be comfortable with the ‘feel’ of the puck.

If players are shooting high or making dekes, just ignore them and let them score or skate by. This is YOUR warm up. (Possible team rule – if players are trying to score or shooting at the head, fine or bench them)

If NOT Starting

Take warm up shots against the boards in the centre ice area or alternate with your partner in the net.

Be a cheerleader on the bench

If in a ‘split’ situation. Watch the clock and be ready to enter the game ½ way. (Possible team rule – do NOT switch if a goalie has a shutout) (Goalies from 8 or 9 years old, should be playing full games)

You must stretch at least 5 minutes on the bench, before entering at mid game. If immediately placed into the game, you must quickly stretch on the ice as play is in progress.

Keep your mind in the game at all times, you may be entering the game at any second, be ready and focused.

Things to Remember

A coach may ‘pull’ you at any time. Do not take it personally.

Often it may be just for a few seconds to discuss a situation or problem or even to get the team a rest.

The coach may just want to slow the game down.

It may be because the team needs a ‘shakeup’

Occasionally you may be having an ‘off’ game. Forget it and relax, it happens. Learn from your situation and move on.

Try to keep track (written is good) of goals that you let in. See if a pattern develops. This will help show you what to work harder on in practice.

NEVER, slam your stick or blame anyone for a goal. If a goal goes in, think about it for 5 seconds, analyze why it went in, and then forget bout it, until after the game. After the game re analyze WHY you were scored on and try to learn from it and improve because of what you will have learned.

Remember, even a perfect play by YOU can still result in a goal against you. You can’t and won’t stop every shot!!

It is a game, have fun and enjoy it, even if you lose. The world won’t change!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pre Ice Stretching

3 sets of each stretch, alternating sides
Hamstring and groin – toes up
Hamstring and groin – toes down
Back stretch – do not over extend
Arm rotations
Neck stretch (left, right, forward – NOT back)
Pelvis and hip rotations
Skate on bench, knee down
Splits (do not overextend)
Knee bend against wall
Toe touches
Add your own

Friday, January 25, 2008

New Site For Goalies

This is an awesome site for goalies, about goalies, where all the members are goalies. Great job John!! Congratulations on the site an amazing job and a fine site. We'll send everyone over to your site to check it out.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008


One of our goalie school students contacted me this past week to say he wanted to quit hockey because of his coach.

The coach has played him in THREE games this season (this is House League), out of 20+ games. When he asked the coach "why" the reply was "see the banners hanging there, I won those because I play the best players".

OMG what an idiot!!!!!!!! First off, this is HL hockey, everyone should play equally. Secondly, it isn't about the coaches ego (if you coach to impress folks with wins, banners and trophies - you coach for the wrong reasons!!!). I can't believe (OK, I can, I see it often enough...) the mentality of some of the coaches in minor hockey.

For all of those coaches who read this, listen up; it's about the kids first and foremost, they are there to have fun, regardless of the level you play at, its a game, let them enjoy it. Secondly; if you coach only to win, you are a complete fool and should not be allowed to coach! Minor hockey is about development, that is the job of a minor hockey coach, to develop his players to improve their hockey skills, to improve their social skills and to improve their life skills. it is simply NOT ever about winning at all costs.

I tell my teams right from the outset that they will learn respect for themselves, others and their coaches, they will learn to play better. I also tell them the game is more fun when you win and they will win more games if they become better at of all the other things because they will learn how to be better people and better players.

Volunteer coaches are generally great people with their hearts in the right places, but sometimes they should be fired because they simply don't get it or understand that their only reason for being there is to help the kids enjoy the game.

We run a FREE coaches program (Coaches Seminar; How to Teach Goaltending) and we stress all of the above and we also make it clear that goalies and players who learn to be better at the game of ice hockey and better at being part of a team that is committed to a common goal, will always improve and have fun.

2008 schools already filling quickly

We have already received inquiries and applications for our goaltending schools from England, Germany, Australia, USA, Mexico and Italy!!

This is shaping up to be a banner year for our 20th anniversary goaltending school programs and training.

Don't wait, get your applications in now for this summers goalie schools!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

So You Think You Know Angles?

Have you ever heard a coach or parent yell "cover that angle"? This article is dedicated to exploring what that all too often used statement really means.

Anyone who has ever uttered those words, needs to do the following. Go out onto the ice and have a goalie stand in the middle of the net, at the top of the crease, perfectly in line with a puck about 10 feet away in the slot. Now take a good look at the positioning and the open net the goalie is giving up. There should only be a few inches of room in all four corners.

Once you have satisfied yourself that the goaltender is in the correct position, take a walk over to the players bench and stand where the coach stands during the game. Take a good look at the goalie remembering that he/she is in perfect position. What you will see will astound you! The entire net will be wide open, your first thought will be that anyone should be able to beat your goalie in their current position. Then the light bulb will go on! It is impossible to tell if the goalie is properly lined up with the puck from any place in the arena, except directly behind the net. This will be obvious because as you already knew, the goalie IS IN THE CORRECT POSITION. (This is becomes even more magnified from the fan’s points of view, or an elevated viewpoint.)

To properly teach your goalie how to play an angle, we have found "the rope drill" to be highly effective. If you look at the logo above, you will see a version of the rope drill.
Following is an explanation of this drill: get a 30 to 40 foot length of rope and tie the ends to the top of each post (two ropes may also be used and tied to the top and base of each post.) Have a goalie get into position, starting at the goal line. The rope should be pulled to form a "V" and a puck should be placed at this point. Always instruct your goalies to keep the puck straight in front of themselves and that if in correct angle coverage positioning, the puck, their belly button and the centre post in the net should all line up (another rope may be used to further demonstrate this.)

With the goalie in correct angle to the puck, but still on the goal line, make note of the open net that is visible. This will convince those goalies that like to play deep in their net that they are giving up a whole lot of scoring space. Now gradually have the goalie move out toward the puck, stopping every couple of feet. Be sure to point out how the open net is diminishing with each move forward. When the goalie reaches the point where only six inches remain open at each lower corner, they have reached the correct location to play an oncoming shot. This location will almost always be right at the top of the round crease. If the goalie comes out any further than this point they are risking the possibility of a deke or making it impossible to recover/react to a pass across. With the goaltender in correct position reinforce the importance of "lining up with the puck" by having each player (forwards too - then they will know what to look for) get down to ice level and look at the goalie from exactly where the puck is, the scoring locations will be few.

Then have someone stand where a player would be if carrying the same puck, the results are not as dramatic as the coach’s view on the bench, but they are similar. Now it's time to prove just how important correctly lining up with the puck is. Have the goalie (still in correct position) move six inches to either side. Repeat the looking process. What will be noticeable is that for every inch a goalie is out of position to his/her left or right, two inches will open up. Meaning if the goalie is twelve inches too far to his left, twenty four inches would be open on the right. Take this one step further by having the goalie line up with the shooter and repeat the looking process. BIG MISTAKE!! But common.

Have fun with this drill and involve the whole team. Move the puck location around and continue to use the rope. You will notice that the deeper the puck is into the corner, the deeper the goalie should be. Teach them to envision the ropes at all times.