5 Things Coaches Say that Drive Goalies Crazy

Communication is key to any successful team. Whether it’s how players communicate on the ice or how coaches share ideas, the ability to properly and clearly get your point across helps everyone understand what’s expected. For the most part, thecommunication between coaches and goalies has traditionally been, shall we say, confusing.

Goalie coaches play a significant role in translating to a goalie what a coach means when certain things are said on the ice during games or practices, intermission, and during one-on-one meetings.

You can call them coach-speak or coach-isms, but not matter how you slice it, it’s important to hear what a head coach says and then actually understand what is means.

Here are five of the most common things you might hear a coach say to a goalie, what they’re really saying, and what you can do to help.

1. “Stay Up!”

At each training session, there is always one goalie who literally stands up on every shot, high or low. When asked why they aren’t taking away the lower part of the ice on low shots, goalies and parents often say, “My coach is always telling me to stay up,” or “My coach says I’m always down on the ice.”

Try this instead: Say “Track the puck.” This is something you will hear at a goalie training session over and over again. By simply using these words, you are encouraging a goalie to track the puck and react to where it’s going. In some cases, yes, that means they might stay on their skates and catch the puck or redirect it to the corner using their blocker. Or, goalies will use a butterfly save on low shots or kick out their pad. You’ll be amazed at the results.

2. “Keep your glove up!”

The problem, as the puck-eye view on the right proves, is that the only thing this goalie is protecting is a spectator in the fourth row from losing their popcorn. There’s a big difference between what the shooter sees with their eyes and what the puck sees. And if you think your goalie won’t give up goals in the top corner anymore by standing like this, you’re wrong. They will and they will also give up goals at lower heights. The problem isn’t how high their glove is. It’s not how low their glove is. The problem is that they’re not properly tracking and reacting to the shot.

Try this instead: Help goalies understand when they will require a more reactive mindset when it comes to using their glove. The main thing to consider is the distance of the shot.

Generally speaking, goalies should be able to comfortably catch pucks from 20 to 25 feet away.

This seems like a far distance, but rest assured when a puck is coming at you at increasing speeds, it’s not such an unreasonable expectation to have at a minimum. Of course, there are goalies we see every night catch pucks at shorter distances, but from 20 to 25 feet away, the goalie should be thinking react.

Coaches should spend time on the ice showing goalies how far this distance actually is. That way, goalies will be able to start to anticipate reacting with their glove – or blocker! – on shots from further out.

This will promote a reactive mindset where goalies will be able to make saves at any height (high, mid, and low) as long as they are properly tracking the puck.