|A goalie director helps every goalie in your organization.|
With the start of the youth hockey season just about a month away (I know, I know ... way too early), I wanted to share this column on an outstanding suggestion by Brian Daccord of Stop It Goaltending and the Foundation for Goalie Research and Education. Establishing a "goaltending director" position within your youth hockey organization -- someone who oversees every aspect of the position -- may be one of the best methods of ensuring improvement of every team in the program, top to bottom. Here's why ...
Want better goalies? Appoint a goalie director
As coaches, my colleagues and I are always telling kids that summer is when they can really make a difference in their game. But they're not the only ones who should be taking advantage of the off-season. This month, I'm imploring parents and officials with youth hockey and select hockey programs to do the same.
Take the quiet summer months to reinvest in your program, and the brave kids who step up to play goalie. Establish a "goaltending director."
Don't delay. Because if you don't create and fill the position during the summer, it will get pushed aside. That's simply unfair to your goalies and their parents. Once September rolls around, board members are going to be up to their eyeballs with issues ranging from team placements and practice times to rink rentals and league schedules.
This is one of the reasons why programs hire goalie outfits like the one I work for – Stop It Goaltending – to provide separate goalie training. But, for reasons I'll get into, that's simply not enough. Programs need a point person to serve as goaltending director.
Now, the standard excuse for not creating this position is this: "We don't have any former goalies among our parents or volunteers." That's simply not good enough. The reality is, you don't need to be an "expert" in goaltending to take on this responsibility. You don't need to have played the position. You simply have to be willing to be an advocate for these kids, and to take the time to learn the basics.
How can I be so sure? I've seen it firsthand. My older brother Sean is an orthopedic surgeon in New Hampshire. He has countless demands on his time, to the point where there literally aren't enough hours to get everything done. Yet, despite that time crunch, he has made himself a very good goaltending coach in girls' lacrosse and field hockey.
Why? Because his daughter Michaela played those sports, and Sean wanted to have a role in helping her teams. Michaela wasn't a goalie, but Sean recognized that the position wasn't getting the attention it deserved. So he went to work, attending clinics, reading how-to books, scouring YouTube for clips on goaltending technique. And he made himself into a fine coach.
We'd sit around his kitchen, chatting about the differences between playing goal in the three sports – field hockey, ice hockey, and lacrosse. My eldest daughter was considering playing lacrosse goalie, and I leaned on Sean's expertise. He never once gave me bad advice.
The flip side is poor coaching. What we goalie coaches also see, time and time again, is goaltenders who perform really well in camps and clinics, and then regress when we don't see them for a while. I've written about it before. I call it the "Auto Body Shop Approach to Goalie Training."
That approach works like this: A goalie starts the season with his team, and for the first month he gets completely barraged with shots. Then the coaching staff realizes that he or she is starting to falter, maybe even acting a little puck shy (d'uh!). So they decide to send their goalie to us. What we get is usually a kid with potential, but often dented and banged up. We fix them, send them back to their team running like new, and the coaching staff promptly runs them into another tree.
It's frustrating beyond belief. Some of these kids excel despite the "coaching" they get with their team, not because of it. The reality is that too many of the kids we coach go back to a team that has no dedicated goalie coaching. And they suffer, or stagnate, as a result. What's the solution?
Stop It owner Brian Daccord established the Foundation of Goaltending Research and Education to broaden the scope of goalie development. FGRE encourages all youth hockey organizations to institute the position of "Director of Goaltending Development." I agree wholeheartedly.
The following is an abridged description of the position and its function, a blueprint that can be tailored to meet the needs of each organization.
Director of Goaltending Development
The director is responsible for the development of all the organization's goaltenders, including oversight of tryouts, placement, coaching, skills, practice and games as well as education. The director reports directly to the organization's president or board. Being a former goaltender and educated in modern goaltending techniques is preferred, but not a prerequisite.
The director should oversee the organization's tryout procedure for goaltenders. This includes providing a clear understanding of opportunities for goaltenders and communication how the tryout process will be conducted.
The director should oversee team placement of goaltenders. Once a goaltender is placed, the goaltender and parents should be informed of the name and level of the team, how many goaltenders will be on each team, whether the squad emphasizes "play to win" or "equal ice time," how many games and practices will be included, and whether there will be goaltending-specific skill sessions.
The director should create a roster of the organization's goaltenders. This roster should include all contact information of the goaltender and parents, enabling the director to directly contact them to distribute information including educational material.
The director should oversee the structure of goalie coaching within the organization. If each team doesn't have a dedicated goalie coach, the director should work with each team's coaching staff to create an "Assistant Coach responsible for Goalies." Each team should have either a goalie coach or assistant coach responsible for the goalies, a copy of the protocol associated with the assistant coach responsible for goalies, a written policy of how ice time will be distributed for the goalies, and a coaching staff that is informed of what training the goaltenders will receive throughout the season.
The director should oversee the structure of the organization's goaltending training, presenting training options and working to provide the best training alternatives within the organization's budget. Options include no additional training, providing a goaltending Junior Instructor (current Midget/Junior-level goalie), a goaltending coach (professional) at specified team practices, goaltender-specific skills sessions on the organization's ice time with organization coaches, goaltender-specific skills sessions on the organization's ice time with a contracted goalie development firm, or goaltender-specific training at a professional goaltending training center.
The director is responsible for providing coaches, goalies and parents educational material that might benefit the goalies, including goalie-specific websites, books, magazines, and videos, material on off-ice training, nutrition, and cognitive training, and notifying coaches, goalies and parents on any local workshops or presentations.
The director is responsible for following up with the team's head coach, goalies, and goalie parents to ensure there is either a goalie coach or assistant coach responsible for the goalies, that the protocol for the assistant coach responsible for goalies is being followed, that the policy of distributing ice time is being followed, that there is feedback from everyone involved on the organizations goaltending development training, and providing feedback and suggestions on how the organization can better provide for its goaltenders.
Is this a lot of work? Yup. Is it important? Absolutely. And your goalies are worth it.
For more details on the Foundation of Goaltending Research and Education, visit fgre.org.