Top 10 Off-Ice Goalie Drills
I am sure there could be textbooks written about on-ice goalie drills, there is also a good selection of off-ice goalie drills that you may not even know about. Now I am not talking about some of the silliness you see in online videos with goalies standing on stability balls, juggling like a circus seal or my favorite one with the kid wearing his full goalie pads who jumps off a 24” plyobox onto a BOSU!
What the heck is that and how does it help make a goalie better? You may argue that it develops balance and yes, I suppose that is true, but it is not the type of balance that a goalie needs. In both of the ‘goalie drills’ described above the goalie must establish stability equally using both legs.
Although a goalie does want to have a good balanced stance with equal pressure on both feet when they are in the ready position, once they move laterally out of that ready position the goalie is in a situation where they are driving off one foot and quickly establishing a new dynamic stability using the other leg?
Before I get into the goalie drills that will actually help you perform on the ice, I also want to be clear that we are not trying to simply mimic exactly what you do on the ice with your goalie coach. During off-ice goalie training, the goal is to enhance the physical capabilities to execute your movements on the ice with more speed and precision.
Now let’s take a look at the Top 10 Off-Ice Goalie Drills…
MB Push Pass to Push Up
A great goalie drill to help you recover from your belly, but this one adds a little stimulus to get back to your kneeling position – the fact that there is a medicine ball hurling back toward your head. How’s that for motivation?
You will pass the medicine ball to a solid wall (do not do this on a dry walled surface – not that I would know that the med ball will go right through the wall J) from a kneeling position. As soon as the ball leaves your hands you will flop down to your chest and perform a plyometric push up where you push off the ground so hard that you pop back up to your kneeling position before the med ball has a chance to bounce off your noggin.
Triangle Hop with MB Hand-to-Hand Pass
I like using this goalie drill without the medicine ball as well, but using the med ball adds a little more overload to the movement. For this one think about using your t-pushes as you patrol your crease staying square to the shooters. You start at one post then t-push to the top of the crease, then t-push back to the other post. When you do this off-ice drill remember to keep a good ready position with your torso. Use your legs to move, not your trunk.
Lateral Hop & Stick with Eyes Closed
Want to work your balance? This goalie drill will get you way more mileage than standing on the stability ball. When you are tracking the puck and making quick movements your vestibular system (balance system) can get a little confused because your head may be moving in one direction, but your body is moving at a different rate, this can make it tougher to quickly establish your perfect point of balance.
To solve this little dilemma we will simply train your body to process more information about your position in space based on nerve endings throughout your body called proprioceptors. These proprioceptors send information to your brain about the position of your joints, the rate of stretch and the magnitude of stretch on your muscles. Your body then makes some reflexive and reactive responses to this input.
When you close your eyes your body cannot rely on any visual input to tell you that you are level, upright and stationary – you will need to rely on your proprioceptors for that. With practice your body will fine-tune its reactions so you can stop on a dime in a stable position, ready to execute your next move.
Start with a very small hop in the beginning and of course do not even attempt this goalie drill if you have balance issues.
½ Kneeling Lateral Hop
This goalie drill translates into the position specific lateral power you need to drive across the crease in the half butterfly position. Just remember to pay attention to what your upper body is doing and where your hands are positioned. Make sure you are not side bending away from your direction of travel or waving your arms all over the place.
Bilateral Knee Recovery
One of my favorite quotes comes from NHL Goaltending Coach Mitch Korn when he says the butterfly is a ‘save, not a style’. He is saying that the butterfly is just a tool in a goaltender’s toolbox; it is not the only tool. So you will notice this Top 10 list has an emphasis on lateral power and vertical transitions with a few specific butterfly goalie drills.
This one is a biggie and it is an area that a lot of goalies struggle with on the ice – that ability to pop back up to your skates from a butterfly position. This one will give you a progressive way to bounce back to your feet before a shooter can even wide up for a one-timer.
Once you have mastered the recovery, I wanted to create a goalie drill that would help you transition from a vertical recovery to a horizontal movement. This drill lets you practice your butterfly recovery and apply that lateral power seamlessly.
Up Up Down Down
When you are in the kneeling position you cannot really go anywhere. We have all seen goalies try to do it and they end up looking like they are swimming up stream. You have to have a blade on the ice to go anywhere with power, so that is where I got the idea for this goalie drill. The entire idea is to help you get one or both feet back underneath you as quickly as possible while maintaining a tall torso making the net look puny to the snipers.
Up Up Down Down with Catch and Pass
I have added an element of hand-eye coordination to this goalie drill because you cannot just be thinking about executing your positional movements with speed and precision, you also need to stop the puck – that is how you win games.
So try to keep the Up Up Down Down movements running in a continuous fashion as you catch and pass a tennis ball or lacrosse ball off the wall. Make sure you are catching and passing with different hands at different levels.
Step Step Hop
This is another transitional goalie drill. So imagine following the puck as it is carried into the zone using small lateral pushes followed by a powerful t-push. The first movements are keeping your square to the puck at a distance, followed by a big move to stay in position for a save.
Belly Flop – Lateral Hop – Belly Flop
You probably do not want to be on your belly, unless you are freezing the puck, but it happens and unfortunately, the puck is not always trapped beneath you, the belly flop goalie drill helps develop the skill and strength to recover quickly to your feet.
The lateral hop is in there because if you are scrambling to your feet from your belly, that means the puck is still live and some shooter out there has wide eyes as they see what they think is a wide open cage – until you use your crazy lateral power to ruin his day – heck ruin his entire week!
How to have more fun with your Goalie Drills…
Now that you have a great repertoire of goalie drills, let’s have some real fun by combining them into what I like to call ‘box drills’. When you ask me what you can do for ‘cardio training’ – this is one of my favorite go-to drills.
If you want to build goalie specific speed and stamina, this is a great way to go….
Then designate a goalie drill for each corner and a mode of transit between each corner. Here is an example:
- Start at the first cone – do 3 Belly Flop – Lateral Hop – Belly Flops each direction
- Sprint to the second cone – do 5 ½ Kneeling Lateral Pushes each direction
- Low side shuffle to the third cone – do 3 Lateral Hop & Sticks with your eyes closed to each side
- Backpedal to the fourth cone – do 3 Step-Step-Hops each way
- Low side shuffle to the first cone – DONE!
Play around with these Top 10 Off-Ice Goalie Drills – have fun and make sure you are thinking about the cues you get from your goalie coach on the ice. If your goalie coach is constantly telling you to keep your glove hand up, then make sure you are keeping your glove hand up while doing these goalie drills.
Your off-ice goalie drills do not need to simply replicate your on-ice goalie drills, but they do need to use similar movements to maximize your performance on the ice. Every drill should have a purpose and be transferable onto the ice – not sure how standing on a stability ball translates onto the ice. Maybe if you are playing in Detroit and they throw an octopus on the ice and you accidentally step on it…
What I do know is that the goalie drills outlined above will help you develop the dexterity, power and even stamina that you need to leave shooters throughout your league frustrated and feeling defeated before they even drop the puck in games against your team.