Hockey Goalie Training

In this article, I’m going to lay out some of the foundational concepts surrounding how ice hockey goalies can start maximizing their off-ice training to become more explosive, improve their mobility, and become an all-round better goalie. 

I know many goalies follow us here at HockeyTraining.com and they have been waiting for more goalie specific articles, videos, and programs to come out so they can start working hard (and smart) towards their goals.

We at HockeyTraining.com are answering that call now and you can expect a lot more goalie content on all of our platforms in the very near future.

On top of that, we are launching an all-new “done for you” in-season goalie training program that you can sign up for here.

I can’t wait until you see everything we have planned. 

But for now, let’s talk about what makes goalie training different than hockey training for forwards or defensemen.

Why Hockey Goalie Training Is Different

It’s amazing to me how some coaches act as if goalie training is the same as training any other hockey player. 

From a sports science perspective, this is an oversimplification at best, and completely ignorant at worst. 

Would you put a wide receiver in football on the same training program as an offensive lineman?

Do you think a pitcher improves their ball speed by doing an outfielders program? 

Of course not, these sports positions and the unique demands that each one of them brings are wildly different from one another. 

The same is true for goalies and the other players on their team. It’s super important to train goalies appropriately because they are the most important player on the ice. 

They are the last line of defense and the degree to which they perform has a massive impact on the outcome of a game. 

Because of this, in order to train smart, we must know what we need to focus on most, here is a short list of the most glaring differences goalies have from the rest of the players on the ice.

10 Reasons You Need Goalie Specific Training

  1. Goalies require much more mobility, and they must improve their mobility in goalie specific ways.
  2. Although goalies are on the ice the entire game, their conditioning demands are different from the forwards and defensemen as they don’t cover nearly as much ground per game.
  3. An average shift for a hockey player will last around one minute or so, whereas the goalie is on the ice for the entire period. The work to rest ratio is extremely different here.
  4. Goalies must be incredibly explosive and have this explosive ability built through both physical and mental development. Speed of decision-making and reaction time is just as important as the speed of movement.
  5.  Hockey players almost never go down to their knees or belly and then have to spring back up, yet, goalies do this sometimes dozens of times per game. This creates a whole new training stimulus demand for what we can consider goalie-specific training off the ice.
  6. Forwards and defensemen are very much “forward and backward” athletes, meaning, they spent the overwhelming majority of their efforts either skating forwards or backward. Conversely, a goalie very rarely skates forwards or backward and spends much more time moving laterally.
  7. The strength and mobility requirements for the hips of an elite goalie are on a different planet than their forward and defensive counterparts.
  8. Back-up goalies do not get much action in comparison to the starting goalie and should, therefore, account for that in their total weekly training volume (i.e. if you’re not expending energy on the ice you should do more conditioning work in your programming to bring your total volume up to that of the rest of the team).
  9. Goalies have very different equipment, padding, and sticks than the other players. This changes their range of motion at times and can add a lot of extra weight on their body.
  10.  Above all else, goalies need to be mentally and emotionally strong athletes. Having the tools available to you to deal with intense pressure is mandatory for optimal goalie performance.  

How To Become A Better Hockey Goalie

Although you can clearly see there are many differences between the goalies and everyone else, but what you can’t see is all of the remaining similarities.

Let’s not forget, before we treat them like goalies let’s treat them like a human

What does the human physiology need to do/have in order to optimally respond to a specific training stimulus? 

Well, you would need:

  • A great diet to fuel performance and support their body composition goals. 
  • A strength training and mobility program created by a true professional who understands the unique needs of goalie athletes. 
  • An overall emphasis on recovery practices to increase training quality and overall muscular adaptation. 
  • Stress management techniques. 
  • 7-9 hours of high-quality sleep every night. 
  • A periodized and calculated yearly training system that includes the unique demands of the in-season, post-season, off-season, and pre-season.  

These are crucial elements to all hockey training program design. The reason I am pointing them out is that it’s easy to get too goalie specific in your training prescription. 

Some coaches will want to make it seem like goalies are from the planet Saturn and thus every last thing they do in the gym and with their dryland training drills must match the unique alien-needs of their species.

All joking aside, you will certainly come across statements from coaches that are made for marketing purposes and not for educational purposes.

Much of the foundational strength training movements found in any well-designed plan will still be found in a goalie program.

Goalies, like other hockey athletes, will need:

  • Vertical pressing strength
  • Horizontal pressing strength
  • Vertical pulling strength
  • Horizontal pulling strength 
  • Upper and lower body unilateral strength 
  • Squat strength 
  • Hinge strength 
  • Core strength

Now the way in which we go about utilizing the above movement patterns in a truly goalie specific way will be different than how the other players are training (primarily due to the different injury prevention methods and performance-based coordination patterns that are required from position to position).

But, you should never think a goalie program isn’t goalie-specific if it contains movements such as barbell back squats, pull-ups, rows, and other foundational movements. 

These are required and WILL improve goalie performance on every level — not everything you do in your dryland work needs to look like a save (and for the love of God, stop doing dryland work with your equipment on to make it “goalie specific” — that is insanity and a total waste of time). 

The Difference Lies In The Execution

Although a good chunk of the goalie performance pie is foundationally comparable to the forwards and defensemen, a remaining sizeable chunk of that pie can and SHOULD be truly goalie specific. 

General training will only get you so far, at some point an athlete is going to require specific physical preparation to get specific results out on the ice. 

A few great examples of this when it comes to goalie specific training is the overall need for incredible hip mobility (so you have no movement restrictions out on the ice and transition from one position to the next with maximal efficiency), explosive lateral speed (to get from one end of the net to the other in a flash), and the extreme need for “up and down” strength and conditioning (for example, during a penalty kill you may need to make many saves and will need to have serious endurance to keep up the pace). 

Here are a couple of examples of what you can do to focus on those goalie movement patterns to optimize your performance. 

Hockey Goalie Dynamic Hip Mobility Routine

A1: Bodyweight split squats x 12 per side

A2: Alternating T-Stands x 12 per side

A3: Zombie squat with reach through x 12

A4: Supine bridge with reach x 12 per side

A5: Deep squat hold with alternating reaches x 12 per side

A6: Rollover into V-Sit x 12

A7: Iron cross x 12/side

Repeat circuit one time through on off days or as a part of your warm-up or cool-down routines. This is something that can be done every day until desired hip mobility has been reached. 

Hockey Goalie Explosive Lateral Power Protocol

A1: Skater bounds x 3 per side

A2: Cossack squats x 8 per side

A3: Half-kneeling lateral hops x 3 per side

A4: Ankle pogo hops x 5

Rest for 1-2 minutes in between circuits and repeat 2-4 times. 

Hockey Goalie “Up And Down” Finisher

A1: One leg knee tap squat x 8 per leg

A2: Cossack squat x 8 per leg

A3: Lateral reaching lunges x 8 per leg

A4: Vertical jumps x 5

Rest for 1-2 minutes in between circuits and repeat 2-4 times.

Final Thoughts on Goalie Training

My goal with today’s article was to point out the fact that goalies are very different than the other players on the ice and should be treated as such within their training program design. 

Sure, there are similarities, but there are MORE than enough differences in order to warrant a different training program design and periodization strategy. 

If you want instant access to the brand new In-Season Goalie Training program designed by myself that makes sure you’re checking all the boxes you need in order to become a fast, conditioned, explosive, and mobile goalie that other teams get frustrated to play against — then click here and let’s get started today. 

Written by
Dan Garner
Join the discussion

FREE WORKOUTS:

hockey workout sign up