By Jim Clare, Illinois Coach-in-Chief – Recently Steve Thompson, ADM National Goaltending Manager for USA Hockey joined 20 goalie coaches in Illinois for a Bronze Level Goalie Coach Seminar.
Bronze Level is the first step in the goaltending coach development program. The idea behind the clinics is to begin to educate more goaltending coaches across the state, develop their practice planning skills, and eventually have them progress through the Silver and Gold levels. Coaches can then take their knowledge and use it in two ways; help the state find more new goalies and better develop the ones we have.
Steve ran the 5-hour clinic, which included an hour of on-ice time, as a highly interactive session. As he said several times, “We do not want to give the answers to the test before the test.”
In other words, as a coach talk through scenarios, drills, and challenges with each other rather than USA Hockey just telling you what is best for your situation. This constant feedback loop during the day was informative for USA Hockey as much as it was for the participants.
Several ideas were discussed, from the three phases of goalie progression; (1) Try, (2) Development, and (3) Mastery. In the Try phase it is about FUN, energy, and excitement for the young kids trying goalie for the first time. I think Steve put it best when he said, “It is not about how many shots they get or saves they make at this phase, it is about how many smiles per hour you get from them.” This phase is all about finding new goalies.
The next two phases, Development and Mastery are where the specialized goalie education begins. Development deals with concepts like stance, skating, positioning, save selection, rebound control and recovery. The Mastery Phase moves on to the mental aspect of the game, training the mind and allowing the goalies to self-correct and prepare correctly for game situations.
Prior to the clinic we hosted 8 goalie leaders from across the state for a 90-minute summit on the ‘State of Goaltending’ in Illinois. Steve and I led a robust, honest, and open session focusing on ideas to attract new goalies and how to better develop the ones we have. This was the first session of several we will hold throughout the next few months as we seek to better support Illinois goalies and coaches. As we gather more thoughts and ideas, we will share those with all of you.
We look forward to many more Goaltending Coaches’ Clinics in Illinois; this is just the beginning.