Hockey Canada’s top 5 “off-ice” sports and activities to help goalies get better

Hockey Canada’s top 5 “off-ice” sports and activities to help goalies get better

Editor’s note: This article first published on November 28, 2013.

A recent article where we listed the top 6 “off-ice” sports and activities that help hockey players get better generated a lot of interest.

One of the comments we received was what about goalies? Does the same list apply? Good question.

To get an answer we got advice from David Marcoux, goaltending consultant for Hockey Canada.

“Goaltending requires a combination of specific technical elements, physical ability, psychological qualities, hockey smarts & leadership skills,” he says. Long gone are the days when you put the kids who could not skate in goal. The modern hockey goalie is truly a complete athlete in all aspects.

On the physical side alone, the list of physical abilities is impressive. A goalie must possess strength, flexibility, power, core stability, balance, coordination and a wide range of motion, quick feet, and stamina.

But that’s not all. Beyond the physical abilities, a goalie must also develop focus, concentration, and be able to stay physically relaxed under pressure. So considering the multitude of skills required, Marcoux’s list of top sport and activities for goalies is quite different than those recommended for hockey players.

Are you parents of a goalie? Let us know your thoughts on this list.

David Marcoux’s top 5 sports and activities to help develop better hockey goaltenders

  1. Ping-pong or badminton. These quick-reaction sports develop hand-eye coordination, reaction and movement time, concentration, core stability, and quick feet. Marcoux is quick to point out that former Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff played badminton in the summer as part of his training program to maintain quickness and hand-eye coordination.
  2. Taekwondo.Taekwondo helps with body control, focus, mind management, core strength and stability, as well as leg power.
  3. Yoga. Yoga is great to develop flexibility, range of motion, core strength, relaxation, focus, concentration, mind management, and breathing.
  4. Baseball. Help increase catching ability and hand-eye coordination while batting the ball.
  5. Gymnastics. Helps improve flexibility, core strength, along with range of motion, balance & power). On that note, Marcoux points out that many European hockey countries such as Finland, Russia, and Sweden scout gymnastics clubs to find young athletes who may want to become hockey goaltenders.

5 responses to “Hockey Canada’s top 5 “off-ice” sports and activities to help goalies get better

  1. I mentioned this article to my son and he said, “That’s why I’m so good at badminton!” With all due respect to Hockey Canada, the focus should not be on being a better goaltender, but just enjoying sports in general. We can learn a lot from our kids.

    1. Well if your kid is very interested in goal-tending than it should be on focusing to be a better goaltender. Doing sports that help with goaltender will help in goalie and in the sport he is using to become a better goalie.

  2. Great article.

    I totally agree with Chris. My 9 year old son have been a goalie for a year. He seems on the top at his age in our area according to his goalie coach. But he has been very busy since last September. He has two practices, two games, one goalie training per week. Dry land every other week. After minor hockey, the spring team will be busier than now. He loves hockey and has passion on it. But I am worrying about if he is always busy like now for long time, he will be tired and bored. His passion and talent will disappear slowly. That is what parents and coaches do not want to see. So take a break, for both parents and kids.

  3. This is fantastic advice for goaltenders of all ages.

    There are so many goaltenders I see who are pushed to play all year round. This can result in a loss of interest, even a distain for the game, or worse, repetitive and often chronic injuries.

    This aside, I think the one factor that most goalie parents, coaches and the goalies themselves do not understand is that goaltending is a very cerebral position. It requires a lot of focus and a lot of mental commitment.

    Like any muscle, the brain needs a little time to relax. So time away from the position will give the goaltender time to recharge and come back hungry, excited to play. The result will be BETTER play and MORE focus.

    Personally, am a year round hockey guy. I love to play goal and the only sport I am interested in is hockey.

    Conflicting…not at all.

    Since about age 15, I have always hit a point in the year – I can’t say season, because I play year round – when I realized I wasn’t excited to head out to the rink.

    It is at this point when I knewI needed 2 or 3 weeks away from the game.

    In adult life and when I began running goalie schools, I really started to see the results of year round competitive play, and they were not good.

    I have been fortunate to have met and worked with many professional players and the most memorable conversation was with Wayne Gretzky who was very adamant that kids take some time away from the game.

    Every pro have ever met has said this. All of them also suggest playing another sport (just like the article) that will help your goaltending, but use different muscles and develop your brain in a different manner that will still benefit on ice play.

    As a goalie coach and operator of a year round goalie training centre, I hold true to my philosophy and tell parents – many of whom want to attend MORE training in the ‘off season’ – that their child must take 2-3 weeks away from the game MINIMUM, 4- 6 weeks off is better.

    Some get it, most competitive parents do not. If they don’t, I insist that the goaltender NOT play competitive summer hockey and only play in a fun type league.

    Playing in a fun summer league (3 on 3 is fun and should be a no pressure situation) at least gives the goalie a break from the pressures of competitive hockey and the pressure of needing to win (that’s another commentary).

    I also strongly suggest that no hockey player should play for the same coach during the ‘off season’.

    If you must play all year, the non competitive, so called break time, needs to be under a coach who will not have the same demands and pressures as your competitive coach. It’s impossible for a player to differentiate and relax, if the same coach is running the show.

    We operate a Coaches Certification Course where coaches can become certified goalie trainers and we tell to every coach to insist their goalies take time off.

    The majority of high level competitive coaches, still don’t understand and want to “keep the team on the ice all year”. Not a good idea at all.

    One of the biggest challenges is the parents of today. I’ll take some flak for saying this, but it needs to be said. A lot of parents, don’t parent their children or parent them with grand dissuasions of seeing their child make the NHL.

    YOU are the parent, you pay the bill, you drive the car to the rink. YOU MAKE THE CALL. If YOU say there will be no spring hockey, there will be no spring hockey. This will make them better!!!!

    Kids need time to be kids, outside the rink.

    My advice:
    The kids might not understand the decision right now, but they will later in life.

    Pick one of the Top 5 ‘other sports’ listed above and take a break. Your brain and body will appreciate it…and be better for the time away from the ice.

  4. Thanks for the article on “…activities to develop better goaltenders”. This is a great article & one our daughter can see applies directly to her! More articles like this which apply directly to goalies would be very much appreciated. They serve as motivators for goalies. Thanks again.

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