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Unraveling the Mystery of Goalie Performance Decline During the Season or Post-Development Program

A frequently voiced concern among parents and coaches is when a goaltender experiences a decline in performance a few weeks into the season or immediately after completing a goalie development program. While surprisingly common, this occurrence can be particularly unsettling for those expecting the opposite trajectory. Understanding the possible reasons behind this concern is crucial for finding solutions and helping the goaltender work through the situation to regain their form.

Below are the most common issues that can contribute to this situation.

  • Instinctual Movements Are Not Fully Formulated: If the goalie-specific practice emphasizes proper technique, your goalie may be in the process of internalizing these skills. During this learning phase, goalies might experience slower reaction times as they transition from conscious thought to instinctual movements in games. It’s crucial to be aware that this adjustment period can temporarily affect performance and result in slowed reaction times. I warn my students and parents to be prepared for a downturn in play as new skills are learned.
    COMING SOON  – Hear Chris dig deeper into this topic in our Vlog, featuring key talking points and real-life examples.
  • Team Practice Dynamics: When practicing with the team, your goalie might be confused if coaching instructions are inconsistent or incomplete regarding technique nuances. Conflicting guidance can be especially challenging for younger goalies, who may struggle to reconcile different instructions and how to deal with their coach. Ensuring a clear and unified coaching approach is essential to avoid disrupting the goalie’s learning process.
    COMING SOON  – Hear Chris dig deeper into this topic in our Vlog, featuring key talking points and real-life examples.
  • Practice Pace Pitfalls: Often, practices lack a structured rhythm, depriving goalies of the necessary time to recover or prepare for each shot. Poorly spaced drills result in rapid-fire shooting, hindering goalies from refining realistic game reactions and fostering bad habits with improper technique. Goaltenders must engage in drills that mirror real-game situations to develop efficient response techniques. If coaches run drills at a pace that doesn’t allow realistic recovery time for the goalie, bad habits and inconsistencies will begin to develop in their overall gameplay.
    COMING SOON  – Hear Chris dig deeper into this topic in our Vlog, featuring key talking points and real-life examples.
  • Burnout Consideration: Even though it may be early in the season, mental fatigue can negatively affect goalies, particularly if they have attended summer camps and have not taken sufficient time away from the game. Goalkeeping is a cerebral position, and your goalie might benefit from a brief break to recharge. Mental well-being is a crucial aspect of performance, and taking time away from the game during the off-season is essential for sustained focus and enthusiasm.
    COMING SOON  – Hear Chris dig deeper into this topic in our Vlog, featuring key talking points and real-life examples.
  • Managing Expectations: External pressure or a perfectionist mindset can significantly impact a goalie’s confidence. Coaches should encourage players to give their best effort and explicitly acknowledge that mistakes are a natural part of learning and skills development. Striking a delicate balance between pushing for improvement and allowing room for errors is crucial to fostering a healthy and confident mindset in young players. No child should ever feel the need to be perfect; it’s an unrealistic expectation. Coaches and parents play a pivotal role in providing ‘permission to fail,’ empowering players to surpass the pursuit of perfection and instead focus on continuous skill development.
    COMING SOON  – Hear Chris dig deeper into this topic in our Vlog, featuring key talking points and real-life examples.

Parents and coaches should ask questions to determine what (if anything) is happening and gain insight into your goalie’s emotional state and love of the game.

P.S. I’ve addressed similar issues in my #1 Bestselling book, “Target Practice – 8 Mistakes That Ruin a Love of The Game.” You can download it for FREE here or visit our website for more information: iCoachGoalies.com/about.


Chris Dyson is passionate about hockey. He is an advocate for the ethical advancement of children in minor sports and on a personal mission to improve grassroots hockey by positively affecting 50,000 goaltenders and coaches: helping children to love the game, learn life skills, and continue playing longer.

He believes enjoyment of the game for minor hockey-aged goaltenders (and players) is paramount, and that this can be achieved through the development of better coaching skills and the elimination of unnecessary negativity, which will inspire confidence through improved play. He is a man with vision and perseverance who understands adversity and the benefits of good coaches very well. Despite facing formidable odds and harbouring the improbable dream of a hockey career, he has thrived for over three decades as a professional goaltending coach. Born with a congenital heart defect, he spent much of his childhood in hospitals, experiencing major open-heart surgery, multiple pacemaker implants, an alcoholic mother, and a deadbeat dad who disappeared when things got tough. This included over 100 cardiac arrests in a single day – few people survived even one or two at that time. Dyson is a published author and professional goalie coach/consultant, coaching students from 19 countries through his company, Puckstoppers Goaltending Development. His biggest disappointment is seeing so many young goalies quit the game they love because of misdirection, improper coaching, and a lack of empathy. His critically acclaimed and bestselling book, Target Practice – 8 Mistakes That Ruin a Love of the Game, was written to help coaches and parents better understand the Essential Core Goaltending Skills (ECGSs). Dyson is the visionary behind the world’s first and premier online educational training and certification system, exclusively designed to assist coaches and parents in understanding how to work with and develop goaltenders effectively.
He has also created a series of free online resources

FREE Download of #1 Bestselling book
Target Practice CLICK HERE

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