Conscious Coaching: Taking The Time To Make It Stick

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working with a small group of goalies as part of an in season development program. It’s been a great experience for me and for the goalies as we have enough time to stop and give attention on a more individual basis as necessary, and that’s what got me thinking of the topic for today’s post.

I always go into the sessions prepared with a concept I want to teach or develop and a progressing set of drills to make it happen. It’s laid out in a way that should take up most of the ice time we have for the day, but it can be tough to pack everything into an hour.

Last week’s concept was layering multiple saves and recoveries. I wanted the goalies to learn how to move with control in the event of an in-zone situation such as a powerplay. One of the drills I used was a push from the post to the middle for a low, short side save, followed by a recovery and another push back out for a high shot.

Great footwork, but I knew we could do better!

Now, Karly is a very talented, hard working young goalie, so if there’s anything to fix, it’s going to be in the details, but the details are what separates “good” from “great”, and I want my goalies to be great.

Her footwork looks solid, and she’s making the save, but I knew if we let rebounds sit in that open ice above the goal line, those could turn into goals.

This is the difference between going through the motions, and being conscious of your coaching. We could have moved on to the next drill and hoped to iron out those details another time, but practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent.

So it made sense to me to put the practice plan on pause and laser-focus on that single skill that needs it. It doesn’t have to be for very long, but just long enough to make the adjustment. In this case, it was getting the stick on the puck at the right angle to get rid of that rebound.

Does every rep look perfect? Nope, but I was confident she understood what we were looking for and it happened often enough that I was ready to give the drill another shot.


It might seem like a small thing, but this is the stuff that I get super excited over. I feel a lot better sending her off to her weekend games knowing she has the ability to keep pucks out of the slot more often than not. I feel better about that than I would have if I tried to stick to the script.

My point is: Whoever you trust your development to, whether it’s on the ice with a goalie coach or off the ice with a trainer or in the classroom with a tutor, be sure they’re taking the time to make sure you’re getting what you need to out of the lesson before moving on. Learning has a way of building on itself. I think of it like construction. Imagine a company saying “I know we’re not finished the 3rd floor, but we’ve got a timeline to stick to, so let’s get started on the 4th floor and come back to this.” That’s not going to be a solid building.

It’s never going to be 100% perfect, and that’s ok, but make sure that “floor” of your learning is at a level you can live with before deciding to build on top of it.

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