If you’re the parent of a youth hockey goalie or your child is hoping to become one, this article is for you
By Warren Tabachnick
Every kid who’s a goalie—or aspires to be one—dreams of making that incredible save… or stopping the impossible goal attempt in a shootout. But there’s a lot more that goes into being a youth hockey goalie; it’s not always as cool as it seems.
If you’re a parent of a goalie or your child is hoping to become one, here’s what you need to know:
With youth hockey becoming more and more competitive, your child must constantly work on their skills. That’s why goalie camps and clinics are essential. Goalie camps can cost as much as $1,000 or more, as some of the premier camps will pull in professional goalies and shooters, and have attendees on the ice up to 8 hours a day!
When it comes to goalie gear, the cost can easily go well into the thousands. Leg pads alone can run as much as $2,000. For the growing goaltender, it’s always a good idea to look into used equipment.
Goalie camps will be crucial in the beginning of the budding youth hockey goalie’s career. Then expect at least twice-weekly required attendance for games and practices, depending on their level and number of teams in the league. If and when your child announces they want to play travel hockey, that’s when the numbers really start to add up. The time and expense that is demanded of travel hockey requires much thought and discussion.
With all that gear, extra time is needed to strap on those pads and equipment. Budget at least 20 to 30 minutes: 20 minutes for goalies who can put on their own gear, and 30 minutes for those who need your help.
Dealing With the Hard Times
Every youth hockey goalie, no matter their age or skill level, must learn to develop a thick skin. There’s a common saying, goalies don’t win games; they lose them. Along with the accolades that come with the goaltender who makes those incredible saves in a winning game, oftentimes the loss of a game falls squarely on the goalie’s shoulders. In those cases, not all teammates will be good teammates.
And then there’s the matter of getting pulled from the game for letting in too many goals. How will your child deal with that? Being able to rebound from bad goals, bad games, and bad stretches is paramount for goalies.
Sharing the Limelight
This point is crucial. Goalies need to foster a positive relationship with the other goaltender on their team, and set aside the time to work together as friends and not enemies. Far too often the dynamic becomes adversarial.
As a parent you must be prepared to deal with the comments of the other parents if your child is having a bad game. You yourself will need to develop a thick skin, as there will always be poor sports who “broadcast” negative comments on your child’s performance.
Finally, and most importantly, this article is not intended to influence your decision on whether you should follow your child’s dreams. Rather, its purpose is to present an honest viewpoint through the eyes of one goalie dad. Sit down with your child and discuss the points outlined here, so that everyone goes into this journey with their eyes open and knows exactly what to expect. Preferably before you drop a load of cash on those new pads.
Being a goalie is a serious undertaking, a commitment for sure. But the rewards and lessons learned will be invaluable to your child’s future, as both a player and an individual.
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If you’re kid is retaliatory by nature, doesn’t like people in their personal space, or cannot handle and recover from their own failures (the single greatest teacher) or the failures of their teammates, then ‘tending may not be for them.
Successful tendies are self-motivated and self-driven. The vast majority of hockey coaches don’t know the first thing about the position, and few ever care to learn. Most drills are player-focused and are monotonous and counter-intuitive for the goalie. They will need the instruction, and then the perseverance and ability to make each drill work for their needs (i.e. tracking each and every shot through rebounds, working each iteration from a different starting position, etc.) and try to mimic real game situations.
Though many associations have goalie coaches, in most cases your tendy will NOT get what they need to succeed from a typical youth hockey practice… or even position-specific camps for that matter.
-Coach/Father of an ’02
Very well stated. Thanks for the insight, Scott.