Kevin Neeld — Hockey Training, Sports Performance, & Sports Science

Ultimate Goalie Training

I’ve had the opportunity to read/review most of the hockey training products out there and, to be honest, I’ve been largely unimpressed. Most are outdated, impractical, theoretical, or, well, minimally educated. When I’m reading through these hockey training products, I look for a balance of education and practicality. In other words, I look for detailed information on what a hockey player should be doing and why they should be doing it.

I recently read Maria Mountain’s Ultimate Goalie Training and was really impressed. Goalies are often overlooked in the training process. Maria’s training program did a great job of outlining the principles behind goalie training, exercises that goalies should be doing and why, and a program for goalies to follow. I was so impressed with the program that I asked Maria if she’d do an interview for us here at KevinNeeld.com.

KN: Goalie-specific training doesn’t receive much attention amongst the strength and conditioning world. Can you talk about the demands of being a goalie and why the position may deserve some special attention?

MM: Like many things in the strength and conditioning world the pendulum for goalie specific training swings to the extremes.  There are some practitioners who believe that goalies do not need anything different than the skaters.  I have also see practitioners who have their goalies actually wearing their pads while dropping off a high box onto a BOSU. They somehow feel that is creating a better goalie.  Personally, I would rather see a coach or trainer do nothing with their goalies than the latter routine.

I believe the goalie must be a great athlete first, but they do have some special needs.  With the butterfly style, goalies do need more hip internal rotation, they need to have good control of their hip adductors (groins) in a lengthened position to reduce the risk of adductor strains and they need more very short burst rapid lateral movements coordinated with hand-eye reaction.  Finally, when you consider the energy system demands on the goalie, they are quite different from a skater because the goalie will be on the ice for the entire game with sustained postures and then rapid bursts of movement.  So I prioritize my training for goalies by developing mobility, stability (in the hips and torso), strength, lateral speed and stamina.

The Ultimate Goalie Training system builds from a strong foundation up to the more dynamic goalie specific plyometric drills.  It is not a quick fix or a laundry list of exercises where goalies can pick their favorite exercises and do them over and over.  It takes the goalie through a logical step-by-step progression without any guesswork; I tell them what to do each day resulting in improved performance on the ice and reduced incidence of injury, so they can stay in the game.

KN: One of the limitations I see in a lot of training programs is that it’s hard to relay how to do the exercises with correct form. You do a great job of giving goalies everything they need to learn and perform the exercises. Can you explain for our readers how you went about doing this?

MM: In the Revolution Studio where I train athletes in London, Ontario I am extremely picky about technique.  I think we share a common philosophy on this Kevin in that if an athlete is not doing the exercise properly then they are not training the muscle groups they are trying to target.  Although it was very time consuming, my passion for perfect technique dictated that I videotape every exercise in the program with technical pointers.  I basically teach the goalie who is using the Ultimate Goalie Training system the same way I would teach an athlete in the gym.

Even if a goalie knows how to do squats for example, I want him/her to learn what is important to me from a technical perspective.  Again the goal is to maximize performance and reduce the risk of injury.  Once the goalie has viewed the videos, I also included ‘quick reference’ guides, which include photos of each exercise that they can put into their training manual and take along to the gym just in case they forget anything.  I have had goalies email me to say that they have loaded the videos onto their iPod – which I think is really cool, but please don’t ask me how to do it – I am proud of myself if I can buy a song on iTunes!

KN: One of the questions I get a lot from hockey players is “what exercise should I do for…?”. Can you talk about how you decided on the exercises to include and how you structured the program?

MM: When I create any program, the first question I always ask myself is “what am I trying to accomplish?”  Then I set about to create a program that will accomplish that goal in the least amount of time.  I see too many workouts that include 12-14-16 exercises (I actually saw one workout that had 21 exercises per strength workout – for three sets).  In my opinion, if you are including 21 exercises in a workout, you have no idea what you are trying to accomplish; you are throwing crap at the wall and hoping something sticks.

So with the Ultimate Goalie Training system I included the basics – remember goalies must be great athletes, so there are squats and squat variations because they need to build some great, strong, powerful legs.  Then I supplemented that with strength movements or power movements in other planes, which helps train similar patterns of muscle recruitment that the goalie may use on the ice.  So we are covering the big bang movements – the goalie gets stronger overall, and then I supplement with exercises to keep them mobile, nimble and injury resistant.  Not one exercise is included to help the goalie just look better; every exercise is either included to improve performance or reduce the risk of injury.  Any other fluff is cut – I don’t want someone wasting my time; so why would I waste the time of my athletes?

I also included an in-season training schedule and an off-season training schedule so the goalie knows exactly what to do each day regardless of where they are at in the season.  I tried to make it as step-by-step as possible while still providing an advanced training experience for the goalies that are serious about improving their performance.

KN: Thanks for taking the time Maria. Great stuff as always and a great resource for goalies to check out!

For more information on Maria’s Ultimate Goalie Training, check out UltimateGoalieTraining.com.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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Kevin Neeld

Kevin Neeld Knows Hockey

Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.