You can call a symposium a meeting of the minds, a place for experts to share knowledge and ideas.
That’s exactly what transpired in October when USA Hockey, the Rocky Mountain District and the Idaho Amateur Hockey Association hosted an American Development Model goaltending symposium in Idaho Falls.
More than 30 male and female goalies attended, plus 62 coaches from 11 states and 20 parents from nearby associations.
“Sometimes kids forget what the coaches are trying to teach their goalies,” said Rocky Mountain District Coach-in-Chief Mike Lehto. “That’s where parents can help a lot. They can go home, talk to their players and help translate to their kids if they aren’t sure what the coaches are trying to get across.
“These folks aren’t going to be coaches or ambassadors, but they can be translators and cheerleaders for what we’re trying to do. Goalie isn’t an easily-coached position, but it’s easier than many coaches think it is, and it’s essential.”
Whether it was on-ice or off-ice, topics on the agenda included the following:
“What we wanted to go through was setting up a practice, coaching basic movements and getting goaltending coaches comfortable with coaching goaltenders,” said Lehto. “We had a number of experienced goaltending coaches who took it to another level.”
When breakout sessions were held, younger coaches stayed with 10U and 8U players, 12U girls stayed together and 18U and 16U also stayed together.
“There were skating sessions where players have basic movements and you have an advanced group go through it,” Lehto said. “We had equipment and safety checks. We had several breakout sessions and then we brought everybody back into the room. Then, we went back on the ice and worked those specific stations.
“We worked ADM practices, which reinforced the important concepts, and overall, the event was a great forum to have questions answered and then have the coaches bring this back to their respective associations.”
The symposium provided ample opportunity for participants to get their questions answered. Besides Lehto, coaches could avail themselves of expertise from USA Hockey Goaltending Development Coordinators Tommy Jones and Eric Hudson, USA Hockey ADM Manager for Goaltending Phil Osaer and USA Hockey National Coach-in-Chief Mike MacMillan.
“We had a Friday night session with coaches and parents that included a couple of presentations about the ADM goaltending initiative,” said Lehto. “We had a breakout session about goalie jargon, goalie vocabulary, so we were all on the same page.
“We got back at it Saturday morning and discussed ADM principles and how to structure a practice. The basic components were positioning, angles, how to coach basic movements and how to communicate.”
Then it was onto the ice for practice.
“There’s no doubt the goalies learned and improved,” Lehto said.
Another point of emphasis during the symposium was the need to reallocate ice time and convince ice schedulers that time must be carved out for goalie training-specific ice sessions at least three times a week.
“That was a paradigm shift for associations in the west to say, ‘Now we have coaches who are trained and willing to coach goalies,’” Lehto said. “Just by the mere nature of doing what we did, I have to believe goaltenders that are getting that individual instruction are going to get better.
“By reallocating time, we feel associations will get more bang for the buck.”
Lehto also referred to a basic educational concept when discussing the benefits coaches derived from the symposium.
For example, large colleges and universities may have classes with 100 or 200 students but only one professor. With a smaller the teacher-to-student ratio, students generally thrive.
“Goaltending is a specialized position and it takes some special [individual] attention and coaching to help kids reach their full potential,” Lehto said. “That’s part of the ADM goaltending initiative. But it’s also important that coaches don’t assume they can’t help their goalies just because they themselves might not have played goalie. Every coach can be a goalie coach, with some forethought and preparation.
“We’re starting to give this attention at the national level, which is exciting. Coaches who attended were ecstatic. They felt it was better than any hockey camp they had attended.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc