Top 10 Off-Ice Goalie Drills

Top 10 Off-Ice Goalie Drills

Top 10 Off-Ice Goalie DrillsI am sure there could be textbooks written about on-ice goalie drills, there is also a good selection of off-ice goalie drills that you may not even know about.  Now I am not talking about some of the silliness you see in online videos with goalies standing on stability balls, juggling like a circus seal or my favorite one with the kid wearing his full goalie pads who jumps off a 24” plyobox onto a BOSU!

What the heck is that and how does it help make a goalie better?  You may argue that it develops balance and yes, I suppose that is true, but it is not the type of balance that a goalie needs.  In both of the ‘goalie drills’ described above the goalie must establish stability equally using both legs.

Although a goalie does want to have a good balanced stance with equal pressure on both feet when they are in the ready position, once they move laterally out of that ready position the goalie is in a situation where they are driving off one foot and quickly establishing a new dynamic stability using the other leg?

Before I get into the goalie drills that will actually help you perform on the ice, I also want to be clear that we are not trying to simply mimic exactly what you do on the ice with your goalie coach.  During off-ice goalie training, the goal is to enhance the physical capabilities to execute your movements on the ice with more speed and precision.

Now let’s take a look at the Top 10 Off-Ice Goalie Drills…

MB Push Pass to Push Up

A great goalie drill to help you recover from your belly, but this one adds a little stimulus to get back to your kneeling position – the fact that there is a medicine ball hurling back toward your head.  How’s that for motivation?

You will pass the medicine ball to a solid wall (do not do this on a dry walled surface – not that I would know that the med ball will go right through the wall J) from a kneeling position.  As soon as the ball leaves your hands you will flop down to your chest and perform a plyometric push up where you push off the ground so hard that you pop back up to your kneeling position before the med ball has a chance to bounce off your noggin.

Triangle Hop with MB Hand-to-Hand Pass

I like using this goalie drill without the medicine ball as well, but using the med ball adds a little more overload to the movement.  For this one think about using your t-pushes as you patrol your crease staying square to the shooters.  You start at one post then t-push to the top of the crease, then t-push back to the other post.  When you do this off-ice drill remember to keep a good ready position with your torso.  Use your legs to move, not your trunk.

Lateral Hop & Stick with Eyes Closed

Want to work your balance?  This goalie drill will get you way more mileage than standing on the stability ball.  When you are tracking the puck and making quick movements your vestibular system (balance system) can get a little confused because your head may be moving in one direction, but your body is moving at a different rate, this can make it tougher to quickly establish your perfect point of balance.

To solve this little dilemma we will simply train your body to process more information about your position in space based on nerve endings throughout your body called proprioceptors.  These proprioceptors send information to your brain about the position of your joints, the rate of stretch and the magnitude of stretch on your muscles.  Your body then makes some reflexive and reactive responses to this input.

When you close your eyes your body cannot rely on any visual input to tell you that you are level, upright and stationary – you will need to rely on your proprioceptors for that.  With practice your body will fine-tune its reactions so you can stop on a dime in a stable position, ready to execute your next move.

Start with a very small hop in the beginning and of course do not even attempt this goalie drill if you have balance issues.

½ Kneeling Lateral Hop

This goalie drill translates into the position specific lateral power you need to drive across the crease in the half butterfly position.  Just remember to pay attention to what your upper body is doing and where your hands are positioned.  Make sure you are not side bending away from your direction of travel or waving your arms all over the place.

Bilateral Knee Recovery

One of my favorite quotes comes from NHL Goaltending Coach Mitch Korn when he says the butterfly is a ‘save, not a style’.  He is saying that the butterfly is just a tool in a goaltender’s toolbox; it is not the only tool.  So you will notice this Top 10 list has an emphasis on lateral power and vertical transitions with a few specific butterfly goalie drills.

This one is a biggie and it is an area that a lot of goalies struggle with on the ice – that ability to pop back up to your skates from a butterfly position.  This one will give you a progressive way to bounce back to your feet before a shooter can even wide up for a one-timer.

Bilateral Knee Recovery to Lateral Hop

Once you have mastered the recovery, I wanted to create a goalie drill that would help you transition from a vertical recovery to a horizontal movement.  This drill lets you practice your butterfly recovery and apply that lateral power seamlessly.

Up Up Down Down

When you are in the kneeling position you cannot really go anywhere.  We have all seen goalies try to do it and they end up looking like they are swimming up stream.  You have to have a blade on the ice to go anywhere with power, so that is where I got the idea for this goalie drill.  The entire idea is to help you get one or both feet back underneath you as quickly as possible while maintaining a tall torso making the net look puny to the snipers.

Up Up Down Down with Catch and Pass

I have added an element of hand-eye coordination to this goalie drill because you cannot just be thinking about executing your positional movements with speed and precision, you also need to stop the puck – that is how you win games.

So try to keep the Up Up Down Down movements running in a continuous fashion as you catch and pass a tennis ball or lacrosse ball off the wall.  Make sure you are catching and passing with different hands at different levels.

Step Step Hop

This is another transitional goalie drill.  So imagine following the puck as it is carried into the zone using small lateral pushes followed by a powerful t-push.  The first movements are keeping your square to the puck at a distance, followed by a big move to stay in position for a save.

Belly Flop – Lateral Hop – Belly Flop

You probably do not want to be on your belly, unless you are freezing the puck, but it happens and unfortunately, the puck is not always trapped beneath you, the belly flop goalie drill helps develop the skill and strength to recover quickly to your feet.

The lateral hop is in there because if you are scrambling to your feet from your belly, that means the puck is still live and some shooter out there has wide eyes as they see what they think is a wide open cage – until you use your crazy lateral power to ruin his day – heck ruin his entire week!

How to have more fun with your Goalie Drills…

Now that you have a great repertoire of goalie drills, let’s have some real fun by combining them into what I like to call ‘box drills’.  When you ask me what you can do for ‘cardio training’  – this is one of my favorite go-to drills.

If you want to build goalie specific speed and stamina, this is a great way to go….

Set out a box pattern that can range from 3×3 meters to 10×10 meters depending on what you are trying to work more speed or stamina.use pylons to set out the box for this off-ice goalie drill

Then designate a goalie drill for each corner and a mode of transit between each corner.  Here is an example:

  • Start at the first cone – do 3 Belly Flop – Lateral Hop – Belly Flops each direction
  • Sprint to the second cone – do 5 ½ Kneeling Lateral Pushes each direction
  • Low side shuffle to the third cone – do 3 Lateral Hop & Sticks with your eyes closed to each side
  • Backpedal to the fourth cone – do 3 Step-Step-Hops each way
  • Low side shuffle to the first cone – DONE!

Play around with these Top 10 Off-Ice Goalie Drills – have fun and make sure you are thinking about the cues you get from your goalie coach on the ice.  If your goalie coach is constantly telling you to keep your glove hand up, then make sure you are keeping your glove hand up while doing these goalie drills.

Your off-ice goalie drills do not need to simply replicate your on-ice goalie drills, but they do need to use similar movements to maximize your performance on the ice.  Every drill should have a purpose and be transferable onto the ice – not sure how standing on a stability ball translates onto the ice.  Maybe if you are playing in Detroit and they throw an octopus on the ice and you accidentally step on it…

What I do know is that the goalie drills outlined above will help you develop the dexterity, power and even stamina that you need to leave shooters throughout your league frustrated and feeling defeated before they even drop the puck in games against your team.

By | 2012-01-30T08:46:42+00:00 January 30th, 2012|Hockey Goalie Training|26 Comments


  1. Lubos February 1, 2012 at 6:50 am - Reply

    Hi Maria,

    I don’t really see the point of doing these excersises in the season because you do all those movements on ice whenever I have time in between drilles or actualy in the drill or when you have specific goalie practise. I can see the point doing these excersices if I’m running a goalie camp for kids or juniors as a part off ice practice.

    • Maria Mountain February 1, 2012 at 8:15 am - Reply

      Hey Lubos,

      Thanks for your input. The title of the post is not “Top 10 IN-SEASON Off-Ice Drills for Goalies” it is simply the Top 10 Off-Ice Drills. Also keep in mind, not all of the readers on the site play hockey in a league where they have specific goalie practices or even regular ice time. Ideally goalies would be on the ice 5 days per week with lots of time to work on their on-ice movement skills. In reality, the many of the readers here at are only on the ice 2-3 times per week even during the season and even less during the off-season, so that is where the drills can enhance their performance on the ice.

      Thanks again for your input – have a great day.

  2. Lubos February 1, 2012 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    Well, in that case its reasonable to do these drills, especially with younger kids, cu they use only their body weight. ok got your point.

  3. Clyde Bullion February 4, 2012 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    While I subscribe to the site, and I use all of these for my son, an other goalie wants to use the same drills above. May I teach him these, even if he does not use your site? I have given him the site info, and you credit, but his parents are not willing to pay for anything extra.

    • Maria Mountain February 8, 2012 at 9:26 am - Reply

      Hi Clyde,

      Thought I replied to this one, but cannot see it listed, so just in case I will post another reply. Absolutely – no problem. The more goalies we can impact the better! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Patrick May 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    Great video and drills! I’ve been away from hockey for about 15 years and am just now getting back into it. I found these tips immensely helpful. Goaltending isn’t like riding a bike, and you lose a lot of these movements over time. This article was invaluable in helping me get back into the game and regain my movements since I have limited ice access. Well done, thanks!

    • Maria Mountain May 9, 2012 at 8:16 am - Reply

      You are welcome Patrick – you are right, it takes time to get those fine motor skills and movements back so go steady.

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  6. Mary Lou Hubisz May 1, 2013 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    how heavy should the medicine ball be for the medicine ball push pass exercise?

    • Maria Mountain May 2, 2013 at 10:45 am - Reply

      It really depends on the size, strength, age of the athlete. We will start at a 6lbs med ball to get the technique right and build up from there. Our big guys will use 15-20lbs, but remember it has to be explosive, so if it is not smashing into the wall, then it is too heavy – it should be hitting the wall FAST.

  7. Stanley July 8, 2013 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    Hi Maria,

    I have a really hard time getting into my butterfly properly and my 5 hole is always open,and the puck always slides through. Do you have any ideas to make my legs get properly in place?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Maria Mountain July 9, 2013 at 6:55 am - Reply

      Hi Stanley,

      Have you signed up for the free “Ultimate Guide To Durable and Flexible Hips” program yet? You can get it by entering your email in the opt-in box toward the top right of pages at Improving your hip internal rotation will help you close that 5-hole. I am not an equipment expert at all, but you may wish to ask someone as well about the set up on your pads.

      Hope that helps!

  8. […] Top 10 Off-Ice Goalie Drills […]

  9. Jarod Palmer May 8, 2014 at 12:10 am - Reply

    I’m currently a head coach in the NA3HL who is training a young goalie off ice. Never playing goalie before I was looking for some new drills. Your video was awesome! You have a common sense approach to your training drills that appears both beneficial and fun. I can’t wait to show this video to my student. Thank you! (P.S. I played 6 games for the MN Wild) Go Wild!

    • Maria Mountain May 10, 2014 at 1:02 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jarod- much appreciated! Looks like your Wild is going to make a series of it 🙂

  10. Scott Ward November 12, 2014 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    This is Golden. I will definitely be throwing a few of these drills in to my goalie’s sessions this week.

  11. […] Top 10 Off-Ice Goalie Drills | Hockey Training Pro – I’m currently a head coach in the NA3HL who is training a young goalie off ice. Never playing goalie before I was looking for some new drills…. […]

  12. […] Top 10 Off-Ice Goalie Drills | Hockey Training Pro – I’m currently a head coach in the NA3HL who is training a young goalie off ice. Never playing goalie before I was looking for some new drills…. […]

  13. Giles January 6, 2015 at 12:03 am - Reply

    Hi Maria,

    Would you suggest doing these drills all together, or adding a couple new ones into each workout?



    • Maria Mountain January 6, 2015 at 12:50 pm - Reply

      Good question Giles. This definitely not a ‘workout’ it is just a list of off-ice drills, so a couple new ones in each workout is the way to go.


  14. […] – From the archives – Top 10 Off-Ice Goalie Drills – I have a few that I would sub into this list now, but apparently it is a […]

  15. Good Hockey Goalie Workouts July 30, 2015 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    […] Top 10 Off-Ice Goalie Drills | Hockey Training Pro – Off-ice goalie drills enhance your physical capabilities to execute movements on the ice with more speed and precision. Here are the Top 10 Off-Ice Goalie […]

  16. Johnie Avis March 21, 2016 at 10:58 am - Reply

    I’ll right away grab your rss feed as I can’t find your email subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly let me understand in order that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

    • Maria Mountain March 31, 2016 at 7:06 am - Reply

      There is an opt-in box right on the home page – you will also get the Butterfly Challenge!

  17. Michael August 17, 2016 at 11:33 pm - Reply

    I am playing for a team in ball hockey as a goaltender, would you advise me to do the same workouts ? I want to be better and be able to compete at a higher level. I want to frustrate the other teams, with them knowing when they come to play it won’t be easy!

    • Maria Mountain August 18, 2016 at 9:52 am - Reply

      Yes, it will help you, that is not my area of expertise, but the speed, stability, mobility and stamina will help.

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