When should kids become goalies?

  • Should kids become full-time goalies in novice?
    Should kids become full-time goalies in novice?
    Photo credit: Gazette file

Last week’s coach of the week in the West Island section had an interesting take on the art of developing young hockey goaltenders.

Professional goalie instructor Dustin Traylen believes no kid should be stuck in the nets until atom hockey at the earliest.

It’ is an interesting take on one of the least understood positions in sport.

Hockey goalies have only one holy task when they step on the ice: stop the puck.

With you pad, your chest, your blocker, your mask, even the knob at the end of your stick that is half paddle.

In other words, just stop the puck.

But how you go about blocking the flying rubber disc is matter of considerable debate these days with different styles, butterfly vs. standup, and techniques.

Goaltending is as simple and as complex as you want to make it.

Aside from the physical and athletic requirements of the position, goaltenders need to be as mentally tough, if not more, than any other player on the ice.

They are the last line of defence and few teams are successful without solid, consistent goaltending.

Great one game, shaky the next, doesn’t cut it.

As for what age a youngster should start putting on the pads, Traylen believes kids should hold off becoming “full-time “goalies until they are in atom.

Why so late?

Because Traylen figures goalies need to be better skaters to play the position properly.

Gone are the days when the chubby kid who couldn’t skate was often handed a set of pads at training camp and told, “You’re in nets, son.”

“There should be no goalies in pre-novice or novice,” Traylen told me.

“You should have a rotating goaltender. Call me old school, but nowadays there are kids playing AA that can’t skate. If you can’t skate by the time your 10 or 12, in that range, there’s really no hope for you. It’s a position where you need lateral movement. To do all the moves, you need to be a skater — not a flopper like I was.”

Is Traylen on to something here?

Are kids being rushed into playing nets before they’ve acquired the necessary skating skills?

When do you think kids should start being full-time goalies?



  1. For Novice teams to use rotating goalies, Hockey Quebec would have to make it a non-competative level. As long as the score is recorded for each game, standings posted on web sites for all to see, and banners awarded to playoff and tournament champions, coaches will never rotate players into the goaltending position. The most capable puck-stopper will be identified by December, and be designated the team’s goalie. Pre-Novice is already not competative (no standings, no game results, no tournaments), so some goalie rotation is done. However, they are also preparing kids to play Novice the following year, so by season’s end, certain players are designated as goalies.

  2. By frustrated resident

    as a father of a novice goalie, i truly appreciate and agree with Dustin’s assesment. I make a point to take my son out to skate, as much as possible, so he can improve in that area. But the pressure of being a goalie is alot for a 7-8yr old to handle. What’s worse, is the ignorant parents, who will happily dole out blame, but their kid never once strapped on pads to see how hard it really is…

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