Creating an Effective Hockey Goalie Workout Plan + Exercises

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In soccer, lacrosse, ice hockey, and field hockey, they goalkeepers are essential people on the pitch, rink, or field.

A goalie is the last line of defense. He can make bad teams better and good teams great.

The best ones can take over a whole game by themselves. There is no other player quite like the goalkeeper.

The physical and mental requirements for the position set them apart from their teammates. Yet, all too often, they don’t have a conditioning program that matches those unique demands.

To obtain the full benefits from training, goalies require to exercise separately from field players. They need to concentrate more on specific aspects of strength and conditioning and less on others.

Hence, designing a specialized regimen for goalies can seem like a daunting job for any conditioning coach. But once you understand that goalies from all sports share several needs, the job becomes much more manageable.

A strong foundation of exercises specific for goalies can bring any team’s back stopper’s game to the next level.

Optimal workouts for goalies need to approach all features of performance. That said, the most successful programs concentrate on several fundamental building blocks:

  • Metabolic system
  • Muscular strength
  • Muscular endurance
  • Coordination
  • Quickness

Skipping out from any of these areas from a goalie’s training may end in weaknesses. And this is something that any opposing team will exploit.

Building Power

How do you meet all these building blocks together to form a wall in front of the net? To turn them into a specific training program, let’s first concentrate on strength and power development.

For beginners, a solid warmup is required. It is recommended to do a 10 to 15 minutes cycle of jumping rope; hurdle jumps, ladder drills, and basic hip mobility drills. It can do the following:

  • Raise blood flow and joint fluids
  • Neurologically stimulate key stability muscles
  • Loosen up the musculotendinous unit in the lower limbs

The athlete should also warm up with activation exercises concentrating on the glutes, hip stabilizers, and psoas. For example, bridging helps to stimulate the glutes.

You can vary it by incorporating two-leg connecting with feet on the floor. You can also do a single-leg connection with one leg on the floor while the other knee is pulled into the chest. Another example is the feet-elevated bridging, with the feet planted on a four-inch box.

Isometric hip abduction can activate the external rotators of the hip.

Use an elastic green mini-band to implement resistance, having the athlete complete three to four sets of 10-second holds. Flex the hip to at least 90 degrees to stimulate the psoas.

You can do this by lying down, having one leg straight, and flexing the opposite knee to the chest. A light band can be wrapped around the bent knee and the opposite foot for resistance. Keep this contraction for three to four sets of 10 seconds. To raise the difficulty, perform the exercise while standing.

After warming up, take advantage of the neuromuscular system’s freshness. Go straight into power exercises aimed at boosting muscular strength and endurance. Olympic lifts, such as the clean and the snatch, are excellent for strength development, but they shouldn’t be the sole focus. Squat jumps, box jumps, medicine ball tosses, push presses are also effective exercises for developing power. 

Because these exercises demand neuromuscular coordination, they may have similarities to goalkeeping movements and techniques. However, the sets should be five repetitions each at most.

Next, you can include a bi-set, using two various exercises back-to-back with different movement guides. This tandem method improves the intensity of the workout and makes it more effective. That’s because stimulating non-adjacent muscle groups can improve coordination and develop strength.

Thus, we suggest that you create pairs that stimulate the whole body. For example, pair a knee- and hip-dominated exercise with a vertical pulling exercise.

Have the athlete complete a lunge or squat for five to eight reps, followed quickly by six to 10 pull-ups. Three to five sets of this rotation provide a sufficient challenge.

A tri-set should follow, concentrating on horizontal pulling, pushing, and hip dominance. Choose exercises that link to the biomechanical movements used in the goalie’s sport. For example, a lacrosse goalie’s tri-set might incorporate a dumbbell bench press, a dumbbell row, and a straight-leg deadlift. The rowing movement helps increase strength and endurance in the scapula. And this is crucial for force transference from the core to the upper extremities. This enables a lacrosse goalie to make stronger long-distance outlet passes.

Lastly, core and accessory activities should form the resistance portion of each workout. 

Various plank exercises are excellent for developing core strength and providing lumbar stability. Three to four sets of a 30-second plank on the elbows and toes can be a useful starting point. 

As the athlete’s skills grow, try the same exercise with one foot elevated, two feet and one arm stretched, and one arm and the opposite foot elevated. You can also practice side planks on either side.

Accessory exercises can concentrate on more isolated types of power and movement. Some examples are grip strength and shoulder external rotation.

Being Flexible, Fast, and Focused

Soft-tissue treatment should also be a component of the goalie’s workout. 

This can incorporate static stretching to improve muscle length using foam rollers. This is ideal for hockey goalies, as their position requires flexibility. 

Concentrate on areas of tightness and trigger points within the muscle. Regular deep-tissue massage can also be necessary for goalies. That’s because it helps develop local blood flow and helps relieve muscle spasms. Massage also aids relaxation and reduces stress.

Nowadays, goalies are doing less-traditional flexibility exercises like yoga and Pilates. Not everyone can do this type of training, but if you let your goalie do it, they may be surprised at the positive outcomes.

Interval sprint exercise should also be a component of the program, as it can develop speed, power, and VO2 max. The periods can be broken down by time or physiological recovery. For instance, a soccer goalie can sprint the goal box’s width for six reps, or an ice hockey goalie can sprint from blue line to blue line. 

According to the strength and conditioning coach, Mike Boyle, the rest intervals depend on the heart rate recovery. Using heart rate monitors and simple math, you can prescribe proper rest periods during sprinting exercise. When the recovery heart rate decreases below 60 percent of the athlete’s max, it’s time for the next set.

It’s crucial to remember that a significant focus on aerobic training is irrelevant for goalies and may even be counterproductive. 

Aerobic work can decrease the ratio of explosive, fast-twitch fibers to slow-twitch fibers, which is not what goalies want. The right amount differs from one athlete to another, but you can do ix to eight sets of five- to 10-yard sprints for starters.

Vision training is another area that can pay massive bonuses for goalies. Different exercises can help sharpen visual perception and reaction time.

For instance, playing ping-pong challenges athletes to concentrate on a much smaller ball than they’re used to. You can also place numbers on soccer balls and have the goalie call out each incoming ball’s number during shooting drills.

This exercise drives the eyes to follow and focus on the ball more closely than they usually would.

Below, we’ll briefly describe each building block. Then we’ll explain how to assemble them into an efficient goalie training program.

Metabolic system

The metabolic system can be split into two components: aerobic and anaerobic.

Each goaltending activity and situation relies partly on both systems. But the key here is the proportion of each components. The goalie movement’s overall movement is anaerobic, consisting of short bouts of intense exercise with periodic rest in between. 

Nevertheless, some aerobic exercises are useful for overall conditioning and endurance development.

Muscular strength

Muscular strength is crucial in producing power to clear and commence the counter-attack.

Soccer goalkeepers also apply muscular strength when performing vertical jumps to confront an opponent.

Muscular endurance 

Muscular endurance is necessary for producing skills and movements over and over during a game. When goalkeepers encounter a breakdown in form or technique late in contests, muscular fatigue is usually to blame. For this cause, muscle endurance should always be a significant focus of goalie training.


Coordination is an unquestionable requirement for all athletes, but it’s of utmost significance to goalies.

In the blink of an eye, they have to determine whether to kick out a leg, flash a catching glove, or dive forward. And they have to do this without losing power and ending up off-balance and out of place. 

The best goalies usually think of one or two moves ahead of what they’re doing at any given instant. And they must be highly coordinated to create fluid, dynamic movements in rapid sequence.


Quickness is the foundation for most successful goalkeepers. The term can mean different things to different athletes. But in these circumstances, it’s a blend of two main attributes: speed and agility. 

For everything from building a position to creating saves to stopping injuries, quickness is a goalie’s best friend. Developing it should be the focus of each training program.

The 3 Types of Goalie Training Programs

1. Those who do something

These players head to the local gym (or used to go to the local gym) to do their goalie off ice training, supporting the herd. They do their circuit of the machines, using the machines that are usually reserved for the ladies to “tone” their thighs.

After their weight circuit of leg press, seated knee extensions, lying hamstring curls, the groin machine, chest press, seated row, and preacher biceps curls, they go for their 40-minute steady-state bike ride.

So after 80-minutes, these goalies reel out of the gym feeling bored. You feel slightly disheartened because even though you think you’re training for hockey (you are not), you know there will not be much to show for it on the ice. You are disheartened, but you keep it up because you don’t want to lose what you built through the years.

2. Those who do too much of the wrong thing

We have all seen a workout program on late-night TV. The actors look great – their muscles are so ripped – we all want that! And some of you go for it and go for it full out.

You love it because the workouts are brutal, and your muscles scream from start to finish. Your Plyo training has you doing repeated jumps for 40 seconds in a row, followed by more jumps for 40 seconds.

By the end of the workout, your feet are not even getting off the ground. But you love the tired feeling that you’re having, and you notice that your stamina is improving even though your lower back now aches.

Do you see some improvements? Your stamina will probably develop, and you might lose some body fat, but again it will never be the best use of your time.

3. Those who do nothing

These goalies are either lazy, lost, or leery. The lazy ones don’t care enough about being better. The lost ones have no clue what to do or where to start, so they do nothing. 

The leery ones have tried working out before but found that they got more injuries. Instead of thinking that they were not following a suitable program, they quit altogether.

You rationalize your inaction by saying you’re training for the major leagues. Another reason could be that you think you are as good as you will ever be.

You don’t believe in yourself; you don’t think you can be twice as good as you currently are.

What would you do if you were trying to book a vacation to a nice warm beach somewhere? You would gather information, think about what you want to do on your holiday, and then take steps to make that vacation a reality. 

Goalie off ice training is the same. You need to follow a system of steps to success. Do you think you would become a better skater if you never practiced or worked on your technique? Probably not.

Do you believe you could become a flexible, stable, strong goalie with more speed and stamina if you spend some time practicing those things?

Do you believe that focusing on the areas that you need to improveneed the most improvement, you could become a better player? It doesn’t matter whether you only spend 20-minutes or less on your off-ice goalie training.

Five Exercises Every Goalie Off-Ice Training Program Must Include

  1. Foam roll – 5 minutes
  2. Prone Hip Internal Rotation – 1 minute
  3. Supine Hip Internal Rotation – 1 minute
  4. DB Squat Lateral – 1 minute
  5. High-Intensity Interval Training – 15s on 45s off x 10 – 10 minutes

Total time: 19-Minutes

You can even cut the High-Intensity Interval Training from the other exercises, so you have only 10-minutes or less of work to do every other day.

2 Step Goalie Off-Ice Training Solution

Step 1

Think about what you need to do to be successful on the ice. What does that include?

  • Lateral power
  • The ability to make quick, powerful movements followed by relative rest on a repeated basis for an entire 60 minutes (or more).
  • Pliable yet strong groin muscles so you can get into the positions you need with control – like anti-lock brakes on your car.
  • The flexibility in your hips to have a nice wide butterfly flare without putting undue strain on your knees.
  • The core stability to maintain your stance without a backache.

Step 2

Train for those things.

  • Banish machine-based training from your workouts forever. No more seated leg press, seated groin machines, seated knee extensions, or lying hamstring curls. Not even your beloved preacher curls!
  • As soon as you can get rid of the steady-state cardio training – does riding a bike resemble anything you do on the ice? Are you training for a marathon – then do your long runs?
  • Still, only static stretching your groins in pursuit of the mythical splits? Self-myofascial release?
  • If you are not stretching your hips into the internal rotation, you will not get a wider butterfly flare.

Implementing these training recommendations can lead to significant performance gains. More so, if your goalies haven’t used position-specific conditioning in the past. But for such improvements to occur, players must understand and buy into the new workout regimen. For that reason, excellent communication is vital.

If your ice hockey goalie says he hates aerobic training and has no endurance problems during games, try eliminating it. If your soccer goalie feels Olympic lifts create bulk that limits his movement, reduce the weight, or do flexibility exercises. When working with such specialized athletes, nothing should be set in stone.

Goalies are used to shouldering individual responsibility for their performance. So let them take the lead in customizing their workouts. If you listen to their needs and are prepared to offer targeted conditioning advice, they’ll be better prepared to rake up wins.

Click on this link to see the Ice Hockey Goaltending Ice Hockey Series from Championship Productions.

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