What Do Scouts Look For In a Goalie?
What scouts look for in a goalie is the million-dollar question. Actually, the real million-dollar question is at the end of this special report. But don’t skip ahead!
We all want to play at the next level. Maybe that’s AAA, Juniors, College, or Pro. Each of those levels demand different skill sets and abilities from goalies, but there are some common themes that all goalies must have for a scout to like them.
Since so many of you have asked, “What does a scout look for in a goalie?” We put together this special report to help you make it to “the next level.”
Let’s start with this, coaches and scouts want (often NEED) to win. So at the end of the day, they want a goalie who will help them win.
I’m fortunate to know and work with many AAA, Junior, College, and Pro scouts and coaches. I get asked regularly to scout and give my opinion on goalies of all ages and abilities. From my own playing career, and now as a coach and scout, I’ve found some (although there are many more) essential things that coaches and scouts look for in a goalie.
This special report is a sneak peek into what scouts are looking for in a goalie.
Every single coach wants a confident goalie, but, if you’re like I was, you don’t know how to just “be more confident.”
I think of confidence in goaltending as simply looking like you’re going to stop the puck. That’s it.
So how do we do that?
First, you must be a great goalie. And, since great goalies stop the puck, they expect to stop the puck, so they look confident that they’re going to stop the puck.
Before we go on, let’s reiterate that, you must be GOOD. You must work hard, form great habits, and be a very capable goalie. Scouts and coaches have been around the game a long time. They can tell if a kid is good or not.
If you’re not good yet, no problem. Work really hard to become better. Check out our free resources, like 5 Key Habits of a Great Goalie and the Academy.
If you’re already pretty good, then here are some things that will help set you apart. Your body language is very important. Especially the way you stand in the net. Stand tall. Make yourself big, and pull your shoulders back – be a presence in the net.
When the play is at the other end, are you focused on what’s going on? Follow the play with your eyes and head. Be IN the game.
When the play is coming into your zone, be ready as soon as the puck crosses your blue line (or sooner). You’re ready for the play by having a great stance at your ideal depth.
Quick Note: Play within a system. If a goalie goes to a different spot every time the play enters the zone, their play will be inconsistent and their results will be inconsistent. Have a set system to play within.
Depth is personal. Some goalies play deep like Henrik Lundqvist or they challenge like Jonathan Quick. The depth doesn’t matter as much as that’s where you’re comfortable and confident.
Look like you’re in the game. I like goalies who are in their stance for face-offs in their zone. I was always in my stance and in line with every single face-off, even if it was in the offensive zone. This kept me focused in the present moment.
Does your body language change after a goal is scored? It better not… Instead, refocus and stand even more confidently than you were before.
If I see a goalie get really upset when a goal goes in, I know that they’re distracted, which almost always causes more goals. This is a big red flag for scouts. Remain even keel and refocus right away.
Again, coaches and scouts want to win. If they see you lose your cool, then lose the game, do you think they want that?
I want a goalie who is focused on themselves and their game. Inward focus vs outward focus.
If I see a goalie interacting with the crowd, arguing with a ref, chirping the other team, showboating or anything like that, I know they’re not 100% focused. If you’re not 100% focused, you’re not playing at your highest level.
Confidence is unique to you. When you’re on your game, what are you doing well? How do you feel? How do you stand? How do you move? That’s your “confidence” and that’s what a scout wants to see!
Look like you will make the save
You have to be able to move and move well. Your success as a goalie is directly related to your ability to move.
Skating and sliding skills are essential to your success so make sure you’re learning and working on them EVERY single day. Yes, every day.
Believe it or not, I don’t care if you ever make a highlight reel save. In fact, I’d prefer that you didn’t! Sure, it’s sweet when a goalie dives back and makes the save with their paddle, but that’s not an easily repeatable save.
The best goalies make saves that are (easily) repeatable. The more repeatable the save is for that goalie, the better the save, and the better the goalie.
When a goalie skates great and moves great then they can get into position to make saves. Your mission is to make saves, and you can only do that by getting into position and getting set. Being set is essential for great goaltending. Being set becomes very challenging as the players and play become faster. To make saves, you must be set in position and to be set in position you must have excellent movements.
This will be evident to scouts and coaches.
Develop very crisp movements. Hard pushes and hard stops. The very best goalies have the very best stops, which allows them to always be set and ready for shots.
One way to stand out to a scout is to have exceptional butterfly slides. When I see a goalie have great control and perfect form with their slides, I know they’re a great prospect.
Again, this isn’t huge pad and glove extension in a diving attempt, this is a great technical slide with your whole body, balanced, moving into the save.
The more chest saves, the better!
Your set up is your stance and positioning. This should always be as consistent as possible. Check out How to Stand Like a Pro for specific details, but your set up should give you the best chance to save the puck.
Setting your feet is key to making saves. Remember your excellent ‘stops’ from movement? When you can get set immediately after your movement, you’ll have the best chance of making saves. And, more importantly, it’s the best way to give your chance on rebounds and pass plays.
If a goalie doesn’t set their feet during a game, they’re going to really struggle at the next level. Setting your feet is usually a result of being a great skater and having great body control.
Also, with your setup, you must be down on the puck and tracking it. Tracking is essential for me. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to get to work with Lyle Mast the founder OR Sports and Head Trajectory, and I’ve found that optimal tracking actually allows our body to move as efficiently as possible. In a game of milliseconds, efficiency is the difference between a save and a goal.
Only a handful of people put this much emphasis on tracking, but to me, it’s essential for goalies to really play their best.
My philosophy is you must be making repeatable saves, when your feet are set, and you’re tracking the puck, and “earning your saves”, I have a high confidence that you’ll be able to repeat them. If I see too much diving, desperation and luck, I won’t be comfortable with the sustainability of your performance.
If you you have a great set-up, feet set and seeing the puck, you’ll give yourself the best chance to make saves throughout the game, no matter the situation.
Along with your daily movement practice, make sure you’re practicing your great setup every single day.
The last thing a scout looks for is what they don’t see, and that’s you behind closed doors.
Scouts will call your coach and ask about your practice habits. More importantly, they’ll ask about your off-ice habits. Are you a good student? Do you work hard in the gym? Do you work hard in practice? Are you trustworthy? Any shenanigans to be aware of?
If I’m serious about a goalie, I’ll absolutely go watch them practice. That will tell me everything I need to know.
Are they on time on the ice? Do they work hard in practice? Do they work extra? Do they play “game-like”? Do they play every puck with purpose?
You must be a great goalie, but you must also be a great person.
If you’re a great goalie, but a pain in the butt off the ice, no high level team will want you. The higher up you go, the more important it is to be a good person.
Recruiting a player, especially a goalie, is expensive. It takes a lot of time, money and effort to find the best goalies, and even more time, effort and money when you sign them. A college invests four years in you, so they want an all around good person and athlete.
Being a great person is part of being a great goalie.
The Real Million Dollar Question
All scouts look for these key elements or variations of them, so make sure you’re forming great technical habits and acting as a professional on and off the ice.
If you can greatly improve your movement and tracking, you’ll have the tools necessary to make saves. The more saves you make, the better goalie you are.
Remember, a scout wants you to help them win. These are all the ingredients of a goalie who is a winner.
Quick note: stats are obviously important, but stats are only part of the story, not the whole story. My coach once said to me, “People who know, know.” That means that a good scout knows what they’re looking for and does their own research.
Scouts are looking for the best goalies, period. So, the REAL million-dollar question you could ask is, “How can I become the best goalie I can possibly be?”
When you focus on BECOMING a better goalie, you’ll play with more confidence, track and move with proficiency, and you’ll be a winner that every coach and scout wants on their team.