Red Bull´s Goalie Development Taken to New Heights

Red Bull´s Goalie Development — Basic Stance

The Red Bull Ice Hockey Program has taken a further step in building a strong goalkeeper coaching culture in Salzburg, Austria. The development of talent to the maximum of its abilities relies heavily on top goalie coaches and on specifically targeted, progressive training programs.

Hannu Nykvist

A Story by Hannu Nykvist, Director of the Red Bull Goalie Program and former Director of the Finnish Ice Hockey Federation Goalkeeper Program.

“Today, I would like to share with you some of my goalkeeper coaching knowledge and ideas. Past summer, I started working for the Red Bull Hockey Program and since then, in terms of Goalie Development, a whole lot has gone into a great direction. Let me share this with you.

The Red Bull Ice Hockey Academy not only offers a great environment to develop skills and academics, but also recently acquired multiple top-class coaches with global coaching knowledge and a broad expert network all over the globe. This basis combined with the off-ice and medical experts of Red Bull´s own Diagnostic & Training Center in Thalgau, Austria, gives our young goalkeepers an excellent surrounding to develop into professional athletes.

The Red Bull Academy in Salzburg offers each 72 young ice hockey and soccer talents a home.


Red Bull´s goalkeeper coaching philosophy divides the development of an athlete into three phases: Children´s Hockey, Top Oriented Phase, and Top Level Hockey. The general strategy and the following three phases are fully integrated into the overall Red Bull Hockey Model.

1 . Children´s Hockey Phase

The main goal is to excite kids for hockey with the principal idea of “Playing is fun and this will be my hobby”. From the very start to the age of 13, the main teaching focus lies on basic techniques such as skating, moving techniques, basic save techniques, stick handling, and the principle of playing angles. The development of coordination skills is essential in this phase.

2 . Top Oriented Phase (14–18 years)

Based on the motto “I want to learn how to play”. During this period, goalies learn to adapt to a variety of goal scoring situations such as screen shots, walk-outs and so forth. Furthermore, working on general athletic features and starting to develop a competitive mind set to get the most out of practice, games, etc. is important during these years.

3 . Top Level Hockey (19 years & older)

Aims to carve out the ”Best under pressure”. The goalkeeper is building up his own goalkeeping identity and is ready to compete on a high national and international level. In order to ensure great performance, the athlete needs to have top-notch athletic features, the ability to read and anticipate a multitude of game situations and master all technical skills. In addition, the goalie needs to be able to withstand mental pressure and play on top of his potential throughout a whole season.

The Beginning of the Goalie Development — Basic Stance: Head is up following game, glove and blocker in front of body, stick in front of and between the legs on the ice. Light squat stance while keeping body square to the puck.


Ice hockey develops constantly. Players are becoming stronger and faster season after season. The total number of players is also growing in our international hockey world, which means there is a growing demand for quality coaches as well. Consequently, coaches cannot stand still but need to update their knowledge continuously. In that respect, the coaching staff at the Red Bull hockey program is able to access and make use of some of the most valuable coaching knowledge out there. The core piece hereby is the Finnish goalkeeper coaching knowledge. As one of the best goalkeeper development countries in the world, the number of Finnish NHL goalies relatively to the total number of hockey players in the country is unheard of. However, this core knowledge is just part of the puzzle.

“At the Red Bull goalkeeper program, we throw in the best knowledge from many different European hockey countries and are able to draw hockey wisdom from high-end coaches and goalkeepers in the NHL. “

Having been the Director of the Finnish national goalie program combined with my experience in several European countries as a coach, I and the program at the Red Bull Academy benefit from a broad global network with tons of hockey knowledge. On top of that, organizing the annual NHL goalkeeper pre-season camp and symposium together with Mike Valley (Director of Goaltending Development, Dallas Stars), Thomas Magnussen (Director of the Swedish Goalie Program), David Alexander (Goalie Development Coach, Tampa Bay Lightning), and Justin Goldman (Hockey U.S.A. Goalie Scout) always gives new, innovative input on goalie coaching.

The knowledge and methods gathered amongst this group of goaltending specialists guarantees a highly professional, state of the art approach on goalkeeper coaching. This combined knowledge is then taken to action at practice with our very own Salzburg based goalies, from beginners to Pro goalies such as EBEL (Austria) and DEL (Germany) players.”

Goalkeepers and coaches taking part in the NHL goalie pre-season camp in Madison, Wisconsin 2015. From left to right: Mike Valley (Dallas Stars goalie coach), Thomas Magnussen (director of goalkeeper program Swedish Ice Hockey Federation), Andrew Hammond @andrewhammond30 (Ottawa Senators), Dan Ellis (Washington Capitals), Michael Hutchinson @mhutch34 (Winnipeg Jets), Ben Bishop @Benbishop30 (Tampa Bay Lightning), Brian Elliot @KidElls1 (St. Louis Blues), Kari Lehtonen (Dallas Stars), Jimmy Howard (Detroit Red Wings), Scott Darling @SDarling_33 (Chicago Blackhawks), Jake Allen @34jallen (St. Louis Blues), Pasco Valana (Hockey Canada goalie coach), Fred Brathwaite (Hockey Canada), David Alexander (development goalie coach Tampa Bay Lightning).
NHL Pre-Season Goalie Camp | Left: Kari Lehtonen & Dan Ellis watching their drills. | Right: Hannu Nykvist and Fred Brathwaite (Hockey Canada) following practice.
Left: Hannu & Dan Ellis having intensive discussions about moving techniques. | Right: Hannu presenting the Red Bull Ice Hockey Academy during Coaching Symposium.


There are currently three hot topics in the global goalkeeper community.

The first is about new positioning and moving techniques in situations when the puck is behind the net. Furthermore, it is about how to cover and block shots from short angle and moving from post to post in up close attack situations. These new techniques played in reverse position originated and were mostly developed in Sweden and are abbreviated with “SMS” (“Skridsko mot stolpen”, which translates from Swedish to “Skate on the post”).

Intensive reverse techniques training. Ben Bishop in the net, Dan Ellis and Hannu Nykvist holding the goal.

The second important goalie topic right now is Active Hands. Instead of just blocking the shots, modern goalies attempt to control the puck as much as possible. The philosophy here is to always first try to catch the puck and have a controlled save. If not possible, then block the puck towards the corner, which is a safe area. By doing so, general puck control and therefore game control increases with the help of the goalkeeper. This goalkeeping ideology is particularly practiced by the Finnish coaches.

Here is a video from our young goalkeepers and some training drills we do.

…and now the Pros.

Finally, the Athletic Skills of a goalie play a more and more important role in today´s game. With a now faster game than ever with extremely hard shots, to be on top of the goalie ladder, great physical features such as a high aerobic capacity, great coordination, muscle power and strength, mobility, and speed are necessary. On top, the core muscles are more important than ever with every goalie nowadays playing the Butterfly style. Like in many other pro sports, the United States are at the forefront for covering these demands when it comes to goalkeeper coaching.

In taking account these three different trending goalie topics from different goalie cultures in the world and putting them together, Red Bull´s goalie program keeps up to date when it comes to an innovative approach. All three demanding topics are included in all development phases of the trained goalkeepers by offering them a lot of possibilities to work on their skills individually. It guarantees that every goalie gets the training he needs in order to grow into an elite goalkeeper with great technical skills and game skills. Now it is up to him…

So long, all the best from the Red Bull Ice Hockey Academy in Salzburg,

Hannu Nykvist

One of the two rinks at the Red Bull Academy with ice 365 days a year.


Hannu Nykvist (FIN) — Director of the Red Bull Goalie Program. Hannu has more than twenty years of coaching experience at different levels in various countries. He is the former Director of the Finnish Ice Hockey Federation Goalkeeper Program and is a five-time national league finalist in Finland, Switzerland, and Denmark at the senior level. He has coached several top goalies all over the world.

Santeri Hilli (FIN) — Youth Goalie Coach. Santeri is considered one of the best youth goalie coaches in Europe. He has tremendous experience in youth goalkeeper development. He truly grew up with the Finnish goaltending culture, as his father is an active goalkeeper coach for the Finnish A-league team Kärpät. Santeri and his father have worked with Pekka Rinne during their summer camps before.

Janne Kari-Koskinen (FIN) — Youth Goalie Coach. Janne comes from the Finnish A-league organization HPK. He has been a goalkeeper scout for HPK for several years as well as a video coach and the under-20 team goalie coach.

Moritz Mayer (AUT) — U14 Goalie Coach. After finishing his active time as goalie for the under-20 team of the Red Bulls last season, he is our upcoming goalie coach. Moritz currently works with the under-14 goalkeepers being mentored by Hannu, Janne, and Santeri.

Steve Hölzl (AUT) — U12 Goalie Coach. Steve is our new goalkeeper coach for the very young players. He is responsible for special youth goalkeeper sessions in our arena at the Volksgarten, Salzburg. Steve is a man of passion and has participated in an intensive coaching education past summer.

Geri Wimmer (AUT) — U10 Goalie Coach. Geri is a former top player in Austria and is also working for the Erste Bank Bundesliga Pro Team of the Red Bulls as the Video Coach.

Patrick Dallaire (CAN) — Goalie Coach of DEL team Red Bull Munich. Patrick is a Red Bull goalie coaching veteran. He has worked for the Red Bull organization for several years. Before taking over the goalie program in Munich, he finished his last season in Salzburg as Austrian Champion.