Skip links

EP 29: CONWAY GOALTENDING

Neil Conway is the founder of Conway Goaltending, an organization that aims to bring goalies in the Ohio and surrounding areas the the most modern and effective techniques – helping goalies of all skill levels, improve, and reach their goals. Neil played 4 years of professional hockey in North America as well as in Europe. He has over 13 years of coaching experience. His approach and style emphasize using a modern technical approach with an emphasis on athleticism. Neil has seen first hand several different techniques and approaches to the game. He has combined these techniques into an effective, efficient practical approach for his goalies. 

You can read an overview of the interview with Neil Conway or listen to the podcast below for the full interview.

Q: What is the vision and mission behind Conway Goaltending and how did you get started?

A: The vision and the mission are really all about giving goalies in this area an opportunity to have access to just relevant and good coaching. I grew up in Cleveland which isn’t really a hockey hot bed… So I was fortunate to grow up  where my parents were just very supportive and always sent me to goalie camps in Toronto, and I kind of always had access to more coaching and stuff like that. As I got older and older I kind of recognized that there really wasn’t, obviously there was hockey coaches, but goaltending is a lot like baseball and pitching, it’s like a whole different world of its own where many of the best hockey minds out there will tell you “I don’t know the first thing about goaltending.” It’s a real animal of its own. So as I got older and I was playing professionally, I just knew that there was a real need for goalie coaching in the area…

 

Q: Tell us a story about one of your proudest moments in your coaching career?

A: Just recently, this was a pretty big one, one of our goalies… He played for a really good local prep school type hockey program. And you know goaltending is tough because it’s kind of like a quarterback in the NFL, where it’s like only one guy plays, so if you’re behind someone who’s really good, you could be the second best quarterback in the league but nobody ever knows you’re there. So long story short, we had a goalie who was relatively unknown in the city… and me and the head coach of his team convinced him to play for kind of an independent club… Basically he had a really successful season and he did so well that he’s actually been recognized as one of the top 5 goaltenders in the US and he gets to try out for the National Team Development Program, which is a two-year program that is pretty prestigious in USA hockey… So that was a really proud moment for myself and obviously his family and him were pretty excited because it was only a year ago that he wasn’t even recognized in the city as a top goalie, let alone the entire country. He was just a really hard-working kid that just put in the time, and everything you say to him he just really responds and takes it upon himself to try to understand and deliver…

 

Q: What do you think has been the key to your success so far in building client confidence in your program?

A: I think always taking the time to talk to people and find out what’s going on with their season and with their kid’s development. You know that’s an important part of this, you got to listen to the parents sometimes because they watch their kid a lot more than I do. And you know, of course most people aren’t growing up their whole lives playing hockey, and they understand the position very well, but a lot of people are kind of smart enough to recognize certain things their kid does. So we always kind of try to take the time to talk to people and find out what they see in their kid’s development and we also just try to make sure everybody understands what we are doing. And we do that by offering video prep sessions, where before any of our clinics in things we typically have a prep video session, just short, where the parents are welcome to watch, and we’re like this is what we’re going to focus on today… And I think that helps a lot because goaltending is quite a foreign position for a lot of people…

 

Q: How do you think technology is changing the way you work and coach?

A: It’s been great because you know video is so easy now. Just on the iPad there are a lot of great apps out there where you can get immediate feedback to the kids right on the ice… where the kids get to watch themselves and go over the drill and correct the mistakes right away. It’s just so simple and so immediate that technology is great. And as well with that we can always, if the parents aren’t there, we can always send some video every night with some feedback on it. So it’s really been great to use technology so freely. And it’s been so easy and simple, and in a goaltending that’s a really important thing…

 

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring coaches who are just starting out?

A: I guess I would recommend, always understand that a big part of this is your relationships with your players and your other coaches. Don’t always assume you’re right because even if someone doesn’t really agree with you they’ve obviously been around and you can learn something from everybody. So don’t be too hard headed and assume you’re always right…

 

Q: How did you go about building the coaching staff at Conway goaltending in deciding who would be a part of your training program there?

A: The philosophy I kind of implemented was that, even if they’re not the best goalie or the most technically-expertise person, I really want people who have the heart of a teacher, where they really just care about the kids. When they watch kids play, they’re always just focused on the right thing and they really want to be out there. Even if they have a lot to learn from a technical standpoint or coaching standpoint of the game, if they have the right intentions and the right foundation, I can teach the other things. I can figure out the technical stuff that they aren’t experts at… if someone has the heart of a teacher, and they have the right intentions, those are things that I can’t really put inside of somebody else.

 

Learn more about Conway Goaltending at www.conwaygoaltending.comSubscribe to the Upper Hand Blog for latest podcast episodes and other news!