Q & A: Goalie Action’s Reto Schurch
Reto Schurch has long known that being a hockey goaltender takes a special set of skills that includes not just physical talent, but also mental prowess.
That’s why the 40-year-old native of Switzerland and former National League A goaltender has built the foundation of his goalie coaching camps and clinics on the three tenets of hard work, proper skills practice and mental preparation.
Goalie Action (GoalieAction.com) is based in Redondo Beach and Bern – the capital city of Switzerland – and works with players from Mites to professionals.
California Rubber Magazine senior writer Greg Ball recently caught up with Schurch – coaching at the World Championships with the Swiss National Team – to learn more about his approach to teaching one of the most difficult positions in sports.
California Rubber: How did you end up in Southern California?
Reto Schurch: I became friends with (former NHL defenseman) Jason Doig when he spent some time in Switzerland, and we started a business together.
I was in the U.S. pretty often during my playing career because I had good friends playing in the NHL, like Martin Gerber (with the Anaheim Ducks). Then I started coming to Southern California during the offseason to practice, and I started coaching there four years ago.
To be able to combine the great weather and my passion for hockey has been amazing. I’ve met some wonderful people in the hockey industry in the area while coaching at OC Hockey Club in Yorba Linda. It’s a great opportunity for me, and it’s just been a good match.
CR: What made you want to move into coaching after your playing career?
RS: I started coaching a little when I was playing professionally, and I found that I just really enjoy passing on my experience to young goalies. It wasn’t something I really planned on, but it has turned out to be a very good thing for me.
Even now, I’m really happy coaching kids, juniors and professionals; the mix is really great. I actually find that I learn a lot from coaching kids that you can employ in coaching professionals.
CR: What are the philosophies behind your coaching of goalies?
RS: The main things I try to focus on are the attitude and the detail work. Nowadays, you can find all kinds of drills on YouTube, but most people don’t know the “why” behind what they’re doing.
I think if you know why you’re doing something a certain way, and you focus on the details, it helps you develop into a better player. The more you get that positive repetition, the easier the game is going to be.
A lot of goalies get excited about big saves, but big saves don’t make a solid and consistent season. The more you work on technique, and the more you do it right over and over, the better chance you have of having a great season.
CR: What are your thoughts on the mental approach to goaltending?
RS: The players that goalies are facing train just as hard as they do, and they’re training all the time to hit that top corner. You can’t stop everything, and if you allow a goal in that small window by the post and crossbar, you’ve covered 95 percent of the goal, and that’s good enough.
You can’t stop everything, but if you’re consistent, you pay attention to your technique and you anticipate where the puck is going, you’ll be successful most of the time.
CR: How did you shape your coaching philosophy?
RS: I had a coach when I was young who everyone said was crazy, but he was probably 15 years ahead of the curve with the drills we were doing.
I think I took something from every coach I had as a player, good or bad. The more open-minded you are, the more you can learn, and the more you can then teach others.