Brians

There are 2 Flash movies (Flash6 plugin) on this page so when the page loads in a minute or two you might want to get them started and then minimize them so they'll be ready when you want get to them.

 

Controlling the hands can be very difficult. The solutions to the problems on this page are obvious but not easy to implement. You'll see that even the best goalies' hands wander so while these problems cannot be eliminated you should be aware of them to work on minimizing them.

 

As a side note, I've found that hand problems can often be traced back to leg problems. It's very important to separate your lower body from your upper body and this is not easy because it's unnatural. When we walk, our arms naturally swing along. However, on goaltending moves we don't want them swinging along. We want them to stay in place and if they have to, move counter to this natural swinging motion to stop a puck. Weakness in the legs or poorly set feet will result in a rough move that tugs even more on the hands. Often, you'll need a lot of arm tension just to keep the hands in proper position but this tension will glue the arms to your sides and make it difficult for them to move on the puck. Ultimately, good glove work requires good legs. You'll need a ton a leg strength and your mechanics will have to be smooth and machine-like if you want your hands to move independently. If perfection isn't your goal, you'll still find that some improvement will go a long way. Finally, since this is a site on Overdrive, I'll just say that other pages discuss how the blade can improve legwork.

 

The first thing we'll look at is trapper positioning in the stance. There's a lot of room to cover on the trapper side so where will it be most effective? Let's compare the two photos below.


I'm sure everyone agrees that the glove should stay open so I'll ignore the fact that for some reason Luongo's is not. It's the positioning that we're interested in and you can see that Turek's glove is down beside his pad and Luongo's is angled up and almost horizontal. Of the two, Turek's position is more comfortable. The arms naturally want to hang down and tucking it into the pad feels like you're forming solid coverage. When you hang the glove up in mid-air, there's no particular reference point and it can feel like the coverage is not as tight. However, of the two, I think Luongo's positioning is better. First of all, let's think about what the shooter sees. When he comes down on Turek he'll see one large block of net above his trapper and on Luongo, he'll see two smaller holes, one above the trapper and one below. Roughly the same total area of net is exposed so which one makes it harder for the shooter? You know I'll say Luongo's and here's why.

Although there's no reason to feel sorry for them, shooters have a pretty tough time out there. When they do get the puck it's probably not lying flat, there's likely a 'D' hanging off of him or getting ready to check him into the local hospital (not to mention pressure from coaches and fans not to screw up a scoring opportunity), they usually have a split second to make a decision and maybe a split-second to look up and see what to shoot for. The eye will pick up the largest bit of net and if they don't have time to look up, then they may see it out of the corner of their eye. With all this pressure, they'll take the easiest route and that means the biggest hole. If you split the trapper area into two with a small area below the glove and a medium sized hole above it, then the biggest hole should be the 5 hole, which I think is preferable. Of course this doesn't mean the shooter will go there but making things difficult on them or cutting the odds is a good place to start.
Here, Felix' coverage leaves one big block of net over the glove.

If the shooter goes glove side anyways, which method makes it easier to get to the puck?

Again, I say Luongo's. Placing the glove midway between the two extremities gives the hand less distance to travel in either direction, especially to the all-important top of the net. When the trapper sits low, it's a long way to go to cover up top and it's a rough move compared to the simpler flick upwards when the trapper is high.

On lower shots Turek's glove is already there but it's not hard to drop the trapper down to that position since gravity and nature help a little bit. Once in a great while a puck will slip in below your glove but coverage up top is much more valuable.

If you catch yourself in this pose, you likely got caught with your glove low.


When the trapper opens right up, sits face out (unlike these photos) and in front of the pads a bit, it can take up a lot of room. If you also train yourself to keep it high, you'll get all kinds of pucks hitting it that you never would have been able to catch otherwise.

Here's a Flash movie for a closer look.

 

We all know about the proper butterfly form and how the glove should sit on top of the pad.

Left is a shot of the King with perfect form. However, I'm starting to question this.


When I'm standing with my glove up, I get pucks going into it that I'm not fast enough to move on. When I go down with it up, the same thing happens. When I go down in this butterfly form, it is very rare that a puck goes into it, although I do get them hitting the cuff.

If we use the same reasoning as above we'll realize that the trapper is wasted down there. Forwards aren't complete idiots. They know that if a goalie goes down, there will be room up top. One of the last places they'll be going for is right where the trapper is.

In fact, you're probably doubling part of your coverage because at some angles, the puck will hit the top of the pad before it goes into the glove.
The red line roughly shows how much the pads are covering so the bottom part of the trapper is wasted. The blue line shows how high he has to get it for a goal (assuming Shields doesn't move his glove); that's a lot of net for any shooter. The purple line shows how high Shields has to raise his glove to cover to the top of net and it's not much if he moves it up and forward.

 

In addition, the trapper in this position pins your arm to your side and makes it very hard to move.
You will never, ever get it up for high shots and the best you'll be able to is wave as it passes by.


From the left: Markennan's glove is way low and too far out; Kolzig made the save but the trapper is really squished down and the arms are pinned; Pelletier's arms look loose and his weight is 'up' and forward for great form but compare the height of his blocker and how much harder it would be for a shooter to get around it; and finally, Johnson's trapper is low.

 

Find yourself striking this pose? It's a good sign that you went down early and gave the shooter just what he wanted.

 

Next time you're on the ice and have time, try experimenting with going down with the trapper up a little higher. Keep it open and in front and sooner or later pucks should start hitting it...and here's some Flash video.

 

 

This is an interesting problem that is easy to understand and easy to solve. Here it is: As you go down into the butterfly, if your stick is positioned too tightly against the pad, the pad will kick the stick out, exposing the 5-hole along the ice.

Taller, narrower stances are more of a problem because as you go down, the knees travels forward more. The knees start at the left edge of the red line (below) and hit the ice at about the right edge of the line so the stick will get in the way.

 

On wide stances, the knee doesn't travel as far forward to hit the ice so stick flipping isn't as big a problem.

 

 

You'll see this happen all the time on TV and you won't have to wait long to see a goal go in because of it. I can think of two recent overtime goals against Carolina and Ottawa that went in because of this (Playoffs,02). That spot along the ice between the pads can be a world of trouble on redirected shots, deflections, knuckleballs, screen shots or any play where the timing changes slightly. When the timing is right, the stick is still in OK position but a split second later and it flips up and out of the way.
Here the stick has flipped up and wouldn't you know it, look at where the puck is headed. Actually it's no coincidence. If a goalie has his angle right, the middle of his body lines up with shooters 'power lane'.
Here's the goal that gave me the idea for this page. I saw this game because I like watching Theodore. This should have been an easy save but it was a scrambled play, the stick flipped and the puck snuck in there like a little mouse.

 

Of course this is what you want to end up with. It seems simple enough; just move the blocker out a bit as you go down and the problem is gone. The blocker stays tight to the body and the stick stays where it should.
However, the fact that the goalies shown doing this (above) are no slouches indicates how tough this problem is. The real problem is that as the shooter is about to release, goalies naturally tighten up. The blocker squeezes into the body and forces the stick against the pads. Again, on messy plays like screens etc., it's almost sure to happen. Also, the hole between the blocker and the body can be a huge problem. Closing it down is important but close it down too tightly and the stick flips. You have to strike a balance here by keeping the blocker loose but snug to the body. A proper solution would also involve learning how to stay loose when some nutcase with a bullet-like shot and a Synergy unloads for God-knows-where, but that's a little beyond the scope of this page.

 

All you can do to reduce this problem is practice the move. Believe it or not you can speed up how you drop into the butterfly; gravity is not the only factor. Try to have the legs and arms working as two separate units. A lot of goalies let their arms get pulled out of position by what their legs are doing. Again, I find that separating the two depends mainly upon your leg strength. If the legs are strong enough, then they don't need 'help' by arm waving or shifting. Don't practice it too much because you don't want to damage your knees. A little bit every practice adds up to a lot.

If you implant the muscle memory it'll eventually show up in a game. However, when you do make a mistake it's very important to make a mental post-it note. A lot of goaltending is automatized in the brain and little reminders like that send a message back into the dark recesses to not do it again.

Going down with the stick in front (left) can open up the blocker hole (I call it the 14 hole) so you'll have to experiment here. To the right, Roy has the blocker lower and so does Roussel but there is a compromise here because the stick goes out of commission and a lower blocker opens up room up top.
I prefer sticks with a slightly higher shoulder. I don't like the older, shorter ones because I had to bend too much and it affected my balance as well as my back. The tall shoulder sticks like the Hextall or Roy I found would open up the 14 hole a bit too much.

Finally, here's a shot of Trevor Kidd doing a pretty good job of keeping things together on a total screen. The blocker stays tight and high, although the trapper is low.

And here's Patrick Roy demonstrating when it's perfectly OK to open up the 14 hole and flip the stick up.