"Why Goalies Need Overdrive" is prerequisite for this page.
(the first Flash movie on the main page)
This page is getting really big so it may take some time to load.
Sorry about that but there is a lot of info here. Also, some Flash pages
at the bottom are big files.
Overdrive, goalies continually widen out more than is necessary. This
takes a cumulative toll on the knees, groin and back and results in
chronic aches and repetitive stress that is considered the norm after
5 or 10 years of goaltending. These aches and strains periodically flare
up into full fledged injuries, often on simple plays that the goalie
has done many times before.
page I'll show how widening out too much causes injuries and of course,
how Overdrive reduces the danger. While there are a million ways to
hurt yourself that Overdrive does not cover, I believe the strain of
involuntarily spreading out too much is the main cause of chronic injury
time for the kids- Chronic: Kronos,Greek God of Time. Chronic injury
means it's there all the time, it never goes away!!
first glance, this makes perfect sense. Since most goalie movement involves
widening out laterally, this should be the first place to look!
human body is not well designed for widening out. Our legs are made to
move within the narrow field we use for running or walking or jumping.
Since we're restricted in this way, we rarely widen out except to modify
direction or do the occasional sidestep. Normal human activity doesn't
require much more.
confirms this. The swivel of the hips, the swing of the legs, the knee
joint, the direction our feet point; all made for forward motion.
So by widening
out too far and too often, goaltending
pushes the restrictions nature has placed on us.
check the anatomy to see if damage to the muscles used
for widening out is related to the chronic injuries.
any motion, muscles group into pairs. One set contracts
while an opposite set stretches. So when you flex or
contract your biceps, the triceps on the back of your arm stretch. To
return your arm to position, the opposite happens. Every muscle must have
an opposite muscle, otherwise it could never return to position for reuse.
Gluteus Medius (blue) swings
the leg out while the groin (red)
pulls it inward.
hamstrings (blue) lift your
lower leg up while your quads
(red) straighten it out.
Gluteus Maximus (blue)
swings your leg back while
the hip flexors swing it up.
So on any motion, each muscle performs two motions; it contracts going
one way, then stretches going the other.
Before looking at which muscles work on a widening out move, let's review
how muscles get injured and how this applies to goalie movement.
This is the first Flash movie on this page so if you don't see a pic of
muscles below, you need the plug-in.
let's have a closer look at the muscles in these two groups.
(Hint: if you follow the lines on the muscle and imagine them shortening
you'll see how they work.)
all the widening out goalies do, it doesn't work this group too hard.
That's because the friction of the ice does a lot of the work when you
widen out. If you want to widen out, just slide out. The muscle does some
work but there's no need to physically lift you leg and place it laterally.
To the right
is a side view of your hips and the Gluteus Medius which is mainly responsible
for swinging the legs out.
the far right is a side view of the Gluteus Maximus. Widening out isn't
the main purpose of this muscle but it does help out. If you swing your
leg out you can feel it tightening.
the left is a rear shot of some of the smaller hip joint muscles. All
except the Quadratus Femoris will contract to help swing the legs out.
However, they are so small that I wonder how much they contribute to the
motion and I suspect they mainly stabilize things. Apparently, injuring
the Piriformis can be hell on wheels because it sits so close to the Sciatic
that's the hip group. We've already seen in the Flash piece that these
muscles are not at great risk on widening out moves. Of course injuries
are still possible but there just aren't enough glute injuries out there
to lead us to suspect that they are anything but random events and therefore
this part of the widening out move is unrelated to the chronic injuries
we are interested in.
a side note, the same reasoning applies to the quads, which supply a lot
of the power for a lateral push (or running or walking). Because of their
insertion points, widening out doesn't really affect them but since they
are involved, let's have a look.
The right leg shows only the Vastus and the left leg shows only the the
For push, Nurminen uses his left leg quads and glutes.
His right leg uses the Gluteus Medius to swing that leg out a bit, his
hamstring lifts the foot back and the hip flexor (Rectus Femoris) lifts
the whole leg a bit.
get off topic, I've said elsewhere on this site that for coverage reasons
it's better to learn how to slide the moving foot along the ice. It also
doesn't require the lifting effort from the hamstring or hip flexors.)
In the Flash piece these were the muscles most at risk from widening out.
So let's see exactly which ones are involved and if they are related to
the chronic injury areas.
can tell by the striations of the muscles that the groin will stretch
on widening out. The groin pulls the thighs together again after you have
widened out but it was not made to widen out this much this often. Also,
I don't think there's another muscle group in the body that is forced
to stretch this far before it takes on a load. Compared with the large,
thick quads this isn't a lot of muscle coverage considering what goalies
do with it. This is nothing like the widening out of a ballet dancer leaping
through the air. Goalies hit the ice hard at full extension with their
own weight, their equipment weight and the force of the kick or move.
The groin was not made to repeatedly contain all of that at that width
so it's no mystery why widening out strains the groin.
the muscles on most shots onto two legs
to make it easier to see them. Here, on the right
leg from the top down you'll see the Pectineus,
Adductor Brevis and the Gracilis. On the left leg
I put the Adductor Magnus and in purple
is the Adductor Longus.
the insertion points show that widening out will stretch these muscles.
They all insert below the knee and this explains why you will most definitely
feel strain down there if you widen out too much. This is why goalies
fold at least one leg back on most moves (below); it relieves pressure
by shortening these muscles. I'm not sure how much the hamstrings suffer
on widening out but they definitely add tension to the knee, which is
a very complex joint. I suspect the Sartorius is more vulnerable.
The right leg shows the Biceps Femoris and Semimembranous and on the
left leg is the Semitendinous. These form the Hamstring group and the
blue portion indicates that they insert behind the knee. The Sartorius
shown on the left leg goes from the crest of the hip around to the front
of the knee.
why you tend to lean forward when you widen out and why you'll do a face
plant after really widening out. As the leg widens, it pulls on the Psoas
(one side is shown), which pulls the spine forward. The Psoas (So-as)
act like stabilizers or 'guy wires' for the spine and you do not want
to strain one because it will pull the spine out of alignment. Any health
care professional will tell you that the Psoas is an extremely important
muscle for a wide variety of reasons and injuring it is a life altering
event. If you have back problems, you likely have Psoas problems but it
is extremely difficult to access and often goes unnoticed in the diagnosis.
Actually, if you have groin problems, it is highly possible that it is
being misdiagnosed and is really a Psoas problem. Also, if you have what
feels like a hamstring or hip injury it could very well be Sciatic nerve
damage in the lower back referring the pain. (Been there!)
the hip joint there are also several smaller muscles worth mentioning.
The Obturator Externus (left) is a likely candidate for strain on widening
out as is the Quadratus Femoris (right) but I haven't noticed much mention
of them in the literature I've read. I wonder if you have to really tear
the groin before you damage these ones.
it looks like widening out too much can strain our three chronic injury
areas, the groin, back and knees.
this were just simple everyday widening out it would be bad enough but
goalies spread out laterally with an explosive kick or push and the legs
are weighted down with skates and pads. So if you're going to abuse the
body with what almost amounts to unnatural movement, what else can you
expect? Repetition will test the weaker links and one day there will be
a move that pushes things a little too far.
could come in the following way because some widening out is more dangerous
in the shots below the goalie starts from the same position and ends
up equally wide but in different spots. (the line at left foot marks
the start position)
difference is that in the left photo, the left foot held its position
and in the right photo it did not and slipped backwards.
The backwards slip in the right photo is caused by boot-out and as I've
described many times on this site, it's when the skate rolls on its side
as you widen out and the side of the boot levers the main blade off the
ice so that it slips out on the plastic of the boot.
the goalie ends up equally wide in both moves how can one move be more
damaging than the other?
is control. A secure grip keeps your muscles in control of the move.
With a solid
foundation, when you push off, the leg muscles can dictate the speed at
which you spread out and drop down. As you widen out, weight is gradually
passed off to the groin and in case of danger this control can help you
bail out of the move.
this is what the muscles are made for and what they do every time you
take a step.
other muscles involved, the quads (left) will dictate how fast you push
across and the glutes (right) will help lower you at as safe a rate as
However, when there is no grip and the foot slips out, all of this muscle
control is removed. The muscles can't do a thing with nothing for the
feet to grab onto. How quickly you widen out is no longer dictated by
your muscles but by your weight and gravity; if you've slipped on ice
you know has quickly gravity works. (Joke time: Your legs are now out
of your hands) Widening out suddenly can catch the body's defenses off
guard and you'll spread out faster and farther than intended. At this
point it's up to the groin to contain things but instead of the weight
being loaded on in a measured manner, there is a risk of overloading as
it takes on all the weight in a sudden burst.
So a graph
of the difference between the two widening out moves would look something
This is only a representation of what happens and doesn't reflect actual
no slipout, the speed of widening out will be governed by the muscles
and remain fairly constant. It will accelerate a bit and then tail of
as you get wide. A controlled move is always slower than a slipout so
it extends farther along the graph.
On a slipout, the speed spikes noticeably, as it would on any slip. The
Johns Hopkins site states that a major factor in muscle strains is the
speed at which a muscle is pulled.
With control, the load on the muscle is gradually increased. Again,
the move is slightly longer.
load for both should be similar but how they get there is different
When you bootout, the load on the muscle increases very quickly, creating
momentum that will temporarily increase the load beyond expectations.
The area above the dotted line represents a potential injury.
Your width increases steadily on a slightly longer move.
On a bootout your width spikes and momentum will widen you out more than
you intended before you pull things together a bit. The area above the
dotted line represents a potential injury.
So while widening out is not the best thing for the human body, widening
out from a boot out can be even more dangerous. Whether you are skating
or skiing or driving a car, control is safety.
If a goalie can do the splits, he can withstand the width but again, the
danger lies in the speed of widening out and as such he is just as vulnerable
as other goalies. In fact, because they can do the splits these goalies
widen out much more often so they're more likely to get caught on a dangerous
boot-out. One hint of this is that the full splits seems to be mainly
for the younger goalies. You'll see goalies come into the NHL using the
splits a lot but then the injuries come and by the time they hit their
late 20's they have to modify their style to stay healthy. Cujo rarely
widens out anymore, Patrick Roy never did at the end of his career, Tommy
Salo; never, Belfour, very rarely, Brodeur doesn't do it much anymore;
he's more of an old style standup goalie now, Kolzig is doing it less
and less, Thibault is starting to collect injuries. While the splits stops
pucks, the goalies eventually pay a price because they do boot out more.
This is significant because most young goalies coming up consider the
splits a requirement for the wider style that predominates.
interesting note that I have mentioned before is that while the old style
of widening out doesn't stop pucks nearly as well, it might be safer.
In the event of a boot out on the pushing foot all is not lost because
kicking out with the toe up keeps the heel on or near the ice and it can
dig in to control widening out. Also, by turning the toe up, the kicking
leg stresses the stronger hamstring and not the groin.
Now, goalies must widen out with the pads face out for coverage. Shots
are far too fast to rely on the old style. However, in the event of a
boot out both skates are on the plastic and there is nothing to do but
spread out on your groins.
thing to remember is that bootouts use more width to complete a move.
A goalie with a secure footing (left) widens out much less than one whose
foot slips out (right). For the goalie to the left, it's not a stressful
move but for the one on the right it definitely is.
there is momentum. The whole purpose of pushing off is not simply to widen
out, but to propel you in a direction; as when we walk, run, etc. When
you push off this shifting of the body depends on your footing and affects
how much you widen out.
faded blue line is the starting point for the 3 goalie's moves.
bootout will give you very little momentum (I showed zero here).
There is no shifting in the direction of the puck so you'll have
to reach it by widening out.
not wearing Overdrive has to avoid a bootout by stopping his push
before he rolls the boot into the ice. This limits his power but should
give him some momentum towards the puck.
a solid footing (ie: with Overdrive) a goalie will get a full push
and his body will shift more in the direction of the puck. He'll have
to widen out less to make a save.
While the above photos demonstrate the point, kick saves happen very quickly
so directional shifting may not be a factor. It happens but it doesn't
always happen fast enough to help stop a hard shot. How momentum can replace
widening out is more noticeable in the larger moves.
I go from side to side without widening out very much for very long; my
momentum moves me.
Below, Osgoode has very little momentum in his move, doesn't go very far
and must widen out a lot to cover the net.
notice that I have enough momentum to recover whereas Osgoode ends the
move by squashing down on his groin. The important point here is that
momentum helps to close you up again after widening out. Even on a kick
save this directional shift can be used to pull the legs back together
again after you have widened out, instead of squishing down on stretched
muscles. A solid grip reduces widening out and when you do widen out,
it helps you to finish up in a safer position.
Most pro goalies have legs like horses but without Overdrive they're stuck
with moves like this.
the end of this section. We've seen that widening out is dangerous and
that a lot of widening out is unnecessary simply because goalie skates
often cannot hold the ice. Now that we have an idea of how goalies can
injure themselves from widening out, it might be a good idea to get
on the ice a see exactly how this can happen.
name for it)
first injury is the easiest to understand because it's
the simple bootout I've been talking about all along.
severity of the injury will be dictated by the force the bootout exerts.
More force on the tissue creates more damage.
of the bootout is dictated by how much weight is on the foot when it boots
More weight on the foot creates a faster, heavier bootout.
The weight on a bootout varies according to the point in the move at which
A slipout early in the move has more weight on
the pushing foot than one later in the move.
potential for damage is greater at the beginning of a move, the risk of
this injury is much greater if you slip out from a
wider stance than from a narrow one. Here's why.
we have 3 goalies. The gold one has a narrow stance (A), the copper one
has a wider stance (B) and the silver goalie is very wide representing
their injury point (C). If the narrow, gold goalie slips out at point
A, he has time (t) from A to C before he hits the injury point. If the
copper goalie slips out he has less time (t) before he hits the injury
point, B to C. A goalie in a very wide stance would have even less time.
factors above boil down to one thing: time. A slip at the beginning
of a push out of a wide stance gives a goalie the least time to protect
himself. That's where this injury is most likely to happen. This helps
explain why goalies are getting more lower body injuries than in the
old 'stand-up' or 'narrow stance' days. However, those days are gone
and goalies have no choice now but to adopt a wide stance. Pucks travel
too fast to be able to kick the feet out; they have to be positioned
safe position (again, my term) is the least stressful position for your
leg when you go down. With the leg folded back and close to the body there
is no chance of a pull. On a slipout a goalie will try to avoid injury
by folding the leg back into this position. Just to be thorough, let's
take a closer look.
Folding the leg back relieves tension around the knee. On the anatomy
we saw that several muscles, including the hamstring group connect below
the knee (You can feel their tendons behind your knee). Folding the leg
back shortens this group (eg: B-A). Since the knee is such a complex joint,
relieving this tension likely also relieves stress on other connective
tissue (ligaments) in the joint.
Folding the leg back also allows you to drop the knee to the ice. This
further reduces stress on the knee, eases the strain on the groin as you
aren't as wide (red angles) and improves coverage along the ice.
As the foot is folding back, the knee will also bend up to bring the whole
leg back into the body and reduce the angle on the groin.
let's put all this together and take a closer look in the Flash piece below.
are some video clips to have a look at.
name for it)
injury 1a is caused by excess widening out with the pushing leg straight,
injury 1b strains the upper groin because the leg is folded back in the
safe position. Click through the Flash piece below for more.
Below, you can see that the goalies' pushing leg has been folded back
but it is still very wide and the focus of strain will be on the upper
to the left is a link to some video clips.
1a can involve a slipout strong enough to cause a catastrophic strain,
the chances of that happening with 1b are less for a number of reasons.
all, by the time you land, a lot of your weight has already been transferred
over to the other leg so it won't be used to widen you out in the opposite
direction. This means that backwards motion will also be slower so the
muscles can control things easier. With the knee bent, the weaker, thinner
muscles aren't involved, especially the sartorius. If you do get close
to overloading the muscles, leaning forward or even doing a face plant
is a quick and easy way to relieve the pressure.
goalies, I think the main danger here would be from cumulative wear because
this type of widening is common now with the butterfly or pro-fly styles.
The volume of this move could also work in conjunction with weakness elsewhere
to contribute to strain. Most vulnerable would be the goalie with superior
flexibility. They can get so wide ( like Esche or Legace, above) that
the position locks them in, making it momentarily awkward to relieve the
pressure. The downward pressure of their weight can then squish the groin
lower to the ice, possibly into injury.
this injury is a lot like injury 1a but I gave it a different name because
the moving leg has different mechanics. We can re-use the pictures above
but we're now looking at the leg that is kicking in the direction of the
save. The injury is simple: as you stretch the leg out straight to stop
the puck you strain the inside of the moving leg anywhere from the knee
to the upper groin by widening out too much. Your flexibility determines
whether you can handle the stretch or not but if you are very flexible
(like Esche, above) you can lock into the 'squishing down' effect like
area is exactly the same as 1a, so what's different? First of all, it's
a voluntary slip out. You want the foot to slide out; it just slides
out too far. Injury #1 is an involuntary slip back where the weight
on the leg pulls you too wide. Here, in order for the leg to move there
is very little weight on it and you simply widen out too much as you
reach for the puck.
puck decides how wide you'll have to get, the problem here is you can't
fold the leg back to relieve the pressure unless you don't want to make
the save. If the kicking leg is widening out to the danger point you
can either let the puck go in or keep reaching and hope you don't strain
anything. Not until the save is over can you relieve the pressure.
look at two ways you can injure yourself in this way; if the pushing foot
holds or if the pushing foot slips out. In image #1, imagine that the
goalie's left (pushing) foot stayed planted as he kicked out to stop the
puck. He could injure himself if the stretch was too much for him. This
kind of injury will always be part of the game and there is nothing Overdrive
can do about it. Athleticism always involves pushing the body to its physical
imagine that image #1 shows the result of a slipout and the left foot actually
started at point 'A'. Obviously #2 shows a relatively stress free save while
#1 shows a considerable widening out of the moving leg.
for simplicity I've looked at the legs in isolation but things are a
little more complicated on the ice. Obviously image #1 also shows a
considerable widening out of the pushing leg so it is possible to have
either injury 1, 1a and 2 on any particular slipout. Widening out on
one leg affects the other leg and this can also pull all the little
hip muscles into the mix so a weak link anywhere in there can go.
some video evidence on overextending not only the moving leg but both
legs at once.
You can review the previous video clips to apply the information I discuss
all the weak points in the human body, the back is the weakest. We have
evolution to blame for this one because man is the rational ANIMAL and
we weren't made to walk on two feet. Among other things, our erect posture
has created a spinal curvature near the hips. Excess accentuation of this
curve can cause herniation of the discs between vertabrae resulting in
pressure on the local nerves. Ask anyone who has had sciatica (as I have)
and they will eagerly describe a whole new world of pain radiating down
In the general
population, back problems are to be expected past a certain age, especially
in the lower back (L4-L5). Damage to this area likely lasts a lifetime
since the discs have a limited ability to repair themselves. Back problems
are kind of like some family members- you're stuck with them for life.
So in spite of the benefits, hockey being one of them, walking on two
feet has its drawbacks.
is not at all kind to the back because of the stance, the continual pounding
from going down and also from excess widening out. Injury at some point
is almost a certainty and problems can begin at a young age. Even without
catastrophic strain, the sheer repetition of the movements will accelerate
the normal degradation of the spine. If you're serious about goaltending
you absolutely must develop a regimen of preventative stretching and maintenance
with advice from specialists. This is especially important now because new
goaltending styles are prone to excess widening out which will accentuate
the curve on the lower back.
we widen out, the Psoas muscle pulls
forward on the spine, accentuating the curve.
Slipouts pull more forcefully on the spine.
it is very easy to relieve pressure on the back by leaning forward,
most of the time that is not an option simply because you have to stay
with the play. You have to keep your chest and head up to face the puck.
This combination will result in some very serious arching of the lower
back. Also, the speed of widening out plays an important part as it
can create a whipsaw effect. A quick widening out (as in a slipout)
will pull the chest forward and then a quick reaction by the goalie
to stay erect can focus a whole lot of pressure on the crucial L4-L5
goalies are all very wide, which arches the back by pulling on the Psoas,
but they have to arch it more to keep the chest up to stay with the play.
to this arching of the back is the action of the skate slipping back.
When the foot has to fold back very quickly into the safe position,
as on a slipout, this backward action of the leg is often counterbalanced
by a forward leaning of the upper body. Anything that contributes to
forward lean will add to back arching.
Salo's left foot doesn't hold very well. It's not a major slipout but
by frame 2 you can see that the foot is closer to the post. His balance
wasn't very good either, which amplifies the effect and serves to demonstrate
better the forces at work. The left foot folds back quickly and by frame
3 and especially frame 4 you can see the arching on his back as he tries
to straighten. By frame 5 he's leaning forward to relieve the pressure.
there is the impact on the ice to consider. Every time a goalie drops
to the ice, there is a slight shock of landing that will reverberate up
from the knees to the hips. It may be an insignificant jolt but this is
amplified when you consider how many times in a game and a year goalies
do this. Conservatively estimating 300 times a week easily translates
into 100,000 times in 10 years.
When a goalie
goes down, he goes off his edges at about 45 degrees so it will be a drop
of A. With Overdrive, you go off your edges at about 22 degrees so it will
be a drop of about half the distance.
some video evidence. If you review any of the previous clips you'll
also be able to see the effect of slipouts on the back.
that's it for the injury page. It only took about a year so I'm a little
bit tired of it. However, I think you'll find a lot of information here
that hasn't been explained before. If you see any mistakes let me know.
Although I didn't explicitly explain how Overdrive prevents all the
injuries mentioned, it's implied everywhere. To reiterate the theme
of this page: Excess widening out causes injury and Overdrive prevents excess
this page looked at self-inflicted injury but there is another world
of pain out there thanks to over-eager forwards. This has nothing to
do with Overdrive but is an important consideration for all goalies.
Opposing players and refs must know to respect your space. If they don't
and your D does nothing you must know how to get the word out. Opposing
forwards take as much as they can get away with so crease violations
must be stopped before they cost you a serious injury. Hockey is a rough,
dangerous game and sometimes you have to consider something other than
warnings and begging the ref to earn his money. Here's a lighter look
at Eddie's fine example and another of Cloutier being run.