Rule # 1 Play Modern Style

Rule # 1 Play Modern Style

Copyright © Jukka Ropponen 2000

Article 2/5

In today's hockey you see a variety of styles being used in goaltending. Some schools and coaches teach all butterfly and some are still talking about the old time standup style. What I want to promote is a modern active style to play goal and we can call it either modern or hybrid!

What does this mean?

Basically all I am trying to say is that goalies should not develop a style where one move is their patent solution for everything they do. Butterfly is a great move and very effective as long as it is used correctly and at the right time. However it is not a save, it's more of a tactical move where a goalie uses it to put maximum coverage to where it is most needed.

So the message of this article is to stay up when you can and go down when the situation requires it. This is what I call modern/hybrid goaltending! Remember that a goaltender is always faster executing the saves from his/her basic stance than any other position. This is a result of practice and what goalies are most comfortable with. Also from his/her stance, the goalie has better odds to move in any direction required by the play.

Several people have been asking the question on this style "why can't the goalie play all the situations using butterfly all the time". Very simple - if the goalie has a pattern that he/she uses for every move the opponents will be able to pick that up quickly and make the goalie pay for it. It is also very hard to move on to the lateral "east-west" passes if a goalie is using only butterfly movement. Younger goalies can get away with butterfly style very well, especially with good technique, but the older the players get and the faster the game becomes the more difficult it will be to rely on the butterfly move alone.

Butterfly only goalies will lose good 6"-10" of their reach compared to the kick saves as their body is now being pulled in both directions instead of a good kick save when the whole momentum is in the same direction.

Think about the rebounds for a second as well. If the goalie goes down on the butterfly and gives a rebound, it will be real hard to move to the next shot vs. the situation where the goalie stands up and gives the rebound and can easily move in his/her stance to make the next save if needed.

Use the butterfly when you don't know where the shot will go, or when you need to put good coverage in place for close plays, screen shots, deflections etc.. When you can see the shot just make the save standing up and be ready to move for the next one.

I have talked a lot about butterfly here, but this rule also covers other situations where the goalies are going down. The most common is with the young goalies when they just drop down on their knees "to do something". This is a common mistake that can be corrected by working with the basic saves and right fundamentals as this way the goalie will become comfortable in making the saves standing up instead of dropping down.

So when does one need to go down? There are a lot of situations that requires a goalie to go down.

For example:

  • Break-aways and playing dekes
  • Pass to the corner man
  • 2-on-1's
  • Quick shots from passes behind the goal line
  • Rebounds
  • Crowds
  • Deflections
  • Loose pucks
  • Etc.

As a summary, I would like to say to teach your goalies to stay up when they can make the save by doing so, thus maintaining their ability to move to rebounds etc. or what ever the next situation requires them to do. By dropping down to ice the goalie has committed himself/herself to that play and anything else that happens will just make the odds against the goalie a lot worse.

Goalie in butterfly position

Here you see the goalie down in his butterfly (left shooter's view) covering the ice well. This is a great move as long as the goalie uses it in right types of situations instead of making it "the patent" for all his saves.

Goalie in stand-up position

In this picture, you see the goalie in his stance (left shooter's view) covering as much of the goal as in the butterfly, but in different areas. However, this goalie can move to rebound situations needed.