Get Your Hands in the Game

I want to offer some tips on having your gloves ready, especially during butterfly recoveries and lateral moves, and provide some tips to take into consideration when making saves with your hands or body to maximize rebound control.

The first thing to understand is the distance of the puck in relation to the direction and distance you are recovering. Put yourself in the puck’s position and ask the following question: How much room is there for the puck to travel and reach above 11 inches off the ice (roughly the height of your pad)?

Once you determine the answer, the next thing you should consider is how likely are you to make the save with your pad, body or gloves.

Choosing which one ­to use – the body or gloves – is all about being smart with your save selection. This happens with proper tracking of the puck. If the puck is headed towards an area outside of your shoulder, this will typically mean that you will need to extend your hand to make the save. How you angle your glove once you start your recovery from the down position is important. I recently wrote about this topic for InGoal Magazine and pinpoint a specific example on a save Jonathan Quick made in a recent game.

Simply put, by bringing your glove or blocker forward and angling it down towards the puck, you increase your vertical coverage of the net, which is also known as taking away the aerial angle. Ideally, you want to get your entire body behind the puck, but the game is too fast for every save to be ideal. Even in situations where you’re forced to reach, how you reach makes a big difference, as I explain in the InGoal article.

Now, if the puck is shot more towards your body, within your shoulders, or in that awkward area between your hip and elbow (commonly referred to as the six and seven holes), you may have to perform a ‘tuck and lean’ – you tuck your elbow into your hip and lean your chest towards the puck to create a tight seal in that area, creating a pocket for the puck to stick and control the rebound.

We can all agree that one of the most important goaltending skills to have is the ability to react – to have that mindset to use a certain part of our body to make a save rather than “hope and pray” contact is made with the puck.

Once you find your comfort level, it’s important to maintain it consistently so that you prepare yourself before the puck is shot, reducing any unnecessary movements or adjustments along the way to making a save.

Now that we have covered some of the basics about save selections, let’s go over the process of executing butterfly recoveries, and why hand position during these movements is so important.

First, and perhaps most important, is to understand the basics of how your body works together when performing a recovery. In order to combine power and speed during a recovery movement, everything must move in the direction you’re going.