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A good stance is one of the critical components to be an excellent goaltender. It also allows you to be comfortable in the crease.
In relation to this, there are various play styles and stances. Hence, you should find what is most beneficial and comfortable for you.
Every bit of a goalie’s body and gear should be placed to achieve a couple of crucial aims in the crease. This includes maximizing net coverage, moving efficiently, and keeping a perfect balance.
That said, there are some things that we always have to consider when working with our stance are:
How comfortable are you with your stance? Now you can’t be standing there in the nets like you’re leaning against a wall.
You need to have a comfortable knee bend. Your back shouldn’t be hunched over, this may seem like it is comfortable to some, but it will most definitely cause back pains over time.
Some goalies like to keep their hands in different areas to fill the net. This, however, is only loading up the net in the shooter’s eye, and you really cannot worry about him.
You have to worry about the puck’s eye. What open net does the puck see? Keeping your hands out to the side fills up the net. The shooter sees but also leaves your vulnerable to “squeakers” going between the arms and body.
Another component of proper net coverage involves the chest and upper body. Having that chest tall with a right knee bend enables powerful pushes from the legs while also covering those high angles.
It doesn’t matter how low you crouch or how much you keep your knees apart. The angle of your knees plays a significant role in the aerial angles that you cover.
This can also play an essential part in the time it takes to get your knees to hit the ice in a butterfly. That’s because the bigger the knee bend, the faster you can get your knees down.
Benefits of a Proper Stance
- It allows the goaltender to be balanced and under control.
- Proper balance limits excessive or wasted movement.
- This leads to more efficient movement and saves selection.
- Goaltenders have feet too wide. This restricts movement and saves selection.
- Goaltenders have feet too narrow. This limits power in movement, reduces lower net coverage, and decreases balance.
- Poor glove positioning leads to wasted mobility and poor puck control (See specific glove sheet).
- Chest overly bent produces poor balance and trouble tracking high shots.
Practicing to Find the Right Stance
Gaining an effective and comfortable stance that works for you is going to need some time and practice.
The only process to figure out the right fit is by trying to correct the fundamentals. And we mean your feet, skate, and chest positioning. You also need to fine-tune your glove positioning.
Test both the given standard and different stances in practice, and whatever feels most comfortable for you, go within a match.
Here’s a break-down of each crucial part of your body and equipment to address when trying to find the best stance for you:
The position of a goalie’s feet is among the essential aspects of a perfect stance.
A few bad inclinations goalies fall victim to with feet positioning is having their feet too close and having their feet too wide. Too narrow of a stance restricts a goalie’s movement and saves preference, as it occurs in less low net coverage.
A few people will ask how far apart you should keep your feet. One school of thought is that it is more challenging to perform these saves with your feet closer together. It’s not even close whether to keep your feet closer together or further apart like Khabibulin.
Trying different foot stances to find what is most comfortable for you is the best way to determine how your feet should be positioned.
Several goalies use a foot stance quite similar to Nikolai Khabibulin. They find it keeps their feet shoulder-width apart, and it still allows them to keep their chest up. And they can always keep their movement firm and crisp.
Another side effect is a reduction in balance. Too wide of a stance can also restrict mobility and net coverage. That’s because it usually opens up the top of the net and takes away some leg power for lateral movement.
Ideally, you should always keep your feet a little more than shoulder’s width apart. Slightly bend your ankles inward to put weight on your inside edges at the balls of your feet.
Correctly placing your skates goes hand-in-hand with excellent foot positioning. You should put your skates parallel to each other, to have both of your feet facing straight and your toes aiming forward.
Placing your skates in this fashion enables you to be better balanced, perform some shuffles, and open up into t-pushes more easily.
The basic components of an effective stance all cover the same foundations as with most “ready stances” in athletics.
Most significant of all, the knee bend. The knee bend produces the power for everything we need to do: balance, movement, save execution, etc.
These are all started with a decent knee bend. In addition to the knee bend, your upper body performs a significant role in an effective stance.
Many goaltenders who bend quite a bit at the waist tend to take away a lot of coverage from the top corner. Sometimes, bending at the waist may seem more relevant to get low to the puck.
However, this is counterproductive. With the bend at the waist, we drop power from the knee for drives to get to different angles that need coverage.
Goalies need to bend their knees properly to maximize comfortability and to move efficiently. It’s also crucial to remember to avoid a couple of bad practices: having your knees too straight and bending your knees too much.
Having your knees too straight reduces balance and often means you are not yet ready for passing plays. It also consumes time before dropping into a butterfly.
Bending your knees too much can restrict movement and restrain your upper body positioning. For good knee positioning, goalies should shift their knees forward.
Doing so creates enough bend to use pressure on the inside edges of the skates and the balls of the feet.
Upper body positioning is just as valuable as lower body positioning to finding a firm stance.
One of the biggest errors goalies make is adopting the usage of poor chest positioning. This means hunching over and not having their chest straight.
This not only produces poor balance but also prevents a goalie’s ability to track high shots. To correctly position their chest, goalies should stay up, showing their jersey’s logo to the shooter moving in on them.
By having your chest straight up, you should feel your weight transfer forward slightly. This helps produce a better balance from head to toe. A straight chest also improves net coverage and aids in tracking high shots.
When playing in training or a match, paying attention to shoulder positioning can often be a neglected area of the upper body stance. However, shoulder positioning is a critical area to address.
Perfect shoulder positioning means keeping your shoulders parallel and level with each other. That way, you can keep your chest square.
Gloves are another thing that has a vast variation from goaltender to goaltender. Goaltenders like Roberto Luongo use a Quebec-influenced glove position. Meanwhile, Kipper uses the Finnish style of glove positioning.
A right glove and a good blocker are crucial to a good stance and essential to block pucks in a game. Every goalie has a selected way of positioning their hands, and at the end of the day, your hands should suit your play style.
But there is a standard way to do so.
You should have your glove and blocker hands in front of you. This helps improve your balance, allowing you to dodge double side coverages. Both hands should be placed just outward your chest, elbows a few inches away from your sides, as well.
It’s up to the goalie to place their glove and blocker the way they feel comfortable. However, it’s common for goalies to angle them in a way that enables them to both freeze the puck against their body, catch it, or redirect it to the corners.
Whatever glove positioning you have, you should ask yourself some questions before settling on your final stance.
Start with the catcher. Do you find it more comfortable to bring your glove up for those shots to the top corners? If you prefer taking what would bring your glove up to create those saves, then a Luongo-Esque catch glove positioning would work for you.
You can also begin with your catcher in the “fingers up” positioning like Kipper. With this style, you then have the top corner covered. This also helps you to use your response to bring the glove down to make saves.
You’d rather bring your glove down instead of up due to the simple factor of gravity. It’s a lot easier to make the glove down than up, based on physics.
Now let’s take a look at the blocker hand. There are some modifications to the blocker hand’s positioning, but not approximately as much as the catcher. But there is the goalie stick.
We need to grip that stick on the ice, so we ultimately will be handcuffed to the paddle height for stick positioning.
Let’s use Roberto Luongo as an example, who has both hands tight to his body to keep all holes closed, yet he can still maintain that stick on the ice.
One thing goaltenders don’t understand is that it also affects the aerial angle of the net.
A goalie’s stick position can be the distinction between making a save and allowing a goal on any shot or play during a match.
Like some of the other difficulties of goaltending and the right stance, stick position is easy to neglect. But it can make all the difference if you consciously keep it in mind.
Goalies should make sure their stick blade is always flat on the ice. That way, they won’t lose the feel for it and let it lean on its heel.
Secondly, the stick should be held at a reasonable distance from the front of your pads. The rule of thumb is thumb is to keep it a foot apart in front of you. Let it rest on a small angle to ramp shots up into your body when dropping into a butterfly.
The 2 Fundamental Stance
The Goalie Stance (Athletic Position)
- Feet should be more than shoulder-width apart. Balance your weight on balls of feet and inside edges of skates
- Knees, shoulders, and toes should be aligned.
- The stance should feel comfortable.
- Knees and waist positioning are slightly bent to match the shin and spine angle.
- Hand positioning: gloves should be parallel at the same level, forward (in front of the body) in peripheral view, and relaxed
- The catching glove should be open and out in front.
- Chin down and eyes on the puck
- Stick blade at a slight angle, while its toe is ahead of its heel to cover the five holes.
- The blocker rotated outwards slightly.
- Stick Grip: For excellent control and strength, the stick should be held at the top of the paddle. The index finger should grip the side of the paddle and support it behind with the thumb. This enables the goalie to steer on ice shots away to corners.
The Butterfly Stance
- Usage depends on the size of the goalie & distance/angle of the puck from the crease
- The upper body is the same as in athletic stance
- Knees in, Toes out, Butt up
- Pads loose enough to be able to rotate and seal the ice – staying flat on the ice.
- Stick on the ice slightly angled (deflecting pucks)
- Knees together to close five-hole
- Toes out for maximum lateral coverage
- Butt up to stay off heels and extend chest for full height coverage
- Hands out in front and stick on the ice
- Shoulders square and relaxed upper body
- Weight on knees to stay forward
The different parts of your body and your equipment are integral in keeping a goalie stance that suits you. Doing so allows you to have more balance and control in the crease. And this will lead to more effective movement and save selection options.
Keep in mind that it’s not broken don’t fix it. If a specific stance works for you, ask your goalie coach to help you make the best you can be using that stance without overhauling your style.