Goalie Terms That Really Count

Mitch Korn

There is a very precise language that goalies and goalie coaches use. The list below should help parents, coaches and goalies understand the terms that intertwine to make a successful goalie.

Simply it is the path of the puck fromthe ice to the crossbar. When considering the best position and save selection, this is crucial for a goaltender.

The area “behind the goalie” when challenging. The goalie must learn to balance the size of the “back door” vs. the size of the “front door” through “reading the situation.”

An overused term. It is when a goalie drops allowing both pads to extend out to the side and with the five-hole closed (or almost closed). The majority of the lower portion of the net is covered, and the goalie’s holes are shut down. Just because a goalie drops to his/her knees, does not mean they are butterfly goalies.

In general, it is the goalies attempt to “cut the angle” by playing at the top of the blue crease (or above) to limit the amount of net seen by the shooter.

The ability to deaden a puck off the body, stick or pad to prevent rebounds.

The overall use of challenging, front door, back door, being square to the puck and reading the situation so the goalie can maximize his or her position. The three steps are (1) being out…(2) being square…(3) being set (stationary if possible).

EQUIPMENT CONFIDENCE: The mental state of a goalie that allows him/her to know that the equipment will not let him/her down. For example, the armpads protect the goalie well on high shots and the goal pads are not “overpowered” by the puck when closing the five-hole.

When a goalie makes a save selection and the majority of his/her body moves away from the puck side.

The area between the goalie’s legs or under the goalie (during a save selection). Goalies must learn to close this space better.

On rushes and dekes, a goalie must have some backward motion or flow. This flow provides rhythm and momentum and eliminates being caught flat-footed. Too much or too quick flow forces the goalie too deep into the crease.

FOCUS: Simply, it’s seeing the puck well. Too often goalies do not watch the puck to the body and beyond. Goalies often “look past” the puck, and do not follow it. When the puck “looks like a beach ball” rather than a “golf ball,” the goalie has the most success.

When a goalie challenges a shooter, that shooter is considered the “front door.” The goalie must learn to balance the trade off between “front door” and “back door” through reading the situation.

Probably the most used save. A half butterfly is the extension of one pad, while the other pad firmly supports the body. This should be able to be accomplished while stationary, moving forward, backward, laterally, from a shuffle, and while turning to remain square using the “Y” theory.

The goalie’s position when the puck is behind the goal line. The goalie must be ready for a wraparound or quick centering pass.

The go-to guy. True No. 1 goalies challenge themselves; they do not need competition from another. In “big” games they get “bigger.” They give the teama chance tow in and thrive on “making a difference.”

This move properly considers “aerial angle” to be used on some wraparounds, in tight plays around the net, etc. Often overused, this is effective when the goalie has defensive pressure and is close enough to smother the shooter.

The height of the “fat” part of the goalie stick. The maximumis 26 inches. Many young goalies use paddles which are too long and thus negatively affect their stance and stick use, and often opens the “sixhole” when making a save selection.

If moving to the left (for example), when the right foot pushes the goalie in that direction, yet stays stationary, forcing the goalie to open up, and ultimately end up on his/her rear end.

The goalie’s ability to recognize what’s happening and make two important decisions: where to be positioned and what save selection to make.

The goalie’s proper save choice in a given situation.

The goalie’s skating motion when he/she moves side to side without turning the skates (T-push). This move is used to consistently stay “square” to the puck. Too often, goalies use shuffles that are too large, thus opening up the five-hole or creating trouble in making transition. Smaller shuffles are better.

Playing goal is not playing a series of shots, but rather “playing situations.” Situations may, or may not, end in a shot. A situation is made up of where all players are, and the puck. It is not just the puck or the shooter. It is the situation that the goalie “reads.”

The space created between the stick arm and body when the stick paddle is too large or when the goalie “rolls” the stick arm shoulder in a half butterfly.

When a goalie, while “reading the play” watches rather than moves with the puck on a pass or shot.

SQUARE TO THE PUCK: The ability to stay lined up with the puck and the middle of the net. The goalie, by rotating shoulders and shuffling, remains square to the puck. This is critical for success.

The goalies’ skating motion moving in and out of the crease. The motion must be brisk and explosive while always in the stance position.

The goalie’s skating motion used laterally to get across the net or back to the post. The momentum is created by putting the feet into a T with the back foot pushing hard. This is also the initial motion of a two-pad slide move.

TRANSITION: The ability to “change” from one move to another. It may be to “change” quickly left to right, or telescope to shuffle or shuffle to half butterfly. The quicker the better.

WORK ETHIC: There is no substitute for hardwork. A goalie should practice as he/she plays.

Y-THEORY: Themost efficient use of telescoping, staying square and using the proper save selections. When done properly, the goalie’ smotion resembles a “Y” – out, back and diagonal toward the post.




Mitch Korn is the goaltending coach for the Nashville Predators, and the director of the Korn Hockey Camp for Goaltenders and Defensemen. To learn more go to mitchkorn.com.