A Goalie’s New Best Friend

For years, the butterfly technique was questioned by traditionalists, but over the course of time it transformed the goaltending position. It is now the goaltenders' most relied upon and often implemented save.

The advent of the Reverse Vertical Horizontal (RVH) position is one of the latest progressions in goaltending technique development. Similar to the reaction the butterfly technique met during the early days, the increasingly-popular RVH position has faced its share of critics as it endures its own growing pains and questioning. However, upon an objective review, the RVH has already has a tremendous impact on the goaltender position.

The RVH to a goalie is intriguing and looks fun. Seeing an NHL goaltender like Jonathan Quick use the RVH only heightens the awareness of the movement and appeal of the technique.

Understanding a goaltender's desire to emulate a NHL star is part of coaching and is no different than young baseball players in New England mimicking the batting stance of Red Sox slugger David Ortiz.

Understanding that goaltenders of all ages will inevitably end up in the RVH, it is important that goalies, parents and coaches alike understand when to utilize the technique and common mistakes associated with it.

There are two situations where the RVH can be used by a goalie. When facing a wraparound attempt, it's a good time for a goalie to use the RVH to provide a very seal to the post. Additionally, the RVH provides the goaltender better sight of the puck by allowing his head to look over his pads and see the puck on the ice.  

Another scenario where a goaltender can use the RVH is when there is a pass-out threat originating from below the goal line to a player who is on the same side of the ice as the puck and close to the crease.

When a goaltender uses the RVH in this situation, she already has the bottom portion of the net sealed, thus forcing the shooter to elevate the puck (a tougher shot) in order to score. Ideally, the goaltender needs to be in the RVH before the pass is made. This is where a goaltender's ability to read the play becomes vital.

Decisiveness plays a key role in the use of the RVH, regardless of age. Lack of decisiveness is the single greatest challenge of the RVH.

Goaltenders should consistently be making conscious decisions whether or not to get into the RVH based on the play that is unfolding in front of them. Even if the decision does not yield the desired outcome, the goaltender has learned not to use the RVH in the given situation at the very least.

There are two areas where goaltenders are over-utilizing the RVH. One is on rushes coming down the wall, and the other is in recovery or rebound situations. There are a very finite number of scenarios where a goaltender should recover back to his post in an RVH, and there are even fewer scenarios where a goaltender should be using the RVH when facing a rush.

Outside of the criteria of the situation, other factors, such as the size and speed of the goaltender, factor into when and where to use the RVH. Using it off the rush or in a rebound situation is not recommended until a goaltender has advanced into the junior or college ranks.

Even as a NCAA goaltending coach, I find myself coaching goaltenders to use or hold their feet as their primary decision.

Advances in the techniques, skills and mentality of our position keeps us enthused about the position. Embracing the advancements while acknowledging there is a time and place for everything will keep this position exciting and forever unique.

Each goaltender is responsible for his or her decisions when determining their preferred style of play. It is all right for a goaltender to utilize the RVH as long as he or she is decisive, absorbing the situation and developing from the outcome.

Jared Waimon is the goaltending development coordinator for Connecticut and Rhode Island, and is also goalie coach for Quinnipiac University.






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