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A Goalie's Daily Essentials

by Darren Hersh During the course of the season, there are always those times at practice when the club must focus on the individual skills of the forwards and defense as well as cover the team's systems such as breakouts, fore-checks, power plays, and penalty killing.  At these times, where the goalie is involved very little or not at all, goalies need to be equipped with some fundamental drills that they can do on their own to enhance their own development.  This article is directed at giving goalies the four basic drills that they can do alone or with their goalie partner at practice during those slow moments.  The drills are: 1. Continuous Butterfly (Belfour Drill) 2. Pretzel recovery Drill 3. Circuit Drill (Cap Raeder) 4. Alphabet Crease Movements If these essential drills are done at every or nearly every practice, goalies will see improvement in their game! 1. Continuous Butterfly (Belfour Drill) I was fortunate enough to go to the NHL All-Star Game in Tampa a few years back.  It happened to be Wayne Gretzky's final All-Star appearance and the experience itself was tremendous.  At least one thing I will always take from the Skills Competition was the drill that Ed Belfour performed just before he started taking shots to compete in the goalie portion of the event.  It was this: Belfour Continuous Butterfly Slide Drill Explanation:

Goalie begins from the basic stance position.Goalie pushes to one side into a butterfly slide.Goalie holds the butterfly for a split second then immediately recovers, using the proper leg, then pushes back to the original side and goes directly into another butterfly slide.Goalie repeats the continuous butterfly to one side and the other for about 6 repetitions. Shooters can shoot at will and play any rebounds.

Technical Keys:

This drill works on the goalie's lateral movement, butterfly slide technique, & conditioning.Make sure that the goalie is always square and that he/she is driving into the pushes with the back leg.Also ensure that the goalie has a proper butterfly technique with pads and stick flush to the ice and the arms to the side cover the "funnel" area. Note: the stick can be tilted backward, but must be in fron and on the ice.Lastly, ensure that the goalie is recovering with the proper leg(the push leg)

2. Pretzel Recovery Drill 📷I feel that there are two basic goaltending skills that most goalies lack when we work with them at camps and during private lessons: 1. staying square and 2. recovery.  The Pretzel Drill will certainly help you begin to recover to your feet and into position a whole lot faster.  Work at it! Pretzel Recovery Drill Drill Explanation:

Goalie begins from the basic stance position.Goalie then goes into a three step continuous process of recovering from three different positions:1. Full Butterfly2. Diving Poke Check3. On backStep 1, Goalie goes into fuller butterfly for a split second then immediately recovers.  Recover using one leg at a time and recover using the alternate leg each repetion.(This will help butterfly slide recovery.)Step 2, Goalie performs a diving poke check and immediately recovers.Step 3, Goalie lies down on the back and then immediately recovers to basic stance.Drill should be done three times in a row and the goalie should not pause between steps.

Technical Keys:

This drill works on the goalie's recovery.Make sure that the goalie is always performing technically solid butterflies and that he/she is recovering from the back with the proper technique shown.

3. Circuit Drill (Cap Raeder) 📷This is a drill that I have done for years and am passing it along to our goalies.  Cap Raeder does it at his camps and it encompasses most of the moves a goalie will make in a game.  Of course, you can always add moves to it, but I wouldn't suggest taking any maneuvers out of it. Cap Raeder's Circuit Drill

6 drill circuit that includes:1.) Post to post shuffles (10)2.) Shate Saves ( 2 each side)3.) Poke Checks (6; 2 jab, 2 regular, 2 diving)4.)Half Butterflies (2 each side)5.) Behind net to stop puck (2 each side)6.) 2 Pad Stacks (2 each side)Goalie begins from the basic stance position.Goalie pushes to one side then the other post to post ten (10) time, keeping solid technical form (elbows on outside of posts, skates on inside of posts, stick on ice during movement).Goalie then goes to top of crease and continues the circuit by completing skate saves, poke checks, half butterflies, going behind the net to stop the puck, and 2 pad stacks.The goalie must get set into the basic stance before each and every movement and goalie must perform each save with technical precision.  Do not try for speed, try for technically sound movements!

4. Alphabet Crease Movements 📷There really is no excuse for not doing these movements every single time you have the opportunity to step on the ice.  I would even suggest that you do them as a part of your pre-game warm up.  Again, you can always add, but I discourage you from subtracting any moves from this repertoire. Alphabe Crease Movements Drill Explanation:

5 drill circuit that includes:1.) The "Y" (breakaways)2.) The "W" (Byron Dafoe Drill)3.) The "Z"4.) The Arc Shuffle5.) Zig-Zag T-Push and/or Shuffle1. Goalie begins on a post, then T-pushes to the top of the crease, stops, “c” cuts to just below the first hash mar, skates straight backward to top of crease again, pivots to the boards and uses his/her momentum to push to the opposite post. Variations: standing, butterfly slide, 2 pad stack.2. Goalie begins on a post, “c” cuts toward face-off dot, stops, skates straight backward to post using glove or knob of stick to indicate position in the net, pushes in to T-push to top of crease, stops, pushes with back diagonal T-push to opposite post, “c” cuts toward face-off dot, stops, skates straight back to post. Repeat.Note that there are many more crease movement drills, but these are the five that the Goalie Academy believes are essential to do as part of your daily routine! Always perform drills technically well.  Lead with and keep stick on the ice!3. Goalie begins on a post, then long shuffles post to post, T-pushes diagonally toward the far face-off dot to the top of the crease, stops on the lead foot, then T-pushes again across the top of the crease in position facing the far face off dot, stops using the lead foot.4. Goalie begins on a post, then shuffles to the top of the crease facing near face-off dot, sets, shuffles in an arc around the top of the circular crease to the far face-off dot position, then shuffles back to the far post staying square to the boards.5. Goalie starts on a post, then T-pushes toward opposite face-off dot, stops on lead foot, T-pushes diagonally out again, and repeats four or five times. Goalie then pivots back and T-pushes back the way he/she came. Variation, use long shuffle.

In conclusion, most youth organizations are run by volunteers, the majority of whom have little playing and coaching experience in general, let alone any experience at the position of goalie.  Some organizations have appropriately sought the assistance of a knowledgeable goalie coach, but most are still forced to leave the goalies at the mercy of the shooters with little extra help provided.  Thus, in place of a goalie coach (something that really can't be replaced), we are providing coaches and goalies with these drills that goalies can perform on their own.  Again, these drills should be performed on a regular basis, because these few drills encompass most of the saves and movements goalies will make throughout the course of any game.  Make sure that these drills are also performed in a technically sound way and not for speed or just to say that you did them.  The goalie will help himself/herself much more if they first learn to make every move and save correctly, before doing the repetitions at a faster pace for conditioning purposes.  For more advanced goalies, the Circuit Drill is especially good for conditioning. Best of luck with the drills and as always, if you have any questions, please contact us at

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