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Overuse of the Butterfly Slide

I would like to introduce you today to Nik Vassilev, a junior goaltender from Toronto. Nik sent me a note asking if he could write a few articles to be published on the site. Of course I was happy to have him (and any of you!) contribute. When Nik sent me a draft with an article on technique I was pleased to see it, but warned that any technique articles are sure to create a good deal of debate – everyone has an opinion! But that is also exactly what I hope happens. A Blog is so much better if the readers interact in the comments section.

So, here is Nik’s first article. I’m sure he would love to hear from you. Please click the link at the bottom of the article to add your comments. Do you agree? Do you disagree? All opinions are valid.

Overuse of the Butterfly Slide

by Nik Vassilev


In today’s game the butterfly slide is a great tool and when used correctly and it can lead to momentum turning saves, however a new trend is emerging. The trend that is causing unnecessary goals and very bad habits: The overuse of the butterfly slide. Most goalies are beginning to think that the butterfly slide is an effective way of moving around the net to get to almost anywhere, I’ve even seen goaltenders butterfly slide from a pass from the hash marks back to the point. This isn’t the way it used to be and arguably the greatest goaltender to ever play Martin Brodeur hardly executes this move. There is a teaching that states to stay on your feet as long as you possibly can before committing yourself, unfortunately in many cases today’s goalies are being taught to go into butterfly slides almost to the point that they are eliminating T-Pushes and Shuffles.


My main concern with it is that it seems this generation’s goalies today use it to get to everywhere and anywhere. Today I was doing a private lesson with one of my goalie coaches and we had a drill that was T Push to top of left side of crease parallel to the player (player is standing at circle dot), as he makes the pass you are suppose to T Push to the other player (standing at other circle dot), however this goalie (95 birth year) was simply butterfly sliding. The problem with this is: any decent shooter will put the puck over your shoulders for an extremely easy goal. If the shooter ever has that much time to think and shoot and see’s you go into a butterfly slide you are essentially done. It’s like playing poker and revealing one of your cards, you are giving the other players an edge and by going into a butterfly slide early you are doing the same by revealing the top part of the net too early. Knowing when and where to go into a Butterfly Slide relative to the shooter is a necessity to a good game.



This article might sound like I’m against the butterfly slide and that T-Pushes and Shuffles should be used instead, but that isn’t the case at all. There are many NHL goalies that use the Butterfly Slide just about every game with great success (Fleury, Price and Lundqvist just to name a few). I think that when executed properly a Butterfly Slide is extremely effective. That is why I have developed a system of an appropriate area of where the shooter is when a Butterfly Slide should be utilized. Of course this is in no way meant to dictate how or when you should go into a butterfly slide, just an area of where the shooter is that I feel the Butterfly slide would be a good choice. I think that if the shooter is outside of that area you are making the save a lot harder on yourself. Goaltending is a game of decisions and hopefully this chart will make your butterfly slide decisions a little bit easier.

I’ll give you 2 examples of where a butterfly slide has cost a goal

Shot is blocked, goaltender goes into a butterfly slide when he should’ve got up and ends up killing all his glove side lateral momentum.

:20 in Roloson executes a Butterfly Slide that ends up putting his team behind 10 seconds into the game. They end up getting spanked 10-2

Here are 3 examples of properly executed Butterfly Slides

 1:50 Unreal save by Fleury, very well timed and great explosion into the butterfly Slide

2:48 Ty Conklin makes a great read and stays right with it.
3:41 Thomas with some great speed and snares it out of the air.

The key to deciding whether or not to butterfly slide is making a correct read in the speed/accuracy of the pass relative to where the shooter is standing. The examples show when and when not to go into a butterfly slide and this is decision making is imperative as you advance into higher and higher levels of play. The butterfly slide is a great tool for any goalie to have in his/her arsenal; however as you can see it is one when abused can lead to problematic situations. Hopefully this article has given you a guideline of how and when to properly execute a Butterfly Slide in order for you to use it when it is most effective. Thanks for reading and if you have any thoughts or comments please leave them on the bottom!

Thanks to NHLVideo and hockeyenforcer24 for their videos. Also thanks to McGuire goaltending for the first picture.

About The Author


  1. Richard St-Onge

    I read and have to agree with Nik on some points. I, being a hybrid goalie and having taught myself how to b-fly over the years, added that i am a very technical observer of any sports movement and application…it came clear to me through personal experience and through watching pro goalies as well that there is a right time to b-fly and a wrong time.

    Now, when i refer to the b-fly in this instance, i do not mean a static drop b-fly as in challenging a shot from the point and making the save. I am referring to the sliding b-fly, the recovery b-fly, the backside b-fly. When i teach the young goalies in the summer, i try to teach them logic more than just motor skills. As in the example of Niks first diagram, it would be pointless and ineffective to b-fly slide from one face-off circle to the other as you will still leave plenty of room for the shooter to re-adjust and find the post or corner. And even if you have a powerful push off of the outside leg, you still are taking yourself out of the play should the shooter pass it back to the other side…so it simply becomes a game of “ball(puck) in the middle”.

    In that instance, once you established position on the first puck carrier and the pass is made across the slot, your best bet should the pass receiver not move in, is to T-push across and establish positioning. Yet, if the second player, the pass receiver, is moving in, there is a great chance he will attempt a one-timer, in which case, you need to act quickly and logically. Your best option is to b-fly slide, after doing your c-cut, across but at an angle, meaning towards your opposite post or top corner of your crease, establishing position and maintaining a somewhat proper depth closing most angles. The move was quick and of short distance (remember, the shorter distance from point A to point B is a straight line) and of this position, you still have optimal ground to recover to the middle off a rebound or an attempted pass to the top.

    If i had video footage i’d post it, but i’m sure most experienced goalies, be it a little or alot, will have a good idea of what i mean.

    In the end, goaltending technique is only half the picture…you gotta use your smarts. Be logical and you will be effective.

  2. Phil VanV

    Nik,I think you hit every point and it’s actually been an ongoing issue with goalies since the B-Fly gained it’s popularity. I find it very interesting that at your age you caught on to one of the bigger problems goalie coaches run into. Habits that are learned wrong are very difficult to unlearn..

  3. Trevor

    Very good, well written article with strong points.

  4. Marco

    Good points all. IMHO I think skating has become less important than technique. Getting back to basics… STAY SQUARE TO THE PUCK. The only question is how do I get there the fastest? Shuffles,
    t-push, c-cut, and pivot are the keys followed by save selection. Simply get square and decide on your save selection.
    Better skating is the key to success, you have to get there first before you can make a save.

  5. Nick

    From a roller perspective, it’s incredibly difficult to butterfly slide. The best comparable move I’ve seen performed was a goalie who instructed at a camp I went to. He had the leg strength and balance to combine a t-push with a half butterfly stance and use his ‘down’ leg to continually scoot and push his ‘t’ leg … especially useful on a walkout attack from the corner.

  6. Paul 410

    Very interesting article. Our daughter’s co-ed atom level team had a tough year (lost every game). Many of the games were 10-0 to 30-2 with upwards of 90 shots (not exagerating here: we counted). Many of the players got to try goaltender position, since they were first time players. Usually, our daughter got put in goal after the first period because the kid in net was crying, feeling dejected and overwhelmed. She dubbed herself Rescue Rose. The coaches that worked with the goalies had never played hockey, let alone played goal. Therefore, the level of instruction was very poor, and we found it very frustrating. Their instruction was “just go down”, without showing how, when, where or why to. I worked with my daughter when I could, since she is very passionate about goaltending, and I play goal as well. I stayed focused on positioning and skating (t-push, shuffle, c-cuts fwd & rev). From other peoples comments, they seemed to think that many of her saves weren’t very good, because she isn’t flashy, but technical. We have just recently begun adding butterfly saves and b-slide, power-slides and crawls into her training. She is predominatly a “stand-up” goalie, while most of the other goalies in our area are “goalie-puddles”, going down and staying down almost as soon as the puck enters the defensive zone. This goalie-puddle style is being perpetuated by the philosophy that “they can’t raise anyhow.” Our local minor hockey association won’t allow me to coach the goalies because I don’t subscribe to the goalie-puddle philosophy of goaltending. I have had several people comment that stand-up style is dead and that the butterfly is the only way to play the position. After reading your article, I feel more confident in what I am teaching my daughter and other beginner goalies, as well as what I am learning. I have spent lots of time looking into proper form/ and technique because it is very difficult to break bad habits. I believe that if it takes 30 reps to learn how to do something properly the first time, it takes 3000 reps to un-learn doing something improperly. Stick down, eyes up!

  7. Katelyn Crosby

    I do agree that you shouldn’t use the butterfly slide on everything, but if you learn the skills that go with it, it is quite useful. For instance, I play on a Senior A team (18+), and during one of our recent games I had a 2-on-1 coming my way. The girl to my left passed it across to the right coming in at about the top of the circle. I butterfly slid across. While I was still sliding, she passed it back to the original girl. I knew the possibility was there, so I was ready, lifting up my right leg and pushing back the other way. I kept my body straight and my five-hole closed to make the save. And I’m a 5′ 3″ goalie.

    If these goalies want to be pure butterfly (which I personally think is dumb.. you should never commit yourself to a single style) then they at least need to learn to read the play and be able to push side to side at any moment.

    I grew up with Hasek and Cujo and Brodeur, so I started with 1/2 butterflys, kicksaves, dives, and whatever else I needed to do to stop the puck 😉 I’ve since adapted in the butterfly and moves that go with it. I’m not perfect, but I’m working on it =D

  8. GS

    The first example of the misuse of a butterfly slide..isn’t a butterfly slide at all. A matter of fact he wasn’t in a butterfly position when the goal was scored. He stuck out his leg and left a big gapping hole. No butterfly slide was even attempted by the goalie on that play.

  9. frank1

    I think Nik is spot on. Learn to thimk and not react. Winning the fight befor it has started is the way to go. As for the comment by “GS”, it was a b-fly slide to position. The goalie then went to stand up, and just screwed it it up.

  10. Alex Williams

    Hi! I have a question. If the shooter has the puck and is in one of the further areas where a butterfly slide should be executed and you have time, should a t-push be used?

    • David Hutchison

      Alex, I think most people would say that if you can beat the pass on your feet then you’ll be in a better position to make the save, and arrive under more control. So yes, t-push if you can.

  11. Alex Williams

    Okay, thanks! I have another question. If you don’t feel you can make the pass using a t push, so you butterfly slide instead and once you reach him he decides not to do a one timer and puck handles a bit instead should you get up after your slide?

  12. Ken Devine

    I’m a huge fan of the butterfly slide, but I only use it when I have to, mainly because doing it requires a decent amount of energy! But as this article mentions, some younger goalies (and even NHL goalies) use it as a primary means to move around the crease, even when there’s no threat of a shot. It’s not an issue if the extra sliding doesn’t cause fatigue, but I’ve found it to be more tiring rather than just standing up and returning to my stance. And I’m not in bad shape.


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