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Active Glove: “Kipper Catch” Versus Body Cradling

Active Glove: “Kipper Catch” Versus Body Cradling

The “Kipper catch” is a technique some goalies may not be acquainted with, or perhaps they just know it by another name.

It simply involves rotating the trapper and bringing it across the front of the body to catch pucks, almost like a baseball player catches a ball. Using your glove in this fashion is something commonly attributed to European goaltenders – and even more specifically Finnish goaltenders like Nashville Predators star Pekka Rinne – because these goalie’s hands are more active compared to their North America counterparts.

When I initially learned this technique many years ago, it was taught simply as the “Kipper Catch,” which naturally suggests a link to former Calgary Flames goaltender Mikka Kipprusoff. Maybe this was linked to Kiprusoff’s habit of turning over the trapper even before making more routine saves on the glove side, or perhaps it was simply his tendency to also play with more active gloves. While we’re not aware of the specific link to the quiet Finnish stopper, the name stuck. There are a lot of reasons the technique should stick too:

First, however, let’s look at the usual alternative. The standard technique for retaining a puck shot at a goalie’s torso is referred to as “body cradling,” and is demonstrated from a standing position in this first video segment:

Timing and coordination are critical to cradling the puck correctly.

The blocking glove must be out of the way allowing the puck to hit the goaltender’s chest or abdomen. The goalie generally forms a concave angle at the waist (hence “concaving”) to absorb the puck’s force. The trapping glove is brought over the torso in a timely fashion, as the puck makes contact with the goalie, to prevent a rebound. The eyes track the puck all the way in and the head ends in a flexed position.

The naturally question is what is the advantage of the Kipper Catch over traditional cradling and puck retention?

The key factor with the Kipper Catch is that it can leave the goaltender with easier-to-execute options than with traditional cradling. Just like cradling, it prevents any rebounds and can force a face-off if desired. Some goalies may feel more comfortable playing the puck in this fashion, particularly if they have a background in baseball (just ask Rinne, who grew up playing Pesäpallo, the Finnish equivalent to American baseball).

Furthermore, the occasional shot to the blocker side can be caught with the trapper. Conventional teaching states the trapper should really not cross the body’s mid-line, and for the most part this makes sense, but under the right circumstances exceptions exist for a goaltender that is comfortable catching pucks across their body.

Another option that opens up with the Kipper Catch is to quickly get up and place the puck at the side of the net for a defenseman and a quick breakout opportunity. This is a possibility if, subsequent to a shot on net, a face-off is not forced by the opponent or the shot was taken some distance from the net. The extra distance gives the goaltender time to get up and keep the play alive.

The goaltender may wish to drop the puck to the ice immediately and position the puck with the stick to the side of the net or keep the puck in the trapper. Keeping the puck in the trapper allows greater freedom of movement while maintaining complete control of the play.

A final option, under the correct circumstances, is for the goaltender to play the puck himself. The puck is easily dropped to the ice and a pass, or a clearing shot off the boards or glass, can be made quickly. This can be advantageous to a team’s transitional game. These different options can also be executed with traditional cradling, but that arguably requires more physical moves and time.

At the end of the day, most coaches, goalie coaches and scouts now want to see more active hands from the puck stoppers they watch and work with. The Kipper Catch is simply an extension of that philosophy, one that takes it to a bit of an extreme by taking the glove to the other side of the body.

On the ice, start developing this technique from the butterfly position and have adequate distance from the student to allow for visual tracking development. Then progress to dropping to the butterfly from a standing position and, ultimately, create different scenarios to increase goaltender confidence with a variety of situations that may be encountered during competition.

About The Author

Tomas Hertz, MD BA

Tomas Hertz has been a contributing author to InGoal Magazine since 2010. He operated  "No Holes, No Goals Goaltending" in Kingston, Ontario for a decade and worked with developing goalies in the G.K.M.H.A. and K.A.M.H.A. He remains active as a timekeeper in the O.M.H.A. - O.W.H.A., the O.J.H.L. (Kingston Voyageurs), and the O.U.A.A. (R.M.C. Palladins). 


  1. DSM

    As with all techniques, they’re applied in different situations. When you’re attempting to “get big” and present as much blocking surface as possible, clearly techniques like this are potentially harmful. Shots from outside or dump shots that go on goal = great idea. Baseball coaches always tell players to use both hands, so it’s advisable to keep the blocker behind the catch glove in case it dips, gets tipped at the last second etc. Trapping the shot keeps you in complete control of the situation and mandates by definition that your body is behind the shot.

  2. Ralph

    I can’t view any of the videos. I have tried through 3 different ISPs. :-[

  3. T Hertz

    It functions with Chrome!

  4. Steve S

    I teach both options and allow the goaltender to choose which option works best for him in a given situation.

  5. Rob D

    I like the rotation of the glove. I do like to teach separating the hands and having each cover half the body. If you follow the technique of using two fingers and a thumb to catch the puck you kind of accomplish a hybrid “Kipper catch”.

    By using both hands to trap a puck it causes the chest gear to bunch and contort more resulting in more lively rebounds. Depending on what kind of chest gear you wear you may have to modify your methods. Different gear leaves different rebounds at least that has been my experience after teaching for 25 years.

  6. Tyrannicide

    Both techniques have their time and place to be used.

    Unfortunately InGoalMag here doesn’t do a fair comparison. When they show the cradling the puck style, the player is firing the puck much harder than he is in the Kipper Catch video’s. Secondly, he is shooting a hell of a lot closer in the cradle video as well.

    Lets see you pull of routine kipper catches shooting from the same spot and same speed as in the first video. You cradle there as it reduces the chance of you missing the puck. It’s easy to reach across and grab floaters from outside the ringette line.

    Just for god sakes InGoalMag, if you are going to compare techniques, you have to use the same conditions, otherwise your bias just stands out like a soar thumb.

    • Rick Besharah

      I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  7. brock

    This technique should not be used. Body cradling is much easier to master. Using the so called kipper catch may create rebounds which could be easily controlled by a traditional body cradle. when moving to this costly rebound you glove is already out of position. If you have ever played a high level go hockey i.e. u13 aaa or higher where the game is faster you need to have as much time as possible to recover and make a save. Its about control and simplicity not making a highlight reel save.

  8. Tomas Hertz

    If you believe that these two techniques, whether you like them or not, should be equally employed for the same release point, then I am not sure you understand their application? The “Kipper Catch” is really not a good option when the puck is released from a point close to the goalie. It takes time to rotate the trapper and bring the arm either partially, or fully across the torso. Does it take more time than cradling the puck against the chest? Well…. that is something that could be tested on the ice?
    The addition advantage is that since the shot was taken farther from the goalie the goalie has more options like dropping the puck and moving it in transitional. The conditions are no the same and that is the point. You assume things based on your views instead of asking constructive questions. Never dismiss anything without giving it a chance. There is a time and situation for almost anything as long as it is executed properly!