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Goaltender-Specific Skating Series: Drill 7 of 20

Goaltender-Specific Skating Series: Drill 7 of 20

Drill 7DRILL 7: Cross-Crease T-push

As with most the of these basic pattern skating drills the goaltender begins with goalpost integration of his choice. Upon command, the goaltender turns his head in the direction in which the puck and play is moving.

Once again, the goaltender leads with the hands and the stick and the torso is leaning into the T-push.  The goaltender will square up and come to a complete stop.

When coming across the crease, it’s important that the goaltender move on a curved line – “coming through the middle” – as opposed to a straight one. This is based on the fundamental principles of establishing angle, depth and squareness to the puck.

The most important of these three critical save components is angle. If the goaltender establishes the correct angle as soon as possible, the possibility of making the save always exists.

Hence, the curved path through the middle of the crease first establishes angle and then depth as the goalie advanced towards the top of the blue paint. Hopefully, with angle and depth established, the goaltender is square to the puck to maximize net coverage.

Subsequent to stopping at the perimeter of the crease, a pivot is performed and the goaltender returns to the post from hence he began. This T-push is executed on a straight line as if a shot had been taken with the puck now being in the opposite corner from where the goalie had stopped at the edge of the crease.

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. Steve McKichan

    Which line is shorter? The curved one or the straight one?

    If you absolutely need to get to the final target the quickest which path is shorter?

    Which path prevents a shot back against the grain?

    Which path forces the shooter to hit only one side of the net?

    • Paul Ipolito

      Is this a trick question?. I’m going with the “straight ” line. I seem to remember someone saying the shortest distance between two points is a straight line

    • Isaac L

      the straight line is shorter, but you’re missing the point – it’s not just about getting from A to B, it’s about getting the proper angle and depth. A curved path sets that angle as quickly as possible (i.e. gets the goalie directly on the line between the puck and the middle of the net) and then builds depth so that you get closer to the puck and effectively larger. Maybe a straight path is the more direct route but it’s not ideal because as you’re getting there, you leave the far side of the net open. Going on the curve path fills the center of the net (where a shot is likely heading) and then gets you bigger to take up more of the corners.

  2. Paul Ipolito

    Do my eyes fail me (yet again) or is the young man skating a straight line across the crease? I honestly do not see a curved path.

    • Cam

      Watch his lead foot – it does follow a curved path to the desired location

  3. Steve McKichan

    I like what hertz is doing here with these very valuable drills. However, I have a difference of opinion regarding what he is teaching which is outlined below.

    Getting to your Final Target Position

    In an ideal world every goalie will arrive at their target position early with perfect depth for the situation, perfect squareness to the puck, proper stance depth and with feet set. Of course this is not reality. Many times we arrive late, we aren’t set when we get there and perhaps we might not even have the experience or knowledge to know where our actual optimal target is. In fact, the highest percentage of the time a goalie has tons of time to chose their final target and “panic movement to acquire their target” is rare unless the goalie has zero play reading (intelligent anticipation) skills.

    In “Essential Goaltending” I discussed angle play with some degree of completeness but I now feel compelled to help correct some well intentioned, but ill advised current teaching that doesn’t pass the smell test.

    You will find the specific issue mentioned here as well as decent crease photo showing the two paths.

    Goaltender-Specific Skating Series: Drill 7 of 30 – The Goalie Magazine –

    Let’s start with some definitions to set the table:

    A) Center First – Teaching a goalie to move to the center of an angle first then once there begin to gain depth. The belief is getting in the middle of the shooting triangle early is the default approach on every crease movement and gives you the best chance to make saves. I will provide argument below why this is flawed as a “go to” approach.

    B) Depth/ Angle Simultaneously – Teaching a goalie to arrive at their final target while acquiring depth and centering at the same time.

    Here we go:

    1) As we are taught in Geometry 101, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Moving from your post as seen in the linked article in a straight line will get you to that target faster. Simple and impossible to debate.
    2) Moving in a curved manner has two problems. One is that it is a longer path and all things being equal, you will arrive at your target slower than if you chose a straight path. Two, is movement inertia. If your mass is thrown to the middle of the angle and then out to gain depth it requires you to slightly slow the east – west movement so that it can be transitioned in a depth gain. This also slows the final target acquisition.
    3) Grabbing the middle first is the way to go in very rare instances. In my opinion, this rarity means you shouldn’t practice this type of movement at the expense of the type of target acquisition you will be using 98 % of the time.
    I always teach proportional training. Train yourself in the areas required, as they would occur in a game. For example, you don’t practice breakaways for 58 minutes of a 60 minute practice. In the case of center first, you would only ever use it on a play where you were caught sleeping and had no time to challenge because the play surprised you. Or perhaps, in a loose puck scramble where you desperately need to fill space. Center first crease movements should be reserved for the rare “Desperation” situations.

    4) Center first creates the possibility of a shot “back against the grain”. Since you jump to the middle of the net first and you may not have gained depth yet, the shot back to the side you left is now certainly available and as you all know a shot against the grain is much tougher than moving in to a shot.

    5) Center first makes you make two decisions in a panic situation. By simply gaining the middle without depth now both sides of you are available as shooting options. If in some fantasy you were able to react to a shot, you would now have to explode an appendage left or right. A decision, which is unlikely in those, panicked milliseconds.

    By attacking in a straight line to get to your target you effectively prevent the “against the grain shot” and you know which side of you the puck must go to. In effect you are riding the hypotenuse of the triangle. If they shoot back against the grain it will miss the net.
    I know from my experience, that if I know which side of the net a player has to hit, I have a chance on it.

    6) The one very crucial thing the “center first” group neglects to mention is the aerial angle. Jumping to the middle doesn’t improve your aerial angle leaving you susceptible to elevated shots as well if you are caught deep before you were able to gain depth.

    In summary, grabbing angle and depth simultaneously is the only logical way to handle 98% of crease target acquisitions as it takes away aerial and lateral space (angles) while forcing a shooter into a predictable side of the net in a very dangerous scoring chance.

    If an athlete has even a modicum of skating ability and ability to “connect the dots” they will overwhelmingly have enough time to get where the need to be without this wasted movement.

    Center first should only be used in the very rare chaos / panic situations and should never be practiced as the default way to move around the crease.

    • Steve McKichan

      Pretty simple Paul…….

      “Get your butt to the top of the crease in a straight line”

      That is why I get paid the big $……… : )

    • Steve McKichan


      Do you have any detailed opinion to refute or agree with either side in this discussion?

  4. Joe Feeney

    The skating drills are definitely good, and the debate on the “Curved” attack of getting angle then depth, I fall on the straighter line side. The argument from Steve Mc Kichan is very logical and makes for positive placement of where the shot has to go to be effective most of the time. One item I’d like to bring out is these skating skills are more important to the “Hybred” goalie, or more of a stand up style. THere is a push of the “Butterfly” style and this has been to the deficit of many goaltenders and their development and playing ability.

    Look at the playoffs and you will see that there were 2 game winning goals in the Rangers- Canadiens series where the goalie was going down into the butterfly and the goal ant over him. ONe was over the right blocker, and would have hit his arm/ shoulder, another went over his left shoulder. THe job is to stop the puck from going into a 4×6 foot target. You can look ugly, just keep it out.

    • Tomas Hertz, MD, BA

      The “Butterfly” is grossly over used just like reverse V-H. There needs to be balance in a goaltender’s game. I my opinion goaltenders need to remain on the feet and demonstrate greater patience !!