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Preparing to Handle Far Pad Rebound Shots

Preparing to Handle Far Pad Rebound Shots
Dallas Stars goaltender makes a save on a shot off the far pad that was intended to generate a backdoor rebound. (Photo by Clint Trahan/InGoal)

This was a sharper angle attempt, but Dallas Stars goaltender makes a save on a shot off the far pad that was intended to generate a rebound for a player driving backdoor.
(Photo by Clint Trahan/InGoal)

A puck-carrier rushes down his natural wing. The goaltender comes out establishing angle, depth and squareness to the puck.

The attacker releases a shot to the goaltender’s weak-side pad resulting in a rebound directed towards the slot. Anticipating a rebound, a net-driving attacker shoots the puck in the back of the net for an easy goal.

The goaltender is blamed for poor rebound control.

This set play is a classic scenario with which goaltenders at all levels of the game should be familiar.

It is a play astute coaches teach players specifically for the purposes of generating solid scoring opportunities.

There are things required for this play to have the desired outcome from both the shooter’s, and goaltender’s perspective.

For the shooter to be successful in generating the desired rebound, it is preferable the shot at the weak-side pad is slightly off the ice. This makes it difficult for a goaltender to employ the goal stick to deflect the puck either to the corner, or over the glass. The angle of the shot relative to goaltender position also plays a role in the type of rebound generated.

From the goaltender’s perspective, there are two different factors to consider:

1. If the puck is shot along the ice, the goaltender must deflect the puck to the corner or over the glass as noted.

2. If the shot is taken slightly off the ice, a certain combination of hip abduction and knee extension is required to create a desirable puck “exit angle” off the pad. The unwanted rebound usually occurs as a result of excessive knee extension like a pinball game flipper directing the puck towards the slot. Training is required to prevent this from happening and it can be practiced in a progressive fashion (please see last year’s “Developing more Progressive Goaltending Drills” article).

shoot for rebound drillA basic drill would see the goaltender in his stance at the top of the blue paint. A stationary shooter positioned at the top of the circle, would take shots at the weak-side pad both along, and off, the ice. This forces the goaltender to both use their stick and practice the correct combination of hip and knee movements.

In either case, the stick is rotated on an arc towards the weak-side pad in an effort to make the save.

If missed by the stick, the pad is naturally there as a back-up to ensure the puck doesn’t enter the net (n.b., it is the author’s sincere belief that as many saves as possible should be stick-based and that poor stick skills results in many unnecessary pad-based rebounds by far too many goaltenders).

An exit-angle pylon is positioned on the weak side as illustrated in the diagram. This provides immediate visual feedback about the desired outcome result.

A more difficult drill involves a puck-carrier beginning a rush just outside the blue-line.

Upon reaching the top of the circle, a shot is released at the weak-side pad. A second (stationary) shooter, positioned in the slot, releases a second shot on net shortly after the initial save. Even if a desirable exit angle is achieved with the initial shot, a second shot forces the goalie to practice the mechanics of pivoting, pushing and sliding laterally in an effort to make a secondary save. An option exists to always release a second shot on goal, or solely when a favorable exit angle is not achieved off the first shot. The increased difficulty requires a certain amount of pre-requisite skill, physical power and maturity.

A very difficult drill involves a competition between goaltender and teammates.

A total of ten pucks are used. A puck-carrier rushes in and releases the initial shot as described above. A second attacker begins his rush slightly after that of the initial skater. Regardless of the first puck exits angle, the second shot is ALWAYS released slightly after the initial shot. The goaltender may earn zero, one or two points off either shot.

If either shot results in a goal, the shooters receive two points and the goaltender zero.

The goaltender receives two points for a favourable exit angle below the pylon off the first shot. If the initial shot results in a poor exit angle save, both goaltender and shooter receive one point only. If the second shot is saved, with an undesirable first shot result, the goalie earns a single point. Finally, if the second shot is saved after a favorable first shot outcome, the goaltender receives two points for the second shot. A total of twenty points is therefore the ultimate goal for all participants.

The scoring system rewards goals and juicy rebounds from the shooters perspective. Even if the first shot is saved, the goalie is punished for poor rebound control. Only saves with excellent rebound control are rewarded with maximum points.

In conclusion, shooting off a goaltender’s weak-side pad is a classic scenario used to generate a favorable rebound and hopefully a goal. Inadequate hip abduction with excessive knee extension often results in the desired rebound propelling the puck towards the slot. Goaltenders must therefore not only be familiar with this play, but work to refine muscle memory for the combined movements of the knee and hip to produce less dangerous rebounds of the pads.

With dedication this can be done but as always it’s about practice, practice and more practice.

shoot for rebound drill

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. John Blando

    I don’t understand goaltenders today either..When I played, a goalie’s best friend was his stick..Nobody poke-checks anymore.. They don’t stop the puck from behind the net, or stop passes across the crease..The modern goalie doesn’t stand up to hold the post..It seems a lot of goals are scored on the short side over a prone goalie’s shoulder now..

  2. DSM

    Very true. It’s amazing how many people think blocking a pass from behind the net to the slot is a “great play.” This indicates how rarely most skaters see this today. I come from an era where an active stick and remaining on your feet as much as practical is desirable. I chuckle when people say that the way I play is amazing or advanced, when such techniques were so common when I was coming up in the 90s.

  3. Mike B

    I am a goaltender that came up in the 80’s and now coach at the Bantam level. The best goalies, I think, play a hybrid reaction type game. Many young goalies go right into butterfly on a centering pass only to have the puck fly over their shoulder and in. I try to teach them meet the shooter on their feet, when practical, and make the save. If they have to drop to their knees then they can recover using butterfly methods, very efficient. This article does address something I have been working on because these rebounds are very hard to control in the butterfly, an active stick is the key to these types of save and deflections.

  4. Magnus Olsson

    Why not use a straight stickblade? Gives the goalie a “larger blade” and it´s also easier to put it flat on the ice.
    Today many goalies want the coolest stick with the most exciting curve but think about it…
    Their excuse is – I can´t stickhandle with a straight blade! If you can stop all the pucks behind the net and leave it to your D-man you are a pretty strong stickhandler in my opinion. The goal with stick -handling is to keep the puck within your own team. With a little practice you can also put in high on the glass if you really need to. If you really don´t want a straight blade then use a heel-curve. Pretty close to a straight blade but you get the benefits of a straight blade as well.
    Young goalies should focus on stopping dump-ins and understand what to do with the puck instead of trying to clear the zone like Hextall 🙂

  5. Paul

    The reason goalies don’t poke check anymore is because you open up too many holes. Once you commit to a poke check there’s no recovery (you are now out of position) and players can move the puck so fast with all their fancy moves that you’re better off to take your chances on staying with the player and taking up as much net as possible.
    I agree that an active stick is a great way to prevent passes to the front of the net, which is something I always try to do.
    The stand up thing is a hard one cause older goalies got beat down low alot and now goalies are getting beat up high. I’d say if the shooter can hit the net in that smaller section over my shoulder, he deserves to score.

    • Joe Feeney

      THis is not right! You do not open any more space than if you are trying to go down into a butterfly, and depending upon how you poke, may even have less open space. Also, the idea is to take away time and space, the stick flying out does both! This is not the half hearted butterfly effect poke where you keep the hand at the shoulder then push forward, but a full out stick extension to the top of the handle. When done well it is a most effective play and save.

      As for older goalies getting beat low, the skates and stick were covering low and there was plenty covering high, with arms, torso, gloves etc. to get shots up top. No one style is the way to cover the net, hence TOny Esposito and Glen Hall were successful at the same time Bernie Parent and Jaques Plante were successful.

  6. Ocrouth

    I agree a poke check is to risky you give up so much ne and if you miss it’s a goal. If you make a slight mistake when your not poke checking it is an easy recover. When you poke check a slight mistake turns into a goal.

  7. nick

    Stand up is pretty outdated
    But i do agree most of the kids i get seem to think that the butterfly technique is the only save selection they have, even worse, most tend to come to me only using a blocking butterfly technique.
    In my opinion its just the coaching they get from the very start, most know nothing about contending so its just
    “make yourself look big, leave no holes”

    Getting a kid to go from a blocking to reacting butterfly is a painful process.
    But that’s why we do what we do