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Examining the Benefits of a Looser Hip Butterfly

Examining the Benefits of a Looser Hip Butterfly

Corey Wogtech presents a better alternative to the high-hip butterfly in the latest InGoal Magazine.

Corey Wogtech presents a better alternative to the high-hip butterfly in the latest InGoal Magazine.

When you think of a goaltender down on their knees in the butterfly, especially in more of a blocking situation, what is the image that first comes to mind?

For many, the stereotypical picture involves a goalie with their knees together and hips held high, shoulders back – maybe even lifted – with the arms extended down the sides. We tend to think of this idea as being tall in the down stance, making yourself “big” to take up as much vertical space as possible.

There are certainly times when this stereotyped image may represent the ideal down stance, but should it be the default? Is it still ideal for butterfly situations in tight?

Goaltending coach Corey Wogtech of W Goaltending doesn’t think so.

Wogtech, a former NCAA coach whose work this summer includes extensive on-ice work with new Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Dan Ellis in Omaha and lockout sessions with Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Peter Budaj in Colorado, presented what he believes is a better option in the January edition of InGoal Magazine. After reading through Wogtech’s list of advantages and disadvantages of that steretyped upright butterfly versus a lower, looser-hip butterfly, it’s hard to argue.

Corey Wogtech New Block Article Tease

The stereotyped upright, high-hipped butterfly used here by Ilya Bryzgalov is a restrictive save selection.

Among the benefits of loose hips explained in detail by Wogtech are:

1. Un-extended Arms that aren’t locked in at the elbows and leave the goalie with the ability to make a secondary reach.

2. Softer Rebounds created by softer seams around the hips, knees, elbows, and arms.

3. A Wider Butterfly because physiologically loose hips lessen the strain on a goalie’s knee, hip, and ankle joints.

4. The Ability to “Liquefy” or spread out, both downward and outward without opening holes.

5. The Ability to Lean or Shift while also driving the shoulders forward and towards the puck.

Wogtech explains each benefit – and outlines the corresponding negatives of the stiffer, more upright blocking butterfly – in further detail in the article, which includes illustrations showing samples of NHL goaltenders using both.

You can read the entire article in the current edition of the Magazine.

Then go back to the previous edition of InGoal Magazine to read Wogtech’s article on progressive repetition, which included a video demonstration from Ellis.

And also be sure to check out W Goaltending’s website and the sample video below for more information on their three-part DVD series, with innovative 3-D graphics, game footage, split-screen examples, correct and incorrect boxes, as well as multiple camera angles:

Corey Wogtech presents a better alternative to the high-hip butterfly in the latest InGoal Magazine.

Corey Wogtech presents a better alternative to the high-hip butterfly in the latest InGoal Magazine.

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  1. Steve McKichan

    Maybe for 6’3″ NHL goaltenders it could be a save selection to insert in their game.

    Any kid playing minor hockey should avoid this like the plague because of poor aerial angle coverage.

    It is described as a block which is applied in non reactive situations.

    Teaching this to a kid is ill advised from physiological and geometry point of view.

  2. Gary

    I’ve seen this just recently from my nephew at a PeeWee level game and I find this type of goalie coaching to be very dangerous to their development. Teaching this to a young goalie does nothing for their reactions or speed it just relies on playing the averages. My Nephew leaves most of the upper part of the net open has his gloves only 12″ off the ice and in this very compact postion has no chance at making a save if the puck moves left or right. This also does not help with learning to find the puck through a crowd as it relies on being just a blocker. This system has made him very passive and non reactive. This style is simaler to all of hockey we are teaching our kids systems and making them robots instead of teaching them to read the game and react to it. Yes this might not have a immediate effect on the wins collum but in the long run the development of the player will be better.

  3. Josh Steel

    Steve is right, Corey has suffered a temporary lapse of reason on this theory. I encourage softening hips and knee flexing to absorb pucks in the pants or lower body, but if you are already bottom to ankles in your b-fly, you have very limited choices on movement from there.
    I disagree with pt 1. because a high upper body provides an opportunity to move your stick in front of your pads to “protect your pads” for better rebound placements. Elbows to ribs is a hole proof blocking pose.
    Pt 2 is correct, but even more effective with absorption collapses from upright.
    Pt 3 is partially correct. You can be wider in your flare with bottom to ankles, but only compared to the static pose. You can increase flare to the right or left from the high position (and much further) in reaction to the puck. The anatomical/physiological data regarding strain to the joints is absolutely incorrect.
    Pt 4 is true, but that is the only “next” option available to a goalie that far back and compacted. Melt and flail.
    Pt 5 goes back to anatomical issues again and is false, and begs the question of whether is it easier to adjust the upper body position from the upright or collapsed position.

    Finally, I want to be able to freeze in front of as many layers as possible. In front of my pads behind my blocker. Pucks that drop off of a collapsed upper body fall behind the pads and require that the goalie melt to his but to freeze. BAD/Riskly FORM.

    Steve’s point about younger kids is spot on as well. This is a system of blocking that is counter to a good developmental and progressive model.

  4. Kevin Woodley

    It would appear there are two or three issues here guys, two of which are on us at InGoal: 

    1. the title “New Block” was our mistake. While this is a situation-specific save selection used best in tight, the point of the article is more about the benefits of softening the hips. And while the argument about kids and aerial coverage has some merit, it’s also worth pointing out that in the actual article and in the photos used in the magazine of goalies like Carey Price, this does not necessarily also mean losing an upright chest. It’s also worth pointing out that while perhaps not defined clearly enough, “in tight” mitigates this need for high hips and excess vertical coverage. 

    2. Our use of photos was not great, especially the presentation of Pavelec as an “old” and “new.” It was far from ideal and, along with the above-mentioned title, appears to have left an impression we were asking goalies to make all “blocking” saves in this manner. But even if Pavelec is the only photo you looked at (and it is the lowest the hips get in any of the photos we used) this is still not a “butt to ice” softening of the hips, and at no point in the article was that listed.

    Both of which bring us to:

    3. This may again be InGoal’s fault, but the article on this page, above, is not the entire article. If you only saw these 2 photos you missed others of Price and Rinne and Bishop that further spoke to the points being made about the hips.
    For anyone to comment without reading the actual article from the magazine in its entirety — and frankly some of these comments are so off that is the only assumption I am left with — would be just as unfair as me taking your limited comments and making broad based statements as a result. If i were to do so i could conclude some are arguing for creating locked-in, high-hip, puck-blocking robots and I don’t think that is the case.

    Again, this was about softening the hips and the benefits of doing so as opposed to the stiffer high hips, arms locked at the side technique that has become synonymous with “blocking” and criticized for overuse in inappropriate situations, especially at younger ages — often in the name of “making yourself big,” which is ironic given some of the comments above. In fact, at least one of the comments appears to be criticizing “blocking” and therefore this article because the word “block” was used in it, without any understanding or realization this actually is a way to mitigate some of the negative effects of relying too frequently and heavily on the other, more locked-in technique, which tends to lead to a stiffer, more rigid initial save.

    I will leave any specific points to Corey should he choose or have time to respond, but apologize to him and you if the headlines and photo use caused confusion.

    Appreciate the feedback, it will help more definitively frame, outline and illustrate part 2, which from my understanding will provide the biggest benefits of this softer hip butterfly and the increased secondary movements from it

    Kevin Woodley

  5. Corey Wogtech

    Steve, Gary, and Josh

    Obviously a goaltender’s size and ability level must be taken into consideration before deciding whether this, or any technique for that matter, is appropriate for their level of play.

    The third paragraph clearly states that this was not meant to replace higher hip blocking techniques; it’s simply an advantageous alternative when the puck is in tight.

    “In tight” implies that the aerial angle is dramatically steeper than anywhere else on the ice. Which means that it can be covered, actually more efficiently, with the use of forward hands and/or shoulders.

    A “block” in my opinion refers to a goalie’s attempt to cover geometrical space, most appropriately before or during a pucks release. That is opposed to reacting to a pucks flight by adjusting any or all body parts after it has already been released. There are no “non reactive situations”; there are simply smaller allotments of time. Once any goalies perceived reaction time dips below the situations time allotment, they tend to block. Since this article addresses “in tight” shots, it implies limited time allotment, hence the need to fill space with a “blocking” mentality while still remaining loose in the hips, which provides react ability if so desired.

    The purpose of this article was meant to introduce the advantages of loose hips. The article in no way implies that a goaltender should sit “way down”, and it does not imply that they should lower their shoulders in any way. The degree of hip looseness, and in effect the height of the shoulders should depend on the situation itself. A goaltender’s size, not his age, is obviously a contributing factor in any situation.

    Taller goalies will noticeably cover higher net space while still being able to sit a bit lower in their butterfly; where as a shorter goaltender would benefit less from the same degree of hip looseness. None of that however has anything to do with the unmistakable advantages which unlocking the hips can offer. The degree of use must obviously be tailored to a goalies size and the pucks proximity to the net.

    To say that a minor hockey goalie “should avoid this like the plague” is to imply that there’s no possible advantage for them, which is incorrect. They, along with their goalie coaches must simply police the degree of usage. It has the potential to increase their reactivity and geometrical intelligence, not the opposite.

    As I stated in the content, this is a two-part article. The second article will help clarify the true reason for introducing this topic; which is how loosening the hips can be advantageous before (article 1, initial save), and during (article 2, post save) an in tight situation that requires down movement to a rebound.

  6. Steve McKichan

    I respectfully disagree.

    Having taught minor hockey goalies for 30 years, the overwhelming majority of minor hockey goalies could be better served and more accurately coached with a skill or save selection that applies them more effectively.

    There would be such a narrow use for a fully physically undeveloped youth that time spent in this area would be better served with something more prudent and applicable to bigger areas of concern in an average minor hockey goaltender.

    Even though you don’t normally comment on these types of things, I appreciate the fact you attempted to elaborate on your reasoning.

    As you are relativly new to goalie coaching may I pass on some advice. Continue to create great articles that are VERY clear to which level goalie the topic applies.

    Since numerous people have commented on it speaks to the confusion of age group application.

    You have great material are a great asset to to goalie coaching. Keep up the good work.

  7. Gary


    Thank you very much for your clearification on the subject, your statement of “They, along with their goalie coaches must simply police the degree of usage” is the most acurate staement. My nephew goes to a goalie scholl and without follow up on the ice this is new system is not taugh in game situations.

    I’m in favour of teaching the basics and working on their reactions but kids are getting taught to be too technical too early in their hockey. Too many coaches trying to be Scotty Bowmen!!

    Thank you again.