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Effective Paddle Down Usage

This guest post is by John Alexander of Alexander Goaltending in Moncton, NB. To learn more about working with John visit

Bernier Paddle Down

Manchester goalie Jonathan Bernier goes paddle-down against Springfield. Photo by Scott Slingsby

Although the common, “paddle down” position can be extremely effective tool for the goaltender, in many cases it is misused or used at inappropriate times. For the most part, what goaltenders fail to appreciate is that “paddle down” is, in fact, a position or a maneuver and not a “save movement.”

As such, to be truly effective, the goaltender should attempt to be in a “paddle down” position prior to the shot and not be moving into the position as the shot approaches. Otherwise, there is potential for the puck to go through the goaltender as he/she moves the paddle down to the ice surface or, to mishandle rebounds off the shot leaving them in a vulnerable position.

Because “paddle down” position exposes the top portion of the net more than any other, there are just a few situations where this position is effective. And, only where the play is tight to the net. However, as a bonus, “paddle down” does offer compactness and width of coverage

Generally “paddle down” will be most effective when:

a. there will be little or no time to respond or react to the impending shot or deflection

b. it will be impossible to “read” the trajectory of the shot

So, now, from the information above, we can determine that “paddle down” is best used in the following game situations:

1. scrambles or “scrums” which occur in close proximity to the crease

2. in-tight deflection situations

3. on certain point shots into near screens where there is absolutely no puck visibility.

In the case of the point shot with a near screen, I suggest “paddle down” as a last resort and strongly suggest it only be used when there will be absolutely no opportunity to find the puck through the screen. The alternate course of action here is to attempt to track the release of the puck and use a butterfly position to gain as much net coverage as possible.

One excellent example of effective “paddle down” usage in today’s game is in anticipation of a wraparound to the blocker side. Here, the goaltender will move laterally as the puck is carried behind the net, and, while integrating the blocker side leg to the post on that side, effectively sealing off low access to the net, he drops his blocker and stick outside the post and squares the stick to the puck release.

Finally, remember, the “paddle down” position restricts and slows mobility; use it wisely!

Editors Note:

I sent John a few questions as a follow up to this article – things that I have wondered personally or expect others might want to know. Here they are with his responses:

inGoal: What advantage does paddle-down offer over a standard butterfly which seems to have width, and with modern pads that easily close the 5-hole – a very good seal on the lower part of the net, while of course providing better coverage of the upper art of the net?

JA: The primary advantage is that pucks just don’t rebound as far off the paddle, as they do with the stick blade or pads. Basically, they stay within easy reach and coverage distance.

inGoal: You note “uncertain trajectory” but given how paddle down diminishes coverage of the upper half of the net, does this not make it effective only on very close in shots – say from within a few feet?

JA: Absolutely….paddle down is most effective when the point of release, the screen or deflection is very tight to the crease.

Kipper Post Leg Up

Kipper working his pre-game routines.

inGoal: It does seem effective on the wraparound – why select this position vs. the currently in vogue hybrid position of post leg up and non-post leg along the goal line?

JA: We don’t see the VH (vertical/horizontal) or leg up/leg down position on that side because it is simply too difficult to move into with any degree of speed on the blocker side and speed is of the essence on an accelerated wraparound.  Most times, the blocker and stick get in the way.  In fact, I now see, few goaltenders use it at all on the blocker side.   Even on the glove side, it is difficult to set up with good compact coverage.   That particular maneuver was never intended to be used for wraparounds.  Its primary purpose was to deal with attacks along/below the goal line from about 15’ and closer to the post.

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