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Importance of Edge Control for ‘Tight Zone’ Play

Importance of Edge Control for ‘Tight Zone’ Play

Excellent edge control allows goaltenders to make critical quick, short, powerful moves.

These directional changes enable a goalie to make saves when rebounds are created in “Tight Zone” play.

The development of superior edge control naturally takes time and effort. There are different drills and ways to go about developing this component of the modern game. A few basic drills are presented here with what is hopefully a beneficial explanation.

Once the basic biomechanics of a power push, or slide, are understood and some degree of competence is established, the following line drill is commonly used to provide lots of practice to develop muscle memory and leg power.

In this drill the student begins in the down position loading the power leg. The torso is upright for vertical coverage. The stick is properly positioned for five-hole coverage [NB: It is not uncommon to watch goaltenders pushing in tight with the stick in paddle down position. This can be a very effective play. The author however does not teach this drill with such positioning].

The trapping glove is held open and in front of the body. Upon command, the goalie pushes on a repetitive basis from the goal-line, to blue-line and back. It is important that proper form is maintained. If form cannot be maintained then the student may not ready for this drill. Also, the distance covered and speed of movement will naturally differ based on age and ability of the athlete.

Once deemed too easy, another level of difficulty can be added.

To foster even better edge control, along with conditioning and power development, the coach can request the goalie alter direction for one push. The interval can be advanced over time from 4:1 (four pushes forward, to one push in the opposite direction) down to 2:1. When a goalie can maintain impeccable form, speed and control at 2:1 then the drill has served its purpose.

The second video segment demonstrates the drill at a 3:1 ratio:

Another commonly employed drill is “The Pendulum.”

In this drill the goaltender again begins in the down position between two pucks or pylons positioned a short distance apart. The technical considerations discussed above remain the same. Upon command, the goalie begins to rocker back and forth on the inside edges.

The drills can be altered several ways:

1. The coach may choose to increase, or decrease, the distance between pylons to promote quicker transition from one edge to the other.

2. The number of swings can be increased with time (e.g., 10, 20, 30 or 40).

3. Finally, a decision can be made to perform the drill on a timed interval (e.g., 10 seconds, 20, seconds or 30 seconds) basis. This is done with the intent of training a specific exercise energy system.

A similar variant to that noted in the previous drill exists. The coach may ask the athlete to make two short pushes one way and then change direction for two pushes. A mature goaltender will likely not require more than two pushes to manoeuver across the crease so this number should suffice.

This article has briefly discussed the great importance of edge control to “tight zone” play.

With fundamental drills, focus on technique and with time, power will come. Once a sound level of edge control is established, more complex skating and scramble drills with two, three or more shots become part of the developmental process.

The decision was made not to present examples of these drills in the current article.

As always, work beats talent, if talent doesn’t work!

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. Fern

    Hello, I am 46 years old and still enjoy this great game we call hockey. I’ve adapted my goaltending style throughout the years to incorporate the latest trends and techniques that will give me an edge on my beer league snipers. However, I still can’t seem to get the side push shuffle correctly. It’s not leg strength or skate sharpening as I’ve tried every type of workout and edge on my skates. Hell I’ve even tried those skate cheaters to give me a hand on my lateral movement but I hated those and dumped them fairly quick. Where can I get a detailed description of this technique that looks so simple but that I just can’t do correctly. Thanks for your time

  2. Tomas Hertz,MD,BA

    send me your email and I will try and help you with some private photos and explanations!

  3. Jeremy

    I’m in the same boat as Fern. I play a hybrid style and would love to get the same info offered.

  4. Derick

    Good to hear that I’m not alone when it comes to crawls and slides. I would also appreciate any help or suggestions you may have.
    Thank You,

  5. John T. Pellicone MD

    Same problem. Need help with those pad down slides

  6. Jeremy

    I can offer one little tidbit of info on some pad down movement. I was meeting with Mitch Korn after a Predator’s game two seasons ago, and one of the things he had Pekka Rinne do is shuffle across the crease using just his knees. It’s best used when you want to stay down, but make small adjustments I had be doing that since I can’t get the backside recovery slide right. I’ll see if I can find a video to post as a reference.

    • Jeremy Gardner

      I couldn’t find one on ice, but this is the same basic principle. I’ve seen Rinne do it in games and it appears Nabokov may do them as well.

      • Fern

        Thanks for the tip but I don’t think the traction with the pads on the ice would be the same as on the demonstration. Thanks for the suggestion though , I was hoping for tips on the most effective push method on ice. Toe push vs heel push, skate positioning that sort of thing. Thanks anyway.

        • Allan

          *I’m no pro…so this is from a Beer Leauger to Beer leaugers*… My opinion and experience…argue with me if you want…I really don’t care. Im always open to advice if someone has something constructive to share!

          When using the backside recovery slide (BRS) you want to use the entire blade. not the heel or the toe. I tried using just the toe, or heel with any success at all. Wonder how much time I wasted trying to use just my toe or heel…don’t even bother!

          I found the best method for me was to be down in the butterfly (Torso erect, hands up), just practicing raising the pushing leg for the BRS. After a couple weeks I could get the entire inner edge of the blade to touch, a couple weeks after that I could do very short, weak pushes. I didn’t actually start utilizing it in play until I was strong enough to get post to post when I practiced, I worked it into my repitoire slowly. Trying to do a post to post BRS would likley have caused an injury had I tried that early.

          Another thing I did that was **much lower stress on my body** was the get the aerobic rubber band and practice the motion *off ice*. On the floor in front of the tv in the butterfly, loop one end around a foot and kneel on the other end, stretch the band as far as you can outward with the foot in the loop. I usually like to do some slow reps first then some faster ones once I’m warmed up. Maybe a total of 30 (10 slow, 20 fast). I find it REALLY helped build the correct muscles (don’t know the proper names) but you can literally feel this exersize work those muscles. This made the push alot easier on the ice once I had built some strength. Still do this exersize every other day. FOAM ROLLER on the IT Bands (and in general) to loosen everything up…highly reccomended!!!

          In Bauer One75 pads with old CCM 452 tacs I could get a BRS after a lot of practice, but modern equipment REALLY helps. I’m currently wearing Rituals and One80 skates…and I can now do a BRS with relative ease. Ritauls sit high and leave the room I need on the inside of the foot and the One80’s have the taller blade and the caved out portion near the ball of the foot. The combination widens the angle I can push until my pad/skate cowling touches the ice. The angle my pads hits the ice is much lower than what my previous equipment had allowed.

          IMHO I would never use the cheater blades that you can add the the cowling, you would be delaying learning the proper technique! I would also worry about the amount of stress on my ankle when using them, but without the properly developed muscles to push properly it may be of little physical harm??