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Build Reactive Mindset: Blocking vs. Making Saves

Build Reactive Mindset: Blocking vs. Making Saves

Logo_Jon Elkin's_white backgroundThe butterfly ushered in an era of modern goaltending where goals against averages plummeted and save percentages chased the moon. As with any good thing, overuse can be detrimental.

There has evolved an over-reliance on dropping into a tight blocking form in order to maximize coverage.

Maximizing coverage prevents goals, but it doesn’t make saves. That is the difference between playing it safe and playing to win. A goalie’s mindset should be a reactive one.

There is a lot that goes into being reactive – for example, I didn’t talk about tracking in this video. However, it is a short presentation that I hope serves as a reminder that to play goal, one must be an athlete:

~ Jon Elkin has coached at all levels. He was the Calgary Flames (NHL) goalie coach for three seasons and has been the goalie coach for teams in the AHL, WHL, QMJHL and OHL, all top feeder systems to the NHL. He has coached 21 NHL goalies. Elkin is currently the goalie coach for the Soo Greyhounds (OHL). He also works privately with his own NHL goaltenders and NHL goaltending prospects.

Jon Elkin’s Goalie Schools has been extremely successful in developing goaltenders. Seven long-time students have gone on to play in the NHL. The school has many young goalies that are legitimate NHL prospects, including 26 who have been drafted recently by NHL teams. The goalie school also has a substantial number of male and female goaltenders playing Division I college hockey. Elkin’s students have also been active in the European Professional Leagues: Russia, Sweden, Finland, Germany, France, Holland, Norway, Austria & England. Our record acts as confirmation that our pupils are participating in one of the top goaltender developmental programs in the world.

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  1. jim Boesenberg

    Thank you, I have been teaching my goalies to be athletic for 25 years . Blocking should be in their arsenal , but now a days way too depended on.
    Thanks again John look forward to meeting you one day many of my top students on Long Island love you . Jim Boesenberg

  2. Ralph

    Great article- I have watched the evolution of the game since I was a pure stand up late 70-early 80’s goalie. No that I have a kid playing the position its amazing how much the position has progressed. What I find mind boggling is my kid it taught to drop on every shot. Its like the coach wants a butterfly robot. Sure it works when he was a mite and no one can lift the puck more than a few feet but you can see them all paying the price in later years with the real snipers out there. Frustrating to say the least when we work at home or at camps and then in the game the coach is screaming “drop down in your butterfly what are you doing”

  3. A Goalie

    Ralph, if your son’s goalie coach is actually using the verb “to drop” to describe the physical process of moving from stance to butterfly, he either doesn’t know how the butterfly works, or he’s describing it so poorly that your son will be confused. Goalies don’t ‘drop’ into the butterfly; they drive down into it. It’s a powerful muscular movement, not a controlled fall.

    John’s points, taken generally, may be sound, but his video doesn’t really ever explain *why* goalies use different techniques. This would be rather like telling a singer to only use vibrato ‘sometimes’. The question is when and why it’s appropriate to switch from reacting techniques to blocking ones, and the answer is always contingent.

  4. Patrick

    It is fine to say “be athletic, don’t go down” but I think that is being way too simplistic. I read a great article in InGoal some years ago. It basically says, when shoots are close, go down and block. When they are far enough away that you have time to react, they read the shot and move accordingly. And they included drills where shooters shot low and high from different distances. That allowed the goalies to get a feel for how close shooters needed to be for the butterfly block to be the default move.