No Red Lights: Hockey: Quick Like A Butterfly... - Goalie News And Instruction By Roxanne Gaudiel

Quick Like A Butterfly...

In the series on explosiveness, I begin with the butterfly. The heavy emphasis  on going down began in the late 80s and revolutionized the sport.  The advent of the Vaughn's Velocities signified a second change in goaltending - the Quebecois, "blocky" style of play.  Arguably, J-S Giguere introduced the styles' dominance with his 2003 run at the Cup. The real mastermind behind the style is the great Canadian goalie coach Francois Allaire - to him, the goalie world will forever be indebted.

But enough of the history - my main point in that is most coaches and goalies are overly preoccupied with the final result: a big flared out butterfly. But how do you get there quickly? Most coaches say - go down or faster!  Their idea is that quickness comes with physical ability - if you aren't in shape, you can't go down quickly.

While this premise is generally true, the structure and physics of the action (going down into a butterfly) play just as big a role in creating an explosively, fast butterfly. A goalie's stance can contribute or inhibit their quickness, and the biggest factor is knee positioning. The knees need to be in a position which allows them to hit the ice quickly. The only movement the knees should make is a downward movement.

Sounds simple right? Surprisingly, many goalies stand in such a manner that prevents their knees from following a straight downward path. If you stand with your knees together (so much that they are actually touching), then the knees must first separate before they can go down. Think of building a card pyramid - two cards rest against each so that they can stand up. If you imagine your legs as the cards with the top, touching point of the cards being your knees - the structure of your knee position is such as to prevent the knees from going down. A goalie with this stance and knee position must move their knees to the side before going down, creating two movements to go down instead of one.

This is why goalie stances have changed with the popularity of the butterfly. Stances had to change in order to make going down faster -- and at the core of this is knee positioning. The next article will show how NHL goalies M-S Giguerre, Belfore and Fleury have changed their stances in order to accommodate their butterfly style, proving the knee positioning is the key to an explosive butterfly.