Blocking VS. Reacting Save Skills

Last article focused on the necessary footwork in order to be squared and set for the shot while maintaining appropriate depth. Before we cover the technical aspect of how to actually make the save we must determine the situation. The butterfly and its variations are the cornerstone of the goalies save skill set, more specifically the goaltenders “down game”. Simply stated all saves are made by “staying up” or “going down”. The goalie should always strive to “react” to the puck but must know when a “block” or “seal” type save is needed.

BLOCKING SAVES. Blocking saves should be used when the goaltender does not have time to react to the puck. They should be used when the puck is in close proximity to the goalie. They are also used when the goaltender is screened or there is a risk of a deflection. Maximum net coverage on shots from the middle is obtained with a butterfly or butterfly block. Net coverage from bad angles can be used with a Post Lean or Post Load (VH or RVH). With all blocking saves the goaltender should close holes but not “glue” their limbs to their body. They should always track and react to the puck.

1. Maximum net coverage.
2. Allows the goaltender to make saves on shots in tight.
3. Eliminates pucks going “through” the goalie.

Although blocking saves are necessary; they must be used properly and in the right situation. The timing, positioning, and technique of the block are all equally important. Many goaltenders overuse blocking skills because of impatience or weak puck tracking ability. Here are some problems associated with “blocking” saves:

1. Loss of rebound control
2. Block too early opening up the top of the net
3. Blocks when there is time to react.

REACTING SAVES. Reacting saves should be used when the goaltender has time to react to the puck. They are also used in unpredictable “scramble” type of plays when things don’t go as planned. The goaltender should strive to react as much as possible, but be able to incorporate a blocking save when need be. Tracking the puck sooner off the shooters stick will allow more time to react. Reading the situation and the shooters body language will also increase reaction time. Here are some benefits of “reacting: saves:

1. Improved ability to make the save by reacting to the puck.
2. Improved rebound control.
3. Increased agility by not being” locked” into a position.

As with blocking saves reacting saves are necessary, but must be used in the right situation. Trying to react to every play is impossible and normally leads to what would be considered “soft” goals. Here are some problems associated with “reacting” saves:

1. Pucks go “through” the goalie.
2. An abundance of goals by tips and deflections
3. An abundance of bad angle and goals from in tight.
There are many variables that must be considered when using either a blocking or reacting save. Goaltenders may be closer to either a “reacting” or “blocking” goalie, but still must be able to use both save skills. Smaller goalies will have to react more. Bigger goalies can block more. The athleticism and puck tracking ability of the goaltender will also determine what part of the spectrum they’re closer to, but ultimately the goaltender must find where they have the most success.

For more information on the Janosz School of Goaltending In-Season Clinics and Private lessons go to or call (716) 308-9224.