What legendary Wisconsin goalie coach Bill Howard taught in the ’90s

As I’m readying for my move back to Maryland I found in my files a collection of handouts my midget goalie coach gave me in high school.

Anyway, my coach was a Quebec native named Claude Dube. He moved down to south central Pennsylvania to work for construction equipment maker JLG. Instead of preaching butterfly goaltending and everything that Patrick Roy would do, he instead showed me videos and handouts from Bill Howard, now retired assistant coach and goalie coach at the University of Wisconsin, help leading the team to six NCAA championships. He also developed Jim Carey, Mike Richter, Curtis Joseph and Brian Elliott before stepping down in 2008.
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Howard still runs camps and can be found at http://www.greatgoalies.net. My family could never afford a camp because it was taxing enough just to pay for travel hockey let alone everything else with school and this is one camp I wish I would have attended just to learn straight from the source. We did watch a lengthy video detailing all of this and it looks like on the website that Howard has two DVDs for sale that explain this and newer techniques. It’s worth it if you’re a young goaltender.

Howard would update his techniques like any goalie coach but his foundation was much of the same. My first year of midget hockey was in 1999, so these were likely a few years old by the time I got my hands on them.

For the benefit of goalies out there, I’ll retype all the drills here and scan some old charts. I’m doing this in a bit of reverse order with the meat of Howard’s techniques first. Another handout that explains the stances, stick positions, etc., follows the Fundamentals of Goaltending.

Fundamentals of Goaltending: Controlling The Game

By Bill Howard, Assistant Coach Univ. of Wisconsin


A. The five proper goalie stances, when and how to use them:

  1. Normal. Don’t rest on your inside edges and have the stick always on the ice
  2. Open. For long shots, have legs spread further apart toward the shoulders.
  3. Closed. Play from the side of the net. Glove on the ice, pad closed
  4. V-Stance. Shots in close from 5 feet out and for rebounds.
  5. Scramble. Rebounds in tight.

B. The five proper ways to move in the net, when and how to use them

  1. Glide & Slide: Used the most to move around the crease
  2. X Over: Moving dot to dot
  3. Diagonal-Up: Diagonal passes
  4. Diagonal Slide: Diagonal passe in close
  5. When Caught Off Angle: Move to middle of net and stop.

C. Playing the angles: when and how to use the four segments of the net and the rink

FILE: Playing The Angles

  1. Try and play only 1 segment for any given shot
  2. Always be stopped, set in the proper stance and square to the puck
  3. Take the short side away (thus you’re playing only 1/2 of the net)
  4. Only move 1/2 of your body to make the save

Remember in the course of the game a goalie will move many more times then he will stop the puck. Therefore, moving correctly and being in the right stance and on the angle as close as possible will make stopping and controlling the puck much easier.


  • Having the proper balance: proper body control and puck control when making the save
  • Having the proper balance points
  • Having the proper weight transfer: includes upper and lower body weight transfer
  • Having the proper angle of deflection

Remember it is not enough to just stop the puck. A goalie can control the shot, the puck and the game.


A. When and how to use the goalie stick for saves and game situations

  1. Stick saves: limited and full extension
  2. Poke checking: knowing your range and being able to recover. [Put a mark on ice to visualize]
  3. Passing the puck: forehand, backhand and shuffle

B. The five types of pad saves: when and how to use them

  1. Limited: Within stance, tight and in close shots
  2. Full extension: Shot from far distance
  3. Diagonal to the post
  4. Diagonal slide to the post
  5. Pad save from V stance

C. The two types of V saves: when and how to use them

[This was left blank by my coach. This probably explains a lot. But I can tell you that there are pad V stance saves for shots and deflections along the ice and then glove/stick saves from higher shots. Key for this style of play is to keep the glove and blocker up high and not close to the pad like the newer styles teach.]

D. The four types of glove saves (limited and full extensions): when and how to use them

  1. Low glove: limited within stance for shots 4-5 feet
  2. Full extension: low, middle and high
  3. Limited: low, middle and high
  4. Arm pit save: limited and full upper


A. Handling the puck in different game situations

  1. Stopping the puck behind the net
  2. Leaving the puck properly for the defenseman
  3. Clearing the puck
  4. Making breakout passes

B. The Set of 18: repetition of learned skills and conditioning (see below)

Remember there is more to playing goalie than just stopping the puck. A goalie must be under control, restrict his movement, have the proper balance, weight transfer, angle of deflections and puck control.


A review and summary of every type of save you will have to make in the net. This is to be done in order with the proper technique and you must always return to the basic normal goalie stance. You must also have the proper balance, weight transfer, body control and angle of movement.

The key to being a great goaltender is having the confidence to make any save at any time without having to think about how to make the save.

  1. Rocking your skates while maintaining the basic goalie stance
  2. Limited stick and pad save to the left
  3. Limited stick and pad save to the right
  4. Down in the V stance, shooting the pads out to both sides
  5. Full extension pad save to the left
  6. Full extension pad save to the right
  7. Diagonal slide pad save to the left
  8. Diagonal slide pad save to the right
  9. Moving stick save/pokecheck three times while moving across the net
  10. Full extension low glove save to the left
  11. Full extension low glove save to the right
  12. Full extension middle glove save to the left
  13. Full extension middle glove save to the right
  14. Full extension high glove save to the left
  15. Full extension high glove save to the right
  16. Down in the V save position and back up
  17. Down in the scramble position and freeze the puck
  18. Diving pokecheck from the basic stance and back up

On Ice Techniques: Review of the 11 Basics of Goaltending

A. The Basic Stance

  1. Your skates/feet should be slightly apart
  2. Knees should be slightly bent and weight slightly forward
  3. The gloves should be at your side just off the hip and open
  4. The stick should be placed away from your skates 3 to 4 inches out in front of you with the blade on the ice at all times
  5. You should adjust your stance based on the situation and distance of the puck (use 1 of the 5 stances).

B. Maintaining the Proper Balance

  1. Proper weight distribution over your skates (stay off the inside edges and don’t be back on your heels for any shot)
  2. Have a balance point and the proper weight transfer (always give with the puck)

C. Moving in the Net

  1. Use 1 of the 5 methods to move based on the game situation
  2. Always stay square to the puck and be stopped and set before the shot
  3. You will move many more times in a game than you will make saves. Getting there correctly therefore becomes extremely important

D. Playing the Angles

  1. Play the net and goal as 4 segments. Play one segment at a time for any given shot. Do not try and play the whole net.
  2. Check each rink and find your reference points for your angles
  3. Most of your movements should be in the arc, not straight back in
  4. Line up your angle on the puck not the shooter
  5. Set up early when the play is in neutral ice
  6. Hold your position! Most goalies over-move or commit too early

E. Proper Use of the Stick

  1. Learn your proper range for shots on the ice
  2. DO not get off balance when making stick saves. Maintain the basic stance
  3. Give with the shots directly at you and either deflect or control
  4. Learn to use your stick to pokecheck and break up passes in the scoring area. Always be able to recover properly if you miss the puck in these situations
  5. Be able to pass and clear the puck with the proper velocity. Arm strength is very important

F. Blockage and Control of SHots

  1. Time, distance and your level of quickness determine how much of your body will be able to get in front of the puck
  2. Always give with the puck. Let the puck come to you!
  3. On long shots get your whole body in front of the puck and on closer shots make the save with only 1/2 of your body

G. Kick Skate Save

  1. Timing of the skate with the stick as the puck comes is the key to this save
  2. Use only to kick the puck out from in front of your traffic or to kick pass the puck to a play or out of the zone

H. Pad Saves

  1. Time and distance once again will dictate which type of pad save to use
  2. Control or direct the puck with the proper balance. You must give with every shot and provide a cushion for control
  3. Proper balance points and weight transfer are essential for not allowing a second shot or to be in position if there is a second shot
  4. Do not “stack the pads” to make a save

I. Glove Saves

  1. Your feet/skates dictate the distance and control when making a glove save
  2. The position of your gloves will vary according to the distance the shot is taken from
  3. Always give with the shot, don’t grab at the puck. Make the save at your side or slightly behind your with the proper balance and weight transfer
  4. When a full extension is necessary you must lower the shoulder, transfer the weight and straighten out your arm

J. Controlling Rebound

  1. Always give with the puck and let the puck come to you
  2. Proper angle of deflection so that all shots are places out of the scoring area
  3. Once again, to control the puck you must have proper balance and weight transfer. This also allows you to be ready for a second shot if you do give a rebound
  4. When freezing the puck, always use your stick to bring the puck to you and to protect your glove as you cover the puck.

K. Communication with the Team

  1. Read the situation when the play is in neutral ice and let your players know what the play may be (especially the numeric situation)
  2. Be verbal with your defenseman, but only as needed. Don’t over-talk!

One last key note: A goalie should train himself to restrict his movements and to stay on his feet as much as possible. Many goalies over move or go down too soon and end up creating an opening that didn’t exist.