Ice Hockey Goalie Training | 5 Rules of The BUTTERFLY

In this post we’re going to go over the five rules of the butterfly (which you probably know anyway). Then we’re going to go back to the gym and I’m going to give you some exercises that you can do off the ice to maximize and accelerate your gains on the ice.


Check out the whole demonstration for this post on YouTube here >>


By the end of this post, you’re going to have a whack of off-ice exercises you can do that will help you adhere to the five rules of the butterfly that we’re going to go over here in a second. This is Maria Mountain from I’m an exercise physiologist and I specialize in off-ice training for hockey goalies.

I’m not an on-ice goalie coach. That’s not what I’m going to do today. Tell you how you should be doing it. We’re going to look at the qualities of a good butterfly. I’m lucky enough to get to travel all over the world and listen to the greatest goalie coaches in the world share their ideas and their teaching techniques.

We’re going to take those rules, look at them on the ice quickly so you get an idea, “Oh yeah, I know what she’s talking about,” and how it translates onto the ice. But then we’re going to head back into the gym and do the real work on giving you and your body the tools you need to be able to execute those rules every single time.

If we start looking at the five rules, rule number one is to start low, to be loaded in your legs so you can get into the butterfly faster.

If you watch the video for this post, you’ll see Carson’s here helping out again. You can see he’s got a nice low stance. Flexed at his hips, flexed at his knees so that when he goes into the butterfly, he doesn’t have that far to go.

That does two things. Number one, what’s most important to you is it gets him into that position faster. It seals the ice faster.

For me, when I look at it too, there’s a lot less distance so there’s a lot less force being transferred up to the hips.

You guys get mad at me every single time I say this but don’t get mad at me. Get Mad at Sir Isaac Newton and his cursed laws of physics… You cannot drive yourself into a butterfly faster.

That is the same as trying to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Or if I’m standing here and I’m like, “Okay, I’m going to use the muscles in my legs to pull myself into a squat faster,” it won’t work. All that happens is my feet come off the ground.

Now I know the rage is going to start and you’re going to be on your computer. “But I … ” I know. I feel like you should, too. But it’s just the laws of physics disagree with us. That’s all. It’s not us. It’s the laws of physics.

The best you can do is be lower in your stance so you have less distance to go. And again, that’s going to depend on the play and where the puck is and that’s, you guys know that stuff that’s not my area of expertise.

Okay. The second rule of the butterfly, it’s just no five-hole.

Getting that nice seal with your pads and keeping your stick on the ice. This is a bonus tip because I think one of my favourite tricks is to lift my stick up as I go down into the butterfly. Keep that stick on the ice and then get those pads together so there’s no five-hole.

Rule number three of the butterfly is to actively think about getting that flair.

A lot of you, when you go down, you’re not using your hip internal rotators to maximize that flare so you’re still using space. Even if your five-hole is closed and sealed, if you actively try to internally rotate, you can get a little bit more. Even an inch and a half more are enough to stop a puck.

So think about actively getting into that flair when you get into your butterfly.

Rule number four goes hand in hand with rule number three really, and it’s when you slide across… so if you’re going to do a push with one pad down, you want to try to keep this pad flared or square to where the puck’s coming from.

Sometimes what happens is you push across that pad folds in behind you because you don’t have the hip internal rotation strength. We want to build that strength off the ice so you can keep presenting that pad to the puck.

The fifth rule of the butterfly is to stay tall in your hip.

When you go into your butterfly, don’t sit back in your bum. In the video I get Carson to demonstrate when you sit back in your hips. When he’s sitting back, you can see the stripe on his pants is angled back. His torso is straight up and down.

What we want is to keep the stripe on your pants almost straight up and down. Then you can telescope of your body a little bit over where the shots coming from. Stay taller in the net, take away more of the shooting angle.

Okay. Now it’s time to head back to the gym to show you the exercises to make sure that you have the tools so you can hit these five rules of the butterfly every single time.

So back in the gym, taking those five rules of the butterfly and bringing them off the ice so that we give you tools that you can work on to help improve that. Almost like you have an unfair advantage like you have access to ice whenever you want it.

The first rule of the butterfly was to stay nice and low to keep low in your legs and get used to being low there.

You don’t purposely say, “Oh, well, I’m just going to stand up.” You think you’re low, you feel low. But what happens when you fatigue as we talked about, you get bending forward at your hips, so you’re low to the ground, your eyes are lower to the ground, but you don’t have power.

What we need to do is build up the stamina in your legs so that you can hold that position before your legs start to burn or before your body starts saying, “Oh, we’re getting a little tired. You better stand up in your legs.”

The first exercise is super simple. It’s one of my favourites actually. I give this to almost every goalie that I train, it’s just a squat jump and holds.

We’re going to start with a pretty basic version. We’re going to do three squat jumps, followed by a five-second hold, and you would start with doing three repetitions of that. Then you would build up and it depends a bit on the phase of the training, the level that you’re at. But then we can build it up either by adding more jumps, by building a little bit, adding a little longer hold.

Don’t read this post and get so geared up and be like, “I’m going to do 15 jumps in hold for 60 seconds.” That’s not the idea, but here’s what it looks like.

We’re going to do three big squat jumps, jumping as high as we can, getting off the ground as fast as we can. One, two, three, then right into a good squad and hold. I’m trying to get my knees to 90 degrees or thighs parallel even, keeping a good torso. I don’t want to be rounded in my back.

I’ll hold that for five seconds. Then right into jumps, one, two, three. Then right back down for another five-second hold.

Again, we’d start with three repetitions like that, but that is a game-changer. If your team stuck on a penalty kill, five-minute major, that’s going to help you build the stamina you need to stay in the play the whole time.

In this next one, we’re going to get a little more dynamic. We’re going to add a little more frontal plane movement.

I don’t know if you feel it on the ice, I sure do. But if I’m moving back and forth across my crease with shuffles and then I have to cover my post for a bit and then get back, cover my other post, my legs get so exhausted. That’s what I designed this exercise for.

I just have a … this is a medium-strength bungee. It’s not really meant to be heavy, heavy. I really just want something that’s adding a little bit of lateral pull to my hips and rotary stabilization to my torso.

I hold it out in front of me and it should stay perfectly still. It shouldn’t be wiggling all over the place and then I’m just going to shuffle out and I’m going to hold this position so I can even visualize that I’m holding my post staying nice and low.

One, two, three, four, five. I’ll come back, and come back out. One, two, three, four, five.

You can even add some little variations to it.

For example, you could come out, then you could drop into, maybe drop into a VH position. Don’t go all the way to the floor, just get low in that leg holding here and then come back out of it.

Maybe you’re going to go in a little bit of an RVH position. Again, don’t put the torque of putting your knee all the way down to the floor, but you can come out and get a few inches off the floor with it as you’d be holding for five seconds.

We would do, again, to start three of these where you’d come out, hold for five, come in, hold for five. Facing one way and then facing the other way.

I would start with just the shuffle and then the low squat and hold. But then you can add in some of those other elements.

I’ll also give you one more little one that sometimes I add in when I do it that makes it a bit different is when I get out here for my hold, I’ll just add a tiny little mini bounce to it. Just keeping those muscles firing a little bit. I wouldn’t say it makes it easier or harder, it just makes it a little bit different.

Rule number two of the butterfly was no five-hole. Maybe that should have been ruled number one. But, what I hear from you is “when I go in the butterfly, one leg leads”. You’ll say, “My right knee always goes down first.” That’s going to be a little bit of a problem.

Really, again, I’m not just trying to teach you the on-ice technique and that’s something to talk to your goalie coach about, lateral release or anterior release or whatever you want to do. But for me, it’s just almost practicing the habit of getting down both knees at the same time.

That’s something we can practice off-ice. Just that habit, that motor pattern of doing it.

Now here’s a really important thing you’ll notice I have these are called Airex pads. I have two of them. This has given me about a four-inch lift off the ground. Way More than my pads would have. But that’s how you have to do it. Getting your knees to go down together isn’t a mobility issue. Getting more drop isn’t going to improve your ability to learn that motor skill, but it’s going to put a lot more load and wear and tear on your hips and your knees.

Make sure you’re at least four inches off the ground. Even if you have a big thick sofa cushion at home or something, you can use that. I’m also not trying to come down in a wide butterfly flair. Again, that isn’t really going to improve my motor pattern practice of just getting both my knees down at the same time.

Think about that as you do. You’re not trying to get a wide butterfly. You can see I’m actually a little bit behind and I’m almost doing a release off my toes when I get there.

What you could also do, so we have a hardwood floor here, so you could also go sock feet because then you get a little bit of that release out behind you. That’s another option. It doesn’t add a ton to it, but it does feel a little more like it does on the ice.

On the second last one I did, I lost my balance and fell forward a bit and it’s like in my brain I’m like, “Oh you do that on the ice sometimes, too.” Maybe this is a little bit better, but the key is don’t overdo it. Just practice that pattern. Get them both coming down together. Make sure you have at least four-inch cushion that is nice and cushy.

Rule number three was to flair your pads. Some of you have the range of motion for a wide flare, but when you get into your butterfly then it gets narrow. We’re going to practice just building some strength in that end range of motion. I’m just wearing my old goalie knee pads. I’m staying tall in my hips. I can even get a little bit of that forward angle that your goalie coach probably tells you to have and work a bit on that balance and stability.

But all I’m going to do here is flare my feet out as wide as I can get them to go, this is hip internal rotation. It doesn’t matter, I don’t worry that my foot isn’t flat, it’s not going to be flat. Trying to make it flatter isn’t going to help the hip internal rotation, which is what we’re trying to train.

I’m going to keep my knees nice and close together and just come out into that internal rotation and create force. Almost like I’m trying to push the floor forward with my feet and I’ll hold that for about five seconds and relax.

You’re not going to see a bunch of movement. It’s not going to get more and more and more every time you do it. But we’re just creating that tension, building that strength in the end range because we can stretch and get there, but until we develop the strength to hold those positions, we can’t really use it.

Again, just coming in, holding one, two, three, four, five and I’m actively still trying to flair my feet even though they aren’t going anywhere. Then I’ll relax.

Watch what happens when I go initially into a flare if I don’t think about it, my bum will automatically sit back a little bit. I want you to also think about keeping that stripe on the side of your pants nice and tall as you go into the internal rotation and hold that.

Rule number four was the keep that pad flat, or the face of the pad flat as you are pushing across the crease in a power push because what happens is you get that pad out and then as you push across the pad folds in behind you.

Again it’s, it’s a bit of a hip internal rotation strength, so being able to hold that position when you’re at your end range.

This one we call criss-cross apple sauce. You’ll see why in a second but it’s a little bit complicated. What I have is a lighter resistance bungee around one foot, around the instep and my toe is just on a glider. I could be in my sock foot. I just wanted something so that I can’t use the friction from the sole of my shoe to hold me in that internally rotated position.

I want it to be more like the ice so that if I’m not using these muscles really well, then it’s folding in behind me. That’s all only reason for that. That can be anything, a towel, a sock, foot, anything.

With my opposite hand, I’m going to hold the bungee out to the side with a pretty good force so that it’s trying to pull my foot to fold underneath me, but I have to use my hip rotation here to hold it. That’s one part.

The second part is to add in that crease push element. I’m going to use a heavier resistance bungee and another glider, which again could be a sock foot, could be a towel, could be anything. I’m going to use that to just push across. But I’m also going to think a little with my other hand, why don’t I think of where my glove should be and keep it there, so not let it get pulled all over the place.

It’s a little bit crazy. I’ll get a good pull on both bungees on both sides. Still trying to stay tall and my hips keep that flare. And push and push with the one foot.

That is criss-cross applesauce and we would do about 12 on each side. It’s a little fatiguing.

The last rule of the butterfly was the stay tall in your hips. Not let your hips sit back. We talked about it a bit when we doing the internal rotation with your hips because sometimes that does let you get a little wider flare or feel like you’re getting a wider flare.

Staying tall in your hips. It’s a lot like dropping into the butterfly with both knees at the same time. It’s a bit of a motor habit just to practice. This is … you’re not consciously, again, trying to sit back and your hips, your body’s adapted that pattern. Practicing when you do your double butterfly drop, staying tall in your hips.

I like this exercise. It’s just going to be just a super band hip drive. I have… probably a one-inch super band and we’re going to put it just at our hip bone. Not around your tummy, just at your hip bones. Then you’re going to sit back in your hips like you’re doing a squat, but then come up and out of it, bringing your hips forward, squeezing your glutes as you do that.

I have a nice neutral back position. I’m sitting back in my hips and then I’m coming forward and getting a nice squeeze of my glutes. It just gives you that … a little bit of that feeling of, “Oh yeah, keeping my hips forward, keeping tall.”

Then of course when you’re on the ice, you need to practice hitting that position every time.

Go out and do some deliberate practice where you go into your butterfly and then just check, “Hey, how, how am I positioned?

Yeah. I sat back and my hips a little that time.” Okay, so do it again. You’re like, “Hey, that’s a good position. Well, it feels funny because it feels like I’m going to fall over forwards.” Well, then you just have to be like, “Okay, well I’m to try and hit that feeling every time until I get used to it and learn how to balance.”

There are the five rules of the butterfly, things that we looked at on the ice, strategies you can use off the ice to address them all.

Really I guess the number one overriding rule of the butterfly is to have good hip internal rotation. That’s where your butterfly flair comes from. It’s not from stretching your knee or your ankle (although working on ankle mobility will help). It all comes down to the hip internal rotation.

If you’re not sure where to start on that, I have a specific program. It’s a 14-day butterfly challenge. It’s totally free, but I’ll put the link below and I’ll pin it to the top so you can go grab it there because that’s the place we should all start.

Regardless of what level we play at, everyone’s struggles with one of these rules.

In the comments drop-in which rule do you struggle with the most? Or maybe it’s some other element that you have trouble with. Put it down there so that I can get working on coming up with other strategies to help make that better for you. Giving you ideas of things you can work on off the ice so you have the tools you need when you’re on the ice.

I will see you next time!