In recent years, there has been a growing tendency for goalies at all levels to hold their glove hand high and in “a fingers up” position as opposed to the more traditional waist high 3 o’clock position. The rationale for holding the glove in the former position is that it takes the top shelf away and most easily intersects with the trajectory of the puck. This is all very nice in theory but in practice it simply doesn’t work very well. Even those goalies who start with their gloves in this position (Henrik Lundqvist) rotate downwards to the 3 o’clock position before making most glove saves.
So, why do I make the assertion that the fingers up / glove high position doesn’t work very well? I think the best way to explain myself is to look at the basic rationale for holding the glove in this way. First, does the high position actually take away the top of the net? The answer to this is simply NO. To understand exactly what the glove is covering it is necessary to put your face on the ice directly behind the puck and assume the vantage point of the puck at ice level. After doing this you will discover that the high glove position isn’t covering ANY net at all… in fact, it is covering glass. To make matters worse, the goalies are covering glass while giving up EVERYTHING from the crossbar down. Goalies that hold their gloves at the more traditional 3 o’clock position are ACTUALLY covering the top shelf while making it easier to catch pucks 18 inches off the ice.
The second issue is intersecting with the trajectory of the puck. The high glove, held in a fingers up position, requires the goalie to move the glove against the trajectory of the puck. This turns the glove into a blocker as opposed to a catcher. Another complicating issue is that the glove often rotates down in a counter clockwise motion which results in dropped pucks. The lower more traditional position allows the goalie to move up with the trajectory which is actually a quicker move because it requires muscular contraction and allows for more glove control.
I don’t really think that I will have changed many minds here. Those who believe in the high glove will come up with all kinds of fallacies to support their position. I once heard a goalie coach say that coming down on the puck was quicker because of gravity. REALLY? Watch any great glove save in the NHL and there is ALWAYS an upward arch to the save which means the glove had to start in a low position. I have seen precious few glove saves made from the high position unless the puck simply hit the glove… which means that the puck was probably going over the net in the first place and the goaltender’s glove was “locked” in a blocking position instead of moving with the puck.
As in all cases, the best teacher is experience. If you find that your glove hand is a static blocker instead of a dynamic and active catcher of pucks, you might take a look at where your glove actually starts the catching motion. Take a few moments a go on NHL.com and watch the NHL goalies making glove saves, hit the freeze button at the point when the puck is released and you will see that the glove hand actually starts its motion from a low rather than high position.