Dozens of times every game, hockey goalies assume a position unique to the sport—the butterfly. Goalies who use the butterfly need incredible lower body mobility, since the position requires them to get down on their knees and flare their legs wide, which puts extreme pressure on their hips and knees.
To develop the mobility and strength necessary to comfortably assume this position repeatedly throughout a game, goalies must perform exercises that engage the muscles around their hips, specifically the glutes and groin muscles. The following lower-body exercises can be performed as part of a strength workout (perform 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps) or incorporated into a pre-workout, practice or pre-game warm-up (perform 1-2 sets of 8-12 reps).
This exercise engages the gluteus maximus, the muscle primarily responsible for extending the hips. The glute area is a critical muscle group for controlling a goalie’s descent into the butterfly and exploding back into the ready position.
Start with a Glute Bridge and progress to a Single-Leg Glute Bridge as you build strength. For an additional challenge, add weight or wrap a resistance band around your hips and heels.
Mini-Band Hip Activation
Mini-band exercises are great for isolating the gluteus medius, the muscle used to raise a leg to the side or open the hips. This is particularly important for moving laterally when exploding side-to-side in the net or kicking the legs out into the butterfly position.
1. Lying Clam Shells
Lie on side with hips and knees at a 90-degree angle. Contract core and slowly raise top knee away from bottom knee until hip is near a 45-degree angle; avoid any hip rotation. Keep your top arm stretched out on the floor in line with your chest to limit hip rotation. Slowly return knee to starting position and repeat. Perform set on opposite side.
2. Standing Clam Shell
Stand in a quarter-squat position with feet flat on ground and approximately hip-width apart. Ensure feet stay flat to ground (imagine the feet trying to pull a floor seam apart between them). Stabilize left leg and contract right glute to separate knees. Maintain stability through hips and minimize body movement. Slowly return to start position and repeat. Perform set with opposite leg.
The Slide Board
The slide board is a great tool for simulating hockey movements, because it forces you to maintain balance and stability while on a low-friction surface (just like ice). The Slide Board Lateral Lunge helps prevent groin injuries by developing groin muscle strength to balance out hip muscle development. The Slide Reverse Lunge develops hip and knee strength as well as stability, so goalies can quickly transition in and out of the butterfly position while retaining balance and stability to make the next save.
1. Slide Board Lateral Lunge
Start at the end of the slide board with one foot on board, the other foot on ground and body perpendicular to board. Slide leg to the side until your grounded leg is in a quarter-squat. Simultaneously pull leg back to center and drive up out of squat to return to start position. Repeat for specified reps. Perform set on opposite leg.
2. Slide Board Reverse Lunge
Assume athletic stance facing away from slide board with one foot on board and other foot on ground. Slide foot backward and squat with opposite leg, continuing until front thigh is parallel to ground. Contract front knee and glutes; drive up through heel to rise out of Lunge. If using bodyweight, swing arms upward to generate momentum. Use dumbbells or kettlebells for an additional challenge.
Doug “Crash” Crashley is president of Crash Conditioning, a hockey performance center in Calgary, Alberta. Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith and nominee Mike Green, along with other NHL players and prospects, come to Crash each year to prepare for their seasons. Crashley’s training focuses on enhancing hockey performance through both physiological and psychological conditioning. He has been a lecturer and presenter for Hockey Canada, Hockey Alberta, Nike Hockey and CBC Hockey Night on Canada’s Hyundai Nation.