Warning: Use VHS Only as Directed
Since the start of the 2010-11 season, a plague of Vertical-Horizontal Stance (VHS) mistakes has unleashed hell on goaltenders of all ages and levels. I have witnessed way too many fails and blunders with this technique, and I have done my best to preach smart decision-making when it comes to the execution of the VHS save selection.
Last year, I wrote a piece for the Elite Goalies website that explained the appropriate time and place to use the VHS, along with some advice from Dallas Stars goalie coach Mike Valley. The article link appears to be broken, so I wanted to post it on The Goalie Guild and add a few more of my own personal observations as well. I also took the time to define “VHS” for many of our readers who may not be too familiar with the phrase.
Photo Courtesy of Tom Turk - Piratical Photography
– Far too often, I notice VHS forces goalies to be stricken with rigor mortis. They go from having mobile hands and legs to a frozen block of ice with tense muscles. You’re locked in an imaginary cement cage, and it becomes quite difficult to move in and out of the VHS effectively. As time goes on, shooters are quickly picking up on this technique, and if a goalie drops into VHS when the puck is inside the faceoff circle, pucks are being fired off the pads or chest in order to force juicy rebounds back into the slot.
– VHS eliminates options, and turns a goalie’s brain off. Instead of having the chance to read plays and react in a manner that is most effective for the play being presented, the VHS is an automated response that causes you to commit before you truly know where the puck will end up. I see so many goalies going in and out of the VHS when the puck is way out by the half-walls, or along the boards down by the goal line. This is unnecessary, and all it does is waste energy.
– It is impossible to see a puck through your body. When down in the VHS, pucks that are fired into your feet, or at your five hole, are lost. You can not see the puck, for your legs and pads, and sometimes even your bulky chest protector, are in the way. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to deal with that unsettled feeling of having to sense or “feel” the puck somewhere underneath me. A full butterfly, or a stand-up post-coverage technique allows me to see the puck in front of me, as my head is aligned with my chest and my knees. In the VHS, one knee is up in my chest, it pulls the leg pad in front of your core, and you’re forced to lose track of the puck.
— Keep an eye for some goalies to start using what I call an “inverted VHS” (or it could be called a “reverse VHS” as well), where the leg that is normally up against the post is actually laid down on the top of the post, coming out towards the top of the crease. The right knee is up off the ice and the leg actually pushes your upper body in order to lean into the post, and the right leg is like a bent support beam, thanks to good activation on the inside edge of the skate.
– I understand and fully agree that there are many good tactical purposes for the VHS, and they should be used in certain situations. When I see it used incorrectly, or in a manner that leads to a bad rebound, I still don’t believe it is not worth having as a skill in your armory. I am simply saying that there are many aspects of the stance that open up the door for biomechanic and kinetic inefficiencies. Some of these are: losing balance when having to come out of VHS, having to “sense and tense” when pucks are fired into your skates, and instantly transforming into an inactive and robotic blocker.
— I think it is very important for goalies to understand that, when you’re in the VHS pose, you are much more likely to be victimized by the numerous natural plays that can develop into dangerous situations or unmitigated scoring chances. If a goalie stays in an active stance (either standing up or going into a full or half butterfly), they don’t have commit first, they don’t have to hope pucks don’t find holes, and they maintain biomechanic control of the situation. Staying out of VHS allows you to read and react. Staying in VHS forces you to react, then read.
When I am personally playing, I always keep the mindset that I don’t want to commit into a stance or technique that the shooter can read and react to. If they have that power, and I am hopeless due to being stuck in a pose, or moving in and out of it, I don’t feel fully confident and I don’t feel like I’m fully in control. I use the VHS on very rare situations, and I always try to lean into my posts so I can rely on my footwork to keep me mobile and dynamic in the crease.
This is my personal preference, and it works for me due to my size, frame, and mobility. You need to find the best feel for your own style, and be consistent with your decision making.
—[ ORIGINAL ARTICLE: USE VHS ONLY AS DIRECTED ]—
Originally written in December of 2010 for Elite Goalies
The first month of the new NHL season has shed light on an issue related to a popular technique used by goaltenders all across North America. We are speaking of none other than the VHS save selection. Numerous weak goals allowed by superstars such as Marc-Andre Fleury, Antero Niittymaki and Steve Mason have quickly exposed that it’s a valuable tool simply being misused.
The VHS is short for Vertical-Horizontal Stance, which is a save selection used to eliminate space and seal holes just inside the posts. One leg is vertical and aligned with the post while the other is horizontal and flush to the ice. It is effective in allowing a goalie to eliminate wraparounds, while also allowing them to quickly push into a butterfly slide.
The current problem with the VHS save selection is that, instead of being used in specific situations, it has become a victim of muscle-memory. That means it is being used as a reaction instead of a result of effectively reading the play. This issue has developed rapidly over the last year thanks to many misunderstandings by coaches and extreme overuse by goalies of all ages.
“The VHS is a good save selection at the right time,” said Elite Goalies owner and Dallas Stars goalie coach Mike Valley. “But if mismanaged, you’ll get caught in many difficult situations. Lately, the VHS has become a good technique simply gone wrong.”
So when exactly should goalies use the VHS save selection?
Draw an imaginary triangle from the bottom and middle of the faceoff circle (not the dot) straight down to the goal line. Travel straight across the goal line to the outside of the post. Then go diagonally from the post right back to the bottom middle of the faceoff circle. If the puck is ever released on goal in this area, snapping into the VHS is an effective save selection.
If the puck is being carried along the half-boards, however, or anywhere above or inside the faceoff dot, the VHS technique is going to cause problems. Maybe the most prevalent VHS downfall is how it locks a goalie into a position that exposes space in many different areas. It is also difficult to recover back to the feet and therefore causes bad rebounds and a loss of balance.
“When the VHS is used incorrectly, a goalie is playing the odds and basically hoping the puck hits them,” Valley explained. “There’s a very specific time and place for it. But when used correctly, it’s a great tool to use down low and along the goal line. It should be regarded as a way to control volume and space in the net.”
So remember, the VHS has many pitfalls that cause goalies to appear submissive, prone and vulnerable to many different kinds of shots. Always try to rely on your ability to simply read and react. Having an arsenal of different techniques is valuable, but it is much more important to display discretion and only use it when absolutely necessary.