Understanding the Usage & Implementation of the RVH

as seen in USA Hockey Magazine’s Goalie Edition Online Publication


Progress is often looked at with skepticism since it requires changes and as a result is met with resistance. For years, the butterfly technique was questioned but in the long run has transformed the goaltending position -- It is now the goaltenders’ most relied upon and often implemented save. The advent of the RVH position on the post is one of the latest progressions in goaltending technique development. Like the butterfly upon its introduction, the increasingly popular RVH position has been doubted but steadfastly endures its own growing pains and questioning. However, upon an objective review, the RVH has already has a tremendous impact on the goaltender position and consequently the game of ice hockey. 

The RVH to a goalie is intriguing and looks fun. Seeing an NHL goaltender use the RVH as dynamically as Jonathan Quick only heightens our awareness of the movement and appeal of the technique. Understanding a goaltender’s desire to emulate a NHL star is part of coaching and is no different than many young baseball players in New England mimicking the batting stance of recently retired Red Sox great David Ortiz. Understanding that goaltenders of all ages will inevitably end up in the RVH, it is important that goalies, parents and coaches alike understand the RVH, when to utilize the RVH and common mistakes associated with the RVH.

There are two situations where the RVH can clearly be used by the goalie or taught by the coach. By embracing use of the RVH in these scenarios, goaltenders, parents and coaches can learn that the RVH is to be used at certain times and not just haphazardly. 

When a goalie is facing a wrap around, is a sound time to utilize the RVH. Using the RVH on a wrap around provides the goalie a very good seal between the goaltender and post. Additionally, the RVH provides the goaltender better site of the puck by allowing his/her head to look over their pads and see the puck on the ice.  

When there is a pass-out threat originating from below the goal line to a player who is on the same side of the ice as the puck and clearly close to the goaltender’s crease is another scenario where a goaltender can begin to utilize the RVH. When a goaltender uses the RVH in this situation, he or she is already able to have the bottom portion of the net sealed, thus forcing the recipient of the pass to elevate the puck (a tougher shot) in order to score. Ideally, the goaltender needs to be in the RVH before the pass is made. This is where a goaltender’s ability to read the play becomes vital. 

Decisiveness plays a substantial roll in the use of the RVH regardless of age. Lack of decisiveness is the single greatest challenge of the RVH. Goaltenders who automatically move into the RVH anytime the puck is near the goal line are not developing.  Goaltenders should consistently be making conscious decisions whether or not to get into the RVH based upon  play unfolding in front of them. Even if the conscious decision does not yield the desired outcome, the goaltender has learned not to use the RVH in the given situation at the very least. 

There are two areas of the game where goaltenders are over utilizing the RVH: rushes coming down the wall and in recovery or rebound situations. There are a very finite number of scenarios where a goaltender should recover back to their post in an RVH and there are even fewer scenarios where a goaltender should be using the RVH when facing a rush against. 

Outside of the criteria of the situation, other factors, such as the size and speed of the goaltender, factor into when and where to use the RVH. Utilizing the RVH off the rush or in a rebound situation would not be recommended until a goaltender has advanced into the junior or college ranks. Even as a NCAA goaltending coach, I find myself coaching the Quinnipiac University goaltenders to utilize or hold their feet as their primary decision.

Advances in the techniques, skills and mentality of our position keeps us enthused about the best position in all of sports. Embracing the advancements while acknowledging there is a time and place for everything will keep this position exciting and forever unique. Each goaltender is responsible for his or her decisions and style of play in net. It is excellent if a goaltender wants to utilize the RVH as long as he or she is decisive, absorbing the situation, and developing from the outcome.