You don’t always think of goaltenders as defensemen, but defending the net –whether it’s in ice hockey, midget hockey, sled hockey, roller hockey or inline hockey — takes all kinds of style and moves to do the job well. “Poke checks” and “stacking the pads” are two methods of blocking the puck that you’ll find useful in minding the net in junior league hockey and beyond for girls and boys. Here’s what the two phrases mean for hockey coaching and how you execute them:

The Poke Check

This hockey move is for both defensemen and goaltenders, and it simply means using your stick to “poke” away the puck from the shooter. As a goaltender, the poke check gives you an additional way to keep the puck out of the net without having to use your body against the force of the puck as it shoots toward the goal. This short video shows how to poke check and some great ways for goalies to practice the skill. Here, NHL favorites like Corey Crawford, Devan Dubnyk and Marty Turco show how to do it. The poke check is a great way for you to knock the offense off-guard and keep that puck from crossing the line.

Stacking the Pads

Some people will call this move true “old-school” hockey, but stacking the pads is still making a big comeback. As a goaltender, you stack the pads by dropping down to the ice and putting your legs together so that the pads are stacked on top of each other horizontally to block the shot. This seals the bottom of the net, especially if you extend your trailing arm out on the ice to cover the full range of the crease. Hockey’s great goaltenders like Marty Brodeur, Tuukka Rask and Marc-Andre Fleury show stacking the pads to block shots in this compilation video.

The Downside of Stacking the Pads

Stacking the pads is a great way to prevent an initial shot from going in, but it does have downsides, pun intended. It’s hard for you to get back on your feet after falling to the ice, so this move may remove your ability to get back into position quickly. As a result, you’ll probably find it difficult to protect against rebound saves. The good news is that you might be able to use your poke check while you’re down to keep any rebound shots from going in!

Practicing both these moves will widen your range of goaltending abilities and deepen your skills for whatever shots you’re up against.

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