Controlling your D is vital to your game. Goalkeeping is not just about making the save; it’s about controlling the flow of the game. Ian Taylor write an article a while back commentating on the modern game of hockey, stating that this is controlling your D is a key part of the game, which is often overlooked by both coaches and players. By facing fewer shots, you’re less likely to let in more goals, whatever level of ability you play at: know where the goal is, where your defence is, and where the attackers are; where the space is to clear the shot, and where the space is for the shooter to move into. Not only do you need to reduce your shot count, but you also need to control the play. The D is YOUR zone; the D is the goalkeeper’s area and you need to make it that way. Sometimes you can and need to act as an extra defender, such as being faced with having to make an attacking clearance; coming out to challenge an open player or kicking away the free ball.
Clear away rebounds
In order to control the play, you need to control your rebounds; by putting the ball away to a safe place away from danger you limit the scoring chances for the opposing team – with no rebound, there is no second chance on goal. You need to clear rebounds accurately; simply returning the ball back to the shooter gives them an easy chance to put away the rebound. Whenever you make a save, make sure that you make a concerted effort to get rid of the ball on the save, or do your best to clear the rebound after you have controlled the shot.
Shut down plays
As a goalkeeper who dominates their D, you need to be capable of shutting down scoring opportunities. On breakaways especially, you need to come out of your goal and shut down the play; the defence will not get back in time to help, so it is up to you to intercept the player at the top of the D. Attacking clearances, as well, are important, as you need to rush out and have an accurate kick to get the ball away from the area. Interceptions are another play that you need to shut down; eliminating the pass to deny a scoring chance. If you feel that you have the ability to take on players within the D (and have the backing of your defence), you can confidently do so.
Organise your defence
Organising your defenders is key to success in goal. To dominate your half of the pitch, you need to dominate your defenders: shouting out instructions to them. You need to control the defence and get them to do what you want them to do. Feed them constant information; tell them if they are leaving a player unmarked and try to get them not to over commit on a challenge that would otherwise get your team penalised and end up having to face a free hit or corner.
Whenever you go out to get the ball, you need to put your name on it. Shout ‘KEEPERS’ or ‘MINE’ loud enough to be heard by your teammates. By doing this, your fellow players will know to leave it and you will be able to make a successful clearance or tackle.
Make the D your own
To control your D, you need to make it yours. This is done through your voice and through your actions; your voice controls your defenders and your actions control the play. YOU need to make the effort to be aggressive and be more active in challenging the opposition; it’s no good being passive! If a player is in your way, then you can tell them: shout at them to move out of the way, so that you can get a better view of the play, in order to make the save, or to get them out the way to get to the ball.
Dominate your D: control the zone!
Ultimately, you need to control your D; the D is your zone and you are the leader. Whenever someone steps into the D, they should expect to face the wrath of the goalie! You need to control the play and determine how things occur with your decision making; be prepared to come out and clear rebounds, or launch out to intercept a breakaway. It is up to you to do this, so you need to learn quickly.