With hockey now being in a transition period with experimental rule changes, we as goalkeepers must also make the transition back to being very attacking in certain circumstances. As the years have passed and goalkeeping gear has dramatically improved, some goalkeepers have lent away from being attacking and preferred to stay back on their line to try and make the save.
With the elimination of the offside rule, there will still be the need to remain back on the line to make saves that we would normally. However, there will be the need to play higher and smarter. From my limited experience with forwards having free reign over the field, keepers have had to take a much more involved role that has included interceptions, tackling and closing down of play.
I am going to address two skills in this tips section. Each will be broken down into two sections: describing how the skill should be executed, and how to incorporate this into a training session.
When a field player intercepts the ball they are usually in front of their opponent. For goalkeepers this is generally not possible. The intercepts that a keeper should look to make include around the back plays (along the back line), crosses and loose balls.
When intercepting any ball, the stick should be extended to a comfortable position (extend as much as individually possible). This allows the keeper to cover as much ground as humanly possible. When the ball is on the right hand side of the field, some goalkeepers put their stick across in front of them with the hook pointing down. The diagram on the left shows the stance when intercepting on the left hand side of the goal, while the one of the right shows the stance for intercepts on the right hand side of goal.
If you make the decision to intercept the ball you must commit yourself the ball 100%, anything less than this is not acceptable in good goalkeeping!! Interceptions not only come from the back line, they also come from general play. With great movement around the circle becoming the norm, a ball could be passed from the top of the circle, to a player leading from the back line. It is then the keepers responsibility to intercept this ball if the player is not marked.
Drills for Interceptions
Around the back play: have your coach get a number of balls and hit them across the field. Anything that is beyond the 6 yard mark should be left and movement to the player or retreating to get into line. (Refer to the shaded part of the diagram to see the actual area that an intercept should be made in.) It is important that you do not try to predict what the player is going to do, if you dive too early to make the interception the attacker is likely to slip the ball past you into the goal.
To get used to saving the through ball, it is a good idea to simulate the actual game situation.
2. Tackling (Meeting the player early)
The key to making a good tackle in any section of the field is to get into early position. Goalkeepers are no exception to this, in fact I think that it is vitally important. If a keeper does not meet the player before or as they receive the ball then it is too late as most players will be able to drag the ball around you.
The best possible scenario is for you to actually get to the ball before the player and clear it to one of your players.
This is not always possible due to the fact that we are forced to make split second decisions. If we meet the player as they receive the ball then this should reduce the chance of a goal being scored significantly.
If you get close to the player they can not get the ball past you, whether you are standing or on the ground
Unlike years ago, tackling is not only slide tackling. Today if you get to the player early enough it is just as effective to stand, making your presence felt and at the same time trying to be as big as possible.
Stand tall & create the impression of a large physical presence.
Drills for Tackling & Meeting the Players Early:
The best way to practice this is in a game like situation. I find this to be the best way and if you can spend time to analyse what you should have done differently that is a great way to learn. (I am only talking about a few seconds for this to happen.) Any analysis that you want to agonise over should be done off the field so that you can concentrate on what you are actually out there for – to stop the ball going in the net!
Please remember that all of the above is only my personal view (highly likely to be correct! -grin-) As I have always suggested, take bits or all of it and try it. If it doesn't work for you, make adjustments for yourself as nothing is ever the same for any one person.
Good luck with the keeping!
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