What makes a great goalkeeper?

With the Olympics upon us, now is a good time to reflect on what it takes to be a goalkeeper at the elite level.

It is good to pinpoint the qualities of a top class goalkeeper, so that you know what you’ve got to work towards if you want to be the best. Aside from hard work and perseverance, it takes a special athlete to make it at the top. There are number of skills, some of which are natural and gifts we are born with (like amazing reaction speeds/reflexes), but it is possible to work hard to improve them, if you want to reach the top. Coaches look for these abilities, and this is important to remember if you want to be scouted to play at the best levels.


The following is a list of qualities that all the elite crop of goalkeepers have:



To be able to make those highlight reel saves, you need to be athletic. Although field hockey goalkeepers have all that extra padding, they need to be quick on their feet and acrobatic in save making. Just like soccer goalkeepers who leave their feet a lot, field hockey goalies need to be prepared to jump, leap and dive around to make the save, especially against tricky shooters with hard, well placed shots or quick drag flicks.


Abile to read the play

Elite goalkeepers are aware of what players are going to do, which helps them make up their mind on when and how to make the save. Athleticism helps them to get into place to stop the ball, but it is their ability to read the game that makes the save. By being able to work out what will happen, they are also able to make better decisions as a result; one step ahead in the battle against the opposition.



At the top level, goalkeepers often have to make consecutive saves if the shot is uncontrollable (unable to direct the rebound given the power of the shot). To be able to do so, the goalkeeper needs to be agile; getting up immediately and recovering to stop the shot. With immediate changes in play, goalkeepers will also have to change direction. If you have to move from post to post to be attempt a save on a passed shot, then you need to be lightning fast to get there in time to block. This is what agility is all about.


Strong mental attitude

A strong mentality is so important to being an elite athlete; dealing with the pressures that come with the position. Goalkeepers are competitors and don’t ever like being beaten. If a goal is scored against them, it is immediately forgotten about and ignored, rather than being worried about and causing more goals. The goalkeeper needs to carry their team and help them win. Especially at the international stage, goalkeepers would underperform if they were nervous and showed it.


Not a quitter

A goalkeeper has to be a fighter. If the chips are down and they are up against it, the goalkeeper shows no sign of giving up. If the game is already lost and there is no chance of evening the score, the goalkeeper will still pull off the saves to keep the game alive. This is so important in close games when the score is tied, or down a single goal, because it shows the team that the goalkeeper doesn’t give up and will help the team to make a comeback.


Good decision maker

Goalkeepers have to be elite decision makers: they need to know when to do the right thing and do it properly at the right time. Things such as whether to come out and block slide on a 1-on-1, aggressively, or play the shot and make the save. The goalkeeper has to be able to read the play and make the correct decision. Working with the defence is crucial; if they have their support then it makes it easier to play passively, but if the defence cannot get back in time, then the goalkeeper needs to take charge. It is also about making the right save selection; prioritising the rebound placement so there are no second chances.


Good reflexes

Reflexes are another obvious part of elite goalkeeping. Good reflexes are an essential part of goalkeeping and are even more important at the top level of the game. It is not a skill, which you can learn (although you can improve it), so elite goalkeepers are normally naturally gifted with good reactions. To be able to stop a shot from a guy with a stinging shot like Jamie Dwyer, you need to have lightning fast reactions.


Technically good

Obviously goalkeepers need to have good technique and a good skill set, otherwise they will give away easy goals through bad posture, save choice, or simply not being on angle. A technical game is important: without it, can you cannot succeed at the highest level because the opposition will easily pick apart your game. The ability to control rebounds, make difficult saves look easy etc. is all part of this. Coaching helps this; knowing what to do in a certain situation, and putting it into practise makes your job easier. Some goalkeepers get a head start in their careers because of having coaching from a young age, but it is still possible to progress with out it and then get coaching after being recognised.



Game experience is vital. The more game experience the better; the best goalkeepers are those that are experienced, so elite goalkeepers should have bags of it (i.e. they will obviously have been playing since childhood, but will also have experience playing at high levels or junior international games!). A goalkeeper who has played lots of games can call upon these experiences when faced with an all-important, difficult matches; helping them make the right choices or stay calm when it gets tough. Experience helps the goalkeeper with the ability to read the play and know what is going to happen. Game experience is invaluable and it is better to be experienced than rely on skill.



Great goalkeepers are often aggressive; taking charge of situations and dominating their area. Goalkeepers need to be aggressive; they need to dominate their D and shut down plays if needs be. You cannot always be passive or too reliant on your defence, such as needing to intercept passes that will prevent scoring chances. Obviously being too aggressive is a danger, but the ability to challenge the attacker and make their life difficult is essential if you want to go far.



A great goalkeeper is like a choir master, in charge of the orchestra; they are the one who instructs their team on what to do. The goalkeeper has the best view on the pitch and they should use that to their team’s advantage. Providing constant communication to their defenders will help the team make the right decision in how to deal with a player. Defenders want to know what to do and elite goalkeepers will be able to tell them.



Goalkeepers have to be brave and confident. If you are to reach the best level of the game, then you need to be unafraid of the ball. When you train and play with top level shooters, shots come at you hard and fast, and there is no time to get scared or flinch. An elite goalie is not afraid of the ball; they are better than it and control it, hard shots don’t bother them. A goalkeeper shouldn’t be afraid of hard shots, instead they should believe they are like tennis balls – easy to stop!



Great goalkeepers also have strong concentration levels, able to quick ‘switch on’ when it is important to do so. Not content to ‘nod off’, they are aware of what is going on in front of them, taking part in the game and organising their defence vocally. Without this ability, they could be caught off guard and easily concede a goal.

Foot-eye co-ordination

Just like hand-eye co-ordination, having good co-ordination with your feet will make you feel more comfortable reacting for kicker saves.

Co-ordination with your feet is just as important as having good hand-eye co-ordination. To be able to make quick saves with your feet and when on the move, you need to have good reactions from your feet; able to track the ball into your feet. Like hand-eye co-ordination, you need to work hard on co-ordinating your feet for those reflex saves.  In field hockey, where our feet play an important part in distributing the ball, and making the actual saves, you should be aware of the need to have sufficient skills in this area. Other than saves, our feet are also essential for kicking the ball in clearances; seeing the ball into your feet and legs is a key to goalkeeping, since that is where the majority of low shots are saved, and this seems to somewhat overlooked in our sport. It should therefore be your mission to have just as sufficient co-ordination with our feet as we do with our hands.


For making saves with the feet, like this split save stretching out, you need to be able to track the ball into your foot to stop the shot successfully.


Soccer tricks

Soccer (football) is very good for practising your foot skills. The ball skills they do are great for hockey goalkeepers; getting the feet active and moving around to connect with the ball. As your eye has to be on the ball to track the ball into your feet and make connection for the save or kick, then you will be working on your foot-eye co-ordination. Although it takes a bit of skill and practise, getting used to having the ball at your feet should be useful in feeling comfortable kicking the ball, as well as improving your reactions when saving with your kickers.


Here’s a video clip to give you an idea:




Keepy uppies’

The soccer trick that everyone knows: kicking the ball up into the air, and then keeping it up there, by continuously knocking it back up, is a great way of establishing eye connection with your feet. All you need to do is basically kick a soccer ball into the air and see how many times you can kick it up without it ending up dropping to the floor. This can easily be done at home, in your back garden, or down a park. Bending at the hip to lean forward will help with your technique.


This clip is a good example:




It is also possible to do this in your pads; kicking a hockey ball up in the air with your kickers. You can do this before a match or have a go doing it at training. The principle is the same: you need to keep the ball up in the air by continuously kicking it up. As well as working your eye contact, it also gets your feet moving.



‘Wall ball’

Kicking a soccer ball against a brick wall is a great way to practise your lower body reflexes. Kick the ball against the wall and then try to control the rebound back off the wall. The speed of the redirected ball will be harder to control, making it a good drill for practising foot reflexes.



Volleying a soccer ball is another great way of practising ball skills, and working on your foot-eye co-ordination. Volleying is when you kick the ball up in the air and then shoot as it comes back down. When you volley the ball you will have to follow through with your vision, focusing on the ball as you connect with foot. Doing this against a wall is the best idea; the rebound sent out you can volley back again.



Knocking a soccer ball around amongst friends is a simple way of practising your kicking skills; passing the ball between you and another (or multiple) players at varying speeds and distances. This will help you practise your ball skills; working on your ability to kick the ball and watch to see when a pass is coming to you.


Tennis balls

To make things harder and get more practise, you can change the type of ball you use. Soccer balls come in different sizes, so you can get a smaller sized ball to make it harder for yourself. Tennis balls are also a good idea; as they are much smaller, they are more difficult to kick.

Marshal your defence!

Whilst shot stopping is an important part of the game, being a vocal presence helps organise your defence, whilst helping you maintain concentration.

Whilst shot stopping is an essential part of the goalkeeping role, there is more to it than just that! Goalkeepers can often be quiet personalities (that’s not to say there aren’t eccentric or outward going members of the goalies’ union i.e. Bryzgalov of the Philadelphia Flyers; wrong sport but a good example!) and as such, can often be content with simply reacting to the game as it develops rather than orchestrating their defence. However, by organising the defence, the goalkeeper can quickly identify areas of attack, helping their team to play to a higher level. By taking command of their team and relaying instructions or pointing out unseen attackers who have managed to get in front of them (for example!), they show they are confident in their ability to read the game and take charge of the situation.


Whilst it’s difficult to show being vocal through pictures, here is James Fair watching the game and instructing his team.


Best view on the pitch

The goalkeeper arguably has the best view on the pitch. They can observe the game as it unfolds, reading the play to work out potential dangers and points of attack that could lead to scoring opportunities. With this significant advantage, the goalkeeper can use it to help their team out, identifying these dangers and telling them of them. If you were playing in defence, wouldn’t you want someone helping you out with advice on where the dangers are?! The more you help your team out, the more confident they will be with you in goal, knowing they can trust you to provide them with the support they need. Engaging in dialogue with their defence lets them know they are being helped.


Reading the play

Reading the play is an elite skill that helps you respond to changes in the game but needs analysing in more detail (so hopefully I’ll get round to writing an article on that at some point!). It is more obvious for a field player when making interceptions during a break in play, but for a goalkeeper, they need to be aware of all that’s going on in front of them. Watching games in person or video footage of games will help you learn to read the game as it happens in front of your eyes. Reading the play and being constantly aware of goal scoring opportunities will help you in being vocal; knowing what to say and when.


The silent goalie

The case of the silent goalkeeper is one that goalkeepers shouldn’t aspire to, but is a fairly common occurrence! For all their technical ability at stopping shots, their inability to be a commanding presence for their team hampers their chances of greater success. Whilst trying to tally up your success rate against a lot of shots, a better goalkeeper is one who looks to limit scoring opportunities by constantly feeding their team information. A silent goalie is more likely to face more shots and scoring opportunities because they are not commanding the game in front of them. A game involves team effort and by barking out orders, you are showing that you want to be part of the team and want to help them out.


Being involved in the game also helps with concentration. With this maintenance of your concentration levels, you stand a better chance of making the save when it matters. By being in tune with the game and not dropping off to sleep (which is an extreme but makes the point!) will also help you stay sharp and be able to make the save when an opportunity on goal occurs.


A vocal presence

The best weapon (if that’s a suitable phrase!) against the attacks of the opponents, is actually your voice. Aside from pointing by gesticulation (i.e. waving your stick in the direction of free attackers), the best chance you have of communicating with your team is obviously to talk to them. Watching international goalkeepers in action will show you the use and importance of the skill of being in dialogue with your team. James Fair (GB and England international) is a good example of a goalkeeper who creates a dominant presence with his voice, constantly barking out instructions to his team as he identifies goal scoring opportunities early on and tells his defence about them.


In the heat of playing a game and being on edge and nervous, it can be easy to forget the need to be vocal. When I was being coached as a deputy to an elite level goalkeeper, I was told that your defence often want to simply hear the sound of your voice so they know you are still there! Whilst you don’t want to slip into the trap of providing useless information, you still need to be constantly barking out orders as and when you see a breakdown in defence. The more involved you are, the more your defence and team can structure themselves towards each occurring threat.


When you notice an urgent need for your defence to react, you need to vocalise it. Here are some potential areas where you can be vocal:


  • Pointing out unmarked defenders who are in the D
  • Instructions for defenders (e.g. which side the attacker is trying to move them to)
  • Identifying attackers running in
  • Marking up against a team
  • Getting back quickly after a short corner in the opposing end


Be heard!

It’s difficult to be heard during a game, but you need to work on it and stick it out to help you develop your goalkeeping skills. The phrase “be heard by the other goalkeeper” is often used in coaching terms when describing the need to be loud. Essentially you need to be as loud as you can, potentially being heard from the other side of the pitch! Practise helps and learning to shout and raise your voice will obviously help (but be careful where you do it!). When I was learning the importance of shouting, I had to be heard over aeroplanes (with the pitch near an airport obviously!)!


Be in charge!

Ultimately, whilst it’s not always easy, the goalkeeper has to take it upon themselves to command their team. Shot stopping abilities only get you so far. The more you engage with the game, the more you show your team you are able to read the game and provide them with useful pointers to threats they need to deal with. By being a vocal presence, you will see an improvement in your concentration and the way you can reduce scoring opportunities.

Responding to an allowed goal

Being scored on isn’t fun but if you let it get to you, you won’t perform to the best of your ability.

A goalkeeper’s job is never easy and when faced with the task of being unbeatable the pressure can often be intense. Being scored on and allowing goals is part and parcel of being a goalkeeper, but it’s how you respond to that that shows how good you really are. In sport they often say how important the mental game is and with goalkeeping it is no different, if not more important. A goalkeeper’s ability to overcome adversity and bounce back shows they have good mental strength and will be able to perform at their best for their team.


Forget about it!

The best way to respond to a conceded goal is to play like it never happened. Whilst it’s fairly obviously how to forget about it, you need to do your best to put it out of your mind entirely. Ignore the urge to have a go at yourself for letting the goal be scored and work at composure and collecting your thoughts together so that you are prepared for the next chance on goal. Play like it’s 0-0 and forget about the pressure to win. Like the saying “water off a duck’s back” be cool and calm and don’t let it get to you. If you do, then negative thought patterns will sink in and affect your performance.


Whilst it is important to consider how the goal was scored, you need to leave that to the training ground. After the game you can look at how you could have stopped the goal, but for now, you need to work at not letting it get to you. If you think you’re going to lose, then the chances are you will because your heart won’t be in it! In the ‘here and now’ of a game (or trial or practise if you’re that competitive!), your priority is the next shot and keeping your team in the game.


Moving on

Being scored on can easily dampen your spirits and damage your confidence. If you dwell for too long on the goal, then you are likely to hinder your chances of performing well and helping your team get back in the game. The longer you criticise your performance, the harder it will be to self motivate; negative confidence will lead to self doubt which in turn will lead to indecision and poor play which will then lead to more goals if you’re not lucky. Instead, you need to move past the event and refocus your efforts on the task at hand (of stopping more shots and goal scoring opportunities!).


Focusing on the next shot

As it’s been mentioned your priority is to keep your team in the game and to play your best, not to mull over having let a goal in! By focusing and concentrating on the next shot or attempt on goal and visualising yourself stopping it, it will help from letting your mind wander. Focus your mind on the task at hand: your priority is to not let more goals in!


Strong body language

Having seen a lot of games (on YouTube and in person!), I have noticed a habit some goalkeepers have of openly lamenting the fact they have allowed a goal. Whilst it’s good to be emotional as it shows you care (like Murray’s tears at Wimbledon), it gives the wrong impression. Looking dejected and showing signs of bad body language (even if it’s hard to see your face through your helmet!) is actually a bad idea, giving the opposition the impression that you lack confidence and don’t know what you’re doing. Instead of this, do your best to maintain a level of confidence which will provide a positive sense for your team.


Showing visual signs that the team is getting to you isn’t a good idea!


Bouncing back

Ultimately, the most important thing is to carry on your attempts at being unbeatable. Goals can dash your confidence against the rocks and if you let it get to you it will stop you playing well and ensuring you end up losing. Instead, work to refocus your efforts and carry on playing confidently. This way you can give your team the best chance of winning and the opposition won’t think they can steamroll you.

Being consistent

Playing to a consistent level is going to help you do better over a season and the long term!

Playing to a consistent level is a major part of goalkeeping. Learning how to provide your team with a standard of shot stopping ability they can trust and are confident with becomes the backbone for success. Without it, how do you expect to have a good run during a season? It’s all well and good playing a “blinder” but if you can’t repeat the success next game, what good is it? Coaches are more inclined to pick a goalkeeper who is shown to be consistent and can continue that consistency at a higher level. This is true whether it is at club level or international: if you play well and stop the ball and are giving your team the best chance of winning, then you are more likely to get picked!


Why the need?

When playing for a long stretch of games, you obviously want to be putting in good performances on a regular basis. Not only is it going to help you win a league or tournament, but will show your team and coaching staff that you have what it takes and provide good goalkeeping at critical times no matter the occasion. The better you play, the better your team plays. A team who can trust their goalkeeper to make the timely saves is theoretically more confident going forward, since they have less to worry about being scored on and therefore will increase their scoring chances. By playing confidently and having confidence in your team, everybody wins!


Tracking consistency

Whereas in American sports they are inclined to track save percentages and goals allowed for each and every goalie performance, it seems harder to analyse how well a goalkeeper performs over a longer period of time. You could always work out the stats for yourself to find a good average; working out a medium level that you can work to improve from. Obviously the more wins you record the better, but by tracking down a base level of shots stopped or games won or goals allowed, you can work on improving your . Other factors like the quality of your defence and your experience (which helps with decision making and playing confidently) will come into play, but at the end of the day, the more shots you stop, the more you give your team the chance of winning on a regular basis.


How to play consistently

Playing consistently is all down to a good ‘mental game’ (which is a very big topic and will hopefully be looked at in more detail in other articles). Learning to play well at away pitches and overcome difficulties that affect your psychological mindset will set you up well for being able to play consistently whatever the game. The more confident you are, the better you will play over an extended period of games.


The trick to playing with consistency is to play your best and give it your all. Even if you lose, you want to make sure you only lost by a goal or two. Heavy defeats are going to affect your analysis of your ability to perform well, whilst going from play really well to playing poorly are not going to look good either.


Playing consistently

The ability to play consistently also comes down to experience. Whilst young goalkeepers can show a lot of talent early on, the more games you have and played and the more experience you have under your belt, is a decisive factor in your ability to turn out a good performance regularly. Unlike outfield players, goalkeepers don’t reach their playing peak until late into their twenties or early thirties, so “earning your colours” will eventually help you turn out strong seasons.


A consistent goalkeeper is one who plays well no matter what. In spite of how well the team performs, the goalkeeper plays well. Consistency is shown by the goalkeeper’s ability to provide their team with the chance to win in good games and bad. If you take a look at the elite goalies in pro sport, you’ll notice the quality of the better performing goalkeepers. Not only do elite goalies steal their team wins but they play well throughout the season, not going through bad patches that cost their team points. Brad Friedel, for example, (even though he is in the twilight of his career) is a very good unsung goalkeeper who provides consistency for his team and has done for a number of teams over a number of seasons.


Be consistent!

Ultimately, you need to try and be consistent in each and every game over your each year’s season and also your entire playing career! Setting yourself a goals against target or number of wins a season can be a way of working towards self improvement and consistency. The key to consistency is simple. Play every game the same; have the same attitude no matter if you think they’re ‘easy wins’ or difficult games and you will find yourself performing at a good standard throughout the season.

Always looking to improve

Being analytical of your own performances and always looking to improve will help you perform better.

Whilst it sounds harsh, it’s no good going through the motions and being happy with poor performances. So you may not want to play competitive or high level hockey (that’s not to say you can’t be competitive at lower levels; a game is what you make it!) because you feel it’s not your thing, but that doesn’t stop looking to improve yourself and be the best goalkeeper you can be. If you can bothered to turn up to every training session and play through rain and snow, then why not be bothered to look to improve your technique and overall game?


Constant improvement

A goalkeeper who wants to play to their best of their ability will always be looking to improve. It is no good getting comfortable with dominating at a step level, if you really want to show how good you are, then you have to test yourself against better shooters! An easy example is the cream of the crop; the international level goalkeeper. Sure, they will be good and if playing at the top level are arguably great at what they do, but to be excellent, to be a cut above the rest and be the best in the world, they really have to push themselves to the limits to play to their best.


The key to improvement is to constantly look to improve. The stated example required a lot of improvement to even get to the stage of being their country’s number one. They will have had to go through hoops and moved up levels at important stages in their playing career, where the jump between levels may have been considerable and required a lot of work. If you are a youngster looking to follow the same path, aside from the level of commitment needed, you will need to be looking to improve all the time. Once you get good at one standard of play it won’t be long until you push yourself to have a go at the next! This constant transition will require you to be pushing yourself to consistently give your all whilst looking to improve and refine your technique as you develop your goalkeeping abilities.


Self analysis

Goalkeeper specific coaches (if you are lucky enough to have one at your club!) should obviously be able to help analyse your game from watching you train and help provide useful feedback, but even if you have access to such support, you should still be prepared to analyse your own game. By being self critical and analysing you will learn more about the game and in turn help develop as a goalkeeper. If you are without regular specific goalkeeper training to help you out, you are going to have to do a bit of independent learning (as they call it in schools these days!).


Keeping a diary of the goals you were scored on, noting what caused them, where and how they were scored will help you learn from your mistakes and hopefully not make the same mistake twice. Similarly, you can use training to work out where you’re going wrong and how you’re getting beaten and then work to improve in these areas (such as getting your balance right during a save attempt, or getting your angles spot on to make the save). In the short term you can look to do better than you did in your last game, whilst over the long term of a season and more, you can try to be able to find overall improvement in your performances.


In contrast, if you think you are good and have proven it, then think again! A good life tip I got taught by one of my lecturers when at university is to “never get comfortable”. If you’re sitting pretty admiring your good work, then the chances are you’re not going to be better than other goalkeepers who are you are going to compete for a spot for (such as county or national trials, or moving clubs and trying to take the starting spot, or stepping up a level) because you aren’t working as hard as you can. Whilst it’s essential to have self belief to play well as a goalkeeper, what I’m trying to get at is the need to do better than you’re already doing. It’s no good sitting on your laurels; you need to get out there and work on your technique so you can beat out the competition and be the unrivalled number one.


Only as good as your last game

A useful phrase that is used by ice hockey and football (soccer) goalies alike, is “you’re only as good as your last game”. This attitude makes you realise that no matter what league you play in or how good you are, your ability can only be analysed by your last performance. In essence, it will push you to improve, making sure you develop your ability to play well consistently. This way of thinking keeps you grounded and will help you analyse your performance, taking into consideration how well you played and the need to do as well or better in your next game.


Not reaching your peak

In my opinion, goalkeepers who do not look to continue their development will stagnate. In essence they will fail to reach their potential simply because they aren’t looking to do even better. Ok, so they are critically and analytically good (if taking high level goalkeepers as an example), but they can be even better. They (and you possibly!) are letting themselves down by not giving it your all and trying to do better than you are currently. Again, it’s all about the desire to play your best. If you want to be the best around, then you need to really be looking to improve at every given opportunity, even if you don’t think you need improving! Nobody’s totally perfect and there’s got to be something goalkeeping wise they can work on!


Go out and improve!

Aside from the level of technique required for stepping up a level, even if you don’t wish to play at higher levels, you can still be looking to improve. At the end of the day if you love goalkeeping that much and love making saves, you can’t deny you want to play your best (even if you are playing for the sake of enjoyment) and working on improving means you have a greater chance of doing that. So, ultimately, it’s a win win situation: the more you improve the better you’ll get and the more saves you’ll make!

Why looking good on the pitch is important

We recently asked you why it is important to look good on the pitch. Here are some of your responses…

Why it is important to look so sharp on the pitch is because I want to look sharp and professional in your guys goalie gear.

I feel it’s important to look sharp on the pitch because when you look sharp you will therefore feel sharp and that is crucial in my overall game!

Looking good on the pitch is important to me since it inspires confidence. If you are confident then you play better.

I like to look sharp on the pitch because if you feel good you play well!

Looking sharp on the pitch is important to me as it shows all the other players on my team that I am in the best kit on the market OBO!!!!!!

Wearing OBO on the pitch also shows the other team that they have no chance of hurting me or putting a goal past me, clean sheets all the way.

For spending good money on the best gear available it is REALLY important that it looks perfect all the time!

I have lost the logo badge of my hi-control LHP. Without it I am letting in way too many goals as I just don’t have the look I need and the opposition seem to know it. I need that badge to up my confidence and get clean sheets again.

Why is it important to look so sharp on the pitch?……I want to look sharp and professional in your guys goalie gear.

Looking the part makes me look and feel like a boss, confidence is everything!

It wouldn’t be called hockey if we didn’t look good! I am just joking but by looking good in OBO not only my teammates take me seriously but the opponents can too.

Look great – Feel great – Play great………..that’s why it has to be OBO!!

Looking sharp and wearing the best protection available (OBO of course) gives me the confidence to perform at my best.

Can you send me a set of Hi Rebound replacement badges for my kickers and pads, without them I just don’t feel as sharp. My motto ‘look good, play good’.

Looking sharp on the pitch is important, because so much of sport is about the psychology behind it. If you look good you feel good and feeling good adds to your confidence, also it is more intimidating for the opposition to see a keeper with sharp kit, they know you take your hockey seriously!

I love to look great on the pitch!! and OBO helps me with this!! always making the best goalkeeping gear to the way I like it!!! I feel better more confident, and play better when I have got the best of OBO gear! I love colour, OBO just help me put my personality in to my goalkeeping inside and out!!

I take great pride in my kit and appearance and I actually feel embarrassed playing without the badges!

Not feeling completely perfect on the pitch sticks in my mind as a distraction!

Looking good in goal is important to me because you can try your hardest to be the best, but if you don’t look it, you’re only half way there!

Looking sharp on the pitch is important for me, because the goalkeeper is the face of the whole team, so one goal keeper can represent one team. Hence, we must look always sharp, clean and amazing on the pitch.

Never say never!

Never giving up on the play shows good mental strength and the determination to win.

When it seems that all is lost and the ball is goal bound and you’re surely going to concede, it can be easy to just simply give in and accept defeat. But that’s where you’re wrong! I’ve made plenty of saves desperately scrambling back to deny a goal scoring opportunity and due to the effort in recovering ground and not giving up on the play, have been able to stop a goal being scored. It can be quite an achievement, let alone lead to a great deal of satisfaction just to wipe the smile off the shooter’s face. Isn’t that what goalkeeping is all about?! Too many times have I watched highlights on Match of the Day with football (soccer) goalies simply watching the ball go past them, normally on free kicks (although arguably you could say you can’t be too critical as at that level the ball travels so fast they know they’ve been beat). Wouldn’t you rather give it your best shot (not sure if that can be considered a pun!) and see if you can stop it?


Diving back

One way of dealing with such a scenario is to dive back on the play; diving back towards goal, trying to reach the shot. This is easier said than done, but if the ball is on the pitch and need lifted, then is obviously easier to pull off! Against a passing play you can cut the angle if the ball is headed towards you. That said if the ball looks like it’s about to cross the line but you have the time to stop it, diving back with your stick extended can stop it in its tracks. Although it’s a different sport altogether, you’ll find plenty of highlight reel saves by ice hockey goalies who reach back behind them to stop the puck crossing the line.


Don’t give up!

Essentially you need to have a never give up attitude in order to stop yourself being beaten. Normally you expect to have to dive across or recover from an initial save where the ball has shot out (if the shot was difficult to control), if you are to make the stop. How you make the save is obviously dependent on the situation. If you’re out in the door leaving an “empty goal” for the shooter, then you’ll probably need to sprint across to get in its way, whilst if you are faced with an immediate follow up, you’ll need to do your best to recover into your ready stance quickly to make the next save. Similarly, if you have been beaten on a 1-on-1, then you can attempt to get back into your zone to get in the way of the shot, or run parallel to try and cut off the shooting lane.


A good drill to practise this mentality is one I was taught a while ago dubbed “the killer” (because of how much it will wear you out!) which is apparently used by goalkeeper coaches in Holland. The drill starts off with three balls in a line, the goalkeeper runs out, slides to clear away the ball and then has to run back to try and stop a ball the coach has thrown towards goal. This process is repeated, testing the goalkeeper’s mental and physical strengths. It basically teaches you to never give up on the play, running back to try and stop the ball crossing the line. If you can do it in drills then surely you can pull it off in games!


The following is a clip of South Korea’s goalkeeper Myung-Ho Lee making three concurrent saves in spectacular fashion in the 2009 men’s Champions Trophy tournament in Melbourne. He makes the initial save before recovering to make the second, before launching himself across the goal mouth to deny the Australians. With all that effort no wonder he ends up out of breath! And who says you can’t be unbeatable?!



Never surrender!

Ultimately, all it takes is a desire to stop every shot. Whilst it’s up to you and your confidence, you can try and make yourself unbeatable in games. Trying to stop everything thrown at you (or should that be fired or shot at you?!) and a desire to keep a big “0” or a clean sheet shows your team mates how much you want to win and should hopefully rub off them and inspire them. Remember, never say never! A ‘can do’ attitude is all it takes!