Following the injection

Following the injection at the short corner and being aware of dummies and set-ups will help make it easier to make the save.

When facing a short corner, it is a good idea to follow the ball from the injection to the shot. By maintaining your focus on the ball throughout the whole process, you are more prepared for making the save, able to watch the ball into your equipment, rather than simply reacting at the last moment, not able to be aware of space to put the rebound and such like. Locating the actual ‘castle’ that will be receiving the ball, and working out the potential shooter/drag flicker is also useful for being able to react to the shot.


Watching the outlet pass

One of the main ways of dealing with the threat of the shot on the penalty corner is to watch the pass from the line through to the actual shot; allowing you to prepare for the save by observing the injection into the D. The goalkeeper stands in their goal, watching the injector release the pass into the D. This way, you learn who will be taking the shot; this is especially important if the opposition changes their routine on the penalty corner (so you can tell where the shot is coming from as you can watch the pass being made to the shooter) and you are not sure who will be taking the shot.


When you watch the pass, you need to concentrate on the ball. The focus is on where the ball is; following it from the injector to the shooter. This helps in identifying the shooter, especially if the opposition has changed their penalty corner set-up. Concentrating on the ball from the pass, you can prepare your move out, before reacting to the shot itself, having stepped out of goal and got into a good position. In a way, it helps to ‘psych up’ for the incoming shot on goal; preparing you for the shot, through tracking the ball and maintaining focus on it. Watching the pass gives you the advantage of not committing on a shot if the pass fails. It also gives you the advantage of finding out who the shooter is, if the opposition are using multiple “castles” (where the ball is stopped), or if the shooter changes as the opposition changes their routine (if you are doing too well!).



Watching it from the injection

Focusing on the ball as I keep harping on about is just as important when facing a short corner. Some goalkeepers don’t bother watching the ball through and prefer to react purely from what occurs in front of them, but I would like to think that focusing in this way is more beneficial to being able to make the save. Losing track of the ball and not being fully focused means you are not giving yourself the best chance to make the save as you are not fully prepared or rely too much on your reflexes and reaction speeds (which may not be top notch!), when facing the expected incoming shot or drag flick. By focusing on the ball from the injection, you are ‘locking on’ to the ball, mentally focused and intensely ready for the ball to come towards you. Watching at the injection also helps with commanding your defence of the corner, obviously, as you are aware when the ball has been released, for your defenders to charge out from the goal!


A lot of goalkeepers set up this way; standing so that they face the injector, to watch the pass through. Once the injection has been released and the shooter identified, they then move out of goal to face the shot. Most coaches coach the method of watching the injection on the penalty corner; enforcing the need to watch the ball from the pass into the shot. Whilst some goalkeepers stand in the goal in a sideways stance, parallel to the goal post, it is possible just to simply turn your head to watch the ball being released by the injection, following it across to the receiver.


Dummies and castles

The importance of focusing on the ball from the injection and watching it to see who receives it, is incredibly important when dealing when faced with a short corner making use of various options to try and confuse the goalkeeper. With well drilled routines and the quality of shooters, at high levels, it is important to be aware of how you need to respond to their crafty ways! If you misjudge and get fooled by the dummy, then you’re not going to have much chance of making the save. Anticipation and reading the situation gives you an advantage as always, giving you that extra edge (even if slight), to react properly. By watching where the ball ends up, you are in a better position (metaphorically!) to make the save.


Multiple ‘castles’

A ‘castle’ as it is known is the set-up for stopping the ball and then flicking or shooting at goal. The stopper of you will and the potential shooter/drag flicker. In this case, a well crafted routine will often use one or more potential shooters and stoppers as well, setting up multiple ‘castles’ to try and distract you, confusing the goalkeeper as to which way to go and who will be receiving the ball and creating a scoring opportunity from it. It is therefore crucial that you follow the ball to work out which is the ‘castle’ that is going to create the opportunity on goal.


The following clip is a very well thought out corner routine, but shows the example of multiple castles!



Dummies can also be incorporated into a routine, which means the goalkeeper has to be more aware and conscious of working out the actual shooter. The dummy can vary, but generally involve another ‘shooter’ will pretend to shoot on goal, hoping to put the goalkeeper off and confuse them into going the wrong way. The receiver of the ball may slip the ball to another player to drag flick, or pass the ball into the D for someone to get onto and shoot. These are the types of routines you can see in the Euro Hockey League, but could also be utilised at other levels.


The following at 0:30 of the following clip represents this use of ‘castles’:


Locating the shooter

Whilst both teams prepare for the corner, you will have time to look at the opposition and try and deduce who will be going to shoot at you. The more aware you are and the ability to follow the outlet pass to the actual shooter is incredibly useful. By watching the team set up their players in front of you, you can prepare yourself more readily. Noticing where the ‘castles’ are being set up, conscious of angles etc. and ‘pre-scanning’ the top of the D to locate shooters or runners in for deflections, helping you mentally address the scoring threats and organise your defence accordingly and prepare and anticipate for the save.



Ultimately, it is good to focus on the ball and also to ‘read’ the game in front of you, especially against a short corner. By being wary of the opposition’s routines, you are more likely to make the save. Being aware of things like this in a game situation will improve your save percentage and ability to make the stop.

Solid foundations

Having a solid grasp of the basics and fundamentals will help you to play well as you move up the levels and improve as a goalkeeper.

In order to provide consistent performances for your team, you need to be proficient college paper writing service in your technique. That is to say you need a strong technique to base your save making from. For example, if you have weak positioning, then being caught out of position, shots are more likely to sneak by you, or you will have to dive or desperately over extend at every given opportunity. If you have a poor imbalanced ready stance, then it will be difficult to control rebounds on the save or will end up on your backside flailing around against a secondary shot! The more you work on improving technique and developed a strong core foundation to make saves from, the better your match performances will be.


Ensuring you have strong foundations

The key to strong performances as a goalkeeper, other than a confident mindset, is obviously down to technique. The stronger your technique, the better placed you are to make first and then secondary saves, to break down scoring attacks through rebound control and aggressive interceptions and so on. But your application of technique filters down to a strong foundation, which is a good ready stance, positioning and understanding of angles. The better your foundational technique, the better equipped you are to stop everything that comes your way. You don’t build a house on sand, unless you want it to slip away! Like the metaphor, you need to work on having solid foundations so you don’t have a poor season (one excellent game does not a good goalkeeper make!).


Of course, unless you have the privilege of having a goalkeeper specific coach to work with, or the help of a more experienced goalkeeper (who actually knows what they’re talking about!), it’s going to be difficult to work on improving your technique. However, there are some things you can work on without a coach, like positioning and your ready stance, making a self enforced effort to practise it in training. There are also useful guides like Kathleen Partridge’s goalkeeping manual ( or you can learn something watching high level games in person or on sites like youtube.


Identifying weak traits

If you have the ambition and desire to play at the highest levels, then you need to be able to filter out poor technique and work to develop solid save technique. In order to play to the highest level, you need to have well defined basic technique. If you don’t and you get the chance to play at a higher level, then this will quickly be exposed and you will be torn to shreds! For example, poor rebound control, by not turning the shot away, can lead to another unnecessarily allowed shot on goal by redirecting it to a free attacker. Scrambling around unnecessarily, or ending up on your backside from a save are sure signs of poor positioning and poor balance. As much as those laudable amazing saves are fun to do, you need to .


Over used ‘flashy’ saves

Aside from obvious weaknesses in technique, there is also the danger of being too or over athletic. That’s not to say you won’t be required to pull off those spectacular, mind boggling saves every so often to keep your team in it! Of course as goalkeepers we need to be very agile and athletic, but being so when it is not necessary is not needed. Rather, I’ve heard stories of goalies that changed the way they played to try and get noticed when looking to play national league, making those dramatic saves to try and get the attention of the coaching staff. By changing the way they played and looking to make the amazing saves rather than focusing on basic technique, they hampered their ability to perform consistently well. Of course unfortunately some coaches are privy to selecting such a goalkeeper but it is better to be known for providing a strong, consistent performance with no mistakes. Think of Gomes at Tottenham; do you want to be known for your awe inspiring saves and then inability to make the basic ones or string of mistakes? Playing at the top level is obviously a mix of the high end and basic saves, but ensuring you don’t make easy mistakes and let easy ones through you is more important than stopping than unstoppable in most cases.


Let the difficult saves take care of themselves   

A good football (soccer) saying is “take care of the easy saves and the difficult ones will take care of themselves”. Whilst making those amazing saves is great fun, if every save is overdone, such as having to dive around unnecessarily (that is to say diving at every shot because you are not set on angle or out of position) due to being off angle, then you probably need to rethink the way you are playing. That’s not to say these saves aren’t important, but there’s a time and place for them. Those “flashy” looking saves actually come from good initial positioning and then good footwork and agility to get behind the shot and then strong athleticism to reach the ball. In truth, you’re only really going to be diving against short corners, deflections, or a secondary shot where you are at the other side of goal and have to scramble across to block. Once you have got strong technique, the intangibles of reaction speeds, athleticism and mental strength come into play. You can’t really know how you will perform at a higher level, which is why building strong foundations will help your development and enable you to play to the best of your ability. It is the faster speed and better plays that will draw out these qualities (or not as the case may be!).


Strong technique

A strong technique is based around strong understanding of angles and positioning and a good ready stance. The natural ability of reactions and reflexes then come into play, as do athleticism and agility. However, without the ground works, you cannot expect to make quality saves against difficult shots. The following are a few possibilities of areas that you demonstrate good basic technique:


  • Strong ready stance applied throughout the course of the game, from which the goalkeeper is able to react
  • Strong awareness of angles and positioning
  • Obvious first save reactions, but also the ability to control rebounds
  • Good foot work to move into position for the save
  • Strong centre of core balance to help control the save and rebound
  • Good recovery and agility to get back into place for the second save
  • Patience in reacting (i.e. not going down too early)
  • Ability to ‘read’ the play and strong decision making


The following is a good example of a goalkeeper with a strong ready stance and positioning making well executed saves:

Strong foundations lead to success

Ultimately, for you to have a strong season in between the sticks, you need to have solid foundations within your technique. It is obviously difficult to work on improving technique without the assistance of a goalkeeper coach, but focusing on the basics like positioning, angles, ready stance, balance and focusing on the ball and reading the play will help lead to greater success. Remember that it is more important to get behind the shot and stop it, than it is to have to dramatically dive in extension to reach the ball even if at times you might have to!

In-season Fitness

Hey goalies 🙂

I’m Soph, a goalie from the Lake District in the UK, and I’ve just been selected to attend the North Women’s U21 regional performance centre. However, at the moment, I’m not the fittest, and need to get fit quick, especially building on core strength. If anyone has any tips/exercises that are effective, please comment!

Many thanks,


Dealing with drag flicks

Drag flicks can be difficult to deal with, but learning to make use of reactions and athleticism will make them easier to stop!

Drag flicks are quite an important type of shot to face, with the speed and accuracy of elite masters of the art of drag flicking being a deadly thorn in the side of even the best goalkeepers. Greats like Taeke Taekema, Sohail Abbas and others on the international scene are reminders of how influential their talents are by scoring on the set play of a short corner through the specialist art of a well executed drag flick. However, that is not to say you should merely throw up your hands and accept defeat, saying great goal, if you want to really push your standards of goalkeeping! By learning to read the flick and how to react to it with quick reflex and athleticism, you can start to combat its deadliness, and make yourself more unbeatable.


What makes the drag flick so special?

The difference between a normal shot and a dragged ball is the way it reaches the net; a flick will push the ball up in a circular route, whereas a strike will knock the ball skyward along a raised diagonal line or a slap and hit across the floor of the pitch. With the drag flicker holding their stick far back behind the body and then pushing with force into the flick, the drive of the motion creates a massive momentum from which to raise the ball. The way the ball travels in this way makes it significantly harder for the goalkeeper to deal with, as it is harder to tell whether the ball will be pushed up really high into the upper echelons of the goal, or simply raised off the floor to make it difficult for the goalkeeper to stop it.


The direction is often unknown, especially if the drag flicker is able to hide their intentions; when disguised, or pushed out to the side off the shaft of the stick, forcing the goalkeeper to react more to the flick, rather than being able to have a better idea of where the ball is headed. The ability to analyse where the ball is headed is also made more difficult by some drag flickers’ abilities to disguise their intentions. With the shoulder in front shielding the ball’s intended path and unorthodox techniques like Ashley Jackson’s, the goalkeeper has a harder time dealing with a drag flick. Combined with the speed of a strongly pushed flick, it becomes a deadly weapon for the opposition. As a result, you must have good, quick reflexes to react for the save (with the speed of the flick requiring you to be just as speedy with your reaction times) and properly watch the flight path all the way through into the save; reading the flick well, in order to stop it.


Dealing with flicks

Whereas you can play the percentages against a straight strike and go into a barrier to cover more against a low struck hit, you aren’t able to control the chances when faced with a drag flick, instead you have to be more proactive with your reads and reactions. By using your upright stance to readily cover more of the goal and having to react to the flick rather than exposing more room, you can still challenge the flicker. Dealing with drag flicks is more of a case of reacting at the right time, staying patient until the time is right to use your reflexes or athleticism to make the save.


Reading the flick?

Working out where the ball is headed is more difficult when faced with a drag flick. Whereas it is easier to make an educated guess when facing a shot, the flick is more difficult to read. The important thing is not to over complicate things by guessing wrongly. By being aware of the opportunity to be scored on from any area, it is easier to combat the flick; moving into the save as the ball comes at you. With the drag flicker looking to expose available space, there is more of a chance of the flick going low where it is difficult to reach, or to the tops of the goal, in the corners. With an upright stance taking up more room, it is often easier to react from your standing position. If you like to make saves against flicks from a standing position, then raising your gloves to around the height of your shoulders, in front of you to react more easily as you push into the save, will help you react against a high flick around you and push into the save.


Focusing intently on the ball

Again, as I have written about before, focusing on the ball is incredibly important. From the injection to the save, you need to be totally focused; the more focused you are on the ball, the better chance you have of making the save as you are more set on its movements. Watching the ball is so important to making the save against a drag flick. If you try to see the ball at the last minute, then you won’t have a chance at stopping the ball. Make sure you start focusing on the ball from the moment the shooter receives the pass from the injection, right through to the save itself. You need to keep concentration and keep your eyes locked on the ball; by concentrating on the ball, you will be able to successfully move your glove or pad into the right place to block.



If you cannot reach the ball standing up or reach a low ball with your feet (although you may like to use the splits as an option to get to the ball, like Stockmann often does), then you are going to have to leave your foot to be able to make the save. The better your athleticism, the more readily you can deal with flicks acrobatically to make the save as you push out to reach high and wide (or low!) flicks. Diving high, wide, or low, improves your chances of getting behind the ball and turning it away.


Difficult flicks to deal with

Knowing that the goalkeeper should be good enough to stop most flicks, at the higher levels, the flicker will really look to expose your potential weaknesses. A flick straight down the middle of the goal and between the legs should be a good scoring opportunity, with a goal definite if the goalkeeper stumbles with their footwork and opens gaps for the ball to go through, and if not, a rebound scoring chance if the save is made. Flicks around the gloves that are difficult to reach if they are close to the body, with indecision and crossing over of hands are also a problem area for the goalkeeper.


The following clip shows examples of difficult flicks:



Leaving your feet too early

When trying to stop a drag flick, goalkeepers can be the victim of going down too early, expecting a low flick and end up being beaten by a high flick instead. By not guessing or leaving your feet before the flick arrives and reacting on time, rather than too early, the goalkeeper has a better chance of making the save and stopping the ball. Being patient but also ready to act instantly when the destination is clear, is important to making the save. If you are faced with a drag flick for the first time, there is a chance that you won’t know what to do and be more inclined to ‘log’ anyway, putting you out of the game of save making entirely!


Going the wrong way

When faced with a drag flick, there is also the problematic of going the wrong way and guessing which way the ball is headed, only as a result to be unable to reach the ball and end up conceding. The key to prevent this is again not to guess or try to predict where the ball will end up, but to react and focus on the ball’s flight, getting your timing right to be able to stop the incoming ball. Expecting the unexpected, instead of trying to second guess the situation, helps to prevent getting beaten!


The following goal scored by East Grinstead displays a goalkeeper going the wrong way, with the Bowdon goalkeeper going the wrong way and then consequently being unable to reach the flick as it goes in:


In the following clip, you can see Dan Vismaans going to the right rather than left against a well executed Bram Lomans drag flick at about 0:48 playing time:



Reacting at the right time

Being able to react on time is in itself an elite skill to have. It’s difficult to get a good read on flicks all the time, so being able to react to it as it approaches you is more important. Reacting appropriately is quite essential to being able to make the save. Not going too early and taking the bait of the drag flicker, in the sense that you may go the wrong, is essential. The better your reaction times and reflexes, the better you are being able to deal with fast drag flicks. Which is obviously why goalkeepers at the highest levels have remarkably fast reflexes, so it is no wonder why they are so quick, making last second saves, making use of their natural talents!



Staying upright and then reacting appropriately will help increase your chances of making the save. Whereas committing early can leave you looking silly, being patient and trusting your ability to react with your reflexes will obviously help you with potential problems of going too early. It’s something I’ve written about before and probably need to link to! The better your reflexes, the longer you may be able to leave it, theoretically, reacting at the last minute (figuratively!) to stop the ball as it finally reaches you.



One way of proactively challenging the drag flicker, is to challenge with your positioning by having a higher ‘line’. Challenging the flick means you need to react quickly to it as it comes in, but forces your reflexes to do the work (theoretically!). I think by having to react you do not have time to over analyse or over think or get fooled into going the wrong way, being forced into going the direction of the ball as it comes in. ‘Quico’ Cortes (Spanish international, formerly at Egara and now Den Bosch), can be pretty good at this technique, challenging well and then reacting athletically to stop the flick. Not over challenging and not over doing will be better for you as it still gives you the chance to react.

At 2:34 playing time of this clip, you can see Cortes making an unbelievable stop against Zeller (one of the world’s best players) using a combination of proactive depth and athleticism:

Staying deep

Alternatively, you may prefer to have a lower ‘line’ and rely more on your athleticism instead of cutting the angles. A modern trend in facing short corners, discussed before, is to play very deep within the D. Staying deep is a new technique used by a lot of goalkeepers at the international and Hoofdklasse level. You will now see a lot of goalkeepers at the top level staying very deep within their D, in order to give them more time to react to an extremely fast drag flick. If you watch Vogels, Stockman, Veering, Jenniskens or Blaak, they all stay deep in their D when facing a drag flick on the corner. They stand literally a foot off the goal line once they have stepped out of goal on the corner. This is because it gives them an advantage of having extra time to react against the flick. By being deeper, they have slightly longer. In comparison, if they were to be much further out, then they would have less time to react. By being deep in their D, it gives them longer to react (even if a millisecond extra!) to the flick; giving them the chance to watch the flight of the ball and get a better ‘read’ on the flick to move into the save as they see the ball into their equipment.


However, this is at the risk of exposing and opening up more space to shoot into, as they are not challenging the angles. The cost of staying deep is at the disadvantage of giving more shooting space to look at, with the drag flicker able to see more of the goal. Whereas challenging angles and ‘playing big’ helps you cut down space, you are obviously exposing more space, leaving more room to flick into. So if you are going to play like this, you need to have good athleticism to extend into the save!





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Like any technique, it is good to practise facing drag flicks. The more you practise you get, the better you will be come game time as you will be confident in your ability to make the saves at short corners, whenever your team concedes them. Goalie coaches often use a lacrosse stick to copy the speed and accuracy of a drag flick. Obo’s training tool for drag flicks is useful because it can more easily replicate these qualities and is designed to make it harder to read, unlike the lacrosse stick. The best type of practise is to practise against the best! Training with good drag flickers is obviously going to help improve your ability to stop drag flicks. Try and find the best drag flicker in your club to train with, is an idea! Working on your reaction speeds and eye co-ordination in your spare time away from the pitch will also obviously be very useful in helping you when you have to face drag flicks.




  • Stay on your feet for as long as possible, so that you don’t get wrong footed or go too early
  • Like any type of shot, focus intently on the ball to get a good ‘read’
  • Leave your feet and dive high or low as appropriate if you cannot reach it from a standing position
  • Play according to your strengths; challenge or stay deep as you feel works for you, reacting with reflexes or athleticism according to your abilties

Mistake making

Making sure you don’t make regular mistakes and are able to bounce back from them is important for consistently good goalkeeping.

Making mistakes as a goalkeeper is quite an important issue to deal with. With the prospect of upsetting your whole team by a bit of mess up can make the experience of playing in goal a whole lot more traumatising. As they say, sport is 10 skill and 90 psychological, so being able to overcome a significant blip in form is incredibly important in providing your team with confidence in your ability and chance to backstop them to victory. How you deal with mistakes and bounce back from them you illustrate how well you handle adversity and compose yourself.


Oops! The sight of the repercussions of a goalkeeper ‘fail’.


Making mistakes

Starting out as a goalkeeper, it can be easier to make mistakes more readily because of inexperience and lack of training and confidence. But as you develop, you want to be providing solid goalkeeping for your team, with them expecting a good, consistent level of goalkeeping where you make the important stops and more importantly don’t give away easy, avoidable goals. As you look to provide consistency within a season to help your team push for a league topping performance, you also need to work on your consistency within games, making sure you don’t slip up and give away a goal because of poor decision making or the ball squeezing through you. Well executed, practically unstoppable goals are forgivable, whereas your team won’t take kindly to a goal effectively caused by you.


Types of mistake

Allowing shots through you is a good example of a mistake made in field hockey. James Bailey let in such a goal between the legs against the KHC Dragons in the recent Euro Hockey League games and is the kind of example of where you don’t want to be allowing goals through you. Shots wide of you are more forgivable, but through you, which are just as difficult to stop, your team mates don’t want to see, whilst this is down to good footwork and balance. Other mistakes can be caused by wrong decision making; rushing out at the wrong time to tackle or going down too early on a 1-on-1 for example. Coming out for an interception and missing, leaving the post at the right time or messing up a rebound and sending it out to another to attack to drill it home are others.



A simple explanation for regular occurrences of mistakes is a lack of mental strength. As soon as you make one big mistake, your whole game can fall apart leaving you wondering why you got out of bed to play the match! A mental collapse in confidence often leads to further goals as you question and doubt your shot stopping abilities and needs to be readdressed, so you need refocus and forget about the goal, moving forward and making sure you do your best not to concede in a similar way. Similarly, over thinking and over analysing can lead to mistakes as you are unsure what to do, like De Gea’s run last season at Manchester United. Instead, going with your goalie heart and reacting to events rather than trying to hard will make up for this. Wrong decision making can equally be caused by lack of understanding of how to deal with a situation, which requires experience and also awareness of what a goalkeeper should do in a certain situation, so asking coaches and team members advice, as well as looking for information on what to do should help you out.



Howlers and bloopers: the ones where goalkeepers are humiliated for a pretty awful slip-up, compiled for video and internet viewing; the types of goals that are every goalkeeper’s living nightmare and which cannot be easily erased. Ones like football’s Rob Green letting the ball squeeze through him against USA, a similar gaffe by Scott Carson, Paul Robinson’s miskick and the list goes on! Some goalkeepers, like Manuel Neuer (one of the world’s best right now in soccer) are amazing shot stoppers and make few mistakes, but the ones they do, are pretty catastrophic. I guess in some cases it’s better to make as few as possible, even if they are more worse when they happen!


Of course these are football related, and in terms of hockey, there aren’t many I can think of that come to mind, but Max Weinhold’s goals through him at the Olympics stand out the most. But because a goalkeeper makes the occasional ‘blooper’, if they can make the important saves to keep the score close and win the game, does that mean they shouldn’t be playing? ‘Bloopers’ can ruin a career, with people remembering them more than good performances and can be a goalkeeper’s downfall, so it is best to make sure they never happen!


The following clip, whilst of football, shows considerable errors such as this:


Eliminating mistakes

Making mistakes as said earlier can often be a mental (psychological) game problem as much as it is a technical one. Not getting too weighed down with the pressures of goalkeeping and learning to play ‘in the zone’ should help, whilst ironing out technical errors through practise and training should translate to performing well during games. Sometimes training well does not translate to good games, but working hard will pay dividends eventually. The need to iron out making mistakes is important for regular success as a goalkeeper. If mistakes are all too common and a regular occurrence, then something needs sorting out! To be considered an elite goalkeeper (at whatever competitive level), you need to give away mistakes which are few and far between because your team relies on you to not give away easy goals that considerably affect their chances of winning.


Being reliable

In football, they call it being a ‘safe pair of hands’ i.e. you’re not going to cause a calamity when you go out to catch a cross or a save, safely collecting or catching the ball instead. You may be able to make outstanding, spectacular saves to deny the opposition, but it is also the goalkeeper’s job to not mess up and give away a terribly easily ‘giveaway’ to the opposition. Gomes in his early days at Tottenham is an obvious example: a goalkeeper who can make the amazing, unbelievable saves, but is prone to letting in howlers like in the Champions league game later in his career (which decided his fate, with Friedel coming in as a replacement). Being an elite goalkeeper is a mix of the incredible and the mundane; you need to be able to do the basics well and also make the cracking saves your team don’t expect you to make!


Avoid mistakes!

Ultimately, you want to do your best to avoid making mistakes that could cost your team and gift the opposition a win. Working on technique and getting strong mentally, playing confidently even if such a goal is scored, is definitely important to being consistent throughout a match and the total season. Not over thinking and being able to bounce back from such a goal will ensure that you provide good goalkeeping for your team.

High ‘diving’

High diving, extending out with a jumping motion like a dive, helps you reach those high balls you cannot get to when standing.

Diving high and wide is a key example of athleticism in field hockey goalkeeping. ‘High diving’ or dives where you leave your feet and jump diagonally into the save are a useful option when facing short corners where you need to push into and extend to reach a high ball wide of you. Based on your positioning for the corner defence, you may not have a man on the right post, which will mean you will have to be ready to push out in extension against a wide flick. The save technique could also be used when faced with tips and deflections where the ball is redirected high at goal, now more regular and difficult due to the new ‘own goal’ rule, with the opposition looking for a redirect from a ball smashed into the D.


The technique

It’s useful to watch football goalkeepers make similar saves as a way of following the correct procedure to make the save in a game (if you have no access to proper coaching etc.). Without having an illustrative example, it’s difficult to explain! Plymetric exercises and leg strengthening should also help to improve your reach and power as you push off with momentum.


The following is essentially a breakdown of the method:


  • Push from the lead foot, energetically driving upwards to push up in order to reach the ball
  • Turn at the hip to move your body behind the incoming ball
  • Push out with the appropriate glove, turning the wrist to help rebound control
  • Extend into the save, diving out high and as wide as needs be as you make the diving action and leave the ground


The second save in the following clip demonstrates how to make such a save successfully:


Whilst a poor quality video, the following also shows how to make the save process:


You can watch Stockman (Holland’s number one) high diving well in this clip:


The following shows the appropriate push and how to save to the left, but again, not sure about going down onto the knees:


Here’s a soccer goalie demonstrating the required level of athleticism and agility, really pushing into the saves to make the stops, along with a demonstration of the barrel roll. Not sure about the landing though, as needs to be more cushioned:


Although this is more of a ‘parade’, it shows the process from start to finish:


Tips and pointers

It is important to remember that, like diving, the high dive is purely the method to reach the ball: it is the process, not the action of saving. The save is made with the glove or stick, diving merely gets you into the position you cannot reach from a standing position. The following should also be helpful in developing the technique:


  • Ensure you have a well balanced ready stance to start off with, so that you don’t fall back during the save attempt
  • Make sure your land horizontally on the pad rather than on the knee, so that you can recover more quickly if faced with a rebound or secondary shot
  • Make the glove the focus of the jump: it is this that is making the save, the high ‘dive’ is merely the vehicle for getting you in position to stop the ball
  • You may find it useful to ‘stamp’ (pushing into the ground to drive into the save) or get lower in your stance like football goalies to get more power into the movement
  • The higher the ball, the more of a high angle you want in the diagonal push and extension
  • Make sure you don’t land on your elbow or wrist, you want to absorb the fall through the whole arm and body. Football goalies often ‘barrel roll’ to help absorption but I’m not sure this would work in hockey (although I’ve found evidence of Jaap Stockmann doing it, so depends on how quickly you feel you can recover!). Try to make a smooth transition, ending up in a line


The following clip demonstrates the concept of the dive as the method to reach the ball and demonstrates the focus being on the appropriate glove to make the save (ignore the land which is wrong!):


Copying football drills and exercises should be a helpful way of learning the process. There is a specific drill starting off with catching the ball on the ground, then making it higher and higher until the goalkeeper is high diving, in order to build up the practising goalkeeper’s confidence, but cannot find evidence to place it in this article unfortunately.


Here’s a clip with a good drill and great example of the save making process (although the goalkeeper did actually break their wrist – ouch – so only the exercise is useful for explaining the process as he landed wrong, thus causing the injury):


Short corners

Short corners are the main scenario where you will have to make such saves. A lot of corner defence set-ups do not have a man on the right post, since the defender comes off the post to protect against the slip pass to the injector coming in for a deflection. With more room to cover, the goalkeeper has to be ready to defend more of his goal wide to the right. With the drag flicker looking to take advantage of and exploit the extra room to the side of the goalkeeper, you may find yourself having to extend for the save. With the speed and height of drag flicks, it is harder for the goalkeeper to move across from a standing position for the save, so high diving gives them the extra reach needed to make the save. Thus, high diving and use of athleticism becomes incredibly useful.


The following is a great save by Australia’s first choice Nathan Burgers as he makes a high dive to stop the ball with his rhp: