Low gloves at short corners

Just like I wrote about a couple of years back about using high gloves to help make standing saves against drag flicks at corners, the opposite (low gloves) can be argued as well, for those menacing and difficult low placed flicks you cannot reach from your standing position. Thoughts and analysis on how gravity and holding them low equates to reaching such flicks, as well as a new trend that seems to be becoming popular at short corners.

Whilst I have written about a raised glove positioning at corners, to allow you to make high saves from a standing position and also to make bringing the gloves into position during a high dive easier, there is also a good reason to have your gloves down low at a corner. It all depends on the level you play at and the style of drag flicks or shots you face. Standing up with gloves high, it is easier to move in to save a high flick, but if you are facing a difficultly placed flick that you cannot reach with your legs down low, where you may have to dive low and with low gloves, is obviously easier to get closer to the ball more quickly from that position.




Lowering your gloves

Having low positioned hands equates to being able to bring your gloves into play to stop a low ball, where you are extending out wide against a difficult-to-stop drag flick that is not quite on the floor and not particularly off it. Whilst a lot flick takers do go to flick high, there is a lot of sense in having a low glove positioning in your stance to allow you to get nearer a low ball with your gloves when facing a low placed and very difficult to stop, tricky, drag flick wide, low and down, or into the corners, where you need to really extend and push out into making the save. Just like where you have your gloves high to move up or out, from a standing position. With your gloves low you can quickly bring them in to block the ball as you make the dive; already low, allowing you to drop them even quicker to stop the ball.


It’s something Nick Brothers did a lot when playing club hockey for national premier league side Reading and when representing England or GB internationally (he has hung up the pads, sadly). Nick Brothers had his gloves low in a general stance (which you don’t seem much of these days) to help getting low for a save more quickly (seen at 9:01 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2SeiavimsE) and Simon Mason seems to still uses a stance like this (well, his gloves are low at least!). But, he also kept this low glove stance when dealing with short corners.




As can be seen at 1:29; although he gets his rhp on it, it bounces up and away, done to wrist rotation but a very difficult save to make regardless:

Saving low

As suggested, it should be easier theoretically for your gloves to be used from a low position when going up against low and wide flicks that you cannot stop from a standing position. With gravity coming into play and an incredibly fast drag flick being faced, the lower your gloves, the quicker it should theoretically be to bring them in to save the flick as you go down. Here’s the legendary Simon Mason making such a save at 2:01, getting the right glove and stick low to stop:

With your gloves already low, it should theoretically assist pushing out wide in extension in a low/mid-dive against flicks outside your reach when standing, as Brothers demonstrates:

New trending?

Unlike Brother’s stance where his gloves were outside the body than tucked beside, there seems to be a new trend in goalkeeping, which I wanted to comment on after the realisation! This alteration can be noticed if you watch Stubbings and Belgian goalkeeper van Rysselberghe (who’ll be mentioned later!). Diccon Stubbings (goalkeeper for Canterbury in the England Hockey League) has made an interesting change to the way he sets up at penalty corners, with a ready stance, that almost looks lackadaisical (edit: yes, I get to use an awesomely elongated word when discussing goalkeeping!) and kind of displaying an nonchalant  within the ‘mental game’ regards  to outside , unaware of goalkeeping technique and perspective! His gloves are just still by his side then pushed out into anything resembling a ready stance.


Here you can see his previous stance on corners whilst at Holcombe, where it has the gloves higher and around the body, in front:




Here is the new stance I’ve seen of him using at Canterbury, essentially just a very relaxed stance, with the gloves dropped to his side, ready to push out low.




In the following video, noticing how he gets low quickly to stop (he’s in the red TK pads and black shirt and black helmet) and generally reverts to a low glove positioning in his ready stance when shots are in close. At about 9:24 you can see this in practise. Richard Mantell likes to flick low and Stubbings has obviously gone with expecting him to and it looks like the ball goes wide, or he does manage to make a cracking save getting low with the stick.

On the consecutive corner, you can see how having a low glove stance makes it easier to block standing up against a flick near to the hips and around the body, or to dive into, if necessary.


Stuart Hendy, Old Loughtonians goalkeeper (again, another retiree, at least I think; not on the EHL web page team sheet anyway!) also used this set-up against short corners as of late, to help him deal with lower placed flicks. Here’s a photo of him making such a save a season ago against Oxted:




The photo below illustrates the stance where he would set up with his gloves low.




But seemly unlike the other goalkeepers (mentioned and to be mentioned, see below!), he changes his glove positioning as and when at suits, which can be seen demonstrated here at 1:42:


And here at 9:50:




This is also something Belgian international goalkeeper (Vanasch has beaten him out of the starting spot, with Gucasoff now second choice and Leroy having been part of the training squad), David van Rysselberghe, does a lot of. Rather than keeping his gloves up at shoulder or chest height in his stance on the corner (the rest of the time for game, he retains a ‘normal’ ready stance with gloves up around chest/shoulders, a lot like Stubbings), he keeps his gloves very low, in case of the danger of a save that is down towards the backboard.


Ignore the goal but notice how low he keeps his gloves, and like Stubbings, basically stands there looking like he’s not really bothered, gloves dropped to the sides of his body!

High or low?

It all depends on the flicks you expect to face. Most of the time, I would expect flicks to be higher; around head height, wide of you, or wide of you outside the body (hip height say, where you have to extend out into a dive to reach). But some flick takers like the difficult positioning just above the floor and at the post or between you and the defender, which is tricky to defend and can cause confusion. Assumptions can be made depending on the places the flick takers look to go for. Scouting your opposition always helps and is essential for this approach. It’s still possible to get your gloves low from a raised position in your stance when you dive, but it depends on where you expect the ball to end up and if you need to extend as far out as possible to reach the corners etc. It’s something I’m going to write about in more detail in another article.

‘Time wasting’ at the short corner

A quick article on the option of standing outside your goal to prepare for the corner. Not everyone uses it and might consider this sort of thinking to be a little tedious, but I think to think outside the box and enjoy writing about all things goalkeeping, so something to mull over if you’ve never considered it before!

‘Time wasting’ at the corner is essentially just taking your time to set up at the short corner, stepping outside of goal and making the most of the opportunity to prepare or attempt to ‘psych out’ the opposition. I thought I’d give it that title just to reel you in (hopefully!)! It’s basically an opportunity to take on fluids and rehydrate (if you are playing in a hot climate especially, or to help with mentality and concentration; water is said to aid this!) as well as organise your corner defence, especially if the opposition are running a set-up you are having trouble with or not experienced before and need to know how to run your defenders against the injection. It’s not exactly the same time wasting in footie where they drag out a spot kick but I guess is in a similar vein.


Kelburne take their time preparing for the corner.
Kelburne take their time preparing for the corner.


What is it?

‘Time wasting’ at the corner is a variety of things, but I wanted to extrapolate it for the point of article writing! It can be really trying to push the boat out and run down the clock, or simply standing outside the goal and chatting to your defence to organise it, if the team has started to variant their routine and you need to change up your defence run out. Taking the chance to rehydrate and run through options with your team mates. In some ways, in its truest form, ‘time wasting’ is a technique used noticeably at the international level to try and slow down the taking of the penalty corner. Especially if trying to run down the clock at the end of a match when you don’t want to face another corner! The method puts the other team off their efforts in organising the corner attack; hopefully messing up their chances. Defenders will take their time putting on their face masks and try to prolong it for as long as possible. As a team effort, the goalkeeper is also expected to find ways of wasting crucial time!


Who does it?

It’s not that uncommon to see goalkeepers step out of their goal just before they set up before a short corner that has been conceded. If you watched the Olympics or been watching other games at international level, then you may have seen various goalkeepers do this. James Fair for example would often drink and talk to his defenders just before getting back into goal to prepare for the corner. I managed to get down to the Euro Hockey League first round stages at East Grinstead not so longer ago in person and watched Kelburne’s goalkeeper in the game against Rot˗Weiss Kӧln taking time out to step out of his goal to do so. You can often find goalkeepers at all sorts of levels doing so too.


Stepping out of goal

Instead of stepping into their goal to get ready for the corner, some keepers like to step out of their goal and stand off the line, outside of goal. This allows the team to get organised and signals to the umpire that the time is not ready yet. This is especially useful if you do not have the full 4 defenders for the corner defence and are waiting for the extra men to come back. Once the extra defender has turned up, or your team have got ready, you can step back into goal and get prepared (ready in your stance) for the injection and the shot.

McGregor waits outside his goal.
McGregor waits outside his goal.


Here you can see the goalkeeper of Boxmeer (black jersey, red TK pads) waiting outside the goal to give his defence the time to set up at 0:48:



At 0:07 you can see Dan Vismaan (the goalkeeper at Rotterdam before Blaak took over) stepping out of goal, but not making ‘a meal out of it’!:



In this clip at 0:22 playing time makes an obvious statement of stepping out of the goal to ‘time waste’ and then talks things through with his defenders:




Some goalkeepers will even go as far as stretching to try and run down the clock even further. When they are outside of the goal, waiting for their teammates to get organised (if the defenders are putting on their face masks, jocks and hand protection) then the goalkeeper could do some stretching, like the leg muscles. If you wanted to waste further time, you could pretend there was something wrong with your equipment. For example, you could fiddle with the straps on your kickers, or take a leg guard off to look at the kicker and then put it back on again (pretending as if there’s something wrong with it). Doing this wastes further time and frustrates your opponents even more.


This goalkeeper almost ‘takes liberties’ with his stretching!
This goalkeeper almost ‘takes liberties’ with his stretching!


N.B.: In writing this, I’d like to point out I don’t condone it, as reporting it, just making note   of observations from games I’ve made! It feels a little cheeky and audacious to try to get away with!


On the second corner in this video, you can see the goalie stretching a bit at 0:27 to give his defenders extra time to get ready, before he quickly sets up behind the goal line:



Time to prepare

‘Time wasting’ other than the phrase, at its simplest form; of stepping out of goal and organising offers a simple but crucial option. It gives you the time to think through options against an opposition who are trying a different corner routine, which you need to analyse and work out a suitable way to defend. If you have faced a corner where the opposition have ‘switched things up’ and changed their approach then your standard defence may not be up to it. Ex-GB and Scotland international Ali McGregor used to talk with his defenders outside the goal to talk through things with his defenders in club action when he was at Loughborough as do various other goalkeepers.


McGregor discusses with his team mates how the short corner defence will be organised.
McGregor discusses with his team mates how the short corner defence will be organised.


Here the goalkeeper is visibly far out of goal and taking to his defence:



It also gives time to rehydrate as has been stated previously. Rehydrating is important and often forgotten and the umpire should allow you to get a drink during the process of preparing for the corner, within the team it takes your defenders to put on extra protection. Otherwise you may be taking the risk in getting a drink, only to have to push your helmet on and rush out of goal as someone throws an aerial into your D or something, as I’ve heard a tale of!


Rob Turner of Bowdon takes on some water.
Rob Turner of Bowdon takes on some water.

Umpire timing

Whilst, the title and phrasing suggests that you could actually time waste, I don’t think umpires should or would seriously let you get away with total defrauding! Umpires will normally time at the elite level to make sure they don’t actually waste time, and hope this is the same for elsewhere. In the Euro Hockey League they had an allotted time limit for how long the team had to prepare on a corner. At lower levels you will still get astute umpires making sure you’re not taking an obscene amount of time with the tactic, even if the same restrictions aren’t in place (i.e. amount of time set)!


And for one final clip, you can see a good junior Australian goalkeeper (who is actually in the U21s set-up as much as I know) stepping out of goal and not taking too long or a fuss to sort out his defenders and the defence at 0:57, under the watchful eye of the umpire:



Psychological advantage?

One other interpretation is that it is to do with ‘mind games’ a goalkeeper can play with the opposition. Just like at flicks where a goalkeeper might take off their kit and then put it back on again before setting on the line, or banging the posts and making a lot of noise, that sort of thing! The idea is to put the team off their attack. It is a simple concept: the more time you waste, the more agitated and annoyed the opposition get; putting them off their ‘game’. Rather than allowing them to get on with it, they will probably get annoyed at the idea of you running down the clock!


By doing this, you ‘get into the heads’ of the opposite team; playing mental games like this will disrupt their concentration and therefore disrupt the corner routine, getting them to hopefully miss. If they have a set routine they like to use, then they may end up changing it, or the drag flicker could mess up, having had his concentration dented. But, at the end of the day, if like all the posturing done at penalty flicks (like the penalty shootout in football; and there are some bizarre routines!) and you don’t make the save then it’s better just to set and get ready and ensure you do make the stop!


Using it?

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how you play. There’s nothing wrong with experimenting and trying things out to work out how you play best and develop your own style. There are a lot of things you can learn about goalkeeping that you won’t pick up from coaching, but rather normally from seeing other goalkeepers play and how they approach the game and this is one of many of them. I personally would rather just set up behind the line, focus on the ball at the injection and try and analyse the corner set-up to expect what type of shot is heading my way, but have sometimes done it in the case of team mates needing a ‘breather’ after a tough half or feel the need to talk through a defensive change.

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.

Setting up deep at penalty corners

At top level hockey you can often see goalkeepers setting up deeper in the D against corners, giving them more time to react to the flick.

Watching top level domestic and international hockey, you will notice goalkeepers setting up deep within their D against penalty corners. Most of the Hoofdklasse goalkeepers do this, as do the goalkeepers in the English national premier league, for example, as can be evidenced from footage on YouTube! As the drag flick has become more prevalent, so have goalkeepers (as amazing as they are!) adapted to the shooter’s tendencies by changing the way they face penalty corners.


Phil Carr of Oxted sets up deep within the D against this short corner.


The following clip is an example of this (around 2:38 playing time and later), with Beeston’s George Pinner, who stays deep in his D against corners, demonstrating the technique and also the dangers of setting up versus deflections and well rehearsed routines:





The reason goalkeepers play deeper against a shooter during penalty corners comes down to reaction speeds. With the speed of a fast drag flick coming at the goalkeeper, by staying deep, the goalkeeper has more time to react. The faster the flick, the quicker the goalkeeper needs to be. If they were further out, they would arguably have less time to react and so would be beaten more easily (theoretically!). Instead, by standing as close to the goal line as possible they increase the reaction time i.e. they give themselves longer to react and make their selection of technique (diving, doing the splits to stop the ball with the kicker etc.) to stop the ball.



This is fairly obvious and is almost self explanatory! As you step out from behind the goal line as the injector pushes the ball out, you take a small step forward. Rather than taking two or three larger steps as you would normally do for challenging the shooter more, simply take a small step out so you are close to the goal line. Some goalkeepers stand so they are almost literally on the goal line, but it depends on how you want to play the situation. As you move up levels of play or are starting to face drag flicks for the first time, you can adjust to your normal positioning by taking a step or two back from your normal set-up. Practise will help you work things out, but personal preference will probably define how you set up.


Watch how Whitchurch’s goalkeeper (the one in orange!) sets up on penalty corners, demonstrate how this technique works:




Reacting quickly

Watching the flight of the ball as it comes in, the goalkeeper has to react athletically to reach and extend to the top or bottom corners of the goal which are more visible for the flick taker due to the goalkeeper’s deep positioning. Due to the goalkeeper’s deep positioning in the D, there is more shooting space visible to the shooter as a result of not challenging the angles. Whilst the deep positioning is helpful for reaction times, the goalkeeper consequently has to react more athletically, exploding into the save and stretching out to reach the space that has been left exposed. When watching goalkeepers stop shots like this when facing penalty corners, you will notice how they will often dive into the save in order to reach the ball.


The following clip at around 1:52 shows the goalkeeper react well athletically to stop the ball deep in the D:




A goalkeeper positioned more deeply has more time to react but shows more shooting space.


Using the technique

Goalkeeping can often come down to knowing what to do when. In the case of the technique, if you’re going to be facing a lot of drag flicks, then you are likely to be setting up close to the line as standard if you prefer to react rather than challenge. However, if you do not trust your ability to athletically stop a flick, and prefer to aggressively challenge with your positioning, then this might not be for you. Trying things out and keeping your options open however will give you more ways to keep the ball out of your goal at the end of the day!

Working out how to react at the short corner

Last article of the day! How to tell the difference between a flick and straight strike at the corner.

When you are faced with a shot on a short corner, you can gain an advantage by working out the type of shot you are coming up against. Through analysing the shooter’s body patterns and stick positioning, you can work out the type of shot. By looking to check which as you set up for the penalty corner, will let you get an advantage; reading the shot and therefore being able to make the correct decision (to stay up or go down) and select the correct save technique (such as a “logging” to block a low shot or diving, standing or high diving to stop a flick).


Straight strike

The way to work out if a shot is being taken is by the shooter’s hand positioning. If the shooter on the penalty corner has their hands closed at the top of the stick, this means that they are going to shoot at goal. Mostly shooters will start with the stick touching the ground with the stick upright. However, some strikers (who like to get more power on the shot) will often have the stick in mid-air, so that when the injection comes in, they can drive down to gain more power on the shot.



Some hitters like to strike the ball with a ‘baseball swing’; bringing the stick up to shoulder hit and then smashing the stick down to get power and lift on the ball. This is easy to recognise because a lot of players shoot like this. If you notice that the shooter is raising their stick, don’t be put off and get confused: they are making a hard strike at goal.



Drag flick

In comparison to a straight strike, if a player is taking a drag flick, then their hands will be open and their lead hand will be further down the stick. The stick will be held with the stick head touching the floor, since no advantage can be gained from lifting it off the pitch. The way the stick is held will determine the angle of the lift; the higher the stick, the higher the flick, the lower the stick, the lower the flick. Although, depending on technique, this isn’t always true.



The other key sign is if the shooter is further back than the stopper and the other opposing players at the top of the D. Once the ball is trapped and stopped, they will run in to make the drag flick. Some drag flickers prefer to run into the motion of the flick because it gives them more power and momentum; the speed of the run building up to increase the flick’s speed.




  • if the shooter has their hands tight around the stick, it is a straight strike
  • if the shooter’s hands are open, with the right hand further down the stick, it is a drag flick
  • some shooters like to get more power on their shot and will use a ‘baseball swing’; raising their stick up and then driving it down on the shot
  • some drag flickers like to take a run-up and will therefore set up further back than their team mates


P-flicks: commit or react?

On spot flicks, the goalkeeper can either pick where to go and commit, or react to the flick. By reacting, the goalkeeper increases their chances of making the save.

Penalty flicks are dangerous territory for goalkeepers. Going up against a deadly shooter who , the goalkeeper often doesn’t stand much of a chance in stopping the ball. However, they are more likely to allow a goal if they commit and end up getting wrong footed; going the wrong way to where the ball is headed. Instead, by reacting, the goalkeeper has an increased chance of stopping the ball; moving in the flick’s direction to cover the shot.


Committing on the flick is essentially making up your decision of where you will go (i.e. left or right) and going that way as soon as the flick has been taken, even if they end up getting beaten. The goalkeeper makes the choice about where they will go and sticks to it; paying little attention to where the shooter is actually shooting at. This may be down to watching the flick taker’s eyes or body position, in an attempt to go the way they appear to be shooting at. If you watch soccer (football), then you will notice that it is a technique often used in penalty shoot-outs: the goalkeepers will usually try to commit to the shooter’s strong side, or usual shot placement, so that they can try to block the shot they think they will be facing.

By committing, the goalkeeper stands a greater chance of misplaying the flick.


Reacting is the opposite of committing: instead of choosing where they will go, the goalkeeper waits for the flick to be taken and then moves in relation to where the ball is headed. By doing so, they have a better chance of making the save; going the right way to be able to block the incoming ball. In this way, the goalkeeper increases their chances of save making. Even if they get beaten marginally, they have still gone the right way and done their best, which is all that can be asked of them.

Notice how this goalkeeper has stayed up and waited for the flick before reacting to it.

There are a number of reasons why reacting is better than committing to the flick. At the higher levels of play, flick takers can fool the goalkeeper by pretending to shoot in a certain way; making a deft move by looking one way and going the other. Another way is to position the body so as if to be shooting a certain way, but then turn and go the other. By doing this, the shooter is able to outwit the goalkeeper and send them the wrong way. However, by not committing to the pretend shot, the goalkeeper is able to gain an advantage; not being tricked and being able to go the correct way to meet the shot.

You may also be playing against a regular opponent, but even if you play the opposition regularly (which helps you in knowing what are the shooter’s preferences), they may choose a different flick taker; reacting counteracts the problem of working out where the flick taker will go.

Studies have also proven that a goalkeeper is more successful if they react. Although it doesn’t sound like much, you are 27% more likely to have success stopping the ball when standing and then reacting, than you are picking your way.

Track the ball

In order to have a chance of stopping the flick, you need to track the ball. When watching the flick through to going the correct way, or making the save, you need to focus on the ball from the point it is at the base of the shooter’s stick, through to facing the shot. Focus intently on the ball, trying to maintain your concentration on the shot so you stand the best chance of getting behind it.

See how this goalkeeper has followed the ball to its destination; able to track it into the save attempt.


  • don’t commit to the flick
  • react to the flick; wait for the release and follow the flick to go the right way
  • watch the ball, tracking it through to the save

React, don’t commit!

Ultimately, you should react to the flick rather than trying to guess and wrongly commit where you would end up putting yourself out of the play. You don’t want to go the wrong way or be made to look stupid, so make sure you wait to see where the ball is headed and move with it. Do your best to react to the flick, than guessing and committing to a shot that doesn’t go where you wanted it to.

Playing the passed shot

Playing against a pass is a difficult situation for the goalkeeper. If you come out and try to commit yourself to taking on a player, then you leave open space to shoot into. Instead, by staying deep and waiting for the pass, you can successfully make the save.

When faced with a pass, the opposition is looking to shoot around you; moving the ball to expose and opening up gaps in the goal to shoot into. This is difficult for the goalkeeper, as they have to immediately change direction and try to get across as quickly as possible to make the save on the scoring opportunity. By playing deeper, you can cut off the intended shot; reducing the space and making it easier it get across in time to block, with less ground to cover.

The back door

In effect, the back door is the space left open by the goalkeeper as they challenge the initial shot; an outlet pass will leave the goalkeeper vulnerable to the space left open on the angle they have set up to make the save. By dragging you out of position, the opposition stand a chance of beating you easily, getting you to challenge too far out, and then ‘hanging you out to dry’, with a pass-shoot transition.

An aggressive goalkeeper who likes to challenge the angles is especially vulnerable to the back door pass, where a pass across the face of the goal would leave him open to the space on the side, left because of his aggressive positioning. By staying back against the play, as a lot of reflexive and reactive goalkeepers do, it is easier to react to the back door pass, diving across to make the stop.

How to react properly

The best way to react is to stay deeper in the net than normal, making it easier to react to the shot as it is fired, rather than trying to challenge the initial shot, which will leave you open to the pass and back door goal. By staying deeper and moving with the play and using reflexes, or diving across, you stand a greater chance of making the save. Let them do the work; don’t fall into their hands as they try to score on you.

Playing on the back line

Playing on the back line is a technique you will see top level goalkeepers using regularly (and something soccer goalkeepers also do); they are more passive and reflex styled to deal with a shot rather than trying to close down or tackle the ball carrier. Staying back against the shot, and deep within their box, they are more able to deal with a passed shot; able to reach across on the save, rather than get caught leaving open space by challenging the angle too far against the player with the ball.

When staying deep within your goal, you can either stay just off the goal line (where you can then run along the line to cover space), or use a much smaller ‘D within the D’; moving around a semi-circle reduced to meet the incoming shot off the pass.

With less distance to move to meet the shot, it also gives you a greater chance of making the save, as you have less to do to react; giving you more advantage. If the shot is straight off the pass, like a slap hit, then you have less time to react.

Moving into save

As the pass is made, you can react to the play, moving across to cover the available space and get set for a save. You should be able to follow the direction of the ball; cutting across by running horizontally, or going diagonally in order to challenge the shooter’s angle and cut down the available shooting space to limit their chances. A good shuffle across laterally should bring you into the ball’s path; moving along the goal line ready to block.

Making the save

The way you make the save depends on the type of shot you face. If you can, standing allows you to cover both high and low, filling up a lot of goal; if you do try to extend with your leg/arm to reach into the save. However, you may have jump or reach out for the save if you have little time to meet the ball. Diving will help you get more reach on the save, especially if the shot is low; pushing out in full extension to meet the ball on the shot, but be ready to get back up again immediately afterwards for further shots.


  • stay deep in the D, close to the goal line
  • be patient; wait for the pass
  • once the pass has been made, move quickly across to meet the shot
  • try to get behind the ball as much as possible to block
  • if the ball is out of reach don’t be afraid to dive and extend into the save