Improve your stick and glove saves

This is one of my favourite drills to do as a goalkeeper. It is great to use in the preseason or just when you want to mix things up from your usual training in gear. I use it mainly to improve my hand speed and also my ability to save balls with my stick. It has always been a strength of mine yet given the weight of a stick, if you get things wrong it is very difficult to save a high ball stick side. So practice is crucial.

For this exercise you will need 3-10 tennis balls. The more the better but you can do it with just 3. You will also need your stick, both gloves and a friend. The person doesn’t need to be particularly gifted so a friend, family member, team- mate or coach is fine.

Stand about 2 meters away from the thrower and in a ready stance. To start with just have your friend throw one tennis ball at a time to varying positions. Make sure you catch with one hand as much as possible. Increase the speed of the throws and continue varying heights. If you want this to be a conditioning session keep going for about a minute then rest.

The next exercise is more specific to your stick. Here your friend can throw the balls or hit them with a tennis racquet, cricket bat whatever they prefer. Each ball should go stick side and using your stick alone you want to save each ball by watching it right onto your stick every time. Start with slow balls at similar height then move to high balls and much quicker balls.

Repetition is important here but keep the quality up by resting when you loose focus. Its very important that you follow every ball with you eyes all the way onto the stick.

The final progression is to put your gloves on and do reps of 10-15 shots. Return to your ready stance between every shot and ensure that you watch the ball onto your stick or glove for every shot.

I would love to hear your feedback on these skills sessions so please leave a comment below.

This is the ready stance we now use in the Hockeyroos. Up tall with gloves up

Watch the ball on to your stick. Step across with your leg as you reach for it

Go directly to the ball with your stick, don’t swing at it.

Watch the ball on to the centre of your glove

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