Gym training time

Hey keepers,

I am often asked about conditioning training for keepers so here is my 5 cents worth.

I am a goalie not a personal trainer so I recommend you work with a professional to get your technique and program sorted. There is a high risk of injury with some of this training so please seek proper advice; this might help getting your trainer heading in the right direction.

Gone are the days of the keeper being the chubby kid that plays in goal to avoid all the running the field players do, the modern keeper needs to be fast, agile and powerful.

At the same time you don’t make your race horse plough the fields… As a keeper when we move we have to move FAST but I seriously doubt we will ever be running 10km during a game like the top field players.

So how do we become fast, agile and powerful?

The majority of power required for goal keeping will come from the lower body (legs and core), to get this power you will need a reasonable strength base. If you jump straight in to power training without a strength base you will be in danger of breaking down with injuries.

Exercises I have used to build a good strength base are:

Squats – Back or front squats
Lunges – I find step lunges to be the best and mimic keeper movements well

(These two are your bread and butter for a keeper, increase your strength in these areas and you will likely improve as a keeper – simple as that!)

Don’t forget to train your Hamstrings, Glutes, Groin and calves to maintain a balance and avoid injury (60% of gym work is to improve your keeping 40% is injury prevention)

Core strength is the link to transfer all your lower body power to full body power, there is nothing worse than your lower body moving to make a save and your upper body moving in the opposite direction preventing you from making the save.

Once you have a good strength base you can move on to the explosive power training.

Over the years I have tried many things with my conditioning training, one of these was basing most of my gym training on loading up specific keeping/save actions. Looking back I don’t think this type of training helped me too much. I still do the odd exercise that mimics keeper specific movements but it is not the sole focus of my training.

If you are more powerful as an athlete you will be a more powerful keeper.

I have found that Olympic style lifts are a good way of becoming more powerful – Clean and Jerk and the Snatch are the key lifts but these can be broken down to smaller lifts like a high-pull, hanging clean or hanging snatch. I will not get in to the technique of these lifts as they are rather technical and I recommend you seek expert advice to get your technique sorted.

Jump squats are also good but be careful of your knees.

My view is that upper body strength/power is not as important as the lower body for a keeper as most of our saves start with our feet on the ground.

It is good to have reasonable strength through your upper body—the key muscles to target for me are the Chest, Back and Shoulders. Strengthening these areas will help speed up your hand saves, make you faster to your feet after diving plus they should help you handle the knocks better (both from shots and diving).

Again take care in the gym, we go to the gym to become a better keeper not an injured keeper.

Let me know what works for you keepers out there.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section and I will do my best to answer them.



Rotterdamse Hockey Keeper School

This season I started a goalkeeper academy in Rotterdam for all goalkeepers in the Rotterdam Area that are interested in getting the best possible training. Dutch international goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak is in charge of all excercises and together with his keeper trainers we train more than 50 goalkeepers every monday. If you want an impression what this looks like, check out this video. This year we’re overbooked, but we have plans to expand next season (after the Olympic Games).

OBO training equipment review.

I’ve just submitted the following reviews to the Barrington Sports website and thought that I’d share them here too.  I’ve had the Obo training gear since September 2010 so feel that I’ve used the equipment enough for me to write a well informed review.   I have a pair of Deflecta’s, a Flicka stick and a bag of Bobbla’s.


This is an excellent piece of training equipment that really helps to sharpen and hone the reactions.  It is very expensive in my opinion but that’s what you expect for anything to do with goalkeepers and their kit (economies of scale certainly screw us all here).

As they are made from recycled tyres, you should expect them to be quite heavy….. and they are!  This is great in that they stay put once placed on the pitch but they’re a pain to carry to and from the pitch.  As you can’t bend them (because otherwise they’ll break) I recommend you carry them at the bottom of a spare goalie bag with the rest of your coaching equipment or use a couple of ladder lock straps to hang them off your shoulder.

I have found that they work better in pairs as they cover more area in front of goal as not everyone is skilful and accurate enough to get the ball to hit a single Deflecta every time.  It also gives you option of having the mats facing opposite ways and therefore giving a high and low profile for more unpredictability.

I definitely recommend that you have a look at the Obo Goalkeeping YouTube channel to see how they suggest you utilise the mats.

All in all, the Deflecta is an excellent coaching tool but the price is prohibitively high and likely to only be affordable to more well off clubs.  Thankfully I have a forward thinking and supportive club that see the importance of supplying quality training equipment to both outfield and goalkeepers alike. Twitter – @SutColHockey


I had high hopes for the Bobbla balls but have been very disappointed with them.

I was expecting them to be unpredictable and to actually “bobble” about but unfortunately they don’t do either.

The only way to have the balls “bobble” about is to use them slowly but this makes them all too easy to follow and kick.  If you bring them up to a realistic playing speed, it makes the balls act like a normal hockey ball and therefore is totally readable.  I have tried many various ways of rolling, hitting, throwing, bowling and spinning the balls and just do not think that they are worth the money.  I feel that there are plenty of better ways of spending £76 on training equipment (price related to as of 12-April-2011).

My other issue with the balls is that they are made from a very soft plastic compound and they don’t look like they’ll last.  Unfortunately for me I train at a very poorly maintained council run pitch and most of the goals have metal backboards.  Footballs and idiotic vandals do not mix well with hockey goals and the metal backboards are all seriously dented and pulled away from their frames.  This leaves some sharp edges sticking out and quite a few of my Bobbla balls have been damaged with deep cuts.  The normal training balls do not appear to have the same problem and are impacting at much higher speeds.

In conclusion, the Bobbla is a nice idea that just doesn’t seem to work that well.

If you want to see more about how Obo think you can use the Bobblas then have a look at the Obo Hockey on YouTube


The Flicka is so much fun!  It is relatively easy to use and you can become fairly proficient after a session or two.

I feel that the most impressive feature of the stick is the way that it is effective at any speed.  I am able to lift the ball fairly slowly and accurately in order to train with lower level keepers and then ramp the speed all the way up to eleven when I train my National League keeper.

The stick is well made and as it’s made of wood, I’m sure it will give me many years of use (unlike my Obo Fatboy stick which lasted three months before shattering so maybe Obo have improved their quality control).

Like any hockey skill, you need to keep practicing in order to get the best out of the stick.  Most people will be able to lift the ball within 5 minutes and then build it up to being able to hook the ball high and wide to the left after another 10 minutes.  This skill with this stick is being able to flick to the right and you need to learn to open your shoulder and make a deliberate rotation to your right to get it to go that way.  Once you’ve got this skill sorted, you’ll be having great fun with the keepers you train.

As with my other reviews of the Obo training equipment, I recommend that you have a look at their YouTube uploads to see how to get best use out of the equipment

When I first got my hands on the Flicka I hadn’t quite got the technique right and thanks to YouTube and my iPhone I was able to watch the video and repeat the action – easy!

I highly recommend this stick for coaches of all abilities and coaching keepers of all abilities and out of the three Obo Training products would rate this as my number one purchase, followed by the Deflecta.

Commonwealth Games Preparation June

Many thanks to solubleduck who asked what sort of training and preparation is needs for the Commonwealth Games.

Well solubleduck, due to the Commonweatlh Games being directly after the World Cup in Argentina most of our preparation is focused around the World Cup which will lead us nicely into the Commonwealth Games.  Currently the Hockeyroos are on tour in Europe. This tour will include focused training sessions and also extra fitness work. As we get closer to the competition trainings will be tailored to more game scenario drills.

Our normal week includes roughly 6 on field sessions as well as a number of strength and conditioning sessions followed by recovery sessions each week.

Teams are always looking at ways to stay on top and ahead of the others. The world of women’s international competition is fiercely competitive these days. Teams need to be fit and resilient to be competitive.

Hope that goes someway to answer your question solubleduck.

Please keep the questions coming.


Toni Cronk

Inbetween Seasons Training

With this years season finishing in April and the next season not starting till September I am looking at various drill/training that I can do to keep my fitness up whilst keeping my reactions up to scratch, footwork still fast and etc.

Just wondering if anyone has any tips on how they keep themselves going over the break or any drills/training sessions that they would recommend I try?


Coaching & training goalkeepers

Team trainings are necessary in developing the tactical skills a goalkeeper needs. It also enables the goalie to become an integral part of the teams defence and makes the defence trust his directions. cialis pills But the team training is not fit to train the specialist technical skills a goalkeeper needs. It is therefore imperative for the development of the goalkeeper that he receives specialised training to improve these skills. These specialist trainings require a special kind of coach who can bring out the best in his pupils.

What is a Goalkeeping Coach?
There are a lot of answers to the above question. In short it can be said that a GK coach is someone who facilitates the development and improvement of a goalkeeper both physically/technically and mentally. This sounds like two different fields, but in practice these are interwoven at the base of everything a goalkeepr does.

Contrary to a team coach who has a 1-on-many job, the GK coach has a 1-on-1 relationship with the goalkeeper. Even when training a group, you work with just 1 individual at a time. Therefore a GK coach must establish a bond of trust and friendship with his pupils. The goalkeeper must trust the coach to have his best interests at heart, but also not be afraid to speak his mind when he has a different view on things.

This bond is established not by just feeding balls, but by the way feedback is given, the GK’s ideas and views are discussed and by talking about the GK’s feelings about the team, the training and the games. In some occasions it can happen that during an entire training not a single ball is played because all the goalie needs is a good pep-talk and a venting of his frustrations and feeling.

The goalkeepers mental state
A goalkeeper has a special place in the team, this comes with special privileges and cool gear, but it requires a special mental state.
The GK can never be a match winner in the way an attacker can, but he can play a decisive role in the mental state of the entire team. A brilliant save can give the team the boost they need to turn the match in their favour. Also the GK must be ready for action during the entire game, not just physically, but also mentally. It can happen that a GK doesn’t have to do anything for the entire game, but must make a match winning save in the last minute. This requires a lot from the GK’s mental ability.

A GK coach must train his pupils to develop split second decision making, to never give up and be confident in themselves. A relaxed and controlled mind ensures relaxed and controlled movements.

The goalkeepers physical state
The specialist skills a GK requires demand a different physical state than that of his teammates. A thorough stamina base is required to be able to fulfil the full 70 minutes of a game as a GK is hardly ever substituted, but next to that core strength, sprint strength and quick recovery is needed.

Core strength is essential for a good ready position and explosive reflexes. Sprint strength is required because the short distances a GK needs to cover. And quick recovery is needed to be ready within a split second after each save.
The technical execution of the specialist GK skills must be trained by repetition and direct feedback. Repetition trains muscle memory and reduces reaction time, essential for any Goalkeeper. The feedback must prevent errors becoming habit.
The more control the GK has over his body, the better the execution of skills and the more controlled the movements will be.

Achieving your goals
To achieve the above states the GK coach must design his training sessions to the GK’s specific needs. The aim is to reduce the weak points and further improve the good points. Often GK-coaches concentrate too much on improving weak points, while further perfecting a GK’s strong points can prove a more solid alternative to substitute the weaker technique. For example: low stick/glove dive vs. splits.

The technique trainings are a means to give the GK confidence in his abilities and the feeling that he can save every ball. Drills with rebounds or extra attackers train the decision making abilities of a GK. Ask the GK to think of all the pro’s and con’s of different techniques to save a situation and show them in a drill. This is a very good method to enhance problem solving abilities.
The key is to push the GK to beyond his limits in a positive way, thus increasing his enjoyment of the game and making him want to be an even better Goalkeeper.

Becoming a GK coach
If you want to be a GK coach be ready to invest a lot of time. Watch games of your pupils to find their weak/strong points, research other keepers to see different styles, keep up to date with developments and set goals not only for your pupils, but for yourself as well.

Be creative when thinking up drills, don’t be afraid to use unconventional training aids. Make the drills realistic, designed to replicate game situations and suited to the level of play of the GK. Be critical to the way you are coaching to improve your didactical and psychological skills and make sure your hockey skills are up to the task.

But the most important thing is: Enjoy! There is nothing more rewarding then seeing one of your pupils making a world class save and leaving the pitch with a big smile on his face because he saved the championship.