A key component of a victorious season is the goalkeeper. We share some insight into the importance of the vital position as well as some tips on how to be a great goalie.
BEING IN THE GOAL
It doesn’t take just anyone to suit up and defend the goal; a skilled, hard-practiced, confident and hockey-smart player is needed to fill this critical role in the team. The goalie not only has the best view of the field to advise fellow players where to move and who to mark, but also has the greatest responsibility at the end of the day. Add to this the drive not to let your teammates down and you have a recipe for goalie success.
WHAT IT REALLY TAKES TO BE GREAT
The best in the field will tell you that a great field hockey goalkeeper is not just who you are in the moment the ball is flying towards you, but more so the hours, days and weeks you put in before that moment. Here are 10 tips for great goalkeepers in the making:
- Stay focused– engage with the game and keep your eyes on the ball at all times, no matter where the current play is at.
- Know and trust your kit– make sure your kit is fitted correctly and that it fits you. It is challenging enough to move around with all those added layers and this only gets more difficult if it doesn’t fit. You should feel comfortable and safe in your goalie kit; trusting your kit will help you to fearlessly defend every shot taken at your goal.
- Mental preparation– intercepting dangerous balls is not a natural reaction so mental preparing is vital to a goalie. Make sure you are ready to do your best before you even step onto the field.
- Position is important– try to stay relaxed and lean forward a little. It also helps to keep your body open and your hands up so you are able to defend high shots or dive.
- Direct the team– with the best view of the field, you should use your advantage to call or direct your teammates to move and mark opponents strategically. This will strengthen your defence and help avoid the ball even getting to you.
- Know where you are– a great goalie is always aware of where they are in relation to the ball and the goals; this is key to successfully intercepting goal-shots. If other players are in your line-of-sight to the ball, ask them to move so you can keep your eyes on the ball at all times and position yourself ready to block.
- No one is perfect– you will never be able to stop every single ball so give yourself a break and don’t get discouraged. If a ball happens to get past you, shake it off and refocus on defending the next one.
- Your coach has a role– encourage your coach to help you with specific drills, skills and activities that will help you achieve the fitness and flexibility you need to function effectively in your kit.
- Practice, practice, practice– take to heart that saying practice makes perfect; getting used to your kit and building up confidence to defend dangerous balls won’t happen overnight. You need to invest substantial time into becoming the best!
- Stretch yourself– stretching should never be overlooked as a goalie. Since you are required to dive, kick, slide and stretch flexibly in your position, stretching is imperative to prevent injury and keep you agile.