It doesn’t matter which position you play in field hockey, there will always be room for improvement in both your physical game and your mental attitude to the sport. The goalkeeping position might seem the least thrilling, but it can be quite the mental battle. Here we look at five key tips for mental and physical survival in the goal position.
Keep Calm and Keep Your Eye on the Ball
This may seem very obvious. Of course, you need to watch the ball at all times. But watching the ball getting closer or being flicked from way back down the field can cause a keeper to tense up. Stay loose, stay big and occupy that space. The more relaxed you are the more quickly your body will be able to react and stop that goal.
Try not to wobble around or be tempted to lean back into your net. By keeping the balls of your feet on the ground, your center of gravity is lowered, so you are stabilizing yourself to ensure that when you do have to move, smother or kick the ball, you are in balance and less likely to fall backward. This sounds tricky. The best thing is to watch a hockey drill video to see the stance that the keepers take in between saves and kicks.
Come in for a Safe Landing
While the keeper is well padded, sometimes overly rotating to make the save can cause an awkward landing. You can improve your skills on the field with a hockey drill video. Always make sure that when you smother or dive you land smoothly on your hips and make full use of those guards. Over-rotation can cause knee problems, which can be tricky to fix.
Hands in the Air
You want to fill that net space as much as you can – less space means less chance of a goal. Keep your hands up but stay comfortable – we don’t want a keeper with cramp. Then you can easily reach for those quickly incoming top corner shots.
Take It on the Chin
Not literally! Some goals are going to get past you. That’s par for the course. Yes, some goals might get through, but you can’t let them get you down. You are still an excellent keeper.