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Quick Feet, Key to Field Hockey Goalkeeping.

FIELD HOCKEY GOAL-keepers have to process quick feet. Most goals are derived from shot deflections, rebounded shots, or poor clears, and the goalkeeper has only a split-second to react with her feet. It generally takes a fantastic play to make a save on a deflected shot or rebound. Only goalkeepers with the quickest feet can make such saves.

The goalkeeper is expected to save all the straight shots and most of the deflected and rebounded shots. She must always be ready for balls traveling in the air of a deflection. She must move n front of the ball and block it with her open hand or with the stick, while placing her open hand behind the stick for reinforcement.

She cannot push the ball forward with her hand; she must play the ball to the ground and then kick it away as quickly as possible.

Quick feet produce more saves. Quickness can be developed with the aid of three game-like drills that involve the defense of the goal and making the save on a traveling ball.

As shown in the diagrams, the balls are aligned about two yards apart out in front of the goal and involve a goalkeeper (GK) and a shooter (S). Players or coaches can perform these drills with the goalkeeper.


Seven to 10 balls are aligned across the goal about 10 yards out with the GK facing the goal. She sets up on the balls of feet, ready to make a quick turn to the proper position (angle) to make the save.

The Shooter yells "Turn!" The GK turns at the signal, assumes the correct angle for the shot, and then sets for the save. The shooter then drives the ball at the goal.

At the beginning, the GK is given extra time to get set. As she develops proficiency, the Shooter can start firing at the goal while the GK is still turning. By making her set quicker, the GK's rate of improvement will accelerate.


The same set-up as before with seven to 10 balls aligned about 10 yards out, and a second line of balls set up diagonally about seven yards out on the right. (Check S2 in the diagram.)

The first shot is taken from the left end of the shooting line out front (S1) and is cleared by the GK.

Once the clearance has been made, the GK must immediately react to the second shot (a flick, push, or drive) from the side by S2.

This pattern continues with the GK being allowed to get set prior to the shooting.

After completing this activity from the right side, the activity is resumed from the left side.

The goalkeeper must shuffle quickly after the initial save in order to save the second shot, further enhancing the improvement of her foot-quickness.


The shooting distance is now increased to 15 yards with three players (or coaches) involved in the drill.

The Shooter (S) sets up with a line of balls about 15 yards out.

The Deflector (D) stands directly in front of the GK with a stick, shin guards, and mouthpiece in place (safety first!).

A Thrower (T) stands to the side of the goal, but in the field of play.

The Shooter initiates the drill with a shot toward the goal, which the Deflector attempts to redirect into the net. (One deflection allowed.)

Soon as a result is effected, the Thrower tries to sneak a ball behind the GK while the D tries to deflect the ball into the net.

The GK must clear the ball before the Shooter can try to hit the thrown ball into the goal. The situation actually becomes a foot race between the GK and the S that the GK will be expected to win in a real game situation.

The Deflection/Clearance drill accustoms the goalkeeper to deflected shots while clearing a ball that is being sneaked behind her. The object lesson for the GK is: Never give up on any kind of shot.

These three drills will increase your goalkeeper's foot quickness in game situations and enable you to achieve greater success because of your GK's developing excellence.
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Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2001
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