The goalkeeper (or goalie) in field hockey is one of the most important positions in the sport, as the player has weighty responsibilities. They stand alone in front of their team’s goal, with their sole mission being to protect it from the opposing team. With just one mistake or save, a goalie can make the difference between a win or a loss. A goalie, therefore, requires more than just physical training. They have to be mentally prepared as well.

The Ideal Goalie

A good goalie is ideally brave and athletic. In some cases, it may be hard to find both qualities in one player, at which point athleticism wins. This quality is an important one, as athletic goalies have the speed and agility to move about quickly, which can compensate for the lack of height. Beyond the physical qualities, having hockey intelligence is also key. One of the biggest responsibilities a goalie has is to direct their teammates. It’s a part of the job that requires someone who understands the game well.


A goalkeeper’s equipment is extensive, mainly because they have to protect most parts of their body against injury. They are the last line of defence, so they need equipment such as a helmet, chest protector, leg guards, mouth guard, kickers, shin guards and a goalie stick to do their job.

With all the right equipment checked off, goalies require confidence to play the game. They also have to be relaxed and keep their eyes on the ball at all times. Realise that this may be easier said than done, as the natural reaction to someone hitting a puck straight at you is to firm up and try to be small. Just as in football, goalies have to make themselves bigger and watch the ball.

In an ideal game, the goalie won’t have much to do, presumably because the rest of the team has pitched camp at the opponents’ end. Having little to do, however, may cause the goalie’s mind to wander, especially when faced with long periods of inactivity. Being engaged physically and directing the defence helps to maintain concentration and poise for when the goalie is required to play their part.

Hockey New Zealand 

This booklet is designed for beginner goalkeepers as well as coaches who want help with specific training for their goalkeeper. It will also be useful for more experienced goalkeepers who want drills and games to improve their techniques. In this resource are specific rules that all goalkeepers should know including a rule change regarding using your hands and arms. Also included is information about goalkeeping equipment; equipment you should have, and what to keep in your gear bag in case of emergencies. It is also important that goalkeepers know how to warm up properly; there is a page dedicated to specific goalkeeping warm up techniques. The techniques explained in this resource include: basic kicking, aerial saves, how to slide and dive, and information on defending penalty corners and saving penalty strokes. We have also included 16 basic drills ranging from accuracy and power, to speed and agility. At the back are 10 small games for goalkeepers which are useful for younger keepers to teach them game sense and tactical awareness. These are taken from the Hockey New Zealand Small Games CD. We hope you enjoy using this resource and that you find the information and techniques useful. - Hockey New Zealand Coaching & Development 

HNZ - Goalkeeper Resource



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