May 9, 2023

Diving Techniques for Field Hockey Goalkeepers: How to Safely and Effectively Execute Low and High Dives

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Steve Wagner

Field Hockey

Diving Techniques for Field Hockey Goalkeepers: How to Safely and Effectively Execute Low and High Dives Image

Hey team! As a former Olympian field hockey goalkeeper and now a Blayze coach, I've had the privilege of experiencing the thrills and challenges of goalkeeping at the highest level. 

Today, I'd like to share with you some of my knowledge on diving techniques for field hockey goalkeepers. In this article, we'll dive into how to safely and effectively execute low and high dives, incorporating essential aspects like footwork, balance, and save fundamentals. 

Let's get started!  Here is what we’ll be covering today:

  1. The Importance of Diving in Field Hockey Goalkeeping

  2. Understanding Which Leg to Push Off From

  3. Staying Square to the Ball

  4. Maintaining Eye Contact with the Ball

  5. Developing Your Goalkeeper Footwork

  6. Drills to Improve Diving Technique and Execution

  7. Key Takeaways and Conclusion


Chapter 1: The Importance of Diving in Field Hockey Goalkeeping

Diving is a critical skill for field hockey goalkeepers as it allows us to cover a wider area of the goal and make some of the most spectacular saves. To be an effective goalkeeper, you must master both low and high diving techniques. This requires a strong understanding of proper footwork, balance, and save fundamentals. Additionally, learning from experienced field hockey coaches and implementing their advice can significantly improve your diving skills.

Mastering the art of diving not only enhances your physical abilities but also helps develop your mental game. A well-executed dive can boost your confidence and serve as an intimidation factor for the opposing team. Furthermore, diving plays a vital role in close games, as a single save can often be the difference between victory and defeat.

Developing diving skills also contributes to your overall athleticism and fitness as a goalkeeper. Diving requires strength, flexibility, and agility, all of which are essential components of an elite athlete. By working on your diving technique, you will also be indirectly improving these other aspects of your game.

In this chapter, we've highlighted the importance of diving in field hockey goalkeeping and its impact on both the mental and physical aspects of the game. Now that you understand the significance of this skill, let's explore how to safely and effectively execute low and high dives.


Chapter 2: Understanding Which Leg to Push Off From

A crucial aspect of executing a successful diving save is knowing which leg to push off from, depending on whether you're making a high or low save.

For a low diving save, you'll want to push off your outside leg. If you're diving to the right, that means your primary push-off leg is your left leg. Pushing off your outside leg directs you to dive waist-to-ground height more efficiently, as it doesn't force an upward trajectory.

On the other hand, when making a high diving save at shoulder height or higher, push primarily off your inside leg. If you're diving to the right, that means pushing off your right leg. This allows you to have a trajectory that goes upwards and to the right, helping you reach those high shots.

Chapter 3: Staying Square to the Ball

Whether you're making a high or low save, it's essential to stay square to the ball throughout its entire path towards your save surface. This means aligning your body so that your shoulders and hips are parallel to the path of the ball. Staying square ensures that you maintain proper body positioning and increases your chances of making a successful save.

If a goalkeeper goes belly down (towards the turf) too early, they often lose sight of the ball before it makes contact with the save surface. This can result in getting the wind knocked out of them and, ultimately, a failed save attempt. To avoid this, focus on maintaining eye contact with the ball throughout its entire path towards the goal.

Chapter 4: Maintaining Eye Contact with the Ball

Once you've made contact with the ball or even if you get scored on, keeping your eyes on the ball is crucial. This allows you to track the ball's trajectory and react accordingly. Whether making a high or low diving save, you must keep square with the ball, meaning you'll have to end up on your belly after the save or as the ball goes by you to continue to see and know where the ball is at all times.

Chapter 5: Developing Your Goalkeeper Footwork

A goalkeeper's footwork is an essential component of successful diving techniques. Quick, agile footwork allows you to move efficiently across the goal, covering more ground and getting into the right position for the save. Here are some footwork exercises and drills to help you improve your agility and balance:

  1. Ladder drills: Set up an agility ladder and practice different footwork patterns, such as lateral shuffles, in-and-outs, and icky shuffles. These exercises will help you develop quick feet and improve your overall balance.

  2. Cone drills: Set up a series of cones in various patterns and practice moving around them using different footwork techniques. This will help you become more agile and better prepared for unexpected movements during a game.

  3. Plyometric exercises: Include exercises like box jumps, lateral jumps, and single-leg hops in your training routine to develop explosive power and improve your footwork.

Chapter 6: Drills to Improve Diving Technique and Execution

To enhance your diving skills, it's crucial to practice specific drills that focus on proper technique and execution. Here are a few drills to help you improve your low and high diving saves:

  1. Low diving progression: Start by practicing low diving saves from a kneeling position, gradually moving to a squat, and finally to a standing position. This progression will help you master the technique and build the necessary muscle memory.

  2. High diving progression: Similar to the low diving progression, start by practicing high diving saves from a kneeling position, then move to a squat, and finally a standing position. This will help you develop the necessary strength, agility, and technique for executing high diving saves.

  3. Reaction drills: Have a coach or teammate shoot balls at varying heights and directions to test your reaction time and ability to execute diving saves under pressure.

  4. Partner diving drills: Pair up with a teammate and take turns diving to save balls played by the other player. This will help you practice your diving technique while also improving your ability to read the play and react accordingly.

Chapter 7: Key Takeaways and Conclusion

To become a top-notch field hockey goalkeeper, mastering diving techniques for both low and high saves is essential. Remember to:

  • Understand which leg to push off from based on the type of save

  • Stay square to the ball throughout its entire path

  • Maintain eye contact with the ball at all times

  • Develop quick and agile footwork

  • Practice specific diving drills to improve your technique and execution

By focusing on these key aspects and incorporating the advice from experienced field hockey coaches, you'll be well on your way to becoming a more effective and confident goalkeeper. Keep practicing, stay dedicated, and most importantly, have fun!


Unlock Your Full Potential with Personalized Coaching!

As a former Olympic field hockey goalkeeper, I know firsthand what it takes to work hard and achieve my dreams. That's why I'm thrilled to be part of the Blayze team, helping youth athletes identify areas of improvement and develop realistic plans to accomplish their goals. Our athletes learn more than just skill development; they learn life lessons about perseverance, overcoming hurdles, and the responsibility of managing their success.

As a Blayze coach, I'm one of the experienced athletes working with young players. We know what the best in the world do because we've competed among the best in the world.

Are you ready to unlock your full potential and take your field hockey goalkeeping skills to the next level? Sign up for Blayze's 30-day trial for just $29 and start your journey to field hockey success today! Tap here to select me, Steve Wagner, as your dedicated private pro coach at Blayze and begin your journey towards field hockey goalkeeping greatness.

Q&A With Coach Steve


Question:  How can I adapt my training routine to focus more on improving my diving techniques, and what would be the ideal balance between diving-specific training and overall goalkeeper training?

Steve’s Answer:  You can adapt your training to include the above drill and make sure to follow the drills progression, especially if you’re new to diving. Spend about 15 minutes performing the diving drill during each training session until you can perform the drill from a standing position, and can consistently execute the mechanics of the save technique.

Question: Are there any specific mental strategies or visualization exercises that you recommend for goalkeepers to mentally prepare for diving saves and maintain confidence during high-pressure situations?

Steve’s Answer: As you continue to perform the above diving drill and become more comfortable at diving, your confidence at executing the save technique will increase and allow you to perform the skill at will. Additional training can include, mental imagery exercises which can significantly assist in your progression and confidence at diving. To perform a Mental imagery exercise, you should be in an area that is quiet and allows you to feel relaxed. Lying down or sitting, close your eyes, taking deep breaths and imagine a situation that warrants you making diving saves, make low saves and high saves, on your left side and right side. Very important to note, ALWAYS make the saves and see yourself in a positive light when performing mental imagery exercises. 

Question:  Can you share any personal experiences from your field hockey career where mastering diving techniques played a critical role in a match or helped you overcome a challenging situation on the field?

Steve’s Answer: Yes when I was playing, most offensive penalty corners were hits or pass options, and very rarely a drag flick. But Argentina was ahead of the times and had a very good drag flicker. Since we often played them, it was critical for me to recognize when it was happening and to have the confidence to execute the skill at the moment. I had fun spoiling Argentina’s attempt to advance their penalty corner at our expense.


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About the coach

Blayze Coach Steve Wagner

Steve Wagner

Competed in the 1996 Olympics for the USA Men's National Field Hockey Team

Field Hockey

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