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.
Fiyaz Mughal, the founder of Faith Matters and Tell MAMA (both are social entrepreneurship projects), enjoys watching English hockey. He admits the sport is a passion for him, having grown up playing it until he was 18.
The Ideal Goalie
A good goalie is ideally tall 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.