Maddie Hinch GB Hockey ()Maddie Hinch GB Hockey () © Copyright

Maddie Hinch: How to be a hockey goalie

Maddie Hinch is GB hockey’s number one goalkeeper, and she's currently smashing it in the Rio Olympics. Last summer, she won European Championships gold with England after a heroic turn in the final penalty shoot-out. She tells us what it takes to be a top shot stopper

Agility

The game is quicker than ever now, so agility is the number one factor in being a goalkeeper. The more agile you are, the more likely you are to make those second and third saves.

Reflexes

If you end up in goal, the chances are you have naturally good reflexes to begin with and pick up the line of the ball pretty well. We do a fair bit of vision training to make sure you watch the ball all the way and don’t get distracted by other things in your line of sight.

Gonna get myself protected

Goalkeepers are protected head to toe these days with a helmet and all the foam padding. Everyone thinks that goalies are the mad ones, but I think the outfielders running around with just shinpads and gumshields are nuts. We’re in the safest position on the pitch.

Maddie Hinch GB Hockey ()

 

Hit the reset switch

It’s important not to take a step backwards if you concede. A lot of people get very frustrated when they let goals in, and they’re still thinking about it when the next shot comes, then they let that one in. You see it happen, it’s goal after goal.

I have a routine where, if I let a goal in, I go behind my goal and have a drink. Throwing that water bottle back behind the goal is me throwing away the mistake. Then I’m back on the pitch and going again. Your teammates want you ready for the next one. They feed off a goalkeeper’s confidence.

Training drills

At the moment, I’m working on the shots that are around me, that come flying around your ears or awkward ones down the middle. In the last Olympics, 75 per cent of the goals scored were two feet to the right or left, not in the corner. This year, I’m getting as solid as possible in those close areas, then I’ll start to work on the really lunging attacking saves.

Explosive power

Goalies spend more time in the gym than outfielders. We do four heavy weights sessions a week, to be as explosive as possible for our bodyweight. We do a lot of the powerlifting – clean, squatting, snatch, that sort of stuff. Then we go from lifts into an immediate ballistic movement like a box jump or five-metre sprint so you’re doing it under fatigue and using those muscles to get you shifting.

England Hockey players celebrate with Maddie Hinch ()

 

The ‘ugly game’

We call the work on rebounds and second saves the ‘ugly game’. Saving the shots after the first one, being able to get up and out again and save the rebounds. That’s where I’ve used my strength. A lot of messy goals are scored – that’s where you can really make a name for yourself, the ability to make a save, then quickly recover and make another one.

Bit of a geek

I’m a bit of a geek with research on opposition, especially when it comes to penalties. You can gain a huge advantage by just doing your homework on certain players. In Euros last summer, I knew exactly which six Dutch players would step up and I’d been through the last three years of their matches, writing down what they did with penalties. I’d written down a plan to counteract their strengths so I went into the shootout thinking “number 6 does this, so I’m going to do that.”

Superstitions

I have a lucky pair of socks I always have to wear. The good thing about a keeper is that it doesn’t matter what colour socks you’re wearing. I first put them on in 2013 so they’re about three years old now. I have a bit of Red Bull before and during a game, too, just to keep me switched on. 

Maddie Hinch GB Hockey New Zealand ()

 

In their ear

I definitely wasn’t someone who was particularly loud at the back when I first started. But I’ve realised how much it helps the girls. They’re almost blind to what’s going on behind them and I can see exactly what’s going on. I definitely chat an awful lot now. When we’re going behind the goal to set up for a penalty corner from the opposition, I would always call what corner strategy we’re running. Which goes back to me doing my homework and studying what the opposition might do.

Ups and downs

You might have one of those days when you save everything and you don’t know why that’s any different to the day when you picked the ball out of the net three times. That’s the harsh reality of goalkeeping. One day it’s great and the next, it’s not, and you can’t put your finger on why it went that way.

But then you can be the hero of the side. It’s hard to describe that feeling when you’ve made the save that’s probably a match winner. If the ball’s got to you in the first place, it’s probably because there’ve been mistakes, and you can be the person who turns the game back around. You pull off a save, get possession back and you’re off again. That feeling is worth all the bad days when you’re getting it out of the net.

Love a shootout

I love penalty shootouts – I live for them. You’ve got five opportunities to put in everything you’ve been training for. If we can win without penalties, though, that’s great. Enjoyable as they are, it’s also a stressful situation. I think that’s been shown in the past – teams who got through a shootout in a semi final and then had another shootout in the final, haven’t won the second. Going through all those emotions a second time is quite intense. 

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