How to Save a Penalty Shuttle

Penalty shuttles are becoming more and more important in the game of hockey - and are increasingly used to decide the biggest games. Great Britain's Rio 2016 Olympic final and England's EuroHockey 2015 final were both decided in this way.

Despite this, many goalkeepers will never have had a chance to practice, or think about, what they would do in the penalty shuttle situation. Even if you don't end up facing a shuttle, thinking about how you might approach a 1 v 1 as a goalkeeper is no bad thing - who knows when it may occur at a crucial moment in a match?

You can see different styles of penalty shuttle save in the video below. Note the following coaching points:

  1. Keep your feet moving & stay on your toes - The longer you can keep your feet moving and remain able to change direction, the better you can react to an attacker's changes of direction. Try not to commit to diving one way or the other too early, as you may get fooled by an attacker's fake movement.
  2. Vary your approach - Good players will watch how you defended previous penalty shuttles to see whether you rush out quickly, slowly and how far, so they can adjust their play accordingly. If you can vary this you will keep them guessing and throw them off their plans. If you can sow a seed of doubt it will give you a huge advantage. In the clips you will see some examples of rushing out to different distances.
  3. Time is on your side - 8 seconds may feel long to you, but attackers will be worried about running out of time. Think of a penalty shuttle like a game of chicken - who will panic first, you or the attacker? The longer you can stay on your feet and in range to make a save, the more panicked an attacker will become.
  4. Always stay alert - Often you will make an initial save, but the ball will remain in play. Be ready for this as you may need to block the ball multiple times in the course of a single penalty shuttle. Goals are frequently scored on the rebound after the initial save.
  5. Be aware of the length of your stick - As you will see in the last clip in the video, the stick can be a useful tool in making a save, even when it seems the ball is almost gone. One option is to hold your hand slightly further towards the top of the stick than normal, in order to increase the length of your stick reach. Practice this in training so that you can do this and still keep control of the stick. 

These are just a few options - practice 1v1s with players and get a feel for what works and what doesn't. If you want expert advice, come to one of our camps!