5 Ways To Improve Goal Scoring in Field Hockey

Scoring a goal in hockey is one of the best feelings, especially if you’re a striker or an attacking midfielder.

For some it may be the feeling you get inside when the ball hits the backboard, while for others it’s the celebration with team mates and the high fives.

So, the question is: How can you get more of that?

When it comes to scoring goals in hockey, there are a number of things you can do to improve your percentages in the D, including what to do off the field.

Here are 5 ways you can improve your chances of scoring more goals:

#1: Strength training for explosiveness

Strength is the foundation of speed and power, which plays such an important part of hockey fitness.

Basically this means training with some form of resistance off the field, which will help you to: 

  • Generate more power in your shots
  • Be stronger to protect the ball from defenders
  • Have more explosive leads
  • Attack the circle with speed
  • Get in front of players
  • Win the 50/50 balls

Each person has different mechanics and may have different needs depending on your age and level, so before starting any strength training program, I’d advise you to first get assessed properly to make sure you’re doing what’s right for you.

#2: Develop a range of shooting skills

This is the most obvious one, which is the ability to shoot from anywhere in the circle. You want to develop a range of skills that allows you to get your shot away at goal.

You may get the opportunity to score from higher up in the D by using longer range type of shots such as the hit, the tomahawk or the squeeze for example.

When closer to the goal you won’t have a lot of time to swing so close range shots using a hands apart grip is generally better. Examples of shots in the 9 yard area (around the penalty spot) may include the push, flick, sliders, deflections, rebounds, etc.

The easiest way to improve these is to practice shooting at goal from various angles using different shooting skills.

#3: Be unpredictable to create space

The longer you take to shoot the more time the goalkeeper has to set themselves on that line which means the easier it is to save your shot. This means you should aim to get your shots away quickly or do something unpredictable, such as changing the line of the ball just before you hit it.

There are also various ways to use deception to get a player or the keeper to move, forcing them to shift their body weight onto the wrong foot to create space. For example body feints or shoulder movements are often enough to deceive a player. 

You can also create space and beat players with your first touch by identifying how to receive the ball in each situation.

If you are aware of what is happening around you this will help you to know for example whether to step towards the ball, allow the ball across your body or receive with your back to goal, etc.

The ability to receive the ball from a different angles on the pitch is one of the most important skills to develop because without trapping the ball you can’t do anything else. A good first touch will give you more time on the ball and allows you to look up more which will improve decision making.

#4: Develop Instinctive Thinking

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘a killer instinct’ which refers to the ability of a player to react instinctively to a situation, almost as though they weren’t thinking.

But that’s not true.

What it really means is that you’re not using the conscious part of the brain, which makes up just 10% of the brain. Instead when you’re in the right state of mind the unconscious part of the brain is in control.

The unconscious part of the brain reacts much faster and is responsible for the instinctive decisions that we make on the field.

That is why you need to learn how to train the instinctive part of the brain so that you trust yourself more often.

Training your unconscious part of the brain will help you to:

  • Be more confident in the D
  • Use the right skill at the right time
  • Stay calm and composed in the D
  • Overcome and move on from mistakes
  • Expect more positive outcomes

One of the reasons players don’t score as many goals as they can is because they overthink, which is when doubt starts to set in.

Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity in games, but rather learn how to trust your instinctive part of the brain so that you react quicker than anyone else.

#5: Video analysis to improve your tactical game

When you're on the field you only see things from one perspective so one of the easiest ways to improve your decision making is to look at the game from a different angle, you can do this by using video analysis.

Watching a video of your game will help you to see things that you wouldn’t see when playing

You can also identify what you’re doing well and what you can do better.

Using video analysis will help you to:

  • Improve visual awareness
  • Identify space more easily
  • Get into better positions
  • Improve the timing of your leads
  • Be in the right place at the right time

Being able to read the game and anticipate what will happen next in a game will give you a two second advantage which will help you to be a step ahead of others and make better decisions under pressure.


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About The Author

Lauren Penny

Lauren is a former International Hockey Player, Performance Coach & Mentor specialising in helping hockey players to be more confident, improve their fitness and perform more consistently to get noticed and reach higher teams.