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EXPERI-

mental

Keeping on top

Training golakeepers can be a challenge. Developing quick reactions and good technique depends on a mix of the random and the consistent that is often hard to recreate (safely!) in training. Added to that, keeping a goalkeeper on his or her toes is hard work for the outfield players or coach designated as ‘shooters’ for the session. I’m sure I’m not the only one to get home from training with sore hands after repeated strikes at goal on a very cold night. So when PUSH heard about three new goalie training products from Obo we were intrigued, but when we found out they had been developed by hockey-nut David Knight as part of his university course – we were hooked and just had to get hold of the gear. As soon as we got our hands on the stuff, we took it straight down to the Experi- mental laboratory for testing.

THE ExpERimEnT

The three items we tried out were the the Obo Flicka stick, the D’flecta mat, and the Bobbla ball.

THE FLICKA STICK

The Flicka has been specially designed to make drag-flicking technically easier and also less physically demanding on the flicker. The crook of the stick has been shaped to the diameter of a ball to aid the drag and the thinned head along with the curved shaft are designed to make getting the ball in the air much easier than with a conventional stick.

THE D’FLECTA

The D’flecta is a ridged rubber mat. It is about three feet long and formed in a slightly off-centre delta shape. The cross section is not unlike an aeroplane wing. The ridges on the face form channels just slightly wider than a hockey ball. The idea is to place the mat at a suitable distance from the goalkeeper and then play balls towards the goalie across the mat which then deflects the ball en route to the goal.

THE BOBBLA BALL

Bobblas are made of the same materials as normal hockey balls, but their eccentric shape adds a certain amount of randomness to their

movements along the ground. They can be used pretty much as you would a normal ball – hit, flicked, pushed and so on.

We took a D’flecta-Mat, a dozen Bobbla balls and a Flicka stick down to a water- filled astro (thanks to Seaford College for the use of their pitch). To simulate a training session we also rounded up Ben Barnes (Reading men’s first team coach) a tame goalkeeper (Jon Gotham of Chichester club) and a few players as willing coach assistants. We then tried each of the products in turn taking on board what the players, goalkeeper and coach thought of the gear. With each of the products we focused

THE mETHoD

on how they would be used to train goalkeepers although, of course, how easy the coach and players found them to use was also important. In an ideal world we would have watched all the videos, read all the manuals and prepared a training plan, needless to say we hadn’t!

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