High Diving Save - Top Hand

The diving save using the top hand is one of the most exciting saves that the goalkeeper can make. He soars through the air to pick the ball out of the top corner of the net, denying the shooter of what they think is a certain goal. It is the type of save that every goalkeeper dreams about.

It is also one of the most difficult saves to make. It takes strength, agility, flexibility, timing and often a little bit of luck to pull off. Only goalkeepers of the highest quality are able to execute this kind of technique.

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Goalkeeper - Frolian Fromlowitz

Preliminary Movements

The goalkeeper needs to assess the flight of the ball as quickly as possible and decide the general direction the ball is travelling (left, right or straight?). Once the goalkeeper has determined the direction of the ball he must first start to lean the upper half of the body (head, shoulders, hands) in the direction of the ball. Once the goalkeeper is leaning in the direction of the ball and his momentum is moving in that direction he may or may not use additional footwork to move towards the ball. This will depend on the distance and speed that the ball is travelling. For short distances he can use a shuffle step, and for longer distances a cross-over run. In most cases the goalkeeper will not have time for any additional footwork.

Key Points

  • Eye on the Ball
  • Hands in "Ready" Position
  • Lean Head and Shoulders in Direction of the Ball
  • Shuffle Step or Cross-Over Step

Backswing / Recovery Movement

As the ball approaches within saving distance the goalkeeper must begin to lift the back leg. He will be momentarily balancing on one foot. The back leg should be lifted until the foot is level with the goalkeepers hips (parallel to the ground). This will allow the goalkeeper to lean his upper body (hands, head, shoulders) even further in the direction of the ball. As the goalkeeper begins to balance on the near leg he must also bend at the hips, knee and ankle in order to prepare himself to spring at the ball. The hands should be kept in the "Ready" position for as long as possible while always keeping the eyes focused on the ball.

Key Points

  • Eye on the ball
  • Hands in "Ready" position
  • Raise Back Leg as High as Possible (Horizontal)
  • Bend at the Hips (closed)
  • Bend Near Leg at the Knee and Ankle
  • Hands, Head, Shoulders, Lean Further in Direction of Ball

Force-Producing Movement

Once the ball is within saving distance the goalkeeper must simultaneously drive the "Top Hand" towards the ball, extend the "Near Leg" as quickly as possible, while driving the "Back Leg" up towards the chest. The goalkeeper finishes the movement by driving forwards with the hips and arching the lower back. IN order for the goalkeeper to generate the most force he must execute the movement by using the biggest muscles first and the smallest muscles last. This means the goalkeeper drives with the Quadriceps, Calf, and then the ankle in that order. The opening up of the hips at the end with give the goalkeeper and extra bit of extension to reach the ball and begin to prepare the goalkeeper for landing.

Key Points

  • Eye on the ball
  • Drive the Top Hand at the Ball
  • Drive with the Near Leg (Quad-Calf-Ankle)
  • Back Leg Drives Up Towards the Chest
  • Hips Drive Forward (open up)
  • Arch the Lower Back

The Critical Instant

The "Critical Instant" is the moment when the ball comes within reach of the goalkeepers top hand. Eyes should be on the ball. Fingers should be spread wide and contact should be made with the palm of the hand. This may not always be possible and the goalkeeper may only be able to get his finger tips on the ball. Wrist should be angled to push the ball over the crossbar or wide of the post. Hips should be "open".

Key Points

  • Eye on the ball
  • Fingers Spread Wide
  • Angle the Wrist
  • Hips "Open"

The Follow-Through

After the save is made the goalkeeper must now think about landing as safely as possible. The bottom hand should be the first thing that contacts the ground and starts to cushion the impact. The goalkeeper should land on the side of the body with the chest and armpit area first, then followed by the hips and finally the legs. Upon impact the goalkeeper may also roll with the momentum of the dive to try and cushion the impact further. The goalkeeper may also use the momentum of the roll to regain his feet quickly.

Key Points

  • Bottom Hand to Cushion Impact
  • Chest and Arm Pit Land First
  • Legs Land Last
  • "Roll Out of It"
  • Regain Your Feet Quickly

Game Footage

Goalkeeper - Manuel Neuer
Goalkeeper - Steve Mandanda
Goalkeeper - Erik Thorsvedt

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Goalkeeper - Maarten Stekelenburg
Goalkeeper - Cassio Anjos
Goalkeeper - Dele Alyenugba
Goalkeeper - Joe Hart
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