4 Balls. 2 Shooters. 1 Goalkeeper.

The 4-2-1 Drill.

This exercise is great when time is tight and goalkeepers need to get ready to go live quickly. Or as a fast and fun way to wrap up a longer, technical goalkeeping session. No matter when you do it, you’ll be reaching for this one often.

NFHCA Field Hockey Drill of the Week, 4-2-1 Drill

Objective: Provide a fast-paced and mentally-demanding drill for goalkeepers.

Set Up: 

  • Arrange two ball piles at 45-degree angles from the goal and about 3-5 yards inside of the circle edge
  • Set up a shooter on each ball pile — utilize two shooters or a shooter and a second goalkeeper
  • Place two cones on the edge of the circle as a target for goalkeepers to clear below

The Drill:

  • There are four balls total in each repetition — shooters alternate and get to choose whether they shoot or pass for the other player to take a shot
  • Coaches discretion whether to play rebounds or not
  • For example: ball 1, shooter A takes a shot; ball 2, shooter B passes the ball to shooter A, shooter A takes a shot; ball 3 shooter A passes to shooter B, shooter B takes a shot; ball 4 shooter B takes a shot

Points of Emphasis:

  • Encourage your goalkeepers to be set and balanced for each shot
  • Emphasize good footwork to change angle and be set quickly if the ball is passed
  • Work on one-time clears to the least dangerous areas of the circle (below the cone targets)


  • For more advanced goalkeepers, play out rebounds
  • For beginner goalkeepers, give them time to adjust and get set before each ball and between passes
  • For intermediate or advanced goalkeepers, shorten the time between balls, try one-time shots from passes passes
  • Vary your shots, both in type and distance from the goalkeeper