Goalkeepers should embrace the 'hero status' of penalties - Team GB Olympic hockey star Maddie Hinch on shoot-outs
As England prepare to take on Germany in the last-16 of Euro 2020, the narrative of penalty shoot-outs between the two nations has dominated much of the build up. Maddie Hinch saved all four penalties as Team GB beat the Netherlands to Olympic hockey gold at Rio 2016 - she tells Eurosport what goalkeepers need to do to get the mental edge over their opponents.
Team GB hockey goalkeeper Maddie Hinch says England number one Jordan Pickford should view a penalty shoot-out as a “moment to shine” if penalties are needed to settle their Euro 2020 last-16 game with Germany.
Hinch was the star as Great Britain beat the Netherlands to Olympic gold at Rio 2016, saving all four penalties, making her a national hero as the match took place at prime-time on a Friday night in the UK.
Although England got over their hoodoo at major football tournaments by beating Colombia at the 2018 World Cup, they have never beaten Germany in a shoot-out, losing at the 1990 World Cup and Euro 96 - both in the semi-finals.
Eurosport caught up with Hinch, who gave us a rundown on what goalkeepers need to do to get the mental edge.
Number one, you need a bouncebackability like no other athlete - a goalkeeper lives life on the edge consistently, you can change the direction of the game. You have to be comfortable with that pressure, enjoy it and seek the opportunity rather than fear failure. You have to enjoy making the saves.
I’ve had moments where I’ve thought “please don’t shoot at me”. In Rio, I can honestly hand on heart say I wanted them to shoot - I felt six foot tall and six foot wide. That’s what sets the top goalkeepers apart - real self-belief - and if it does go in, you move on. What’s going on in your mind, that’s the difference between good and great goalkeepers.
Maddie Hinch was unbeatable in the Rio 2016 hockey final shoot-out
Image credit: Getty Images
I definitely expect myself to make a certain amount of saves - a shoot-out is the goalkeeper’s chance to shine. We spend most of the game standing around, during a game, you may not have touched the ball and lost 3-0. We go through the serious lows and that’s the extremes of the position.
But when a shoot-out happens, I think great, this is your moment to shine. The hero status you can have, it’s a cool situation to be in and you should embrace it. If you’ve done your homework and you back yourself to make the saves, you’ll be fine.
Mentality outweighs the technique, though. When we played the Dutch in the final, they had incredible hockey players, they have the ability to run around me and put the ball in the net, and they should have, but they didn’t because of the mental side of it.
For sure, they had it in their head that they hadn’t done it before against us. We’d been in a lot of shoot-outs and it was a very comfortable experience for, and I knew I had the psychological edge. After that, it just comes down to routines, resetting after the game finishes and restarting with your processes.
We could not have practiced that anymore, and I wonder whether the Dutch did the same. That’s why I get the notebook out, I tap both posts, because I’m trying to get in their heads. After that, it’s whether your opponent can handle the occasion.