Skills Sessions

Blackstick’s Superstar GK Kyle Pontifex

Kyle Pontifex is a very experienced goalkeeper from Wellington who has cemented a spot as the number one keeper for the New Zealand Blacksticks and will be heading to the London Olympics this year. He is one of the best goalkeepers I have seen so I wanted to find out a few of his secrets. He kindly took the time to answer a few questions so I encourage you to have a read below.

Do you do any gk specific training outside of hockey sessions. ie. agility, weights etc
The majority of training I do outside of hockey training is power/agility. A lot of gym based power lifting mainly lower body focused. Plus footwork and agility work – speed ladders, skipping and jumping/bounding.
I really enjoy cycling so rather than running for my base fitness I will ride my bike.

What is the secret to consistent performace?
I wish I knew… No I think the only method to get consistent performance is to train consistently. There is no special pill for a keeper to play well it is just practice and more practice. I like to say save a thousand balls during the week and you will play well on the weekend.

How much influence does your equipment have on your performance?
Confidence is a huge part of keeping therefore your equipment plays a big part in your confidence. When you are keeping you want to only be thinking of saving the ball not thinking ‘hope I don’t get hurt’.
There is a balance between the amount of protection your gear provides and the amount of movement your gear allows. I think OBO have struck a good balance with their products.

How much influence does your home life have on your performance?
I have realised that home life has a huge impact on performance. To be a good keeper you need to train a lot this takes a lot of support and understanding from your family.
To put in these hours of training you have got to enjoy it and this won’t be possible without the support at home.

Who did you look up to as an up and coming keeper?
Guus Vogels – Dutch keeper for many years was a keeper I looked up to. I think he was the best around for close to 10 years. Interesting enough I realised the way he kept was unlikely to work for me. Guus dived around a lot where I like to stay on my feet a bit more.
Wayne McIndoe was a filed player that taught me a lot about the game and what was required to play at the top level. As a keeper I think you can learn a lot for field players especially as good keeper coaching is hard to come by.

Most memorable moment in your career?
I am hoping it will be winning a medal at the London Olympics otherwise I think it would be playing Champions Trophy in New Zealand

What do you like to do outside of hockey?
I work as a Database Engineer (IT) for ANZ Bank – a very understanding employer is important when playing internationally given most years we are away from work for 3-4 months.

What makes up a good defence?
11 players that want to stop goals as much as they want to score goals!
Commitment and cohesion are key skills for your defence and as keepers we can help a lot by directing and positioning them.

Plans post London?
Relax with a gold medal around my neck…
I have not made many hockey plans post London. I will take some time to decide whether to play on or to retire.

You can check out Kyle’s profile at http://www.hockeynz.co.nz/kylepontifex/

I wish him all the very best in London!!!!

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