Importance of Hip Mobility

Importance of Hip Mobility for Handball Goalkeepers

Importance of hip mobility for handball goalkeepers  is evident – a lot of movements in front of the goal demand a strong, mobile and flexible  hip flexor area. To perform on the best possible level, handball goalkeepers must have mobile joints and limbs.

The hip mobility is often neglected by handball goalkeepers, but it’s actually extremely important for them, because of the nature of their movements and save reactions in front of the goal.

Goalkeepers need hips with a full range of motion. To build the healthiest hips possible, they need to be both strong and flexible.

Now, what does that mean?
We know how often goalkeepers are performing side steps, sliding, knee or leg raises while trying to save incoming shots.
If you have poor joint mobility, performing any movement that requires precision and communication between joints and limbs is going to be much harder, and the risk for injury will be much higher.

Not only that hip mobility is under trained for many goalkeepers, but there is also another problem: nowadays humans (including handball goalkeeper and players) generally sit too much. That is a known (and unfortunate) fact. And why is that an important piece of information?

Because sitting impacts hip mobility in two major ways:
1. it weakens the gluteus and
2. it shortens the hip flexors.


Both your hip flexors and your glutes are very important in the activation of your hips, so when they are weak and/or inactive, the lower back has to take over. Which in longer run can equal over compensation of muscles which are trying to “help” and do what they should not, thus getting over burdened, which will inevitably result in pain over time.


Test Your Hip Flexors

Before we dig deeper into this topic, here is a fast “hip mobility task” you can do right now to get the feeling for current situation of your hips:

  • Make a squat, a proper squat. (Google the proper squat position if needed!)
  • Keep the correct position, with both feet completely on the floor and keep your back straight. You got it? Good. Now lift up your hands straight up above your head… Are you still feeling comfortable with squat position?
  • Then you are good to go. Take a coffee and enjoy the rest of your day.
  • But, if you had a trouble to get into the squat position, or if you had to lift up your heels in order to make deep squat: you should read carefully the rest of this text, and use some of the drills that are shown in the attached video.


Important to Know

Improving the hip mobility will help in several areas:

  • reduce or eliminate lower back and/or knee pain stemming from overcompensation (and we all know how often are lower back or knee problematic areas for goalkeepers)
  • improve the strength and power of your hip extension, extremely vital for vertical jumps, sprinting, and any basic explosive movement (all of which we, again, as a goalkeepers, use a lot)
  • improve the hip abduction (most of goalkeeper’s movements consider hip abduction: lifting up the leg in middle save reactions and deep side step or sliding in low save reactions)
  • improve rotational strength; instead of rotating with the lumbar spine, you’ll generate power with the hips
  • improve speed, especially sprinting speed



Muscles of the Hip

The hips have many different functions. They must be both stable and mobile at different times and in different planes, alongside with being able to abduct, adduct, extend, and rotate on demand.

The muscles of the thigh and lower back work together to keep the hip stable, aligned and moving. It is the muscles of the hip that allow the 4 basic movements of the hip:

  • flexion – bend
  • extension – straighten
  • abduction – take the leg away from the body
  • adduction – bring the leg back toward the body


Just to give you a picture of what’s happening in your hip, here is a list of the corresponding muscles:

  • Hip Flexors (rectus femoris, pectineus, psoas, iliacus, tensor fascia lata)
  • Hip Extensors (gluteus maximus, semitendinosus, semimembranosus, biceps femoris)
  • Hip Rotators and Abductors (quadratus femoris, obturator internus, gemilli, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, piriformis, sartorius)
  • Hip Adductors (adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, obturator externus, gracilis)

hip muscles


That are many muscles right there to know about, right! 🙂 😉

To keep it short and simple, remember: flexible hips are necessary for the variety of movements of handball goalkeepers.


Hip Mobility Drills For Saves of Low Shots

Hip mobility drills are irreplaceable when working on saves of low shots with handball goalkeepers.

The hip flexors, a group of muscles that bring the thigh and torso closer together, play a very important role in the overall mobility and performance of handball goalkeepers, especially when making side step for saves of the low shots. The importance of hip flexor mobility in this context cannot be overstated, as it directly impacts a goalkeeper’s ability to react quickly, maintain balance, and execute effective saves.

The benefits of hip flexor mobility, flexibility, and strength are pivotal for athletes across sports, especially for handball goalkeepers, who rely on quick, dynamic movements to perform at their best. These elements of physical fitness contribute significantly to an athlete’s overall performance, injury prevention, and longevity in their sport.

Here are a few reasons for why hip flexor mobility is crucial for handball goalkeepers:

Improved Reaction Speed

Mobility in the hip flexors allows goalkeepers to lower their body quickly and efficiently to the ground to save low shots. Stiff or tight hip flexors can slow down this movement, reducing the goalkeeper’s ability to cover the lower part of the goal in time. The power and speed derived from strong hip flexors enable goalkeepers to execute quick saves and powerful jumps. This ability is especially important for saving low shots, where quick downward movement is required.


Improved Range of Motion

Good hip flexor mobility contributes to a wider range of motion, enabling goalkeepers to stretch further and cover more of the goal area when reacting for low shots with a side step or with sliding reaction, or when making a “leg kick” save reaction. This flexibility can make the difference between a save and a goal in tight situations during matches.


Better Balance and Stability

The ability to move quickly and maintain balance when changing directions or positions in front of the goal is crucial for goalkeepers. Flexible hip flexors help in maintaining core stability and balance during dynamic movements, preventing falls, loss of balance, and ensuring that goalkeepers can quickly get back on their feet and take a basic stance after a save reaction.


Improved Postural Stability and Core Strength

The hip flexors play a significant role in maintaining postural stability and are closely linked with core strength. Improved hip flexor strength and flexibility support a stronger, more stable core, which is crucial for efficient movement and balance. A stable core and strong hip flexors are vital for goalkeepers to maintain balance and posture through various saves and movements. This stability is critical not only for performance but also for injury prevention.


Injury Prevention

Goalkeepers frequently engage in extreme ranges of motion, and strong, flexible hip flexors protect them against common injuries associated with repetitive sliding, lateral low lunges / side steps, and jumping, such as groin strains and hip joint issues. Tight hip flexors can lead to imbalances and strain in other parts of the body, including the lower back and knees. By maintaining mobility in the hip flexors, handball goalkeepers can reduce the risk of injuries associated with compensatory movements and overuse.


Increased Power and Efficiency

Efficient movement is key for goalkeepers, and hip flexor mobility contributes to more powerful and explosive save reactions. Flexible hip flexors allow for a bigger range of motion, enabling goalkeepers to generate more force when pushing off to make a save.


Better Endurance and Recovery

Handball goalkeepers with flexible and strong hip flexors experience less tightness and fatigue in their lower body, contributing to better endurance and faster recovery times between performances or training sessions. The demands of goalkeeping require endurance and the ability to recover quickly between save reactions. Hip flexor conditioning can help goalkeepers maintain their performance level throughout a match and recover more effectively afterward.


Video With The Hip Mobility Drill For Saves of Low Shots

This exercise is a great option for hip flexor warm up, that you can use as part of the warm up, strengthening, or as one of the exercises in the progression when working on saves of low shots!

We talk about this exercise and the importance of hip flexor mobility A LOT during my Level 1 online course for handball coaches.

There are many things that you can work on with your goalkeepers before becoming familiar with the topic of goalkeeper coaching. You just need to be willing to put the effort and more than necessary focus on your goalkeepers!

Investing time in developing hip flexor mobility, flexibility, and strength is a strategic move that pays dividends in performance enhancement, injury prevention, and overall athletic longevity for handball goalkeepers. These physical attributes allow for more powerful, agile, and resilient goalkeepers, capable of reaching their full potential.




Video – Suggestions of Hip Mobility Exercises for Handball Goalkeepers

In the video below are shown some of hip mobility and flexibility exercises, especially useful for handball goalkeepers but also for other sports and athletes. With this article and video, I just wanted to emphasize the importance of working on hip mobility and flexibility, and to share some of the exercise ideas that you as a goalkeeper or as a goalkeeper coach can use during your own practices.


Even if your hip flexors and legs are flexible, that is not a  guarantee that you will perform better at your sport.
A study performed at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, showed that stretching the hips increases the range of motion, but it does not improve functional movements that require balance, dynamic stability and multiple muscles to move together, such as the lunge, standing hip extension and standing and reaching maneuvers.

Therefore: set an intention to perform hip flexor exercises that closely look like the sport you play!



Video – Standing Hip Flexion and Rotation With Mini Band

Hip joint allows tri-planar movements of the femur relative to the pelvis, as well as the trunk and pelvis relative to the femur, and all of these movements are possible simultaneously!

In the video below, you can see just one (of endlessly many) exercises for strengthening and control of hip flexor movement.

I love using mini resistance bands in my coaching work, especially in the first part of training where goalkeepers are working on a warm-up and on activation of all important muscle groups.




Video – Dynamic Hip Flexion and Rotation in Warm-up

In the video below, you can see one of the ideas for how to work on dynamic hip flexion and rotation in warm-up phase, or as the preparatory phase in work on leg kick save reaction technique.

Prior to using these dynamic options of hip flexion and rotation, please make sure that your goalkeepers are warmed up and prepared properly.




Video – Hip Flexor and Glute Activation Exercises With Mini Band

We all know how extremely important is to keep high focus on improving hip mobility and working on glute activation when working with handball goalkeepers. This topic is very important when working with any kind of athletes, for that matter! The fastest solution for this is to include hip flexor and glute activation exercises with mini band into your workout!

Most of our movements in the goal demand very mobile and strong hip flexors, and strong glutes.

If you’ve ever wondered how many muscles are included in all the functions of the hip joint, here you can see really amazing explanation, together with an interactive 2D and 3D anatomy map!

In addition to high demands of a specific playing position that handball goalkeepers have, another challenge is that we all sit way too much nowadays. Sitting makes your hips too tight from being in constant flexion (while sitting, your legs are bent and this is making hips to be constantly flexed). This tightness will cause your glutes to very often “shut down”, which then further makes them to not work while you are doing squats or lunges, for example.

Many goalkeepers are having problem with the lower back pain, which is very often caused by your glutes not being engaged. When not engaged, glutes stop working properly just because they are not activated and your hips are locked up!
Some of the signs that your hips are locked up and glutes are inactive are:

  • nagging low back, hip or knee pain
  • often hamstring strains, IT Band issues or knee pain during running
  • when you squat, lunge or run, you only feel your quads and hamstring

What should you do to unlock your hips and activate your glutes? You should use more often the activation exercises!

Hip flexor and glute activation exercises with mini band will isolate your glutes and help you get them working properly! They will also help improve your hip mobility and hip extension, thus unlocking your hips.

Below you can find a video with 27 great exercises for hip flexor and glute activation with mini band! All of the exercises are explained and shown, so try to follow the instructions while performing them.




Video – Hip Flexor Activation With Mini Bands

In the video below, you can find two exercises with mini resistance bands for hip flexor activation that you can use with your goalkeepers in the warm-up phase of your training.



Video – Sitting Hip Mobility Drill

Sitting hip flexor mobility drills are very beneficial for handball goalkeepers. The role of a goalkeeper in handball demands agility, flexibility, and the ability to perform quick and explosive movements. Given these requirements, maintaining optimal hip flexor mobility is crucial.

Improved Range of Motion

The hip flexors are key muscles involved in raising the knee towards the torso and they are crucial for any movements requiring hip flexion. Sitting hip flexor mobility drills can increase the range of motion, allowing goalkeepers to achieve higher leg lifts and more dynamic movements when sliding for the saves of low shots.


Improved Explosiveness

Goalkeepers need to explode off their line to close down angles or jump suddenly into an X-Jump to make saves. Improved hip flexor mobility contributes to more powerful hip extension, improving a goalkeeper’s ability to go into save reactions more effectively.


Injury Prevention

Tight hip flexors can lead to imbalances and strain in the lower back and knees, areas commonly afflicted with injuries in athletes, especially handball goalkeepers. Regularly performing mobility drills can help maintain balanced muscle function and flexibility, significantly reducing the risk of these injuries. For goalkeepers, who frequently engage in sudden directional changes and jumps, maintaining this balance is key to a long and healthy career.


Better Postural and Core Stability

Good hip flexor mobility contributes to better posture and core stability, essential for goalkeepers who need to maintain balance and control through a variety of movements. A stable core aids in more effective slides, push off lateral movements, jumps, and even in the distribution of the ball, as it’s the foundation for all movements.


Integrating Mobility Drills into Training

Incorporating sitting hip flexor mobility and strength drills into the regular training schedule, preferably as part of the warm-up or cool-down routine, ensures that goalkeepers can maintain optimal hip flexor health. Consistency is key, as mobility improvements take time to manifest. Additionally, combining these drills with overall strength and flexibility training creates an in-depth approach for goalkeepers.

By improving range of motion, explosiveness, and stability, sitting hip flexor drills support the dynamic and demanding role of the handball goalkeeper.

In the video below, you can find an example of a sitting hip flexor mobility drill.




Video – 90/90 Hip Flexor Mobility Leg Raise Drill

The goalkeeper is extending and flexing his knee while sitting in 90/90 hip mobility position. 90/90 hip mobility work is highly effective for improving functional range of motion of hip joints.

There are many exercises that can be done in this position, and this is only one of them! Pay attention to the back position of your goalkeepers during this exercise, try to have them keep their back upright while extending and flexing their knees. For some goalkeepers, this movement might be very challenging, so please take care to not do it with goalkeepers who are not able to do it.




Video – Forward Knee Circles With Forward Lunges

In the video below, you can find hip flexor mobility drill – forward knee circles in combination with alternate forward lunges.




A Few Additional Hip Mobility Resources

Here are a few other resources – videos which offer additional ideas for hip mobility exercises:






  • The Role of Hip Flexor Strength in Lower Limb Injuries – “Fatigue of the hamstring muscles may allow for increased ACL loading and injury in those with hip flexor muscle tightness. Collectively, these results implicate that individuals with hip flexor muscle tightness may be at risk for injury to the hamstrings and / or ACL.”









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All content (such as text, data, graphics files, images, illustrations, videos, sound files), and all other materials contained in are copyrighted unless otherwise noted and are the property of Vanja Radic Coaching. If you want to cite or use any part of the content from my website, you need to get the permission first, so please contact me for that matter.