Saves of low shots from 9 meters

Saves of Low Shots From 9 Meters

There are two most common techniques for saves of low shots from 9 meters in handball goalkeeping:

  • Step to the side and
  • Sliding



Step To The Side Saving Technique for Low Shots From 9 Meters

Historically, step to the side save technique belongs to the ex-Yugoslav goalkeeping school, but nowadays it’s applied by majority of goalkeepers. A good goalkeeper is the one who uses a lot of different saving techniques for different kinds of shots. Therefore, it’s very important to work step by step with young goalkeepers on education and learning different saving techniques. In proper young goalkeeper training progression – the step to the side low save reaction should be one of the very first elements of saving techniques that we will work on with young goalkeepers.


  Side step low save technique  


The most important things about the step to the side saving technique are:

  • From the basic stance, goalkeeper is making step to the side where the shot is coming.
  • If the shot is coming to goalkeeper’s left side, then the push off has to be from goalkeeper’s right leg! At the same time left leg is making side step towards the ball, and it’s making external rotation of the thigh, so the foot would be positioned properly for the low save.
  • The right arm  remains extended diagonally in the air (maintaining the balance and covering the space ) and left arm stretches down passing in front of the knee and towards the space above and in front of the reacting foot – to cover that open space depending on where the ball will be directed.
  • The size/length of the side step is going to depend mostly on the path/direction f the incoming ball! Therefore, it’s very important to work with goalkeepers on different length of a side step, from shorter to deeper side step. The size/length of the side step is also going to depend on the physical abilities of a goalkeeper who is performing it – meaning if the goalkeeper has any problems with hip flexor mobility or flexibility, it will be much harder for them to perform proper movement. Important to notice is that generally younger goalkeepers will have more often lack of the hip flexor mobility and lack of leg muscles strength, therefore it is advisable to teach them shorter side step (but with addition of middle step before the reaction, so that they could reach far enough with the reacting foot). In this way, if the side step is shorter – it will be easier for them to push off again back and return faster into the basic stance after the side step reaction.
  • In low side step reaction, body weight is on that leg which is in the side step (this is one of the reasons why it’s so important for a goalkeeper to have strong leg muscles and good balance and stability).
  • The upper body is moving towards the place of contact with the ball, keeping the back straight and head up, looking straight to the incoming shot.
  • Foot of the reacting leg should be “open” – with internal part facing the direction of the arrival of the ball. Common mistake that many young goalkeepers are making is to not lean on the whole foot in this position, but just on toes – lifting up the heel. So keep this detail in mind while explaining them proper way of this reaction.
  • It is advisable to  make the side step slightly towards the ball (only for a few cm) with the purpose of cutting the angle.


There are certain most common mistakes in low save reactions, and every goalkeeper coach should point out these mistakes to young goalkeepers, and then try to correct them! To be able to teach, improve or identify mistakes in elements of goalkeeper technique – the coach first has to become familiar with elements of proper goalkeeper technique!  


Sliding Saving Technique for Low Shots From 9 Meters

The other way to react on low shots from 9 meters is sliding. Traditionally, the sliding saving technique belongs to Scandinavian goalkeeping school. But just like with the side step low save reaction – sliding is (and it should be) nowadays applied and used by all top level goalkeepers.

In my work with young goalkeepers, I never start with the sliding save reaction as the first choice of technique for saving low shots. And the reason for that is: sliding technique is very challenging, and young goalkeepers more often than not have very bad flexibility and hip mobility, so they are physically unable to make a proper technique of sliding. But regardless, they keep performing it.

What happens in the end is that, over time, they will develop some kind of injury due to the overuse of wrong technique and due to the harsh impact on their joints (hips, knees, ankles) before they have needed range of motion and flexibility for such a challenging movement like the sliding save technique is!

I have discovered the “phenomenon” of sliding technique after having several goalkeeper camps and goalkeeper coaches educations in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland. In these countries – sliding was predominant technique for saves of low shots for young goalkeepers. And this was the case mostly because they get to see a lot of high level handball either live or on tv, where very skilled level senior goalkeepers are able to perform perfect sliding technique without any problems.

Young goalkeepers will, of course, copy the style of their idols, but their young bodies are not capable to perform such a challenging and demanding movement like the sliding technique is. So I like to start working first on the side step low save technique with my young goalkeepers, and then slowly progress to the sliding technique, while all along working on flexibility, mobility, and other needed physical aspects.  


Sliding low save technique


How To Make a Proper Sliding Save Technique?

If we take the same example as in previous case – reaction on low shot to the left side, then “sliding” reaction starts from the basic stance and with the explosive push off from the right leg towards the left side. The left leg is sliding on the heel to the left side – where the shot is addressed. Sliding movement of the leg is often accompanied by one or both arms which are extended towards the foot of that leg, thus covering larger space.

Sliding can be done as one leg slide (with one leg sliding to the reaction, and the other one is bent), or with a full leg split slide (with both legs making a full leg split slide).

Both techniques have their strengths and weaknesses, and the effect of both of them can be maximized only if you recognize which of these will work better for your goalkeeper. However, advisable is to teach both techniques, by following the abilities and proper progression for your goalkeepers.

Besides the push off sliding reaction on low shots, there is also a “sit down” slide reaction, without the lateral push off movement. However, this technique is even more “aggressive” and harsh physically for young goalkeeper’s bodies (especially for the hips, knees and ankles), so we should be really careful about when to include this technique in training progression.

In the training of young goalkeepers it is very important to teach them wide range of movements and different technique elements, so that they could later use what will suit best to their personal goalkeeper style in specific saving reactions.

In the video below, you can see a “king of sliding saves”, Niklas Landin, performing the sliding sit reaction and getting up immediately without any problems, and in a blink of an eye!  




Important Things When Saving Low Shots

Saving low shots is a critical aspect of a handball goalkeeper’s skill set. Here are just some of the most important points to consider when working on saves of low shots:


Positioning and Stance

Low center of gravity – maintain a low center of gravity with slightly bent knees and a forward-leaning torso. This position allows for quick movements in any direction.
Foot placement – keep feet shoulder-width apart for stability and readiness to slide or step quickly laterally to either side.

Anticipation and Reading the Shooter

Study the shooter – pay attention to the shooter’s body language, arm angle, and eyes to anticipate the direction of the shot.
React quickly – use the cues picked up from the shooter to make a decisive move towards the ball.

Quick Reflexes and Agility

Develop reflexes – work on drills that enhance your reaction time to ensure you can respond quickly to low shots.
Stay agile – agility training helps improve the ability to move quickly across the goal, essential for reaching low shots.

Use of Hands and Legs

Hand positioning – keep hands ready and slightly forward, allowing for quick ground coverage. Decide quickly whether to use a hand, leg, or both to stop the ball based on its speed and trajectory.
Leg work – practice using one leg to push off for additional reach and the other to support and balance, enabling you to cover more ground when reacting to low shots.

Saving Technique

You can use either the lateral / side step or the sliding reaction when attempting to save shots from 9 meters. Which ever you are using, you need to master the technique, always aiming to either catch the ball (if it’s not a strong shot), or to deflect it away from the goal. Make sure that your save reaction is controlled and directed properly towards the incoming direction of the ball.
If you are using the sliding technique, practice safe landing. Learn how to land safely to minimize the risk of injury and to recover and position quickly for the next attack.

Mental Toughness

Stay Focused – concentrate on the game and be prepared for shots from any direction at any time.
Resilience – don’t let a received goal affect your confidence. Stay mentally resilient and always be ready for the next shot.



Friendly Reminder for Coaches

Please, do not choose sliding as the first technique option for save of low shots in work with young goalkeepers!

There are many reasons why you shouldn’t start with sliding in your work with them, but mostly you shouldn’t do it because many young goalkeepers are simply NOT CAPABLE of performing it properly!

During many years of my coaching work world wide, I have seen a lot of young goalkeepers performing sliding without having even the basic level of mobility and flexibility. This is very dangerous and aggressive “attack” on the hip joints, as well as on the knees and ankles.

Just imagine having a goalkeeper who can’t perform proper squat or side deep lunge, but then they go ahead and they keep making sliding save reactions. And this is, unfortunately, very, very common!

Besides the physical aspect of why the sliding technique is difficult for the young goalkeepers, there is also another reason for why this save reaction shouldn’t be your first choice. The reason is that very often young goalkeepers adopt the sliding save as a kind of a “cool” save reaction that they see senior goalkeepers making on tv, so then they start using it all the time, and it becomes their habit. Then they end up very soon getting the habit of reacting on every low shot with sliding technique, so you will later have a lot of trouble with getting them to “stay on their feet” or to perform side step at all. It’s much easier to teach them first the proper side step save reaction, and after they learn and adopt it, then in a little bit later stage you can start with the sliding technique.    

If you want to learn how to work properly on teaching your goalkeepers how to perform the sliding technique save reaction, you can check out my video course about that topic here: Sliding Technique Video Course.




Video – Corrective Exercise For Low Saves

Please keep in your mind that it’s always way easier to teach young goalkeepers how to make a proper low save (or any other kind of save reaction), then to correct their wrongly learned technique.

What Are Corrective Exercises?

What does a “corrective exercise” actually mean, you might wonder? Well, for example, if you have a goalkeeper who is lifting up their leg while reacting with a side step low reaction to low shots – then the ball will go into the goal under their foot. So, your goalkeeper will make a side step low reaction, but since they are doing it in a wrong way – instead of moving the leg laterally close to the floor, they will make the reacting leg movement from “upwards”, and in that way they will actually not manage to “close” the low space. Which will result in ball going into the goal under their foot. If this is the case with your goalkeeper, and if they are lifting up the foot, instead of moving it laterally when reacting to low shots, then you can use some of the “corrective” exercises to work on correction of that wrong movement.

When making the side step low save reaction – goalkeeper should transition the upper body weight on reacting leg while making the side step. When done properly – goalkeeper’s reacting leg will not move too high up, and it will not look like there is a lot of open space under the foot and the low corner which they are trying to protect.

When covering low shots, the main goalkeeper’s task is to cover that space – low far corners. But very often (during reactions on low shots) it happens that goalkeepers leave their body weight on the supporting leg (the leg that is not reacting to the shot), which then results in the reacting leg coming a little bit from “upwards”, thus opening the space under that foot. In that case, a goalkeeper ends up opening the space that they are trying to cover.



Long story long, there are several things that can be done to correct this wrongly learned movement, but in the video below you have a suggestion of one of the corrective exercises that you can use.




Video – Corrective Exercise For Saves of Low Shots – One Sided Kneeling Option

In the video below, you can see another option of a corrective exercise for saves of low shots from 9 meters. This version is performed while kneeling on one knee.
In the video, you can see a combination of save reactions of two shots: the first shot is aimed towards the head – with which we are making a goalkeeper to start the reaction from the basic stance position, after which comes the second shot, which is a low shot to a decided side. The main focus in this exercise is on a proper side step leg reaction, and a proper foot position during the low save reaction.
You need to pay attention on goalkeeper’s hips and back position in this movement. If the goalkeeper is bending forward while reaching down with the hand – then the movement is not correct!
You can learn more details about proper form and movement for saves of low shots from 9 meters in my Level 1 Video Course for coaches.




Video – Combo Exercise For Saves of Low Shots

In the video below you can see a combo drill for saves of low shots that I like to use when working with young goalkeepers. I especially like using this combo drill when I want to stimulate the vestibular system, and work on spatial awareness, cognitive processes, speed of decision making, and execution of proper goalkeeper technique.

On an audio stimuli, goalkeepers does a 180 degrees jump turn (either to a freely chosen side, or to the given side), after which he is given a visual stimuli, based on which he needs to touch one of the posts and then as fast as possible adjust its position and react on a low shot to the opposite side.

For the visual stimuli option, I like to combine either showing one of the two sides or for the more challenging versions, I like to give certain cognitive tasks, all of which are impacting and activating certain brain areas.

All for the purpose of adding the difficulty of the task and working on the speed of information processing, working memory capacity, and working on speed of decision making.




Video – Combo Exercise for Saves of Low Shots

After you get the basic understanding for how to work on saves of low shots with your goalkeepers, then you can proceed on including more complex exercises in your training.

Complex exercises are the ones that I call “combo exercises”, and you can find several options of them here on my website.

The main purpose I had with these combo exercises was to offer more ideas and more inspiration for you, so that you could use them, and get inspiration to create some new combinations of exercises. Which can only happen if you understand and know very well the basics of proper goalkeeper technique, and after you work on elements of proper basic technique with your goalkeepers.

One of the more complex exercises is a combo exercise for saves of low shots shown in the video below. This exercise consists of two low save reactions of shots from a long distance: side step for the low shot save to the front low corner (closer to the goalkeeper) and sliding technique to the back low corner (further from the goalkeeper).

If you would like to learn more about the proper sliding technique, you can check out my Sliding Technique Video Course here.

Generally, it’s advisable to avoid sliding to the front low corner only because in that case goalkeeper’s leg is usually covering about 1 meter of space outside of the goal. Which is not the most optimal use of the body. But then again – we will not complain about chosen technique if the shot is saved, right?!





Video – Footwork and Double Low Save Reaction

In the video below, you can see an option of a footwork performed with the right leg, and the side step low reaction performed to the left side, with the left leg.





Video – Cross Leg Footwork and Low Save Reaction

In the video below, the goalkeeper is doing “front cross, back cross” footwork movement until the coach start an audio stimuli, after which the goalkeeper is reacting on the low shot, while performing proper technique for the saves of low shots from 9 meters.

I don’t recommend this exercise with very young goalkeepers, because of the specific footwork drill where one foot is crossing the other. We don’t want to introduce that crossing legs movement before we make sure that our goalkeeper understands the proper basic movement, and the intentional task in certain exercises.

On the other hand, with more experienced goalkeepers this is just a great exercise, since it’s “breaking” the habit and it’s “breaking” the normal movement pattern, thus making it more challenging from the cognitive aspect.





Video – Some of The Steps of Progression for Saves of Low Shots From 9 Meters

In the video below, you can some of the steps of progression when working on save reactions of low shots from 9 meters.

These exercises are just some ideas for you, as an inspiration to create your own exercises. You can do them individually with one, or with a few goalkeepers at the same time. But you need to make sure that you previously can give a proper instruction and explain a proper technique for each exercise to every goalkeeper individually.

Always make sure to start with the most simple exercise and then go towards more complex drills in progression.




Video – Low Save Combo Drill With Vestibular Stimulation

Vestibular system (or balance system) stimulation is a very useful aspect of handball goalkeeper training.

Vestibular system stimulation is basically exercises or activities that give your body’s balance system a good workout. Think of it as doing exercises for the part of your inner ear and brain that helps you stay balanced and keeps your vision stable while you’re moving.

In the video below, you can see an example of a shooting low save combo drill with different difficulty levels of vestibular system stimulation, including 180 and 360 turn jumps. The jumps are followed with a proper reaction on a cognitive task first and then depending on what the cognitive task was – reaction on a low shot to the left or to the right side.

This is a complex combo that can (and it should) be progressed or regressed if needed, depending on the skill level of the goalkeeper you work with.

As always, in work with young goalkeepers, please try to respect the main rules of proper basic technique, and remember to go backwards in progression when and if needed. The point is not to “copy/paste” the drill and do it with beginners, but to educate and coach them properly until they are capable to perform this (or any other) combo drill.

This is a very advanced drill, so please make sure to first do all separated elements of it with your goalkeepers before proceeding to make this full combo.

Vestibular system stimulation is basically exercises or activities that give your body’s balance system a good workout. Think of it as doing exercises for the part of your inner ear and brain that helps you stay balanced and keeps your vision stable while you’re moving.

360-degree turn jumps in goalkeeper training are a great example of an exercise that activates the vestibular system. When you do a 360-degree jump, you’re not just testing your strength and coordination, but you’re also giving your balance system a challenge. As you spin around, your inner ear (part of the vestibular system) gets to work, helping you figure out where you are in space, and keeping you from falling over when you land.

It’s a fun, and efficient way to keep the balance system functional! And it’s especially useful when we combine 180 or 360 degree turn jumps in some of the more specific goalkeeper combo drills.


What is Vestibular System Stimulation?

The vestibular system is a key part of our inner ear and brain that helps control balance and eye movements. Imagine it as a sophisticated internal gyroscope that keeps you oriented and stable as you move through the world in your every day. It tells you which way is up, helps you walk straight without getting dizzy, and ensures that you can focus your eyes on a point even while moving. Which is a very important thing for handball goalkeepers – to laser focus on a point (which is a handball ball) while moving and positioning in front of the goal.

Vestibular system stimulation involves activities or exercises aimed at activating or rehabilitating this system. It’s like giving your internal balance system a workout. This can be very helpful for people who have dizziness, balance problems, or vestibular disorders—conditions where the inner ear part of the vestibular system isn’t working properly.

Therapies may include exercises that involve head and body movements, balance training, and visual-spatial activities. These are designed to challenge and improve the vestibular system’s function, helping individuals improve their balance, reduce symptoms of dizziness, and enhance their overall stability. It’s all about retraining the brain and body to process balance information more effectively.

It’s pretty amazing how targeting this hidden, inner part of our ear can have such profound impacts on our ability to navigate and enjoy the world more comfortably. Whether for rehabilitation or enhancing performance in sports, vestibular stimulation is a powerful tool.

If you would like to read my article about Cognitive Training in Handball Goalkeeping, please click on this link.


What Does Vestibular System Stimulation in Handball Goalkeeper Training Mean?

Incorporating vestibular system stimulation into handball goalkeeper training is all about enhancing a goalkeeper’s balance, spatial orientation, and reaction times, which are all key elements for peak performance in the goal.

This kind of training involves exercises that challenge and improve the vestibular system, which is crucial for maintaining balance and coordinating movements, especially during quick, dynamic actions. For a handball goalkeeper, this could mean drills that simulate the quick changes in direction, sudden stops, turns, twists, head movements in different directions, or fast visual tracking of the ball, like they would experience during a game.

Examples might include activities like quick jumps in different directions, or turn jumps for 180 or 360 degrees, practicing head movement in various directions while trying to maintain balance on one or on both feet, or even spinning around before trying to catch or save a shot. These exercises help goalkeepers become more adept at maintaining their orientation and balance, even after quick, disorienting movements. This could lead to improved performance in goal, as they’re better able to quickly and accurately respond to shots with a well-tuned sense of balance and spatial awareness.

Incorporating these types of exercises into training routines can significantly benefit a goalkeeper’s ability to perform under the high-speed, high-pressure conditions of handball matches. It’s a sophisticated approach to training that goes beyond traditional physical conditioning, aiming to fine-tune the body’s internal balance systems for optimal athletic performance.




Video – Double Jump Turn and Double Low Save Reactions

This is a little bit more advanced idea for combo drill for practicing saves of low shots from 9 meters: on an audio stimuli, a goalkeeper starts with a 180 degree jump turn, and right after landing, the goalkeeper does the 360 degree jump to the other side, which is followed with visual stimuli – depending on which arm will the other goalkeeper lift up, the goalkeeper who is performing the drill will and then make a double low save reaction. Starting to the opposite side from the one that was shown with the arm of the other goalkeeper after the two jump turns. 

This exercise is also great for practicing goalkeeper dexterity and spatial awareness, which are very important in goalkeeper training.





Video – Jump Turn and Somersault Combo for Low Save Reaction

This is a very demanding combo drill with the main focus on save reactions of low shots combined with vestibular system activation, reactions on audio and visual stimuli and speed of visual perception.

As always, please do not perform this combo drill with your goalkeepers if they are not able to perform properly all separated elements of it first!


Here are all the steps of this combo drill:
1. “In and out” footwork
2. On an audio stimuli goalkeeper makes a 180 degree jump turn in basic stance
3. After proper landing in the basic stance – goalkeeper is watching and trying to perceive as fast as possible which side (left or right) is shown by the shooter’s hand
4. Then, the goalkeeper is reacting by touching the goal post that is on the opposite side from the one that the shooter showed
5. After that, the goalkeeper makes a fast reaction on a low shot to the opposite side and one more low shot to the other side
6. After that, the goalkeeper makes a somersault forward, and gets up in a proper basic stance (getting up without pushing off from the floor with hands)
7. While getting up in the basic stance, the goalkeeper is making a 360 degree jump turn
8. Landing in the basic stance and right away reaction on two additional low shots, but these two shots will be in the opposite order than the previous two low shots

As you can see, there is a big cognitive load in this combo exercise, and a big physical load as well. This combo drill is recommendable only for experienced and skilled goalkeepers who are able to do all separated elements of this drill properly.





Video – Cartwheel in Low Save Combo

There are many different ways in which you can use cartwheels in handball – especially in goalkeeper training. Once you understand how the proper technique for saves of high, middle or low shots from 9 meters looks like and what are the most common mistakes, it will be easy for you to design and create your own ideas for exercises through which you will be able to work on proper technique with your goalkeepers.

Proper goalkeeper technique should be imperative for every coach in the beginning of work with young goalkeepers, because it enables a good basis for all the work that has to come afterwards.

Also, it’s much easier to teach young goalkeepers proper technique, than to work on correcting the wrongly learned technique.

In the video below, you can see two options of combo exercises for saves of low shots from 9 meters that you should use later in progression with your goalkeepers.

First you need to make sure that your goalkeeper can manage well separate elements of these combo exercises, which are: 1) the cartwheel and 2) the side step low reaction.

Cartwheels are a good demonstration of the overall coordination and agility, and they can also show us where our athletes are lacking in particular areas of strength and flexibility.

Including cartwheels in any of the drills with your goalkeepers is a great idea. Beside the fact that it adds a bigger challenge for your goalkeepers, it also targets the vestibulo-ocular system, dexterity and spatial awareness, all of which are extremely important for goalkeepers.

Once you learn how the proper goalkeeper technique looks like, what are the most common mistakes in any of the technique elements, and how to correct them – you will feel empowered and encouraged as a coach to create your own ideas for goalkeeper exercises.

In this video, you can see the first version of a cartwheel exercise, where the goalkeeper is doing the side step low save right away after landing, from the same place where the cartwheel finished.

In the second version of the exercise, the goalkeeper is doing a middle step before the side step low save.




Video – Double Lateral Push Off Step From the Same Leg

In the video below, you can see a combo drill for saves of low shots which I have done with young goalkeepers on my first camp in Iceland.

The first shot comes to the goalkeeper’s right low side, on the outside of the right leg (more exactly – from the right side of the goalkeeper’s right leg), while the second shot comes from the inside of the goalkeeper’s right leg.

The main idea in this combo drill is to first react properly to the low shot in the goalkeeper’s right side, by making the first lateral push off step from the left leg. Immediately after that shot, the goalkeeper has to make fast second lateral push off step with the same (left) leg to save the second low shot which will come between his legs.


A very common mistake in this combo drill is that during the reaction to the second shot, goalkeepers make lateral push off step with the “wrong” leg, meaning – with the right leg (if using the example from this video).
The second common mistake in this combo drill is that some goalkeepers are making the middle step before the first low save reaction, or they are making the middle step before the second reaction. For this combo exercise – there should be no additional steps or middle steps used other than the ones showed in the video.

Try out this drill and let me know how you liked it!




Video – Rotation From the Hurdle Sitting Position and Low Save Reaction

In the video below you can see how the 360 degree body rotation from the hurdle sitting position should be done, and then in the second part of the video you can see the same rotation from the hurdle sitting position which was then followed with a save reaction to the low shot.






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Here you can find my online video courses: Level 1 Video Course for CoachesLevel 2 Video Course for CoachesSliding Technique Video Course and Agility Ladder Drills Video Collection with 102 drills.


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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.