Understanding hip joint hip muscles hip movements - Vanja Radic Coaching

Understanding Hip Joint, Hip Muscles, and Hip Movements

In the world of handball goalkeeping, where agility, power, and quick reflexes reign supreme, there’s a trio of elements that often goes unnoticed but plays a pivotal role in a goalkeeper’s performance: the hip joint, hip muscles, and hip movements. In this blog post, I’ll dive into these three aspects, explain the distinctions between them, and explore why they are essential for aspiring and seasoned goalkeepers alike.

In support of the importance of this topic is the video compilation of 5 top saves from day 1 of the 2024 EHF European Men’s Handball Championship which is hosted in Germany. As you can see, every single save reaction in this video has an element of a leg kick – a save reaction which is possible precisely because of the hip joint, hip muscles and hip movements.



The Hip Joint – Foundation of Mobility

Definition: The hip joint is the actual anatomical structure where the thigh bone (femur) meets the pelvic bone (acetabulum). It’s a versatile ball-and-socket joint that enables an astonishing range of motion.

Function: The primary function of the hip joint is to provide stability and facilitate movement of the leg. It enables various actions, including flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, internal rotation, and external rotation of the thigh.

Anatomy: The hip joint is composed of the acetabulum (socket) in the pelvis and the head of the femur (ball). The joint is surrounded by a joint capsule and supported by ligaments, tendons, and cartilage.

Role in Goalkeeping: The hip joint is essential for goalkeepers as it enables them to perform a wide range of movements necessary for making saves, diving, jumping, and changing direction rapidly. It also plays a critical role in maintaining balance and stability.


Hip Muscles – Power and Control

Definition: Hip muscles refer to the group of muscles located around the hip joint. They include a complex group of muscles such as the iliopsoas, rectus femoris, gluteus maximus, adductors, and more. These muscles provide the strength and control needed for goalkeepers to execute their movements with precision and power.

Function: The hip muscles are responsible for various actions, including flexing, extending, abducting, adducting, and rotating the hip joint. They provide the power and control necessary for these movements.

Anatomy: The hip muscles are composed of different muscles, each with its own origin, insertion, and function. They include the iliopsoas (the core of hip flexion, critical for quick save reactions), rectus femoris, gluteus maximus (the engine for hip extension, powering vertical jumps), adductors (the stabilizers for lateral movements and balance), and many others.

Role in Goalkeeping: Hip muscles play a crucial role in handball goalkeeping by providing the strength and power needed for actions such as diving, jumping, and making quick lateral movements. They also contribute to stability and balance.


Hip Movements – The Art of Agility

Definition: Hip movements refer to the dynamic actions made possible by the hip joint. These include flexion, extension (flexion and extension are main components for save reactions and explosive jumps), abduction, adduction (abduction and adduction are very important for smooth and quick lateral movements to cover the goal), internal rotation, and external (internal and external rotation – the fine-tuning for body positioning and reactions). Each of these movements plays a crucial role in a goalkeeper’s ability to respond quickly to shots and game situations.

Function: Hip movements are the result of the contraction and relaxation of the hip muscles, causing the hip joint to move in various directions. These movements are essential for a goalkeeper’s agility, power, and ability to react to shots and game situations.

Role in Goalkeeping: Hip movements are at the core of goalkeeping actions. Flexion and extension enable diving saves and jumps, abduction and adduction allow for lateral movements to cover the goal, and rotation contributes to body positioning and reactions.


Hip joint hip muscles hip movements - Vanja Radic Coaching


Why is it important to understand the difference between Hip Joint, Hip Muscles, and Hip Movements?

Understanding the interplay of the hip joint, hip movements, and hip muscles is vital for both beginners and senior level goalkeepers, as well as for goalkeeper coaches for several reasons:

Precision in Training: When coaches and goalkeepers have a clear understanding of the distinctions among these three elements, they can tailor training programs more effectively. This precision and clarity allow for targeted exercises that improve specific aspects of hip mobility, strength, and agility.

Efficiency in Motion: Mastery of hip movements allows goalkeepers to move efficiently, covering more ground with less effort.

Optimizing Agility: Knowing how the hip joint and its movements work allows goalkeepers to optimize their agility. Rapid hip rotations, lateral movements, and quick changes in direction become second nature.

Explosive Power: Strong and conditioned hip muscles provide the explosiveness needed for all the spectacular saves and powerful jumps.

Injury Prevention: Knowing how the hip joint, hip muscles, and hip movements work together helps in designing injury prevention strategies. It allows coaches to identify potential weaknesses or imbalances in the hip region and address them proactively through conditioning and flexibility exercises.

Rehabilitation: In case of injuries, a clear understanding of the hip joint and muscles becomes crucial for rehabilitation. Coaches and goalkeepers can work closely with medical professionals to ensure a safe and effective recovery process.

Balance and Stability: The hip joint and associated muscles contribute to balance and stability, essential for maintaining the goalkeeper’s position and readiness.

Communication: Effective communication between coaches and goalkeepers relies on a shared understanding of terminology. When both parties are on the same page regarding hip-related terms, instructions, feedback, and discussions become more productive.

Enhanced Performance: Goalkeepers who understand their hip anatomy and mechanics can fine-tune their movements. This leads to more efficient and powerful actions on the field. They can make quicker save reactions, react faster to shots, and jump higher when needed to make saves.

Goalkeeper Development: For aspiring goalkeepers, learning about the hip joint, muscles, and movements is a fundamental aspect of skill development. It lays the foundation for mastering the position and advancing to higher levels of play.

Holistic Training: Handball goalkeepers must have a holistic approach to training. Understanding the hip’s role in overall mobility, strength, and agility allows for comprehensive training programs that address the entire kinetic chain, leading to well-rounded goalkeepers.

Informed Decision-Making: When goalkeepers encounter challenges or injuries related to the hip, an understanding of the hip’s anatomy and mechanics empowers them to make informed decisions about their training, recovery, and overall well-being.


Conclusion – Elevate Your Goalkeeping

In conclusion, the hip joint, hip muscles, and hip movements are integral components of a goalkeeper’s performance and physical health. They form the foundation of agility, power, and control that goalkeepers rely on to excel in their role. As a coach or a goalkeeper, understanding and training these elements can make all the difference in the goalkeeper’s performance. Unlocking goalkeeping excellence begins with the hip – it’s where agility meets power, and where saves turn into victories.

Elevate your goalkeeping by mastering the essentials of the hip. It’s the core of your mobility, the source of your power, and the key to your success between the posts.


In some of my next articles, I will write more about hip muscles and hip movements. In the meantime, you can check out one of my old articles on this topic in which you can also find a few videos with exercises: Importance of Hip Mobility for Handball Goalkeepers.



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All content (such as text, data, graphics files, images, illustrations, videos, sound files), and all other materials contained in www.vanjaradic.fi 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.