How to score more goals in hockey

This video from Lauren Penny’s Field Hockey Performance Academy is worth a watch. She gives tips for when your team is dominating and you just can’t score…or for when you just want to score more goals. Who doesn’t?

Composure. Don’t panic or worry about missing. Focus on the technical aspects rather than scoring. Focus on staying low and watching the ball on to the stick.

Belief. Lauren thinks a large part of scoring is thinking you can and being confident mentally. Mindset is the most important part of goal scoring.

Deception. Don’t do the obvious. Try to use your body to add deception. Drop your shoulder to fake a move, for example. Don’t try to smack it through their pads but get them moving and go round them.

Avoid perfectionism. Doesn’t matter how you score. A goal is a goal even if it’s from a rumble around the goalkeeper. Just have as many attempts at possible on goal. Bobbly balls and miss hits are all goals they don’t have to be perfect shots.

Always be ready. If a team mate is taking a shot at goal get ready yourself. Get your body low and be ready for passes or rebounds.

While you’re at it, this goal scoring video from Ryde Hockey is also worth a look…

 

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How to slap hit with added power and deception

The quality of this video isn’t that great – but it still makes some interesting points about how you might be able to make your slap hit a little more powerful. It’s also great on how to slap hit with deception.

Ryde Hockey Club high performance coach Larry McIntosh points out that hand and foot position can affect power. He suggests that hands together at the top of the stick might be the best – but it’s a matter of choice because some players say this feels odd. But with the hands together you can move the wrists more.

Foot position – a wide stance allows for movement through the slap shot and consequently more power.

Deception to the right. There’s also some valuable info in here about the best way to make a slap hit with deception – looking as if you are going to hit it straight but then sending the ball off to the right instead. Larry McIntosh suggests that it’s easier if you receive the ball higher on the stick when you want to make this move. It helps the ball accelerate down the stick and gives you more leeway with the movement. For a more direct hit without deception you would aim to receive the ball a little lower down the shaft of the stick.

Why hockey can be a pain in the elbow

tennis elbow

It has all sorts of names: tennis elbow; golfers elbow; lateral epicondylitis; medial epicondylitis – but I just call it elbow pain. I know lots of hockey players of a certain age, usually over 40, who have their elbow strapped up during matches and complain of pain.Interestingly, it’s also usually their left arm.

I had the same sort of pain where you don’t feel it too much during the match because the adrenaline is pumping but at other times it’s painful to touch anywhere around the elbow. It also hurts when you pick up objects or use your joint. Mine seemed to move around, sometimes it was on the outside of the elbow and sometimes on the inside. A bit of googling reveals these are commonly called tennis elbow (on the outside of the joint) and golfers elbow (on the inside of the joint).

It seemed to have the same type of symptoms so I’m arguing for the creation of a new name – hockey elbow. Although actually, my brother plays a lot of cricket and he has it too so we figured it was probably because of similar action and forces the sports exert on the left elbow.

Meanwhile, I also upped my strength training regime with a personal trainer. A tough 45-minute session each week lifting heavy weights and some more home sessions in the rest of the week. I was worried it would aggravate the hockey-elbow but strangely the more I lifted weights the better it seemed to get.

I am convinced that a whole regime of upper body strength work, including bicep girls, tricep dips – the whole lot – has improved the bad elbow.

Flexbar2_2

I also used a FlexBar for elbow exercises and this has helped too. I keep it by my desk at work to remind me to use it every other day during a quick coffee break.

How and when to use the hockey ‘squeeze shot’

The squeeze shot is an effective shot to employ when you are in a crowded D. This video shows how and where it works well.

  • Bring hands together further down the stick or up high. Higher gives more power.
  • Place the ball near right/back foot
  • Weight on their right/back foot
  • Hit down on to the ball, which squeezes the ball into the astro and lifts it.
  • It’s harder on sand than water surfaces.

Hockeyroo Ashleigh Nelson says it allows you to get a quick shot away, high into the net over the goalkeeper – especially from in close in the back space available when defenders behind you.

Train your hockey gaze: shooting more goals on target with the ‘quiet eye’ technique

Sports psychologists are researching elite athletes’ vision on the ball. They are finding that apparently the better athletes are at making the ball go where they want it too, the better they are at something called ‘quiet eye’ tracking.

Scientists at Calgary University and Essex University are using eye trackers to establish the best place to look to make an athlete more effective. The idea is to give your eyes as much data as possible before you take a hit or a shot or a throw – and let your body follow.

“When your eyes provide the data, your motor system just knows what to do,” says lead scientists Joan Vickers, from Calgary University.

Much of the work has involved tracking pro golfers and basketball shooters. The findings showed that when golfers look at the back of the ball, then the hole, then the back of the ball again – holding their gaze there steadily, they will putt more balls.

They have also looked at ice hockey goalies and found that when they saved successfully, they had fixed on the ball earlier and left their gaze there longer.

The key to success, and you can be trained in the technique, is to reduce and still your eye movements. Look at the target (goal) then back to the ball and fix your gaze on the ball. The following video shows how gaze training might improve penalty kicks in football – so I assume the same technique would improve strike rate in hockey penalty flicks.

It’s more tricky when you are dealing with a moving ball. However, looking at the reports what might work is looking with a quiet eye at the point in the net where you would like the ball to go as you wait for an injection on a short corner. Then without too much eye movement waiting for the ball to come and keeping your gaze down on the ball as you strike, not wobbling the eyes around and looking quickly up at the net again. Presumably, as in golf, looking at the back of the ball is best.

The key is to stop your gaze tracking around all over the place and to keep it ‘quiet’ – with two seconds spent looking at the target.

The technique has been used in basket ball (see the above video). The players start b saying ‘nothing but net’ as they are preparing. Then look at the front of the hoop in the centre and say to themselves ‘sight focus’ which lasts two seconds – enough to lock the eye on the target point.

Another benefit of calming your gaze and not letting it dart everywhere is that, research shows, it can help with anxiety.

Here’s a link to a good article about all this which has deeper references to study papers and scientists.

The Quiet Eye and its application to skill acquisition and performance

 

 

 

Watching Olympic hockey? Here’s how to try the sport for yourself

 

B2H Promotional photo 11

With the Olympic hockey providing such entertaining viewing, it’s a great time to get into playing the sport yourself.

It’s great fun, good for fitness and in the UK there’s a whole programme devoted to easing you back into the sport if you haven’t played in a while – or indeed if you’ve never even held a hockey stick before.

Visit England Hockey’s Back to Hockey website to find out more about the scheme and any clubs near you that are running sessions.

It’s never too late to start and sessions attract players of all ages and fitness.