Drag flick technique: One for the drag flick anoraks among you

Drag flick analysis

Click on this link for a blog uploaded by an academic who has analysed drag flicks to see what makes the ball go faster and what doesn’t. If you’ve time on your hands and are truly dedicated to improving your dragflicks this might be one for a Sunday afternoon read.

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Drag flick technique in slow motion.

Just found this fantastic slow motion drag flick video that’s been uploaded on youtube. It shows Indian hockey ace Rupinder drag flick in slow motion. See how he sets himself then leads into the ball. Rupinder still uses the cross over step. He generates a huge amount of power with his strong physique and good technique. Rupinder is one of the best drag flickers in the game of hockey at the moment.

This video is amazing!!!! There is a camera on the stick and (turn your head or the screen so you can watch at the correct angle) and you’ll see exactly where the ball touches the stick first and how it gradually rolls up the stick shaft to gain power before it flicks off the stick. Can’t believe how fantastic this video is for anybody who wants to learn to drag flick.

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Attacking tips: key principles of leading

I was recently lucky enough to attend a coaching masterclass in Norwich, UK, with England under-16 hockey boys head coach Charlie Bannister on small unit play.
I am just a level-one coach so it was a privilege to see this level 4 master coach at work with some of the best young players in the Eastern region.
Small Unit Play is where training mimics game play, but in small units of players – three, four even eight players. Unlike drills and skills it puts players under pressure and helps with quick decision making and team tactics. He suggested that most of a training session should be small unit play.
We watched some incredibly talented youngsters working through unit play while Charlie explained what they were working on. One of the key learning points was about ‘leading’. This basically means getting into a good position to receive the ball and it’s one of the biggest challenges I personally face on the pitch. In the heat of match play it can be tough to work out exactly how and where to position yourself best to be available for a pass. But Charlie gave some real pointers for the basic principles that I have found helpful.
1. If the player carrying the ball is UNCONTESTED then support ahead of ball can lead behind their defenders. In other words if the player you are looking for a pass from doesn’t have any other players immediately on them then  you can ‘lead’ high up the pitch – stretching the game out and looking for a pass nearer towards your goal.
2. If the ball carrier is CONTESTED then support ahead of ball must show for the ball (laterally or vertically). In other words, if the player with the ball is under threat from a tackle then you have to make yourself available with a post up in front of them and show with your stick that you want the ball. Get in front of the defenders, block them with your body and post up. Alternatively, you can lead out wide – heading out to the side of the pitch to make yourself available for a pass where there is more space and there are less defenders. Leading out wide means heading out to the side of the pitch. There was a lot of talk of ‘leading out wide’ and ‘leading on the outside’ at the masterclass – and it was the main learning point I took away from the session.
Leading should always be done on the outside of the pitch. When you are making a run to make yourself available for the ball, head out to the side of the pitch first rather than towards the middle. According to Charlie Bannister there is almost always space available when you lead outside and wide. Head to the centre of the pitch and you will more likely be blocked by a defender.
And most importantly – don’t lead too early. Head off too early and you’ll alert the defenders. Wait to the last possible moment and then lead out wide on the outside of the pitch.
After you have made your pass, lead again on the outside.
If you have the ball go at space with pace…
Interestingly, Charlie called the players who were demonstrating over for a debrief (they were all hugely talented under 16 England junior development boys and girls) and suggested that they needed to make sure they were carrying the ball at one o’clock, rather than directly ahead of them. This would increase their vision and passing options.

Defending skills in field hockey

I help coach my daughter’s under 10 squad and they have been going right back to basics with hockey skills. This week they were working on jab tackles and block tackles. It’s made me realise how important it is to understand the basics before you start trying to do the fancy stuff.

This video has some excellent points.
– Body position: never face an attacker straight on. Angle your body at 45 degrees with your right shouler level with their right shoulder. This allows you to encourage or channel them on to your strong side.

– This video says to imaging you have a line going through your body and the aim is to stop the attacker crossing the line to your left shoulder. You should aim to channel them to your right.

– When jabbing – even if you don’t get the ball, the aim is to force the attacker to get their head down so they can’t make a pass and to slow them down while your team get into positions and come and help.
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Intercepting the ball in field hockey

I’m out injured at the moment – torn calf – so I’ve been watching my team from the sidelines. I have learned just as much watching as playing this last couple of weeks. Firstly, I’ve noticed that the winning, best teams always play the ball wide and make the best use of their mid and wings to beat defenders and send the ball into the D. The losing team is almost always the team that tries to plough the ball down the middle of the pitch because they inevitably get stopped.

Also, I’ve spotted that a crucial ingredient of a winning team is their ability to intercept the ball. Intercepting means jumping in and getting to the ball when it’s being passed. Basically, you get to the ball before the opposition when they are passing it between themselves. This is a powerful hockey tool – and marks out the team that really wants the ball. Slower, less-drilled teams, and more inexperienced players, will simply wait for the ball to come to them instead of running forward towards it. This leaves them wide-open for you to jump in first and steal the ball from them. If you are speedy this is also a great weapon.

Next time you play a match, have in your mind from the start that your aim is to jump in and steal the ball when it’s being passed by the opposite team.

I can’t find a video of how to do this yet – but in the meantime this web site offers quite a good explanation. Click here… Interception
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