Backhand, backstick, tomahawk shot. Whatever you want to call it, here’s some tips on how to do it…

I’ve just been lucky enough to travel to The Hague to watch some of the Rabobank 2014 world cup matches.

The hockey was stunning – with the highlights for me being Jamie Dwyer and the men’s Australian team and the Dutch women’s team.

It was impossible not to notice how important the backstick shot – or the tomahawk or backhand, whatever you want to call it – has become in hockey. I watched Korean v New Zealand women. Korean won by one goal to nil and the goal was created by a phenomenal backstick ball from the very top left hand corner of the pitch into the D. This was then deflected into the goal.

Unfortunately, it’s not clear what an amazing backstick shot this was from the internet film coverage that exists of the match. But I was sitting right by the left hand corner and the shot from their amazing player No 10 Park took my breath away.

We all came home (I travelled with some team members from my club) wanting to master the backstick shot. It’s a challenge if you don’t know how, but I found this fantastic video really helpful. I could do them before but wasn’t making the C-shape he suggests in the clip. Doing this made a huge difference to the power of my shot. I was also lunging too deeply. Instead, he suggests the feet should be a bit closer together.

The grass in my garden has taken a hell of a pounding as I whack them one after another at a gym mat my hockey-mad 10-year–old daughter and myself upended as a target for hitting practice.

But so far I’m pretty pleased with how it’s going and can’t wait to see if I can actually do it in a match.

The player demonstrating so well is Roel van Reenen

This is also pretty good from Phil Burrows, the New Zealand player. He recommends hitting off your left foot if you can to block the defender a bit more. He also gives some tips on why the ball is rising in the air. Follow through – the stick should finish aiming exactly where you want the ball to go. When you get better put your whole body into it to get maximum power. It’s also worth watching this video through until about five minutes in when he hits some shots from the edge of the D with a tight angle on goal. You can see exactly how he moves the ball into the correct position before taking the shot – something I’ve been struggling with because I’m having to practise on grass at the moment as it’s off season and we’re not on the astro every Saturday.

Here’s a link to a previous post I’ve written on this too…

Happy practising!


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