An injury for a friendly match meant that I had to play left defender in a club hockey match last Saturday. Marking and patrolling to prevent right side attacks from the opposition was one of the best eye openers I have ever had about the best way to play attack. I highly recommend it for any attacker. For example, have a go at defending the position you usually play during training or a friendly match and you will learn a lot.
Here’s what I learned…
- Dummy leading, then changing to relead on the other side is one of the best ways to make space and fiendishly challenging to track, even for a determined marker like myself. You can see this type of thing on this England Hockey video at around 2:20. It is unbelievably effective and I’ll be doing it a lot more if I play in attack now.
- Indicating too strongly with your stick you want the ball is a giveaway for whoever is marking you. A visual clue like this is too much of a gift to the defense in club hockey.
- Attackers get visibly and audibly angry and annoyed when you are marking them out of a game. They start huffing and pushing you. Attackers should try not to show irritation as defenders use this to judge whether or not they are getting it right.
- It was interesting watching the attacker run at the defense after a break up the pitch. They start to tire after they have beaten a midfielder – looked to me like it would be best to make a pass at that point. When they are coming at you heads down on the ball, running at pace, it’s easy meat. Pass and move is better – now I understand why the coach says that repeatedly.
- If you get stuck in the corner with the ball and you can’t clear it, roll around and put it on the attackers feet to win a free hit rather than just clearing it off the side. But make sure you don’t hand them the ball – you must put it on their feet.
- A high press is effective. Attackers pressing high with midfielders pressing high behind them make it harder to find a pass.