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.

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




Hockey stick review: Grays GX8000 Midbow

GRAYS GX 8000 Mid Bow Hockey Stick


I wanted to try a heavier, straighter stick so I thought I’d test out the GX8000 Mid Bow from Grays in a medium weight. I’m a devoted Grays stick fan so decided to choose from their range.

Yes it makes a massive difference compared to my previous light Grays Dynabow and Jumbow sticks. My hit is much, much more powerful, presumably because there’s more weight behind the hit. However, I feel this is at the expense of ease of stick skills, 3D and backstick shots.

The spec actually says this stick is good for these but I have to disagree and I prefer the lighter sticks for the 3D and the Jumbow for tomahawk shots.

Unfortunately, you have to buy a stick before you can really find out whether it works for you or not. No stick can do everything so it’s always a compromise between bow shape and weight and so far I haven’t found the perfect answer.

Crucially, what’s also not evident until you get this stick in your hand is that it has a ridge effect on the shaft which I loathe – and wouldn’t have chosen if I’d seen it in the flesh. If you are thinking of buying I advise you to enlarge the sales image and take a close look at the shaft of this stick. In the hand I found it  uncomfortable and more difficult to turn in your lower hand to do stick work with.

This Grays GX8000 Midbow also seems to slap hit better – with more power. Again maybe it’s having more weight behind the impact. The spec does say it’s good for slapping.

Update: Spotted a team mate using this same stick on Saturday. She agreed it was less easy to turn the stick in your hand with the ridges. However, she felt it had dramatically improved her jinking and lifting off the ball (she is a defender) and agreed it was fantastic for hard hitting.

My verdict: Uncomfortable to handle, really hate the wide ridged feel, and not the best for nippy stick skills in my opinion because the stick feels harder to turn in your hand. Amazing for supercharging your hits and slap hits.  

Here’s what they say about it on the Barrington Sports website…

GX 8000 Mid-Bow HS
New Mid-Bow HS model for 2013
Featuring new Tri-Tec carbon construction
New IFA on the surface of the head to improve control
New Energy Reduction Handle construction
Featuring new Abrasion Resistant heel protection and PP Enhanced Low Backhand Zone

MICRO Headshape
Excellent head profile for both drag flicking and 3 D skills.
Ideal head thickness for hitting, combined with thinner toe profile ideal for skills of lifting the ball using 3D one handed skills.

The Mid-Bow blade profile shape has been repositioned more in the mid section of the blade at 30cm from the base of the head. The curve height is 24.75mm. The uniform bow is shaped and contoured continuously along the handle to the head and is especially contoured to improve the angle at which the stick head comes into contact with the ball – it will help give players the technical edge in performing todays 3D hockey skills. Easily identifiable by its own unique new graphical design, the Mid – Bow blade profile continues to become increasingly popular amongst a new generation of players who have learned their skills exclusively on synthetic pitches.
– Help control flat, sweep and slap hitting techniques.
– Help extend the reach zone over which you can dribble the ball freely using both forehand and backhand.
– Improve the first touch control when stopping the ball at full stretch.

Scoring goals the Katie Reinprecht way – using backspace

Couldn’t believe my luck when I discovered this clip from Katie Reinprecht (pictured below) on the internet. US women’s national field hockey player Katie, reveals how she scores successfully by using backspace in the D to create a scoring opportunity. The ball is powered in with a nifty squeeze shot. Respect Katie – what a shot!


To see the video click here … Using backspace to score

To find out more about Katie Reinprecht click here…

She used it to great effect in a goal against Germany in the 2014 hockey world cup. As commentator Chloe Rogers says: “the goalie’s got no chance of saving that!”.

Katie says: “the time you want to use this is when you’re posting back in the circle. Post back, with a defender on your back, when the ball comes in to you from a pass, you want to take a small touch,” she says – pushing the ball slightly forward.

“As the ball is moving you want to be slowly turning your body. So basically the point of this is that when it comes into you the defender is on your back. By moving it into the back space as opposed to the sides, there is no way a defender can get a touch on it.”

Result = a cracking goal. I love this. You’d have to be cool and calm not to push it to your side towards goal but to push it away from you and keep the defender blocked behind you. But it looks so effective. “The defender is just in no-man’s land” says Katie. Love it!.

Follow Katie on twitter at


How to choose and buy a new field hockey stick

Apologies in advance, but this post is going to be a work in progress. I need a new stick.  My much-loved Grays Jumbow Grays Jumbow gx10000 review has worn to the point where the hook area is reduced. Time for a new one. But, what oh what to buy when the choice is mindblowing!

Well, I’m definitely going to buy another Grays. I’ve tried TK and voodoo in the past and don’t really like them as much as Grays.

But with hindsight I now realise that my Jumbow is a specialist drag flicking stick –

Ahem, I’m not a drag flicker by trade so maybe I need a different stick this time.

So what does the super player Jamie Dwyer think about selecting a stick? He talks about stick selection on the above clip. He says…

  • Light sticks. The trend is towards light sticks these days. ‘Players want stiffer, lighter, thinner’ with some going for as light as 500g. Light sticks are best for ‘using skills easily’ so you can push and slap easily. But the disadvantage is that a light stick has a really small sweet spot making hitting more tricky.Trapping is also more difficult as with a light stick it can bounce off more easily. (Oh noooo I thought, I want a heavier stick).Easier for dribbling and 3D skills.
  • Heavy sticks. Bigger sweet spot, often best for defenders.Better for trapping the ball ‘with a heavier stick it just sticks to it.’
  • Bow. The lower the bow is to the head of the stick, the better it is for lifting, drag flicks and aerials, apparently. (Hence my jumbow). Jamie Dwyer favours a straighter standard bow stick, which is food for thought. He likes the balance point to be 41cm from the top of the hook.

Here’s what Team USA Katie O’Donnell says about choosing a stick – and she’s such a fantastic player she should know a thing or two about it!

Katie O’Donnell on choosing a stick

She says…

  • She likes a lighter stick because she plays in attack.
  • She likes carbon in her stick because it gives a harder hit. Although this makes the ball tend to bounce off your stick more so you need softer hands.
  • Traditional advice is to choose a hip-height stick, but she likes an inch longer.”That extra inch gives me an inch reach when I’m trying to steal a ball off a defender, or when I’m on the post it’s an extra inch to reach the ball and put it in the net.”
  • She doesn’t like a big bow (that’s how much the shaft of the stick bends) because she’s not a drag flicker. She’s injector so she likes a ball to fit in the toe- some are so hooked the ball won’t fit in there. I’m a tipper so most of the time a bow doesn’t make much difference.

Here’s a guide to looking at the different stick bows and what they can do for you…

So maybe I should get  the Grays GR7000 Composite Hockey Stick – which is a straighter stick. The straighter sticks are cheaper than the drag flicking sticks too – why is that?

I’ve been happy with my Jumbow, but maybe I’d be even happier with a straighter, heavier stick. But I play a lot off my reverse stick and love backstick shots, which apparently the Jumbow is also good for. What to do? Any ideas or comments gratefully received…

Here’s what I’m looking for in a stick… probably impossible to find all in one product, but anyway in an ideal world!

  • Good for trapping and receiving the ball – probably my number one requirement.
  • Good for stick skills
  • Good for striking on goal
  • Good for reverse stick hits and backstick shots

Backhand shots. It looks to me as if the low bow, such as on my Gray’s Jumbow, and the adidas tx 24 are designed for harder hitting back hand shots. See the tweets from adidas hockey below, publicising the tx24…

As it stands at the moment I’m leaning towards going for the Grays Dynabow  Grays Dynabow not least because it’s used by one of my favourite women players in the whole world, Korea’s No 10 Park Mi Hyun.Park Mi Hyun I watched her do the most amazing backstick shot I have ever seen just in front of me, when Korea played New Zealand at the world cup in June this year. It was mind blowingly impressive. If she has that stick, I want to channel her backstick awesomeness and use one myself.

Secrets of goal shooting from a baseline pass

This clip by high performance coach Larry McIntosh is excellent for learning how to receive a baseline pass and then shoot at goal from both right and left.

When you get a baseline pass from the right side of the goal he recommends positioning yourself with your feet in line with the goal so you can immediately strike. However, he shows that having one foot slightly back rather than planted feet will make your stronger and less liable to be taken off balance by another player.

At 1:47 in he praises the striker for getting their bottom hand low on the stick when receiving the ball. If you look carefully that hand is actually really low – giving much more control. He also recommends pushing the left hand forward to trap the ball more easily – but not too much or the ball will deflect in the wrong direction.

All you need now is to train a team mate to be on the baseline to send a pass to you…