Block tackle – tips and techniques

Here’s a few clips I’ve found that can help you learn more about block tackling in hockey.

A block tackle is a useful way to steal the ball from an opponent – but what’s the best way to do it perfectly?

# Force player on to your strong stick side by lining up your right shoulder with theirs. This forces them to your strong stick side. Take a 45 degree angle with your feet so you can rotate your body.

# Don’t get too close or you risk being eliminated. Be about a step and a half away from the ball carrier.

# Don’t necessarily look to get ball straight away. Jab tackle, not to get the ball but to force them into where you want them. Then block tackle – see 4:38 into the Ryde Hockey video below.

‘Closing down’ in field hockey: how to defend better

Coaches often urge players to ‘close them down’. But what does this actually mean and how do you do it?

Closing down means manoeuvring an opposing player into a position that will make you, the defender, better placed to limit their space so they will make a bad pass or you can make a tackle.

Jane Powell, in Hockey: Skills, Techniques, Tactics says that ‘closing down’ is all about dictating to the attacker which space they can use.

# Close down in a curve to force the attacker on to your stronger, open stick side.

# Maintain the distance of a stick and a step away from your opponent. Get too close and you are easier to eliminate.

# Get as side on as possible. This helps you keep mobile and harder to dodge.

# Jab with your stick and fake with your body to keep attacker’s eyes down and make them feel under pressure. Stop them looking up for passing options.

These skills are shown in the opening few seconds of this England Hockey video. Watch how the defender nearest the camera slightly moves to the left of the picture and starts to angle her body. It subtly forces the attacker to move towards her open stick, giving the defender more control. She jabs and hassles but from a distance so that she doesn’t get in too close to the player. She is side on.

Defending – tips from Shiv Jagday

A new video Tackling Drills, Techniques & Strategies for Field Hockey by former Olympic hockey coach Shiv Jagday has some useful tips.

#1 It’s more important to know when to commit and tackle than how to tackle. The skill is in recognising the situation and knowing what to do: poke, block or just channel.

#2 Never over commit with a poke tackle because you will have shifted your weight so far forward you can’t recover. Instead, just hassle with quick small steps and put the forward under huge pressure. Put artificial pressure on so player doesn’t know if you are going to commit or not. ‘Like a cobra, then a cobra strikes you dead,’ he says. ‘Look at the great boxers. They show the left then jab right.’ Put pressure then back off.

#3 If you move your shoulder rather than facing straight on you can channel the player where you want them to go.

For information on buying the video go to

Defending penalty short corners

Tips and information on how to defend a penalty corner…

This is Dutch international Tjerk’s powerpoint on offensive and defensive corners

This post has a great video with captions about defending a short corners

This is a short but easy follow video that looks a bit more like club hockey might. In the higher level Olympic clips the left post player starts the corner second from left, the left player runs out and the post player slips across to cover left post. There’s a little slip across but this doesn’t happen in this club level video where the left post player just starts the corner standing by the left post and there they stay. Wondering why the higher level teams set up slightly differently?


Harvard field hockey on short corners. At 1:05 in this video there’s a really good close up of the foot, ball and stick position of the injector.


How to play left back defender in field hockey


It’s important to be versatile when you play club hockey and on Saturday an injury in the team meant I tried my hand at playing in defense in a friendly match.

I enjoyed it but am after more information about how to play this position well, so this post will be a work in progress as an when I find information on this.

A good place to start is the England Hockey youtube film that covers general tips on defending.


  • LB provides balance and cover when the ball is on the opposite side of the pitch. (Elizabeth Sanders from Field Hockey – Steps for Successs)
  • Takes most left side line hits
  • Assists or takes deep defensive hits
  • Must have good foot speed because the main assignment is to mark the right outside opposition forward.
  • Must mark tightly and tackle the ball with strength to prevent right side attacks
  • Pass accurately and safely when you win the ball
  • Don’t get square to the attacker. See Kate Richardson-Walsh’s tips on defending in another post Kate’s tips on defending
  • Defend a short corner.