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

 

 

 

How to defend a drag flick

The latest issue of Planet Hockey (issue 3, see link below to download) is well worth a look and has an interesting feature on defending a drag flick.

It suggests…

#1 Prepare early and decide on a defensive set up. Many teams have set running patterns for a penalty corner. For example first runner pressures drag flicker, second and third runners defend the possible lay offs and deflectors and post defenders cover post.

#2 Point at pressure target (ie drag flicker at top of D) with hips and shoulders. Only turn your head towards the injector.

#3 Adopt a relaxed stance.

#4 Offsetting. This technique that some teams use to defend flicks sees goal keeper covering one side and runner and post defender attempting to channel flicker in the direction GK is covering.

http://www.planethockey.com

@planethockeymag

http://www.planethockeymag.com/magazine-downloads

 

How to score a deflection goal

Deflections and tip-ins are one of the most common ways to score a goal – redirecting the course of a ball hit by a team mate into the goal. Become skilled at it and you’ll be popular with your team.

Deflections are unpredictable for goalies. They pop up, fly wide, spin sideways and are difficult to defend.

Here’s a video with some international goals scored in this way.

Here are some tips to help you score goals by deflecting…

Stick angle: if the goalie is close to you, tilt the head of your stick backwards and this will lift the ball. Impossible to stop. If you’re further away from the goalie be more careful with tilt as it is unpredictable and might make the ball miss the goal. A flat stick might work better as it’s more precise.

Body position: Hands away from body. Hands and eye very close to the ball. Move towards the ball.

In her excellent technical book Field Hockey: Steps to success Elizabeth Anders recommends watching the bottom of the ball rolling towards you. Here’s her advice on how to do a diving deflection.

Field hockey steps to success

In the following video clip, the deflection player tucks himself in behind the goalie. The goalie is watching the original player hit and can’t turn round quick enough to stop the deflection that slips in behind him.

 

http://www.sportplan.net 

It is important to keep the stick on or near the ground at all time

Move the stick head towards the ball, in line with the path of the ball.Players should not look at the goal during the skill this makes the stick turn and the ball is not likely to be deflected.

It is important that the player deflecting the ball is not standing too wide of the goal (the ball will be deflected over the back line instead).

Just get a stick on it: however which way you do it, the aim is to touch a hard ball that’s coming in just wide of the goal. If you touch it, you stand a chance of scoring.

This England Hockey has some deflection tips at 4:00 minutes in that might help you.

Here’s what a top hockey coach observed at the 2014 world cup…

Tasmanian Institute of Sport Hockey Coach Andrew McDonald (pictured below) attended the World Cup for a HA Coach education study tour.Here are some of his fascinating observations about what he saw there. His notes identify trends in play – and training implications for this. For example, the increasing use of shave tackles and what this means for where and how the ball is now protected.

I’d welcome your comments on his observations – especially with regards to coaching implications.

AndrewMcDonald

Tasmanian Institute of Sport hockey

  • Shave tackling – getting down low with the left hand and at other times right hand, coming from behind to steal the ball. Ball carriers are increasingly being required to now protect the ball from the shave tackle, which has implications on where and how the ball is protected.
  • Use of the Overhead – By far one of the most evident progressions by key players – e.g., Knowles (Aust), England, Netherlands, Argentina and Germany. Players are throwing a greater variety of overheads over short to medium distances and with greater accuracy. Accuracy is essential to ensure no umpire engagement as a result of a defender coming with-in 5 metres, e.g., thrown with enough skill and accuracy and speed that the receiver is not effected by the encroaching defender, in fact works against the defender, as they must stay five.
  • 3D / Aerial skills near the attacking the circle – increasingly attackers are being rewarded / allowed to carry the ball on their stick into the circle. This is different to jinking but related. Ghodes, Argentina, Dutch e.g., Van Ass (M) as an example.
  • Eliminating at speed – 1 v 1 – The best forwards are capable of eliminating opponents with speed and skill in these 1 v 1 situations. The best strikers are confident and desire to attack.
  • Being able to carry the ball at speed is critical. Thus this is a skill that needs to be practised in training.
  • Receiving overheads and getting it to ground quickly – e.g., Knowles, Cirrel etc. This is now very much an essential skill.
  • Reverse (Tomma) hitting into the circle – FLAT. Ever increasing is the ability to crack the ball into the attacking circle from the reverse. That combined with far post deflections continues to score goals. Again a skill that needs time in the training program.
  • Penalty Corner Attack vs Penalty Corner Defence Strategy – each need to be given adequate time to be best prepared – e.g., PCD running a close trail to a proficient PCA is necessary. Having capable PCA individuals is critical.
  • T-SPOT (where the baseline and circle edge collide)– Forwards are aiming to capitalise on the distance defenders allow them when “backing off” to protect their feet and prevent a PCA. The left to right drag in these areas by attackers followed by some air, speed and full use of available space is now testing defenders.
  • Making the park look big! (e.g., utilising space over the full field, not just  orridor). In essence making sure there is width, depth and movement off the ball. The Dutch women were very good at this.
  • Flexibility in positioning! (Flexibility and quick understanding of positional requirements). Australia (Men) by far the best. The regular interchanging of roles and positioning as required by opportunities and general field play was hard to track. Hence becomes extremely difficult to play against, e.g., continuing hand-overs, which creates uncertainty. If teams man to man mark then they are manipulated. In essence this for the Australia men has become an essential selection capacity.
  • Long aerials 60 yards+ = 1v1 against opposition defenders and goal-scoring opportunities. Defenders increasingly need the capacity to send an overhead of 60 yards+. This was used regularly as an aggressive method to expose opposition defenders to a 1 v 1 with space. The “linking” and recognition of the opportunity is critical as is the capacity.
  • 1-touch deflections into the attacking circle – general field play and set play free hits. Given that many teams gang tackle near the circle edge, a common way of entry was the 1-touch deflection. The Australians (Ockenden, Dwyer) and the England team also utilised this.
  • Two benefits – 1. necessary to have a receiver in front ready and expecting it.
  • sometimes the ball found the foot of an ill prepared defender. This is a set play that needs time in training program.
  • Tackling around the circle edge. (W) – It was evident that the Hockeyroos need more polish in this area. The best opposition forwards were too often eliminating the first defender to present.
  • Free hits near the 25, (just outside) are now becoming a set play – e.g., Cirello – who drags the ball at speed into the attacking circle. This is often deliberately given some air to put pressure on defenders and provide uncertainty.
  • Strength on the ball in the corridor – (It seems obvious) but the better players (in the middle) are the players that possessed and protected the ball well when under threats from different angles. Rarely did they lose possession and importantly these players showed good awareness of their next release / passing option. (e.g., Zalewski, Hammond, Middleton)
  • Pass forward then follow up – a number of the better players work hard to follow up their pass and create the overload – e.g., (Middleton, Jackson – England / Hammond, Ockenden, Zalewski – Aust)
  • The “V” drag done at speed – e.g., Jackson / Middleton –England – Often done when running at speed with an opponent at the side, the V drag is used and this enables “flow” to continue.
  • Dumping then 1-touch pass forward – Attackers when tracking on angles are dumping the ball to the player behind, in the best examples, these are then 1-time passed to a higher option. Thus quick ball movement occurs and get s at the opposition defence.
  • Gang Tackling – The best defensive team (Aust men), work in “gangs” to deny opposition access to their attacking circle. Much of this requires, communication, urgency, understanding and a solid work ethic!
  • Tackling against the reverse Tomma Goal-shot – Clearly it is important defenders work on their understanding, technique and positioning to close down the opposition “tomma” goal-shots. This continues to make up a high and increasing percentage of goals scored. Some countries were poorer than others at preventing a tomma – e.g., South Africa.
  • Goals scored positional plotting within the circle – Mathew Wells is collating an overall percentage / Tally of where goals are scored from, his initial findings, he indicates a higher percentage of goals are scored in the 7 metre area near the goal-face. This would suggest deflections, e.g., far post / rebounds off pads etc.

Other general observations…

  • Team outletting structures – Argentina quite good at linking and working for each other to enable good lineout balls to a high striker, quite patient in how they set this up. It is worth viewing their patterns. Australia and Holland also very good.
  • PCA Double Battery’s – common – with some shifting laterally before the ball is released.
  • Team set rotations – used by all teams.
  • Strict 45 seconds to be ready on PCD from the time it is awarded – green cards were given should this not be done both for attack and defence.
  • Interchanges done mid pitch with no holding up of cards – seemed to work well throughout the tournament.
  • Goal down – 5mins to go – towards the end of the game most teams were taking the GK off to create a high forward.
  • PCD – most GK’s offset to the right
  • Mass interchanges – teams would hold the free hit at the back – this allowed teams to settle back into their structures.
  • PCD – Germany also wearing knee guards, e.g., like baseball.
  • PCD – Speed of the counter attack, the best at it were:

Men – AUS, ARG, BEL, NZ  / Women – USA, Netherlands

  • Courage – Strikers need time to rehearse deflections from reverse tommas, develop confidence and develop courage they won’t be hurt.

I would usually put a weblink to reference this, however, I am unable to link to the piece as it is a pdf download. So instead I’ve included a screen shot of how it appears in google so you can find it yourself if you want to check the source.

TIS link

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 https://playbetterfieldhockey.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/how-to-play-left-back-defender-in-field-hockey/

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.

 

Gadget that helps you learn to dragflick. Does it work?

sleeppush

There’s a machine available to help you learn to dragflick. It’s what amounts to an elevated platform. It’s called the Sleeppush – and looks like a mini ski slope. But does it work – and can you buy one?

From the image above, I’m also thinking could you make your own improvised one with a plank of varnished wood propped up one end?

From the scant info available on the manufacturer’s website http://www.sleeppush.nl it looks as if it’s main benefits are that you can train longer with more repetitions because the elevated platform reduces the risk of pain or injury.

It’s also easier to lift the ball towards the goal.

I’d be interested to see how this translates into helping a player improve their actual dragflick from the ground position.

There’s an interesting discussion about it on the excellent Field Hockey Forum.

In response to a ‘how does it work’ query, Hans-Pieter van Beek, who seems to be either the retailer or inventor, posts in response.

“As there is a higher ball position there is less pressure on your knees ankles back and therefore it is more easy to master the technic without getting tired or injured.

“Also there is an innovating S-curve to help you master the right balposition. And as you can see in our movies there is a lot of fun for the kids. Because the kids will succeed easily they will keep interest for developing and training their dragflick.

The website with info about it is http://www.sleeppush.nl. The contact details are
mail@sleeppush.nl and mail@dragflick.org but neither of these addresses seem to be working – mail just bounces back.

I can’t find a price at the moment – but I will continue to try and contact the suppliers and post on here if I get any more info. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be available outside the Netherlands.

If you’ve experience of this machine or any thoughts about whether it might work or not, I’d love to hear from you.