If you are just getting into field hockey, the learning curve might be a bit daunting at first. You have no idea where to start from, but you also feel like nothing falls together. Becoming a valuable member of your team is difficult, yet you need to develop some skills in one way or another.
There are three main skills that must be targeted individually – handling the stick, passing and shooting. Of course, there is more to add, but these are the basics. Once you build a foundation, you will need to focus on one position or another, as each player has their own role.
Best Field Hockey Drills For Beginners
Here are some of the main field hockey drills for beginners to get you going and help you establish the basics.
Keeping the ball under control with a stick might be a bit tricky at first. However, practice will get you there. In fact, this kind of drill must become second nature. The training might be boring because it is repetitive, but there is no other option to move on.
How do you do it? Easy. Stand and keep the feet apart – shoulder width. The stick should be between your hands. Move the ball back and forth as fast as you can without losing control. Do it ten times. When done, move the ball beside you to the right and do the exact same thing, then move it to the middle again before going to the left.
It feels easy at first, but try to keep the ball in the middle of the J. The hand higher up on the stick will help you control the blade. As for the other hand, you need it to guide your stick. Maintain a steady speed to ensure the ball does not go away. Increase the speed as you gain experience.
As it becomes easier and easier, you can start doing it without even looking at the ball.
Field hockey is a team sport, so you need to know how to “communicate” to your teammates. This is what passing is about. A good pass is easy to define – you need to keep the J on the ground, but also slightly cup the ball for more precision and to prevent the ball from flying off the ground.
Passing is not all about sending the ball out, but also about receiving it. When you receive it, you need to cushion it. It is a skill that prevents the ball from bouncing off the blade. You basically absorb some of the pass energy. How do you learn these techniques? Easy! Make hundreds or even thousands of passes.
To learn passing, you need a teammate to give you a hand. Have the other player about 20 feet away from you and pass the ball. Do it over and over again. Focus on the stick, as well as the technique and control. You can also switch positions and make passes to the other side. As you gain experience, you can increase the distance, but you should also work on the passing velocity.
Ideally, you should start with another newbie, so both of you get some training. If you cannot find anyone to train with, you can find various machines that pass balls to you, so you can work on this aspect by yourself.
Moving and passing
Whether you practice ball control or passing, there will be a time when you will become familiar with these techniques. You will have to make it harder then, so what can be better than training while moving? After all, field hockey is not a static game. It is quite dynamic and involves lots of running and moving. You cannot just stop running whenever you are about to make a pass, can you?
Adding some movements while passing will simulate game circumstances. Start this drill at one goal and move towards the other. Again, you will need a partner to train. Keep a steady distance of 20 feet between the two of you and jog slowly towards the other goal while passing the ball back and forth.
Once you make it to the other goal, start going back, but maintain your positions. This way, you can practice passing to the other side as well. To become better, you can increase the moving speed, the distance between you and your partner or passing speed.
Accuracy in shooting
Shooting can embrace multiple forms. For example, there will be times when you can shoot out of the circle hoping for the best. You just shoot as hard as you an and hope that one of your teammates will push the ball in. But then, if you end up as an attacker or a midfielder, you will need to shoot for goals as well.
Shooting is relatively easy. As long as you can hit a ball, you can shoot. You just need to put more power in. However, the real problem occurs when you want to aim properly. Accuracy is what you need to train when it comes to shooting in field hockey. So, how do you do it?
Bring a few balls with you – ideally, you should buy a bigger set with at least a dozen balls. Place yourself in front of the goal – start with a 20-foot distance and move up. The goal should be divided into five spots – far left, far right, left, right and middle. Practice for part until you master it.
Most newbies make a simple mistake – they aim for the spot they choose, but they pass instead of shooting. Passing is easier because your accuracy is better, so you need to actually put some power into it and shoot.
Once you master it, move to the right side of the goal and do the same, then go on the left side and increase the distance. Simply put, you have to practice shooting from literally any distance and position to be successful in field hockey.
Dribbling is another common skill you will need in more positions – attackers and midfielders mostly, but defenders can also dribble occasionally. There are more types of dribbling techniques out there, but the straight one is probably the most common one – simple and basic.
The ball should never leave the stick as you move forward. It is the best way to maintain full control, but also to gain some protection against opponents. The stick must be in front of you, but also slightly to one side – whatever side feels more comfortable to you. Some players stick to their hand dominating side, while others do the opposite. While maintaining contact with the ball, you also need your eyes up, so you know what is going on around you.
To give yourself a hand, you can train with a teammate or with yourself. Get three different cones or sticks and make sure they are less than 10 feet apart. You do not need to go between them. Instead, go to a cone, circle it around and move to the next one. Keep close control of the ball during the entire drill.
Ball trapping is usually a reverse skill – meaning you do it with the external part of your body. In other words, it implies holding the ball, whether you are getting a loose ball or you have just received a pass from a teammate.
If the ball comes from the right direction, you need to allow it to pass the right food before trapping it. This is the reverse stick trap. You practically trap it on the left side in this case. Why is it helpful? It keeps the ball slightly in front of you, giving you the opportunity to move into any direction or perform a series of moves.
Taking the ball late feels easy, but there will be a few times in the beginning when you simply go too soon or too late. You might waste a valuable second if you go in too soon, but you can also lose the ball if you do it too late, so you have to consider the speed and direction of the ball as well.
As a short final conclusion, field hockey is extremely diversified. These are probably the main field hockey drills for beginners, but there is a lot more to add. If you are completely new, you might need to learn how to hold the stick too. Besides, once you master the basics, you might need to focus on one position or another and train for that particular position.
The best way to train is to get a friend with a similar skill level. It also works training with someone who is experienced and can give you some valuable tips – you would rather learn things upfront than discovering them the hard way later.
All in all, these basic drills can build a good foundation for the future. Remember that consistency and persistence are mandatory to succeed. It might seem boring, but you have to do it over and over again to turn certain skills into second nature.