When it comes to teaching your little one field hockey, you probably have no clue where to start from. Sure, you can bring your kid to some of your games and have a few fun family games, but at the end of the day, they want to become better and this is when you need to do some drills with them.
It is hard to decide on the best field hockey drills for kids because what works for some of them will not work for everyone else. Other than that, your kid’s favourite position, strengths, weaknesses and current skill level are just as important.
With all these, there are a few general field hockey drills for kids that everyone can benefit from. You do not have to do all of them at the same time, but one or two only. Let your little one develop new skills before moving on.
Also, make sure to check out our beginner’s field hockey guide.
So, what kind of training do you need to do?
Trapping is often referred to as the first touch. What does it mean? Easy – it is one of the first and most basic things to know out there. It involves receiving the ball while keeping it under control and moving on the direction of the opponent team’s goal.
A bad first touch will ask for a second one and will limit your time assessing the field. If you do it right from the beginning, you will gain more time to look around and decide what is to be done next. The better your kid becomes, the more control they get, so they can also pre-assess the field while the ball heads towards them.
The drill is fairly simple. Pass around and do it while moving. Pass from multiple positions. It could be a static or moving position. It could be back to goal, from one side or another or with feet facing towards the goal.
Having a great field hockey stick is just as important. You can check our in-depth field hockey stick review.
Hitting might look easy – how hard can it be to hit the ball with more power? Well, it actually is and many kids struggle to master this skill because there are more factors to take in consideration. For example, you have to consider the position of the ball, your head, feet, body, hip rotation capabilities, grip, swing and so on.
Even if your kid does not want to be an attacker, hitting is a must-have skill. Midfielders can use it to cross the ball into the circle, while defenders can opt for hard passes every once in a while.
The drill should begin in a static mode. Make sure your little one has a good grip and swing, then let them aim at the goal. You do not need a goalkeeper – shooting on goal is good enough. As their hits become more and more powerful, you can play a midfielder and pass the ball towards them, then have them shoot while they move.
There are lots of variations of this drill – shoot at the first touch, shoot while turning towards the goal, lots of different positions, hitting cones from various distances and different hitting positions. Again, upgrade the drill once step at a time.
The Control Area
Understanding the control area is among the first steps to improving young players. There are not too many requirements for this drill – a stick and at least one ball. Understanding the control area involves a good position and attention to the ball.
Your kid should have a regular stance. The feet should be apart – a bit over shoulder width. The player must hold the stick, with the non-dominant right in front of them. Lean closer to your little one and drop the ball in front of them. They should control it within a second.
The second part of this drill is similar, only you can do it from a few different directions – do not drop the ball right in front of them, but on their sides. The third part involves self-training. It is more difficult. Your kid will have to hold the stick with the non-dominant hand, drop the ball themselves with the dominant hand, then quickly grab the stick and address the ball.
This is what the control area actually means.
Controlled, loose and Indian dribbling
There are three major types of dribbling and an offensive player should become familiar with all of them:
The controlled dribble is performed over a limited area. The ball is kept under control close to the body, so manoeuvrability must be really good in tight spaces.
On the other hand, loose dribble is also known as the speed dribble. It is more common when your kid is in the open and has time to catch some speed. The dribble is usually done with one hand on the stick. The other hand is used to run faster.
Finally, the Indian dribble is diagonal and allows pushing and pulling the ball. It goes from front left to close right or the other way around.
Dribbling around pylons is probably the best way to teach your newbie kid how to dribble. Such field hockey drills for kids improve ball control, regardless of the dribble required.
Dodging often makes common sense when it comes to adult players. But when it comes to kids, they must be taught everything from scratch. Learning this skill adds to the ball control and most importantly, it helps attackers elude defensive players.
If you have more kids, you can split them into teams – attackers and defenders. Defenders will also need to learn this skill in order to become better on the field. So, what do you need? Well, you require at least two players – you could be the other one – and a ball.
The attacker will start with the ball under control. They can attempt any kind of dribble – whatever feels suitable for the situation. Along with the dribble, the attacker will also have to dodge – a technique to avoid defenders by fooling them.
A dodge will get the defender to believe that you commit to a particular direction when in fact you do not. They might attempt a tackle in that direction, while you dribble on the other side. Let your kid be the attacker, but not before showing them how it is done. Once they become good at it, you take over and make sure they can do a good job if they end up in the midfield or defence too.
Cone weaving is a classic drill that both beginners and experts can benefit from. If your kid is already experienced, cone weaving makes a good warm-up session. If they are still trying to get the game, cone weaving makes one of the best field hockey drills for kids in terms of ball control.
The more cones or posts you have, the better. You need at least ten of them for maximum efficiency. You can also improvise – heavy flower pots, bricks, trees and so on. As long as you have a decent obstacle, you can do it.
Have your little one build their way through the course by alternating ides. The course does not necessarily have to be straight – it may have an S shape or an L shape as well. When reaching the last obstacle, the player has to turn around it while keeping the ball under control.
For even better results, teach your kid to keep their heads up as often as they can. You know you have a top player when they can do the whole course without even looking down.
Heads up dribbling
Talking about heads up – this is among the top field hockey drills for kids when it comes to ball control. Have your kid at the 25-yard line. You can be in front of them, on the centre line. Have your little one work from the line to the centre with the heads up. If you raise the left arm, they must go right at 45 degrees and vice versa.
To make this drill even more efficient, you can have your kid make a dodging move before changing direction. The result? Much better control without looking at the ball. Your kid will be able to make better passes, but also to spot open areas and assess the field in a more efficient manner.
Bottom line, these field hockey drills for kids will most likely turn a newbie into a pretty good player. Sure, it takes time to become good, but learning one move at a time and implementing it in further games will help.
The best part about these drills is the fact that you can customize them. You can always make them easier or harder, not to mention bringing other kids in too. This way, you can keep your little one interested. Fail to do so and your drills will turn boring. Sooner or later, kids will lose interest if you fail to motivate them.