Whether you are trying to teach yourself how to become a better field hockey player or you struggle to train some of your friends for weekend games, passing is one of the most important skills in this sport because it is widely used by pretty much any player, regardless of the position.
Attackers? Shooting. Defenders? Tackling. Goalkeepers? Reflexes. Midfielders? Somewhere between attackers and defenders. Passing? Everyone. You will need to pass regardless of your position – you will have to do it as a defender, midfielder, attacker and even goalkeeper.
Before engaging into more sophisticated training techniques, you need to ensure you are familiar with the most common types of passes. You will also have to train on these passing drills and master them accordingly if you want to advance, but also to correct any technical flaws.
Passing involves at least two players. To gain as much as possible from your field hockey drills for passing, you will have to find a partner. Sure, you can also find some devices to throw balls at you and help you improve this skill, but nothing compares to a real person.
The push pass is most likely the first type of pass you will have to learn. It is used by newbies, children and even those competing in the Olympics. It is the main recommendation for short distances when you want full control.
The stick must be held by the book – the dominant hand midway down, while the other hand at the top. The chest must face the ball. For maximum efficiency, you need to pass while the ball is about a stick length away from you.
Turn around to ensure your body is perpendicular to the direction of your pass. Sure, with time, you can face a completely different direction and pass, only to confuse your opponents. But for the beginning, you need to look where you pass.
The push pass should not bring in any hitting sounds. The ball is stuck to the stick, so you literally push it away – make the difference between pushing and hitting. As for finishing the pass, your body and stick must point to your passing partner. This is the finishing position.
It takes a while to do it by the book because there are so many angles and directions to pay attention to. Focus on doing it by the book and take your time, even if it is incredibly slow. You will gain speed and momentum with experience.
Driving is a common technique used for more moves. For instance, you can use it to pass to a teammate who is too far away. If the push pass does not work, you will need to drive. Other than that, you can also use this technique to shoot.
Since you clearly need lots of strength for this type of pass due to the distance, you will need to hold the stick differently – keep both hands together at the top. Just like for other types of passes, you have to be perpendicular to your target, while the ball must be about 30 inches in front of you.
This kind of pass can be a little confusing because as you gain experience, you will develop your own style. Different players drive differently. There is no such thing as the best drive. Most experts recommend going with whatever feels more comfortable to you.
All in all, once you are in the right position towards the target (be it a teammate or the goal), take a back swing to the middle of the chest in height and hit the ball. The stick should follow through the movement – the swing and direction are right when the natural movement of the stick points to the target.
The sweep pass might as well be a sweep hit towards the goal. This kind of pass is mostly common when playing outdoors on turf. Just like the drive, a sweep is recommended when you need a long field pass, such as from the defense to the attack. It is also handy if you go for a shot on goal.
Just like most other types of passes, you will have to be perpendicular to the target. But unlike the push passes or drives, the ball should be slightly further. Another thing – the ball must not be right in front of you, as you will lose power. Instead, it must be off of your back foot, so you give it your body strength.
The swing performed for a sweep is a little unusual – the bottom edge of the stick must not leave the ground. It sounds unusual, but you actually have to get a bit low. As you sweep the stick towards the ball, the entire stick should get on the ground while you shift the bodyweight to the front foot.
Now that you know how to train for the most common types of passes, here are the most popular training drills.
Dynamic passing is the most basic drill to improve your passing skill. You need to pair up with at least one other person. You will pass the ball from left to right for a few minutes, change positions and go right to left. You can do it horizontally on the field, but you can also do it vertically to attempt long distance passing, sweeps and drives.
Dynamic passing can be enhanced if you bring in two other players. Players should be positioned in a rectangular shape and exercise all kinds of passes – vertical, horizontal and also diagonal. You can push your limits a bit and try out all kinds of angles. Besides, with each pass, you must stop the ball, so you also train on receiving balls. You do not necessarily need to come up with a pattern, but also do it randomly – just focus on things you slack at and alternate every once in a while.
Dynamic passing and receiving rotation
This is just a more diversified type of dynamic passing. It adds even more dynamism and gets you ready for actual games. Players keep moving and point where they want the ball – no words, but just pointing with the stick. Simply put, you try to ensure the receiver gets to the ball in the optimal tempo with the ball, rather than getting there first and waiting for the ball. This type of passing is excellent for counterattacks.
There is room for mistakes because the ball can get to a general zone where the receiver might be. Ideally, the receiver should meet the ball at the perfect time – no need to rush or slow down and no need to change direction. You can also exercise opening the field – passing to the space for the receiver to meet the ball further.
Dynamic passing and two versus two
If you have four players, passing can be quite diversified, but there will be a time when it becomes boring. At this point, you can try out a little game. Come up with two teams – one on each side of the field. Keep passing with your partner towards the middle of the field, then try various passing techniques to overtake the other team and score. Whether you score or lose the ball, they will have to start from their side of the field.
This drill adds a bit of dynamism to a boring training session and also gets you ready for most positions – attacking, defending and being in the midfield.
It is easy to overlook the main goal of your training during this drill. While many players end up focusing on the score and the actual attack, the overall goal is to improve passing. Do not shoot or dribble. Instead, try to overtake the opponent through passing only. You can only score if there is no one between you and the goal.
As a short final conclusion, there are lots of variations to most passing drills. Passing is extremely diversified and involves going in all directions and shooting the ball at different speeds. As you have seen above, there are also types of passes that do not even involve shooting.
Do not go from one drill to another, thinking that you master the skill. Once it feels like you are doing it right, you can push for more dynamism and diversity, but always come back to the original drill every once in a while.
At the same time, training with someone else is absolutely more efficient than training by yourself. You can, indeed, find some of those machines that will throw balls at you. You can also practice passing yourself by setting some objectives on the field or coming up with tight goals made of cones. With all these, nothing compares to training with a dynamic person.
In fact, apart from the basics (such as holding the stick or hitting the ball), you might want to consider a field hockey school or a training club instead of training by yourself.