Along with dribbling, shooting is one of the most important skills a field hockey attacker needs – maybe even more important than dribbling. After all, in this position, you are supposed to score. This is your main role in the team, so you need to know how to shoot accordingly.
Now, if you think about it, shooting is not that hard. After all, how hard can it be to swing and shoot? Anyone could do that, even a goalkeeper. It is like a long powerful pass. But then, there are a few field hockey shooting drills that can turn a regular player into a pure attacker.
Shooting is about power, accuracy, aim and using a the best field hockey stick. The skill is excellent for the attacker, but it also makes a good asset for midfielders. As a midfielder, you will have to support attackers and often make some good shots yourself. Now, what are the best drills to improve your skill?
Field hockey may not seem the most active sport in the world, but the rhythm and tempo can be extremely fast at times. For this reason, you will often find yourself in situations when you need to think extremely fast.
This drill involves four people – two attackers, a defender and a goalkeeper. Ideally, you should have a fifth person to act as a coach or at least help during the drill. The so called coach will have the ball and will randomly throw it in the field to one of the attackers.
At this point, the attacker with the ball must control it and has two options. They can shoot straight away or they can pass to the other attacker. You can go on with this drill forever, but in order to add some dynamism, there should be maximum two passes before the shot. This way, attackers must think fast and realize that their options are somehow limited.
You can perform this drill with three attackers too, but the rules should not change. It might be a good idea to have a bunch of balls – at least a dozen. This way, there is no time to waste. The game is active and the tempo is fast. Once the ball is in the goal, behind the line or out of the circle, the coach can throw the next one in.
To make the game even more interesting at times, the coach can throw the ball at the goalkeeper and aim for a rebound from their pads.
The goal of this drill is to improve shooting, but also quick decision making. Time is limited and the attacker must make a decision. Is it better to shoot? Is a pass more efficient?
One touch shooting
Given the often opportunities to make decisions on the spot, one touch shooting drills are extremely efficient in getting you ready for real games. Whether you are new to this sport or you have some experience, this shooting drill will help you improve in no time.
So, what do you need for it? Ideally, a goalkeeper can make it harder for you, so you will improve faster than without one. But then, at least one extra player to throw balls at you would help. If you train by yourself, you can place a few balls in random positions in the circle, yet you will lose the element of surprise.
As a shooter, you should be just inside the circle when the drill starts. Your back should face the goal. A coach will throw a short pass on one of your sides. You have to turn and shoot with one touch only. You cannot touch the ball to control it, but ensure you turn around as it approaches you and shoot straight away. For maximum efficiency, the coach should throw balls on both your left and right sides.
There are more variations to this drill. To make it even harder in terms of feeling the ball, you can start facing the goal. The coach will throw a pass from behind, so you need a perfect balance and a good sense to get this pass and adjust to the situation.
If done with many balls over a short period of time, this drill can become a fitness training session as well.
Back foot shooting
This is one of the most useful field hockey shooting drills, despite not being so widely used. Why is it so good? Simple – it perfectly imitates game situations. You might be a good shooter, but there might be times when you have no idea what to do, hence the importance of training for all circumstances.
So, what does this drill involve? Again, you can do it with a coach or another player, but you can also do it yourself. When you do it yourself, just place a few balls around the circle. You start with the back at the goal. You run towards a ball, turn and shoot – one touch allowed. You cannot control the ball and give yourself a better position, but do it straight away.
This skill is often required on the field. As an attacker, you will often find yourself trying to get away from opponent defenders. At this point, you run to the ball and shoot as you turn. To make it easier and more efficient, try to keep your weight on the back foot.
It might feel a little unusual at first, but you have to get used to it. In order to enforce this aspect, try shooting while standing on one leg – the back one.
Many times, you will be pressured by a defender and you will find yourself unable to calculate or plan your shot accordingly. Training on accuracy is a must. Now, you can do it in two different drills. First, you should start while facing the goal. Place a few balls outside the circle or have someone else pass to you. Visually divide the goal in three or four areas – far left, left, right and far right. Aim for one area at a time.
As you become better at this drill, you can make it more complicated by starting in the circle, with the back facing the goal. Run towards a ball outside the circle and hit while turning around. Again, aim for one area or another.
Another good way to improve accuracy is to use a cone or anything else that can stand by its own. Place it in the goal and move it around. It could be in one position or another. This cone virtually represents the gap between the goalkeeper and the post. Focus on hitting the cone as much as you can, from all positions and directions. Move the cone and do the exact same thing again.
This hit is also known as the reverse stick hit. It can be quite difficult to master. You must be a decent shooter before even trying it, so go on with this drill after you have already improved your swing and accuracy. It is definitely something that needs lots of practice, but it has two benefits. First, it is efficient because most defenders do not expect this type of hit. Second, it is spectacular to watch.
You can perform this drill in several stages. First, make sure you get the right move. Do it without the ball. This kind of hit implies getting low to the ground before hitting the ball. The hit is made using an axe chopping movement. You need to hit the ball with the curved back of your stick.
It is quite important to get the move first. You do not need a ball, but just become familiar with the swing. Once you master it, you can bring a ball in and try your strength.
Hitting the lane
This is one of the common field hockey shooting drills out there. It helps all kinds of players in terms of accuracy. You need more players for this drill. You do not need a goalkeeper, but just a few players inside the circle, close to the edge. Now, you need to set the lane. If you have the option, bring in two small nets – face to face – between the line of players and the goal. They should be about a foot apart.
The drill is simple. Those defenders must be ready for you, while you need to shoot through the lane in order to score. It is just like classic training, only the goal is significantly smaller – about the size of a big cone. You do not always need extra players or nets. Any other obstacles work. As for the other defenders, they can be imaginary.
In the end, these field hockey shooting drills will most likely add to your skills within weeks or even days only. Just like any other drill, these ones can be slightly adjusted based on the circumstances and your possibilities. Try one at a time and learn how to master it before moving on to another.
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