Creating Real-Game Situations with Simple Field Hockey Drills

Surprisingly, field hockey is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. A predominately female sport this side of the Atlantic Ocean (more on that later), it is a team game requiring dexterity, physical endurance, hand-eye coordination and, of course, an emphasis on the ‘team’ component. Colleges and universities around North America have been growing field hockey teams, developing players and gaining popularity. One of the best teams in the U.S. is the club from the University of California, with the Golden Bears team of 12 players named to the Division I National Academic Squad. The Golden Bears, like so many other programs at the university level, are helping increase the popularity of the sport by making it far more accessible to young athletes. It's a sport that requires a good number of people for a solid practice. While athletes can practice stick handling or shooting on their own, they can do only so much without a team. Field hockey, like basketball and ice hockey, is a game of transitions and counter attacks. While some plays are set pieces, just as many goals, if not more, are scored when a team intercepts a pass or makes a strong defensive play and quickly goes to the offensive. One play to practice is a standard 3-on-2 with a counter attack. The drill demonstrates a situation that often comes up during a game, working on shape, ball movement and support, as well as conditioning. The drill is best done on a full sized field, with two goals and two goalkeepers in place. Three players start on offense, side A, with two on defense, side B. The objective is to score specifically within 5-6 yards of the net. If the players score, then the drill is over and restarted. However, if the two players on defense stop the play and intercept the ball, they quickly turn to offense. A player from Side A drops out, and a player from Side B joins the play in the attacking zone, making a 3-2 the opposite way. This is a very simple drill that forces players to switch between offense and defense quickly, while keeping them physically fit and fostering creativity on the attack. Players can try various offshoots of this basic drill. A coach can decide to make the play a 4-3 or 5-4 to make it closer to a game scenario. What’s more, players can be forced to make a certain number of passes before they're allowed to shoot, or one specific player can be designated as the shooter. While North American field hockey is mostly associated with women, the sport, originally from the British Commonwealth, is played by men around the world. It grew into a coed game over the years, and now has a great deal of popularity among women as they develop a sport of their own. Colleges and universities are doing their part to increase participation, as the historic game continues to gain momentum. References: Sidebar: The Unique Opportunities of Field Hockey Camps The best way to really get involved in any sport is to sign up for a summer or a weekend camp where you can be totally immersed in the sport alongside others who are equally passionate. Field hockey camp is a great way to make friends, learn from others and, of course, refine your skills. Former coaches or players who like to share their love of the game with young people often run field hockey camps. A great way to get valuable experience really quickly is to play with those who are just as eager and dedicated as you are.

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