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PUSH Hockey Magazine Hitting article part 1

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Field hockey hitting biomechanics.

Field hockey hitting biomechanics.

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  • 1. llllllllllllllllllllll iMPROVe hit me with your best shot! the hit used to be part 1: hitting makes a difference the bread-and- introduction not hit at the correct speed. The hit involves footwork, timing, rhythm, butter of hockey and biomechanics. What needs to be WHY HIT? communicated by coaches to players is but it is a skill that Hitting is the only skill in hockey that can a set of fundamentals. Every other sport transfer the ball at a high speed on the involving a stick/bat/ racquet and ball does has declined in ground while the passer is running. In the this well through books, videos, and even Astroturf era, hitting skills have declined magazine articles. recent years. Derek as the slap hit (or sweep hit) developed to Hitting remains a differentiator in move the ball at a higher pace than the international hockey. In the author’s Pappas explains traditional push. But the hit, when used opinion the Dutch women lost the 2012 correctly and with good technique, remains Champions Trophy semi final to Argentina that the hit is still vital in areas of the game such as shooting, because the Dutch sweeper tried to sweep rapid clearances from defence, running hit by pushing the ball in front of her an important part crosses and long cross-field and diagonal (which took time), instead of “ripping” the transfers. ball up field with a quick upright hit. Her of the game, but However, unless a player has the correct pass was intercepted which resulted in a fundamentals – and a coach who counter attack/goal. This is not intended as it needs to be understands and can coach them – the a personal attack on this player. Rather this resulting hit may be off target, bouncing, or is a comment on the current state in the art coached well Treeby Images of coaching hitting. A sweeper in the 1980s or 90s would have used a conventional hit in that situation. Perhaps the “safe skills” that coaches are teaching are not that safe after all? FUNDAMENTALS MATTER Learning how to hit a hockey ball is like learning how to hit a tennis or golf ball. There are different spins, footwork patterns, hitting off the right/left foot, hitting running in different directions, lifting the ball, chopping the ball – but no matter which hit is being executed there are certain fundamentals that need to be used in order to hit the ball cleanly and correctly. Most of these fundamentals like the grip, elbow in the right side or close to it, stick pointing at the target are explained briefly in this article. But there are no quick tips to be applied to a hockey hit, golf swing, or tennis stroke. Quick tips lead to bad fundamentals. Hitting faults due to bad fundamentals can be difficult to correct once they become ingrained in a player’s movements. llllllllllllllllllllll PUSH PAGE 41 OBJECTIVES OF A HIT Good hitting skills mean being able to: * Hit a pass that teammates can receive, >>Australia’s Renee Trost Article and illustrations © 2012 Derek Pappas except where stated
  • 2. llllllllllllllllllllll iMPROVe Hockey Australia making the receiver’s job easier the swing. As I have emphasised * Hit the ball at a target, goal, – players make compensations teammate, or gap between during the swing due to bad defenders fundamentals. * Hit the ball so that it arrives at The orientation will be changed if a point on the field at the right any of the following occurs: time. * Rolling the hands * Swaying the body EVALUATING A HIT * Lifting the head up. Coaches need to look at the path of the ball from behind the player to Remember that corrections are the target to assess the results of the easier to make when there is no player’s hit (Note: specialised hits pressure on the player. like a slightly lifted hit or a shot on goal will have different results). The following is a list of characteristics of biomechanics a conventional hit: Good results * The ball is rolling on the ground * The ball rolling with over spin A set of hitting fundamentals * The ball is travelling on target is outlined below. Some of the * The ball is not bouncing fundamentals are counter intuitive. * The ball is travelling at the intended speed ADDRESS Bad results * Put the ball away from the body * The ball is bouncing Australia’s Kobe McGurk and on a line between the feet. * The ball has side spin Many players incorrectly position the * The ball is not on target correctly in all countries. ball outside (ahead of) their left foot. * The ball is travelling at a low/wrong Even then, many skills, such as hitting on * Bend the right elbow and wrist, speed. the run, cannot be performed correctly waist, knees, right elbow, and ankles at the highest level. Just watch the teams (stationary/motion). Many players OUTCOMES UNDER PRESSURE warm up before an international – just stand too upright and their legs are There are a set of principles that govern how many are hit at the side boards/ straight. outcomes in games: corners of the goal? * Flat/not bent back. Many players have * Good fundamentals hold up under a curved back. pressure * Bad fundamentals cause bad hits POSITION OF STICK ON THE BALL coaching the hit under pressure * The ball should be positioned in the * If you have good fundamentals then middle of the flat part of the stick, not under pressure, when the adrenalin is towards the toe of the stick. Hockey flowing, you will hit the ball better COACHING OBJECTIVE sticks have a sweet spot and lining * Under pressure, bad fundamentals Coaches needs to work one-on-one the ball ball up on the sweet spot is result in hits which are bouncing, miss with the players guiding them through important. the target, have side spin, are the simple movements designed to eliminate * The face of the stick is vertical. incorrect speed. the excessive movements that lead to compensations during the downswing GRIP COMPENSATIONS CAUSE ERRORS and result in inconsistent hits. (Coaches this is an unnatural position A player with bad fundamentals cannot and the player will resist this change) hit the back of the ball without going OVER-COACHING The grip is the basis for the hit.  through contortions on the downswing. Coaches should keep in mind that players * Point the v’s between the thumb and Compensations due to a bad grip, bad can only manage one thought during forefinger to the right chin ball position and bad pickup all result in a the swing. Do not ask the players to think * The top of the left hand and the left hit that has a higher probability of failure about more than one correction. Remind thumb should touch the bottom of under pressure and when the player is the players to clear their mind of all other the right hand. fatigued. Watch the best players in the thoughts other than the one swing world in the last ten minutes of a game – correction. ARMS/HANDS that is how to tell who has a good hit. The coaching points are: Players with good fundamentals can VARIATIONS IN PLAYER’S SWINGS * Arms hang down deliver a proper hit under extreme The following fundamentals must take * Hands face each other on the stick pressure in match situations – that means into account the age, height and build * When viewed from behind the right on the ground, at the target, with no top of the player. Players will have different elbow is slightly below the left elbow spin, and at the correct speed. “Gluing” angles to the ball and distances to the ball because the left shoulder should the ball to the turf when hitting under depending on their height. be slightly above the right shoulder pressure requires good fundamentals. and the left hand is above the right If you look at the hits of the good players RELATIVE ORIENTATION hand. So it is natural for the slightly you will notice that they do many of the The relative orientation of the stick should bent right elbow to be slightly below llllllllllllllllllllll PUSH PAGE 42 things mentioned in this article correctly – be maintained throughout the swing. the left elbow. Coaches – this is an I ran this by two former Olympic coaches If the relative position of the stick is unnatural position and the player will and they agree – moreover they agree changed during the swing then the player resist this change. that the basics are not being taught will have to make a correction during * The angle between the arms and
  • 3. llllllllllllllllllllll iMPROVe the stick will vary, depending on the height of the player, when viewed from the back of the intended path of the ball.* Note the position of the ball. It is in a spot directly in the middle of the straight part of the stick. THE BACKSWING Right elbow The ball is lined up with Up to this point the player has not been is below the the straight part of the asked to think about anything during the elbow at address stick and not the toe swing. Key points on the backswing are: head* The eyes stay on the spot where ball is The arms at the address position during the backswing* Keep the head down during the hit * The player should not shift their position, the end of the stick will be through the ball weight so that they lean sideways, pushed below the horizontal line. This* The head moves down during the forwards or backwards is a difficult point to understand and downswing and stays down during * Keep the weight centered over the coach – see another illustration over and after impact arches of the feet at address the page.* Watch the spot where the ball is until * Do not drift the weight out over the * Ask the player to relax their arm and the stick is at least two feet past the toes. hand so that the right hand remains ball in the correct position on the stick* Do not lift the head up above the swing and the right elbow starts to bend starting point until well after impact. * Do not rotate the stick around the gradually on the backswing. stick-handle axis at any point during * An incorrect pivot point leads right wrist the swing with the hands unless it is to all sorts of weird motions in* Keep the right wrist bent backwards just prior to impact and the intent is to the backswing which cause during the swing (cup the wrist-do disguise the hit compensations in the downswing – not bend it up or down). This is a * Do not push the hands away from leading to hitting faults, especially difficult point to make. But once the the body or raise them up out of the under pressure. right wrist straightens the hitter has swing path lost control of the stick and released * The toe of the stick should point up backswing through the ball. Keeping the right at waist high on the backswing and * Maintain a triangle between the two wrist bent backwards is the key to follow through shoulders and the hands as seen from controlling the direction of the hit * Rotate the shoulders around the spine. the front during the take away* A bent right wrist is one of the keys to * Maintain the angle between the arms generating power and retaining the pivot point and the stick as seen from the back angle between the stick and the arms The pivot point should be end of the during the backswing until the last moment prior to impact. stick next to the left little finger (not the * Arms are both straight until just below At this point things get a little complicated right forefinger which is the case of most waist high on the back swing but if the player has executed the above players) * Elbow folds into the side at this point points correctly then they have a high * To picture the pivot point imagine a and may leave the side on a longer probability of executing the hit correctly, if horizontal line through the end of the backswing (and the elbow should they get the following points right: stick next to the left little finger – see return to the side on the downswing). below. As the stick is drawn back the This is the critical point in the swing centre of gravity pivot point should remain on the line. and where most players go astray:* The centre of gravity stays between If the player incorrectly pivots off their * They rotate the stick around the axis of the feet right hand, which is in a dominant the stick handle so that the toe of the >> pivot point llllllllllllllllllllll PUSH PAGE 43 Correct pivot point
  • 4. llllllllllllllllllllll iMPROVe right little Þnger is the pivot point right fore Þnger is the pivot point Problem: picking up the Problem: pushing the left stick with the right hand hand down instead of instead of sweeping the sweeping the hands back hands back away from away from the ball. the ball. Common pivot point faults stick points not up at waist high but away from or towards the ball * They push the end of the stick away from its pivot position * At waist high they pull their hands back away from the ball behind their right hip so that the back of the left hand is facing away from the target line * Instead of the upper right arm pointing directly down the upper arm faces backwards (the flying elbow) which results in looping or helicopter swing or the right elbow faces towards the ball and the player chops Right elbow Right elbow down on the ball instead of swinging through it is below the is near right * The stick should be parallel to the elbow at address hip bone, stick target line and the toe should point is between straight up at waist high on the backswing and point at the target the shoulders with the toe up on the follow through. View from behind the target line at address (left) and at the top of the swing. The red line is an If the pivot point is the right forefinger imaginary plane running from the ball, through the shoulders – the player should stay aligned with then the stick will be out of plane at the plane through the swing the top of the swing resulting in a “helicopter” hit”. TOP OF THE SWING * The player has “set” the angle between the arm and the stick * The angle is less than 90 degrees * The player will retain the “set” angle well into the down swing * The left arm is straight * For a normal hit the weight is on the right foot * The stick is between the shoulders * The toe points down the target line and not left or right of the target. DOWNSWING * Right elbow touching the player’s side – easy for the player check because they know whether the arm is touching their side * The hips lead the downswing llllllllllllllllllllll PUSH PAGE 44 * The left knee is bent (for running hits straightening the left knee at impact is going to cause long-term injuries for some players. The left knee was not Right elbow Right elbow The hands have Incorrect pivot point (bottom) causes helicopter swing. Top shows correct position at top of swing is far away is below the been swung from the right left arm behind the right hip hip bone
  • 5. llllllllllllllllllllll iMPROVe Right elbow Right elbow The hands have is far away is below the been swung from the right left arm behind the right hip hip bone middle of the left foot * As the stick approaches the ball the player is releasing the right wrist and the right arm through the ball without rolling the wrists and the left arm is straight * Maintain the flat plane between the left arm and the stick. Think about hitting the ball with the left arm through the stick to form a wall * Hit the back of the ball at impact (if the player hits the top of the ball and raises the ball they probably used a baseball grip or rotated the stick on the backswing) * The player must not roll their wrists Shoulders through the impact area * The left arm/wrist does not collapse and/or hips Or the player * The player stays bent at the waist. have not rotated has pivoted off of the a sufÞcient amount right hand instead FOLLOW THROUGH * Point the right arm at the target and at and the hands are of the left hand the ground during the release in front of the plane * At waist high the toe of the stick should point up and the stick should point at the target (unless a special side spin hit has been executed or the player has run around the ball to the Problems at the top of the swing when viewed from the back (both diagrams above) left-then they need to use a blocking follow through like a forehand cricket designed for that kind of impact on IMPACT shot and not release the wrists). Astroturf) * The stick has been returned to its * Note that on the follow through the* The player is pushing off of their right original position at address player must not allow the left wrist to foot * The triangle between the shoulders collapse or bend backwards.* The right knee is driving into the and the hands has been restored * After impact the triangle is maintained ground * The right elbow is slightly bent to ensure that the face of the stick* Get the right elbow bent and tucked * The back is flat still points at the target to avoid into the side on the back swing and * The hips, knees, and ankles are bent changing the direction of ball due to downswing * The hips have turned slightly around prematurely rolling the wrists.* The right elbow can release during the spinal column while the shoulders * After about 18 inches to two feet past longer swings towards the top but are square to the ball the ball, the stick rotates around the needs to return to the side on the * The right lower leg is close to parallel pivot point and not the right hand downswing to the ground * The two forearms should touch each* The angle set between the arm and * The ball is between the feet other at waist high on the follow stick is retained until the hands are * The player is not leaning to the right. through waist high * The shoulders are parallel to the * Do not push the left hand/the end of llllllllllllllllllllll PUSH PAGE 45* Straighten the right arm prior to the target line (unless a deceptive the stick down on the follow through. impact to release the right arm hit is being used in an advanced The end of the stick is still a pivot point through the ball towards the target. technique) and should not be manipulated in * The left knee is bent and the over the any way >>
  • 6. llllllllllllllllllllll iMPROVe Correct swing and follow through * The right arm straightens after impact, * Weight is not on the heels or the balls Impact points at the ground, and towards the of the feet * Left foot is turned out toward the target. * Feet can be together or apart target depending on the type of hit being * As a result of the right foot driving Important: Have the player stop their executed. towards the ball the body is in a follow through of the stick when it lunge position with the right heel off is parallel to the ground. If the arms Back swing of the ground, the right knee is six are not straight and the player’s stick * The left foot lifts up during the inches off of the ground, the left knee is not pointing at the target and the backswing and moves to the left is bent. This is result of the footwork two forearms are not touching then * Alternatively both feet remain on the and lowering the body during the something has gone wrong. ground during the hit and the weight downswing. is more on the right foot to start FOOTWORK DURING THE SWING with and shifts to the left during the The player must understand the footwork for a stationary hit more so that for a running hit. During a stationary hit the downswing * The right foot does not roll to the right * The right foot provides a brace against next time footwork and the hips are the primary the hip wind up. Putting it all into practice. Drills to initiators. coach and test hitting and an analysis of Address Downswing common faults. * Feet are flat on the ground * The right heel lifts off of the ground p * Weight is distributed evenly between and drives towards the ball along with the two feet the right knee. players to watch Andy Smith These players all have world class hits under pressure: * Billy Bakker about Derek * (Netherlands) Luciana Aymar (Argentina) Pappas * Moritz Furste (Germany Derek has played hockey on – right) three continents and in 10 * Teun de Nooijer different countries. He was on (Netherlands) the US international training * Jamie Dwyer (Australia) squad in the 1980s and now coaches skills, patterns of play, Their techniques should game tactics, and various teams. be studied carefully and He is CEO of GroupAngle communicated to the new http://groupangle.com generation of players. llllllllllllllllllllll PUSH PAGE 46