Thursday, October 23, 2008

Skills on Demand*: Tackling/Defending

In this post, we would like to share some tips on defending and tackling. Hopefully the infomation provided would be useful to all aspiring players who are keen to be the best. So do read up on the info below and see if you can apply it to your game... Have fun!!

When defending, it is important that a player do not commit too early. Committing early means swinging your stick to reach for the ball in the opponent's possession without considering factors like
1) distance to reach the ball
2) can the opponent turn away from your challange
3) what if the opponent manages to avoid the challange (the swing at the ball)

Error! Notice the player behind in green, his challange will be fruitless as he had committed and got the Swedish player (in yellow) on the wrong side. The Swedish player will just need to continue advancing with his body shielding the ball.

It is important not to be caught flat footed which means that you are unable to turn in time to catch up with the opponent once you are beaten. Always adopt a fencing stance (like how a fencer would attack with his weapon) where your shoulder is NOT parallel to the oncoming opponent. Only make a tackle when you sense that the ball is within your reach and that you have the opponent's body covered should he pushed the ball past you. This way you can at least block his advancement even though the ball might have gone past you. Remember! The dibbler is waiting for you to make the first move before deciding on his next step. So if you have to commit or make a move, you must be sure it will stop his advancement.

Never run with a trailing stick (holding the stick in one hand with the blade on the floor chasing after the ball as if you are sweeping up the area). It wastes your energy and does not allow you to react quickly. Should you need to catch up with the opponent and make the tackle from behind. Do NOT approach and swing the stick forward to dig the ball while your body is playing catch up with the opponent. You will not get enough reach and power to stop him once the opponent speeds up going forward. ALWAYS catch up fully till you are parallel to him shoulder to shoulder or even one step ahead of him before you make the tackle.

Good! Notice how the Swedish player goes in hard only when he is on par with the opponent. He makes the tackle with the stick and also used his shoulders to disrupt the opponents control. This way he got both the player and the ball.

You need to go down on your knee (only 1 knee as kneeling with both knee is a foul) when you know the opponent is going to take a shot that will threaten the goal. By going down low, you provide cover against a shot with your BODY and not your stick. The stick's surface area is never big enough to protect the goal. However, going down on your knee to block a shot or make a tackle must be well timed or you will be caught flat footed. Furthermore, it does not mean that you can just recover slowly when you get down to block. The readiness to spring up and make a second tackle is very crucial. Remember! The nearer you are to block the opponents blade and the ball, the smaller and narrower his range to shoot is going to be.

Good! Notice how the Swedish player at the near post get down to block. The stick is placed in front and ready to strike at the opponent once there is an opportunity. The stick is placed flat on the floor, using both the shaft and the blade to cover shot and stop passes.

Good! See how the defenders are covering the goals, their body positions are such that when a shot is taken they will block it with their body first instead of only using the blade.

Finally, never ever cluster together to make tackles... 1 opponent only needs to be challanged by 1 player (unless due to tactical arrangment by coach) Space out and keep an eye on your opponents even though he may not have the ball. Clustering leads to pockets of space exposed on the court. Remember! When one area is croweded on the court, there must be somewhere else on court that is not crowded.


Anonymous said...

The 2nd picture and the 4th picture in that post are Australia vs. Netherlands in WFC 2006. Yellow is AUSTRALIA! NOT sweden!

Anonymous said...

By the way, where did you find those pictures?