Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Special: Fitness for Hockey

The following is a Fitness and Training programme for Field Hockey, designed not only to get you fit but also stay fit and injury free through out the season.

It may seem a lot, but there is a lot of variety in there to help keep it all interesting. You should tailor make your programme to suit your needs and anticipated level of achievement.

Try to fit these sessions into your daily routine, so they become a habit not a chore. Situps, pushups and stability exercises to develop core stability can be at home after work. Weekly, you should be doing 3 aerobic sessions (road, Leah sessions, etc), 2 home gym sessions and then a sprint session. Stretching should occur prior to every session.

The examples are designed for the Preparation Phase of the season - often refered to as "training to train", this training phase is key to building a base for the start of the season.

Weekly Plan

A day by day program of what each player has to complete has not been provided as each player will have different responsibilities and commitments. It is up to you to look at your work, social and other commitments and schedule the training sessions around these. If you structure your time properly you should be able to schedule the aerobic and weight sessions to follow each other. Try to schedule at least 1 complete day of rest into your training week.

Below is an example of a weekly training plan. This can be manipulated to suit the personal needs of different athletes. Different players will train on different days and some may have games on Wednesdays as well. The plan centres around match days. Green training sessions should be performed on the day prior to a match to ensure the athlete does not suffer from fatigue affecting match day performance. Post match days should be rest or very light days depending on the athletes’ preference. Red days should be followed by green or orange sessions to ensure the athlete does not suffer from over training.

As different positions have different requirements within the game of hockey the type of training sessions will be different. Below is a table to be used as a rough guide for the number of each type of training session to be performed.

Session Type/Numbers p/Week Defenders Midfielders Attackers

Speed 1 1 1-2

Repeated Sprints 2 2-3 1-2

Resistance 1 1 1

Core 0-1 0-1 0-1

Flexibility 0.5 0-1 0-1

NB For the resistance program it is important that you realise that the emphasis is on the mechanics of the movement and not on the weight lifted. It is better that you to do the exercise with minimal weight and do them properly than do them incorrectly. The movement patterns involved are important to your speed strength and co-ordination of body movements on the hockey pitch. As well as a key influence in injury prevention.

Do not be afraid to train twice in one day, however, each session should be a different style. Allow sufficient rest in-between sessions.

Lets practise!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Special: Formations and Tactical Decision Making

Tactical decision making is a key concept that distinguishes physically and skilfully similar teams. The ability of all players to be able to implement the tactics developed off the field and adapt to the changing circumstances of the match are crucial to the success of the team.

What tactics should be employed?
The team should develop tactics that fit the squad as a whole. The coach's philosophy will play a fundamental role it developing the mind set of the side. This will encompass the perceived abilities of each of the players in the squad in order to maximise the strengths and minimise the weaknesses of the side. Going into a match, the tactics should also look to minimise the strengths of the opposition and to exploit any weaknesses.

The formation is the first stage in implementing the tactics that the coach and squad have decided as the most efficient to achieve a win.

The European Sweeper System is a naturally fluid one; currently played by the majority of the leading league clubs and national teams.

The success of the system depends on the ability and fitness of the 3 midfield players, who support the 3 strikers when required in attack as well as providing cover and support when needed in defence. This leaves the sweeper free to cover any player or pass that penetrates the defence and also be free to move forward and provide an extra player in attack.

The 5-3-2. This framework reflects a structure that has 5 forwards, 3 half backs, 2 backs, and goalkeeper, it is very similar to structures often described as 3-3-4 or 3-3-3-1.

The Diamond formation provides stability in midfield. The spine of the team is the key to this formation, and aims to create space out wide. The wide defenders act as wing backs, and should be encouraged to attack the flanks for a more attack-minded outlook. The Diamond shaped midfield encourages zonal defence and promotes extended interlinking play. This formation requires thorough communication between all players to maintain a tight defence. The midfielders provide support to the defence, whilst at the same time providing the basis for attack. The low and high central midfield players extend the depth of the team so that there is an easier transition between defence and attack.

Which formation is best?
The best formation for your team should take into account each player's individual strengths and the team's strengths and weaknesses. Forwards with exceptional individual skill and a weaker defence might push a case for reinforcing the defence and leaving the forwards more isolated in the Diamond formation. A side that has a strong defence yet is not scoring may consider the 5-3-2 formation to overload the opposition defence.

Subscribe for the full article on the merits of different press techniques and how to exploit an opposition press for attacking options.

Presses are used to put pressure on the opposition to dictate the flow of the game by restricting the opposition's options, with the aim to force mistakes and therefore a turnover in possession. The key concept is to shape the press to force the opposition into predetermined areas of the pitch where the opposition are weaker, or that the pressing team can control. This requires reaction to the changing nature of the game, and individual's strengths on the pitch.

The correct press requires an instant appreciation of the situation on the pitch, the flow of the game and the strengths of the opposition. A press that worked well a few moments ago may be inappropriate in the new situation.

A defensive press can quickly be turned into an attacking opportunity should the ball be intercepted, enabling attacking from high positions and from deep.

In order to set an efficient press, the players have to understand the role of each player in the press, the lines of running, the angles of potential passes and deflections, and the movement required to be made to set a second phase press following a successful pass being completed by the opposition.

Additionally, the weaknesses of the press need to be identified - the spaces within the press and behind the press, and the effect of lead runs, deflections and aerials. These concepts apply equally for setting presses to try to eliminate weaknesses, and for breaking down the opposition's press.

The Tactical Approach
The tactical approach chosen for the season will take some getting used to. The players need time to adapt to the new concepts both individually and and as a unit. Given time and practice, adapting the formation and tactics employed to suit the squad will bring with it success.

Coaching point:
* Setting a press, the opposition should be forced high and wide, away from danger areas and into areas of the pitch identified as capable of being squashed in order to break down play and recover possession to launch a counter-attack
* Breaking down an opposition press, the aim should be to shift the press and to stretch it so that gaps can appear to be exploited. Aerials, deflections, and short passes can be used to defeat the press. However, the best method is to take the set piece as soon as possible before the press has been correctly set.

Lets practise!

Special: Games Related Drills

In this edition I will show some practices to improve the players drills.

Game related Drills
Attacking the circle

Players 1 and 2 play a 2 v 1 against the first defender, before then moving on to the second defender. They then run into the circle and try and score. Players 3 and 4 go into the circle to help with rebounds.

Rotation, players 1 and 2 become the rebounders.

Coaching Points
To start with restrict the one defender to defend outside
23m area and one between 23m line and circle
Players do not need to pass to beat the defender.

Change the Point of Attack

2 teams both with a ball. The object is for one of the wingers to get to the back line without being tackled. For a tackler to be released by the other team, the tackler has to receive and leave the ball in the coned area.

When one of the wingers is threatened the team should try and change the point of attack by passing the ball via every player to the other side. To release the other tackler, the ball has to be passed via sweeper.

Lets practise!