The speed at which hockey is now played has called for highly skilled players. The best players can manoeuvre the ball and score with great precision and speed, whilst aiming to keep possession of the ball as much as possible. Hockey also calls for the ability to produce hard hits, but these must be delivered with accuracy and not deemed dangerous by the umpires.

  • Dribble – When a player moves the ball along the floor, it is calling dribbling the ball. The player runs along pushing the ball, controlling the speed and direction that it travels with their stick.
  • Push – This is when the player uses their wrist to force the ball forward, and is typically used to pass the ball to another player or to put the ball into play.
  • Flick – Also referred to as the scoop, this play is similar to the push but the stick is placed at an angle in order to lift the ball slightly off the ground.
  • Hit – This play occurs when the stick is moved back from the ball and then brought forward to contact the ball with extra force, making it travel for a long distance.
  • Drive – This is identical to a hit, but the stick is taken further back and brought forward in a swinging movement in order to strike the ball, forcing it travel much further.
  • Slap – This is a quick and hard pass or shot that is made on a goal. The hands are held slightly apart on the stick, and a half backswing is used to give the hit more force. This type of hit is suitable for all shots which need to be stronger than a push.
  • Backhand hit – This is like a backhanded hit within tennis in that it is a reverse hit, but contact still cannot be made with the rounded back of the stick. It is used for either passing or attempting a goal.

Tackling

The player will attempt a tackle by placing their stick in the path of the ball. The player will often do this by putting the whole of their stick close to the ground, which produces a much wider barrier for the ball. To try and maintain possession of the ball within the team, the other player who has possession of the ball will either pass the ball to a teammate, or attempt to manoeuvre the ball away from the tackle.

Tackling is allowed within hockey as long as the tackler does not touch the other player’s stick before they make contact with the ball or after the tackle. The tackler also must not force the defender out the way using his or her body, or try to play the ball with his or her feet. In these situations, a penalty would be awarded against the tackler. However, if the ball touches the feet of a player accidentally and no benefit is gained from this, a penalty will not be awarded.

Obstruction occurs in three main circumstances: –

  • If the defender’s stick comes in between the ball and the stick of the attacker, or if it makes contact with the attacker’s stick.
  • If the defender comes in between the defender and the ball without performing a tackle.
  • If the opposition’s passage to the ball is blocked; this is usually a deliberate move.

Commands

Players use commands when they are passing and manoeuvring between players on the opposite team and want to communicate with the rest of the team what they are doing. These commands vary between teams so that the opposing team will not be able to decipher what tactics they are going to use. However, there are a few universal phrases that are used:

  • Through or straight – This is called if the player wants to pass the ball straight ahead to another teammate.
  • Flat or square – This is used when the pass is going to be made by a player to their left or right at a 90 degree angle, to another player.
  • Drop – This is called when the player is going to make a pass backwards.
  • Up or through– This is called if the player wants to pass the ball forward at an angle.