How can I stop my team from diving in and over-committing in defence?

How can I stop my team from diving in and over-committing in defence?

I am coaching my first season as head coach. I am confident that my team has improved on alot of skills (mostly due to, thank you!). The only thing that is driving me crazy that my team has not improved on is the over committing block tackle. When an opponent is coming down the field on a breakway, my defense runs up and block tackles, and the opponent shoots right past them. This will happen two or three times in a row, one defender after the other. I've told them to keep their feet moving and to keep off their toes, keeping their momentum with the opponent. I don't know how to practice this with them. We only have 9 players (this is a high school varsity team) so we can't scrimmage full field during practice. Please help! I'm desperate for a solution.

Hockey CoachCoach
Sportplan TeamAdministrator, United Kingdom

Hi Michelle,

Over-commiting defenders are an attacker's dream as they make it easy for them to dodge the diving block tackle, so I can understand your frustration!

This week's session of the week has a Channeling section which should be of use to your team - as it focuses on standing up and not diving in - instead shepherding the attackers away from your danger areas.

You might also like to use the search bar (see top right) and search for channelling practices.

Hope this helps and good luck!
The Sportplan Team

Ian HardinghamPlayer, England


I had the same problem with the woman's team I was coaching, apart from it was all of them team doing it not just the defense. 

I created 1 vs 1 channels and made the defender practise their footwork by charging up to the ball carrier but slowing and getting into the block position as they get within playing distance, then not tackling but moving backwards diagonally roughly on a 45 degree angle across the channel in the block position, I made them face the ball carrier but facing from the side slightly so their shoulders and hips and stick are pointing on a 45 degree angle as well.

When the ball carrier gets to the side of the channel they move across again on a 45 degree angle to the other side always going forward, the defender pivots on their back foot and sidesteps backwards again in that block position until you get to the other side of the channel, then continue repeating until you get to the end of the channel. 

This can work with both a block position and a jab position defending which is applicable in different areas of the pitch - obviously around your D you are blocking, around their D and maybe high midfield you are jabbing. 

It is all about the footwork, move your feet, most attackers will make mistakes and give the defenders the ball just because they are forced to make decisions instead of defenders making it easy for them. 

Hope it helps

Ian Hardingham

Mandy DaviesPlayer, England

Hi -

Another possible solution to this problem is to get your defenders to work in pairs. So even if the first one is beaten the second defender is close enough to make the second tackle. If they are too far apart they will be beaten individually. Communication from the defender behind should help position the defender in front. Hope this helps!

Mandy D

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