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Ball "squirting" ahead as players go faster

How to coach fast attackers to control the pace of the ball as they accelerate? At higher speeds, the players' touch on the ball needs to be "softer" but this requires hands and feet to work at varying intensity. I see a lot of speedsters push the ball too far ahead of themselves, the faster they go. The outcome is often a failed shot at goal because the ball runs out of reach or out over the back line.

Hi Rachel,

One way to solve this is to force the players to slow down when dribbling with the ball. For development, control is more important than speed. As players become more and more comfortable when dribbling with the ball at a lesser speed, they will gradually be able to increase speed on the ball.

However, one common way that the ball squirts ahead of players is when they are running with the ball in an upright position, as if they were running normally not on a hockey pitch. When running fast with the ball, players should still adopt the standard hockey stance, with legs slightly bent and a low centre of gravity. This should help them gain more control over the ball, while still running at a decent speed.

Hope this makes sense.

Hi Rachel,

Depends on level many different things are 'correct'.

Lower ability/age: Keeping the ball under control and on the stick as much as possible is the most important. To improve speed while under control I would tell my players to put their hands closer together then natural in order to have a more open body position thus opening up their stride to run faster while ball is under control.

Mid ability/age: Tapping the ball when in open space and using full stride and make sure the ball is in front of the player with the ball and away from defenders from the opposition.

High ability/age: One handed running, this is often frowned upon in junior hockey but if you go to any national training camp they promote it as much as possible as if you have the skill to play one handed without making errors, you are able to run as fast as you want to with the ball still in control. 

Thanks for your thoughts Robert. This is very useful to me as the boys I coach at the moment vary greatly in terms of strength, speed, natural ability and aptitude. I will explain the options you have described and steer them towards what's individually appropriate.
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No problem at all! I hope it goes well! 

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