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Defending ball and help side

Looking gro theory or practicals on defending help side vs ball side.Any help?

Hi Leroy,

When defending, it's important to defend the ball side with the help side in mind and vice versa - the two should not be totally seen as separate.

When defending the ball side, 1v1, the aim should be to channel the player wide, away from the goal. If done properly, the help side should manage itself as the threat is lower because the ball carrier is unable to make a pass to anyone on the opposite side.

The help side can also offer support to split the game and keep the ball to one side of the field. In the drill below, the covering defender supports the engaged defender so that if he is beaten, he can sweep up the danger to defend any balls being played to the help side.

Recovering defenders on the help side must be tracking back with oncoming forwards, ready to intercept is the ball side defenders are eliminated. 

Look at the drill below and get your ball side defenders positioning their body correctly to force the defender wide and away from danger.

I hope this helps!

Chasing the Tackle - Matching Their Speed + Forcing Attacker Away From Goal

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Objective: To establish the principle that matching your opponents speed places the tackler in a position to control an opponent and to not let them beat them to attack on the inside.

Purpose: By staying level will the attacker and putting sufficient pressure on the ball carrier will prevent them from being able to beat the defender on the inside. Instead it will force them to continue on the outside, running into trouble and hopefully giving the ball away.

Strcuture: Pairs. 

Condition: Forward has a ball and moves in a straight line, defender tries to match their speed, putting pressure on with dummy tackles.


Coaching Points:

Match opponents speed. 

  • Focus on matching the attackers speed, keeping your body level with your opponents, whilse watching the ball.
  • Repeat the exercsie with right shoulder leading (eg Left half, showing right winger the line)

Channel away from Goal

  • Retain arm+ stick distance at all times.
  • Anticipate a chnage of direction rather than reacting to it. 
  • Utilise dummy tackle to force the opponent to lose control or away from goal. 
  • Through presence, force the player wide, not allowing them to get their head up and drag the ball back and inside to beat the defender.

Dummy Tackle 

  • Often called the jab, its keeps the your presence noticed, forcing the attacker to keep their head down, focussing on the ball rather than looking for a pass or an attempt to beat the defender. 

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  • search our library of 1000+ hockey drills
  • create your own professional coaching plans
  • or access our tried and tested plans