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Receiving the ball forward facing

Anybody any ideas on a conditioned game to encourage receiving the ball in a forward facing position?

Hi Mark,

I suspect the Golden thread is being consulted here! Love to know your thoughts about it, I know there are many varying opinions on the current philosophies coming out of England Hockey.

Inverse rugby seems like a good idea though, i.e. ball can only be passed forward. Small sided game (4 vs 4), where one player always has to be in the attacking half (forcing an overload). Play for short periods of time, allowing high intensity game play, which should help to encourage players to attack the goal quickly, and naturally bring players to face the goal they are attacking when receiving.

Could even run the above on a loop, playing full pitch with 4 teams, having each team attack once towards the North goal, then must work back to defend the South goal as a new team attacks. Will recreate a counter attack, again encouraging players to move the ball (forward) quickly, pushing players feet towards the goal.

Let me know your thoughts,


hi all

I'm almost loathe to post here, since you're a JRPC lead (and clearly wouldn't be that unless you knew what you were talking about) and I've seen other posts by Josh (and know he knows what he's talking about).

If I understand your requirement, you want your forwards taking the ball, moving forwards (or at least in motion) i.e. letting the ball come across the body?

I kinda thought that receiving on the reverse would make it more likely that players would be in forward motion and would let the ball come across the body? So perhaps say pickups are only on the reverse? I know that stifles open side play but just do it until players are picking up on the move then try allowing open stick receipts too.

Or perhaps receipts are only the move i.e. you only pass to someone who's moved for the ball? I know that doesn't focus enough on your forward facing requirement but that would at least reduce stop and turn plays (maybe). Tbh, it promotes good player behaviour anyway but won't probably isolate your requirement enough.

Or you can't post up, only receive on forward or diagonal runs?

Another (probably silly) thought would be to play offside (as in football), so essentially you'd have to be moving forwards in order to get beyond the last defender?

I really like Josh's inverse rugby idea, although, if you're limiting passes to a forward direction only, then that would probably make tackling/pass denial easier, so you might need to say interceptions only?

Finally, this is something my coach got me doing in training - one scores by first touching (not carrying), under control, across the end of the playing area. Yes, you could in theory do that statically but it's much easier to do it on the move i.e. someone makes a supporting run for the ball carrier and the pass is well timed, to avoid a carry.

Do these help at all?






Thanks guys for your comments.  I Have a mixed ability group of around 20 players running at the moment.  We've been doing 5-a-side conditioned games on half pitch. Lots of touches and ensures that all players are involved. I tried this last week. Started with the inverse rugby, then progressed it onto having to make a pass in each quarter of the game area.  It wasn't massively successful as everything was forgotten when we moved to general game play at end of session.

This week we started with the requirement to make five passes before the ball went into the end zone. Progressions were that if the ball was won high up the pitch you could pass straight forward with first or second touch if ball was lifted. Final progression allowed player use 3D to take ball into end zone.


Many thanks




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Hi Mark

Thanks for keeping us updated.

If I had a penny for every time improved play was immediately abandoned when one started a 'normal' match...

What's the general characteristic that you're trying to change? I know you started off with moving forwards while receiving. Are your forwards not taking height? Or are things just a bit sluggish in the final third/quarter? Or are your forwards just not really being passed to i.e. mids are looking to carry and eliminate, rather than releasing early?




Hi Mark,

This is one of those situations where I believe the new coaching philosophy is too restrictive. You've tried to find a way to bring a particularly skill into a game like scenario and found it not being received as you wish.

Why not try the below? It's a simple two touch and shoot warm up exercise (I often use it before a game). If you simply stand on the final position of the grid and constantly emphasise that the players feet should be facing forward, your players will have this philosophy drilled into them. 

You could even progress this by having the other player at the top of the D have their feet face forward as well. This will allow them to practice receiving the ball in this manner, whilst also practicing 'dumping' off the ball to a player behind them (possibly even without looking because they will have pre scanned).

Let me know your thoughts,



Shot Box


- Pass in arrow direction, follow your pass
- Queue behind the balls
- Short, sharp 5 yard passing
- 2 touch is possible

Coaching Points:

- Add cones 3 foot outside post, if strike is outside post but in between cones we are quite happy (deflection runners will get the tap in)
- Start on the opposite side once all the balls have been used

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  • or access our tried and tested plans