What is your best advice to a boy playing sweeper in a team with a poor defense

What is your best advice to a boy playing sweeper in a team with a poor defense

My son has been given the role of sweeper in a team that has only won  twice in two years.  He is probably the weakest player in the team.  What advice can I give him to think about when playing, so that he can improve and enjoy a personal sense of achievement. In training sessions I have never seen any drills designed to organise the defence which is amazing since the teams ambition is usually to keep the goals against to single figures! Are there standard apporoaches as to how close to be  to the player you are marking or which side to stand to stop the attacker getting free with the ball on his open stick?.

Hockey CoachCoach
karl niven lucasCoach, England


Suggestions would be to consider the non hockey items as a start%3A1

1. Communication, incrediably important as sweeper (behind defence) to be constantly talking to the defence and midfiel ensuring they are were you see the dangers.

2. Be within 5 to 10 yards of the other defenders and not too deep. This allows you to intercept and use the defender as a blocker hoping the oppoistion push the ball to far out of control whilst attempting to get round. Also creating the impression of two vs one.

3. Stick the the channels, in between the the defenders closest to the ball so if it goes wide or if it comes down the middle he has a chance for both situations.

4. Finally just keep it simple. If he receives it or wins it and their are no options hit the ball into the corners or out the side. It feels like you have managed to stop another attack, gives the team time to regroup, reduces the chance of losing the ball quickly and being attacked again. Like wise to play the way your facing and not to introduce any risk uneccassary. As he and his team improves then build up the skill and have more confidence to take longer on the ball.

Maarten DierdorpCoach, Netherlands

In my opinion the sweeper should be one of the stronger players. The weakest player plays as right defender. It's quite easy because you can defend on forehand, while your opponent mostly uses his backhand. Further on the task of the right defender is easy. Stay close to your opponent at a stickdistance between the opponent en your own goalkeeper. That way you always defend on the inside.

Victor HardemanCoach, Canada


i should first start working on the defence skills off all the players, channel and tackling, defending on the inside, strong side, defending is not relate to one player but to all the players in the team. If all the players are better defender then you can work on the tacktical part off the game.

Brad MetzerCoach, South Africa


I have played sweeper my entire life and I can tell you from personal experience that no matter how weak you are on the field you can make things work to your advantage.

I would first asses the strenghts your son has be it speed, weight, stamina, size etc. Now as he trains he must play to these strenghts. He will with practice improve his skills although the main one he must focus on besides tackling is comunication because after all the sweeper controls the defencive line and must really only come into play if that line is broken. 

Now I am not the quickest guy on the park but I use my size to my advantage, thus if I need to mark a player he has no way of recieving the ball and makeing a good enough shot to trouble the goalkeeper. 

Everyone has strenghts and especially in hockey we must all play to them. Find those strenghts and your game will improve greatly.

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