How can I help my U12 girls to attack?

How can I help my U12 girls to attack?

How can I help my u/12 girls to attack? At the moment they are running beside the opponent but not attacking the players.

carien Coach, South Africa
Hockey CoachCoach

Hi there

What do you mean when you say they are running with the players?

carien Coach, South Africa

they run beside the other players without any attempt to take the ball away from them. I do attacking drills with them but the moment they play a game, they don`t attack.

Hockey CoachCoach

So they are running a tackleback... then they need to learn for ex. the shave and steal technique aswell work hard on the jab techniques... from static to dynamic situation with no to low and high pressure from teh opponent. If they don`t attack the opponnent ask them why they don`t do it ? Maybe to focussed on running ? Gettig to tired from the sprint ? Runnig with their body to straight, so not in the good position to attack the ball ? Afraid for making a physical error or technical foul ? Do they don`t attack ONLY in tackleback... what about a normal blocktackle, do they then engage the opponent ? Many questions...

Ejaz SyedCoach, United States of America

Taking cue from Rob`s above, I add...

It requires multiple skills and control at the same time. Players at this age do not have skills to insert the stick from the left-side of a player with possession.

Gary ThompsonCoach, England

hi Carien / all

Interesting question - I've been most recently working with girls (and boys) between 10-13 years.

I personally haven't found a problem with not tackling... more a question of hideous mis-timed, crunching stick tackles and tackling from the wrong side lol

I’m not sure that I agree with my colleague Ejaz about NOT being able to do co-ordinate movement with jabbing at that age. I don’t think it’s impossible. It depends how young and how inexperienced though (I guess).

Maybe practice running next to an attacker and trying to jab tackle BUT doing this at jogging pace (i.e. slowly), to see whether the players can infact run and jab at same time?

Also, you don’t have to contact the ball with the jab. You just want the attacker to be watching the ball and worrying about losing possession, rather than planning their pass.

Maybe you could teach them to run with the stick on the ground, ready to tackle (to be ready to make a steal or intercept an inside pass). It’s all part of tracking the player and being calm.

Tackling should be the last part of the defensive process.

There's a nice drill on Sportplan, which allows you to practice 1 on 1 defending (but which includes tracking, channelling and the final tackle). It’s called “1 V 1 – Channelling”. The drill can easily be modified to become a 1v1 turnover and counter-attack (by putting an opposing goal in, for defender to try and score in).

Also, you can practice 1v1 attacking and defending, by creating channels maybe 20m by 7m with a goal at each end… and have one player attacking, trying to score at the end of the channel (by running the ball, under control, over the end line). Then it’s the other players turn. This will practice both attacking elimination skills and defending skills.

Also, I think Rob's questions about the problem are spot-on.

The first thing I would do is ask them why they don't try and tackle.

Are they behind the play i.e. they can't tackle because they are not fast enough to overtake the player?

What about your team-players who are deeper and can engage the opposition player with the ball? Do they attempt to tackle?

Have you been teaching them to man-mark and so they don't leave their player?

As Rob says, “many questions”.



carien Coach, South Africa

Thank you everybody. It will help a lot

Gary ThompsonCoach, England

Cool. Let us know how you get on.

carien Coach, South Africa

I lost 1-0 today. The girls don`t attack and is watching the girls and giving them chance to hit the ball. I don`t know if they are scared or what. It`s like they are watching hockey instead of playing hockey

frank timmersCoach, Netherlands

The problemen could be that some girls are afraid to have contact with their opponent or are afraid to fall while tackling full speed. It can be helpfull to train on grass and without a stick. Let one player (tackler) run besides an other player that she has to stop or not letting her reach the end of an area. Let the tackler use arms en shoulder to block or push aside. I`m sure this will help

Gary ThompsonCoach, England

hi Carien.

Oh dear. This must be frustrating for you.

I agree with Frank - maybe the girls are scared of getting hit by the ball, if the other player is about to strike the ball?

Did you ask them why they were not attacking the opposition player with the ball?

It is very important to explain to them that the opposition player with the ball cannot be allowed to move with the ball unchallenged. I have this happen sometimes in a game, where my players allow the opposition player with the ball to just enter the circle and then shoot.

Just tell them they can`t let this happen and they must put a tackle in. One player must always go to the ball (even if it leaves another opposition player unmarked).

It still sounds like that they need to practice channelling and tackling a lot more, until it becomes really familiar to them and they can be confident in doing it in a game.

Also, get them to practice channelling the opposition player away from the goal (always protect the middle of the pitch, so make the other player takes as long a route to goal as possible - pushing opposition players towards the sideline and the baseline is good). This should reduce the threat of any strikes / passes or actual shots on goal, as they should be coming from more difficult angles (protect the top & shoulders of the Circle).

Really practice jab tackles too - you can prove to them that they have enough time to jab the ball away, while the other player is lifting the stick to hit the ball.

Please do try the 2 drills I suggested before - the sportplan one is very good for channelling ("1 V 1 – Channelling") and the 1v1 in corridor of cones (maybe 20m by 10m), alternating between attack and defence, should allow them to get more confident with tackling in general. You must balance practicing tackling techniques e.g. jab tackle, with mini-games like 1v1 attack and defence. The more they get used to tackling in training, the sooner they will actually do it in a match.

I think there`s a moment, when a player actually does something that they practiced in training, in a match, and find that it really works. That is the light-bulb moment for them. I think the more you practice stuff in training the more likely it will be to happen in a game. Also, just be patient. It will come (but you can`t force it to happen). You must be prepared for players to develop at their own pace. Sadly, I have found that changes that are needed in competitive matches don`t always happen as quickly as you would like them to!



Hockey CoachCoach

Hi Carien

All of above advice sounds really good. Just tor reiterate what Gary said, try the `jab` first.

It`s important to embed learning with positive reinforcement, so it`s important that your players see that jabs work, i.e. make an exercise easy for them to see it working and gradually build up it`s difficulty...

Good old fashion encouragement from the sidelines will also work. Once a player knows they can tackle, you will see them always tackling...

As mentioned above, the shave is a good one to introduce early - not many players do this, so doing this will make a player feel a bit more special...

Good luck...


carien Coach, South Africa

Thank you guys. I will defenitely try the suggestions. Really appreciate your help.

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