Hockey

Focusing on scoring from deflections and rebounds

These days the Indian hockey team is doing some intensive drills to master the art of scoring from goalmouth deflections and rebounds.

Under the watchful eyes of trainer David John, the forwards are honing their skills of putting the ‘bumpy balls,' released from the right flank at a speed of 80-90 km per hour by the ball throwing machine, into the goal in a flash.

Chief coach Michael Nobbs has always advocated the importance of playing attacking hockey and this is another aspect which may help India outshine its opponents in the upcoming Olympic qualifier.

“According to a study, most of the goals are scored from deflections and rebounds. We need to have more players inside the rival circle to convert these chances. Our strikers must outnumber the opposition defenders (inside the circle), so that we can create gaps,” said Clarence Lobo, one of the assistant coaches, on Friday.

Olympian Mohammed Riaz, who is also assisting Nobbs, agreed that the ploy could work well for India. “The thrust is on scoring more goals and deflection is a good way to score them,” he said.

Chance for big wins

The strikers also endorsed the drill, which could help them earn big margin wins for the country. “We are scoring a lot of goals, but we are also missing too many. This drill allows us to improve our skills in this area. Our penalty corner conversion rate is good, but we should also score more field goals,” said young centre forward Gurvinder Singh Chandi.

“During (Jose) Brasa's time, we used to build up moves and go for the goals. Now, it is all-out attack,” he added.

Experienced Shivendra Singh, the other centre forward in the team, also found the exercise helpful. “Since the Olympic qualifier is drawing close, we are focusing on finishing (off moves). This will require more players to stay up the field,” said Shivendra.

“Every coach has his own ideas. Brasa had a different style, Nobbs has his own. The focus now is on playing aggressively,” said another experienced forward, Tushar Khandekar.

Notwithstanding the stress on attacking hockey, no one can undermine the importance of safeguarding a side's own citadel. “The key for the forwards, midfielders and the defenders is to move cohesively in order to work together and stop the counterattacks,” said Lobo.

Only time will tell how the Indians put all this into practice.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 9:47:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/focusing-on-scoring-from-deflections-and-rebounds/article2879264.ece

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