Hockey

Good defence does not mean scoring fewer goals: Kavanagh

Roadmap: Fergus Kavanagh, who is conducting a week-long camp for the team’s defenders, has three main target areas: tackling, marking and intercepting.

Roadmap: Fergus Kavanagh, who is conducting a week-long camp for the team’s defenders, has three main target areas: tackling, marking and intercepting.  

‘When I was with the Australian teams, we scored a lot of goals by defending very well’

Fergus Kavanagh was part of a golden era in Australian hockey, when the Kookaburras lifted successive World Cups, won the Champions Trophy five years in a row, and secured two Olympic bronze medals. Key to that success, the 34-year-old believes, was the team’s ability to defend as a unit.

Imparting lessons

This week, Kavanagh will attempt to impart some of those lessons to India’s defenders as the National men’s camp resumes at the SAI here. The former Australia defender has been invited by Hockey India to spend seven days with the squad as Chief Coach Graham Reid attempts to drill his philosophy of ‘collective defending’ into the players.

“I’m trying to convey to the midfielders and strikers how important defence is,” Kavanagh said here on Tuesday. “Indian hockey is known for being all about scoring goals and flair. I’d also like it to be known for great defence. Good defence does not mean scoring fewer goals or taking something away from the attacking side.

“Actually, if you have a good defensive team, you will create more scoring opportunities. That’s what I saw when I was with the Australian teams. We scored a lot of goals by defending very well.”

Target areas

Kavanagh has three main target areas at this week-long camp: tackling, marking and intercepting. Consistency, he insists, is vital.

“These players have great hand-eye co-ordination and skills with the ball; it’s just about helping them develop their skills without the ball,” he said.

“We see quite a few players who are good in their tackling. Some of the younger players are a bit more raw: they might make one or two good tackles but then they fall away with their level. We want to make sure they are more consistent.”

It was important, Kavanagh stated, for attacking players to take pride in their defensive duties and not treat it like drudgery.

“It’s about changing the mindset, from thinking that defense is a negative thing to taking pride in defending well,” he said.

“When we won the 2014 World Cup, the player of the tournament was Mark Knowles, our free central defender. That tells you how important defence is in major tournaments. If you defend well, you can compete for a medal.”

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 2:08:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/good-defence-does-not-mean-scoring-fewer-goals-kavanagh/article28334830.ece

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