(Last Updated on : 18/02/2012)
Hockey tactics are essential to play the game effectively. The crucial methods by which the ball can be moved around the field are known as; dribble, push, flick, scoop, hit, drive and pull. The crucial method by which the ball is moved by players around the field are; "dribble"- where the player runs with the ball and controlling and pushing the ball with the hockey stick and runs with the ball. The "push" is process by which a player pushes a ball. The "scoop" and "flick" are somewhat similar to the push but with an extra wrist action to force the stick through at an angle and lift the ball off the ground; and the "hit", where a back lift is taken and contact with the ball is made quite forcefully. In case of making stronger hit, usually for travel a long distance, the stick is raised at higher and also swung at the ball, known as "drive". The tackles are also made by placing the stick into path of ball. In order to improve the effectiveness of tackle, players need to place the stick horizontally close to ground, thus representing wider barrier. To avoid tackle, the ball carrier will either pass the ball to team-mate using any of push, hit or flick, or even attempt to move or "pull" the ball around the tackle, trying to trick the tackier.
While manoeuvring and passing between players, there are certain commands or terms that are used to make sure understanding of movement and plays among team-mates. Although these terms may vary between teams and players, from country to country, but there are few standards terms. By calling "straight" or "through" the ball is passed straight ahead to another player. "Square" or "flat" signifies a pass made to left or right of players with the ball at 90 degree angle. Passes that are made backward sporadically signify by a call of "drop". A hit made forward at an angle is recognized as "up".
In the recent times, the penalty corner has also gained significance as a crucial part of the game as a potential goal scoring possibility. Especially with the popularization and advent of drag flick, penalty corners are greatly sought after. Some important tactics or set plays used involved the aforesaid drag flick, the straight hit, deflections towards goal, and a range of more multifaceted plays, using passes before shots at goal.
At the international level, the game of hockey is a fast paced game that required great skills- with hard hits, accurate passing and maximum ball possession. The physical fitness is also very crucial. As the game mainly consists body contacts so proper protections has to be undertaken in order to prevent injury. Some of the tactics used are similar to football, but with greater speed - the best players manoeuvre and score almost quicker than the eye can see.