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The Secret to Successful Winter Hockey...Head Indoors.
Having just started a 6-week indoor hockey academy with Guildford Hockey Club, I often wonder why so many outdoor players dismiss the indoor game. If we only trained for the exact sports we played, we wouldn't produce well-rounded athletes and the same applies within a sport, if we only train to play eleven aside hockey we miss the benefits of small sided, small pitch games.
I am convinced that the crossover has enormous benefits, and having run the first few sessions, I saw as much development in 75 minutes as I'd expect from hours of outdoor hockey. I also believe we all enjoy hockey more when we can feel our hands and aren't soaking from the rain(!)
So, if you haven't previously held indoor hockey in high regard, here are nine reasons why you could be missing out…
1.Lots of touches
There is no substitute for touches in a competitive environment. Being only 6-a-side, you are likely to get well over double the amount of touches in an hour of training.
2. Highlights basic skills
Because you cannot lift the ball, indoor hockey highlights a player's ability to trap and pass the ball flat. This basic skill is often undervalued in outdoor hockey and kids always want to do 3D skills, backhand shots and hit the ball in the air.
3.Lots of 'crucial moment' plays
Perhaps the most important and my personal favourite. Because the D's cover 50% of the court, you are always faced with pressure plays that result in you scoring or conceding a goal. Developing the composure and confidence in young players is vital for developing their game.
The magic art of defending and closing down. It's amazing what adding a big indoor glove and no hitting will do to your body position. They will close down and get low which transitions particularly well to a forward closing down a defender outdoors. The lowness and body position is also crucial when wanting to put everything into a powerful push/flick shot. Take a look at some of the finishes in the video later on!
"Get creative, find space, share facilities and head indoors this year and every year!
5. Improves the ability to make first time plays
The key to unlocking a tight indoor defence. Often the gaps close very fast, and the ability to manipulate the ball first time is a crucial skill developed indoors. The number of chances I see go begging outdoors because the forward takes their stick off the ball is ridiculous.
6. Encourages passing
The other part to unlocking the defence. Defenders are so good at stopping you dribbling past 2 or 3 players that it forces you look for the early pass. The cliché coaching phrase 'the ball moves faster than the players' is prevalent indoor where one pass can bypass the whole opposition.
7. Improves quickness of thought
Having the ability to pass the ball 10 metres off the board is easy. Seeing that pass before you receive the ball is another thing. Indoor teaches you to have a mental picture of where everyone is on the court at all time. The best players are able to do this outdoors, but only counting 10 indoors is a good place to start.
8.Keep players warm!
It may sound stupid, but is 5 degrees with driving rain really the best learning environment?
9. It's fun
Potentially the most important! One of the most played games around the world is 5 a side football…. This is the hockey equivalent.
For anyone that is sceptical on the conversion of indoor to outdoor, I would urge you to watch the following highlights...If any forwards I coach took their chances like this, I would be delighted!