Center back is one of the most important positions in field hockey. You are the last line of defense before the goalie. It is also one of the hardest positions to play. This article will show you how you can improve your game play.
Stay in position. You should always be the last player before the goalie. Never let the opposition get past you. The only exception is to intercept a long pass—but be make sure that you get it!
Don't always try to win the ball in a one-on-one situation. Stall the player, even if it means giving away a free hit. If you do try and take on the player, channel him/her onto one side of you (left is easier to jab tackle, but right is easier to block). Fake jab tackles help to get the opponent's head down, where you can then lay your stick flat in a block tackle to turn them over.
Listen to what your goalie tells you. They will have a better view of the pitch and make sure that your left and right backs don't get too high or too deep.
Never tackle when flatfooted. Always turn your body one way or the other (also called channelling). That way, if the opponent tries to chuck the ball and run, you can turn faster and get the ball.
Always clear the ball out the side's straightaway. Do not try to dribble out of the D or hit it down the middle, as you will get tackled, or the ball will be picked up by the opposition in a dangerous place.
- If you are in a two-on-one situation against two attackers, create a foul to stall them and let your teammates come and help. It is your best option.
- Run around a player's left side when intercepting a pass. This is easier.
- Never give up if player skills you. Keep fighting.
- Give short sharp passes and play possession hockey. Don't give away easy balls.
- To stop a player that is more skilful or faster that you use surprise to your advantage. Tackle them as soon as they get the ball, or don't let them get the ball. Mark them like a permanent marker.
- The element of surprise is best. Confuse your opponent by screaming random stuff in their face. 'Ball! Ball! Ball!' is the most common annoying quote. Beware of getting called for a foul though.
- At the starting point, do whatever the centre tells you, it will take pressure off them and be able to pass, but be ready for the pass!
- Hide behind opposition players, so that their teammates think the long ball is good. Intercept it when it comes.
- From a 16 yard (14.6 m) hit get a midfielder or sweeper to come close as another option to pass. Always look for your left or right backs. If none of these three are on you could try an aerial (older players) or a longer pass. Longer passes are high risk but are also high reward. Slapping is the best way to take a free hit.
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