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How to Hit the Ball in Field Hockey

The hit, commonly known as the “drive,” is one of the most powerful shots you use in field hockey. Off the stick, a ball can reach speeds up to 100 miles per hour! Drives are commonly used on grass surfaces because it takes force to hit through the thickness of grass. They are also used for short corner shots on goal. Because the ball travels so fast, a drive is very hard for a goalie to defend against.

Drives are also used on defense to clear the ball out of the defensive circle and to hit it up the field to an open teammate. This guide will teach you the two basic hits: The clip hit and drive. Master these and your ball will be unstoppable on the field.

Drive (Hit)

A hit is very versatile. Drives are used to make the most powerful passes, and are also used to advance balls long distances up the field. Driving the ball is commonly used for free hits, as well. On offense, drives are typically taken to take shots and to cross the ball by switching fields. These hits are also used on defense to clear the ball.

  1. Place your hands together in the double v grip at the top of the stick.
  2. Your left foot should be pointed towards your target. Your body (and back foot) should be perpendicular to your target (left shoulder facing the target) or slightly open towards the right of your target.
  3. Position the ball in line with your front foot.
  4. Bend your knees and get low. Keep your head still and level.
  5. Step towards the ball with your left foot. As you stride forward, bend your right knee and let it sink low to the ground.
  6. As you are stepping forward, bring the stick back, cock your wrists, and do not raise it above your shoulder.
  7. Swing across your body and through the ball. Shift your weight from your back foot to your front foot.
  8. After striking the ball continue your swing until the stick is level with your hips.
    • For immediate feedback on your swing, stop your follow-through as soon as the stick reaches your waist and make sure the toe of the stick is pointing at the target.

Clip Hit

The clip hit is a quicker hit than the full drive. You achieve the quickness by moving your hands further down the stick’s handle to create a shorter backswing. The clip hit is popular for quick shots on goal because it gives you both power and accuracy. Because of the short backswing, it takes less time to take the hit and provides more precision for the hitter. Lastly, clip hits are generally taken during action — the hitter will not come to a complete stop to take the hit.

  1. During the dribble, slide your left hand down the grip to meet the right hand. Your hands will settle into the short-handle grip.
  2. Bend your knees and get low. Keep your head still and level.
  3. Your left foot should be pointed towards your target. Your body (and back foot) should be perpendicular to your target (left shoulder facing the target) or slightly open towards the right of your target.
  4. The ball should be in line with your front foot at contact.
  5. Bring the stick back for a short, vertical backswing (cock your wrists).
  6. Swing forward and across your body. Make contact on the bottom of the shaft and snap your wrists when you strike the ball.
  7. During your swing, shift your weight from your back foot to your front foot. Turn your hips and shoulders to face your target.
    • Remember, you don’t come to a complete stop for a clip hit. So, this step will naturally coincide with a forward stride.
  8. Follow through by continuing your swing through the ball until the stick is level with your waist.
  9. Where the toe points on the follow-through is where the ball will travel.
Hot Tip: High Stick

There is no official rule that mandates the precise height allowed for a backswing or follow-through. But, the general rule states that a player must not play the ball in a dangerous way. So, if you swing the stick too high or miss the ball (resulting in a high follow-through), the referee may call a dangerous play, resulting in a high stick penalty against you. So, make sure you hit the ball every time and pay attention to the height of your backswing. It’s best to keep your backswing and follow-through below your waist.

Corrections

If the ball keeps going in the wrong direction or you’re not getting any power out of your hits, you may be making a simple mistake. Listed below are common mistakes made during hits, and suggestions on how to fix them:

  • The ball goes in the wrong direction: Pay attention to where the toe of the stick points during the follow-through. If the toe does not point to your target, your feet may be in the wrong position (your left foot wasn’t pointed toward the target, for example). Or, you may be gripping the stick incorrectly. Please see iSport’s guide “How to Hold a Field Hockey Stick,” for in-depth information on the short-handle grip and double v grip. Try correcting either one until the toe of the stick successfully points at your target.
  • You are popping the ball in the air: You may be hitting the bottom of the ball at contact. This is generally caused by leaning back when you hit the ball. Try standing over the ball and looking at it throughout the entire hit. This will keep your center of balance over the ball, not behind it.
  • The ball travels to the right or left: You may be gripping the stick incorrectly. When you make contact, the bottom of the stick’s shaft should be hitting the ball straight on — not at an angle. If your stick is angled to the right or left, the hit will not be accurate.
  • Your hits lack power: You may be hitting the ball with the toe of the stick instead of the bottom of the shaft. Pay attention to where the ball makes contact with the stick. Another possibility may be that you are leaving space between your hands. Make sure both of your hands are together in the double v grip — if you leave any space between them your hit will have less power. You may also be using your arms to hit the ball rather than your whole body. Make sure you are shifting your weight and turning your hips — power comes from your core, not your arms.

Keep the Ball Down

Although four is a golf term, when new players are learning how to hit, the ball is often lifted into the air — just like a golf ball. So, always wear your mouth guard and be prepared to duck in certain situations.

Driving is one of the most exciting hits to make, especially as a beginning player. You get to hit the ball as hard as you can down the field. One thing to remember is that hitting the ball with proper technique will always give you more power than pure, brute force. It will also make hitting easier. So, practice these techniques and you will be on your way to having the hardest hits on your team.

Want to take a hard shot on goal or send a long ball up the field? This field hockey guide will teach you the hardest hits in hockey: The clip hit and drive.
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