How to Sweep the Ball in Field Hockey
The sweep is a type of hit commonly used on turf fields for long passes or shots on goal. This is one of the most accurate hits you can make off the first touch because you don’t stop the ball before hitting it. Instead, you use the force of the incoming ball to send it in a new direction. Also, because the stick doesn’t leave the ground for a backswing or follow-through, there is very little chance of missing the ball when striking it on the first touch.
This guide will teach you how to complete the sweep hit so you can take quick shots and make long passes anywhere on the field.
You can use the sweep anytime during the game, but it is best used for shots on goal and long passes up the field. Since you do not need to stop the ball before hitting it, make sure to position your body correctly so that you can strike the ball off the pass. You will need to step towards the ball so you can receive it off your back foot or in the middle of your body. The closer the ball is to your back foot, the more power you will get out of the sweep.
Focus on getting low to the ground and shifting your weight as you hit it to get the maximum power out of the sweep.
- Place your hands in either the basic grip or double-v grip.
- Stand perpendicular to your target (the outside of your left foot and shoulder facing the target). Bend your knees and keep your back straight.
- Bring the stick back for the backswing and place the back edge of the stick on the ground. As you swing forward, get low enough that the shaft of the stick is horizontal on the ground.
- Sweep the stick forward from your back foot to your front foot. As you sweep, turn your hips and shoulders towards the target and shift your weight to your front foot.
- Make contact with the ball on the shaft of the stick (just above the toe) on the first touch and continue sweeping through the ball.
- Follow through by bringing the stick forward along the ground.
Shots on Goal
Since the sweep hit redirects the ball off the first touch, it is similar to a deflection shot. So, it is important to recognize when to use the deflection shot, and when to use the sweep shot.
Deflections are used to redirect an initial shot on goal by placing your stick in the ball’s path and redirecting it towards the goal. The initial shot should be powerful enough that you do not need to add any additional force for the redirection — you simply stick your stick out. Deflections are also mainly used to redirect shots from the top of the circle.
With sweep hits, you can redirect a ball anywhere on the field. You can redirect a pass made from the end line, inside of the circle, or anywhere else between the side lines. Sweep hits are also used if a pass is coming in too slow to just deflect it. Needless to say, it is important to recognize when to use the sweep shot, and when to deflect it. Below are a few situations where you’d benefit with the sweep:
- The ball is passed flat to the middle of the shooting circle.
- A pass is made from the end line to the penalty stroke.
- A slow shot is taken from the top of the shooting circle to the back post.
- A shot is taken from at least five yards away from the goal.
Hot Tip: Step to the Ball
If the ball is passed slowly to you, step towards it! If you wait for the ball to come to you to take the perfect shot, it will never happen. So, make sure to run towards the ball and position yourself where you can take a one-touch shot on goal. If you’re aggressive enough to always move to a slower pass — rather than waiting for it to come to you — you can win every 50-50 ball before the other team intercepts it.
For most passes, you will generally use a push pass. However, there are a few situations that call for a sweep pass:
- When you need to make a pass quickly
- When you want to make a long pass up the field
- When you need to make a long pass across the field
- When you need to switch the field
The benefit of using a sweep for a pass is that you can beat your opponent by passing the ball on the first touch. This pass will also give you more power than the conventional push, so you can pass the ball further and more powerfully.
However, there is a disadvantage to this pass, as well. If you use the sweep to make a pass, you need to be completely aware of the field (where the open space is) and where players are positioned before making the pass. You won’t have time to look up and assess your options when sweeping the ball on the first-touch. So, know ahead of time where you want to pass the ball. As soon as the ball comes to you, you should already know where you want to send it.
The sweep is perfect for turf play because it gives you more power than a push and more accuracy than a slap or hit. You can make quick, accurate passes, and take one-touch shots on goal. So next time you have an open shot in front of the goal, instead of taking a huge backswing to shoot the ball, give it a quick sweep. It is not as flashy, but you’ll get more touches, shots, and goals for your team!