Shooting Drills for Field Hockey
The shooting drills outlined in this guide will help you build an attacking offense. These specific field hockey drills will teach your players how to shoot under pressure, scoop up rebounds, and capitalize on deflection opportunities. Part of building a scoring offense is developing your players' shooting confidence. These drills are designed to teach them the knowledge they’ll need to be fearless in taking shots from anywhere in the circle!
Scoring Under Pressure
Most players get nervous when they feel a defender on their back marking them. This drill is designed to apply pressure to the shooter so she can develop her confidence in taking shots when covered.
This drill involves one player passing the ball to another player who is positioned inside the circle (the player inside the circle also has a defender marking her). The player receiving the ball must make a quick decision on how to beat the defender and accurately shoot the ball. To set up this drill, you will need to place your players around and inside the circle to give the shooter a sense of pressure:
- Position an offensive player anywhere inside the circle.
- Position a defender inside the circle to guard the offensive player.
- Place the goalie in the goal.
- Line up the rest of the team at the top of the circle.
- The defensive player marks the offensive player man-to-man inside the circle. The offensive player will try to draw the defensive player towards the outside of the circle by cutting wide. This will help create space in front of the goal.
- The offensive player will call for the ball when she is ready. The first player in line at the top of the circle will be waiting to pass her the ball.
- Once the offensive player receives the pass, she must take a reverse stick shot or turn and dodge her opponent for a straight shot.
- After she takes the first shot, the player who passed her the ball can enter the circle and pick up the rebound or pass with her partner to score.
- The play ends once the ball is put in the goal, played out of the circle by the defender, or hit over the end line. The next player in line at the top of the circle becomes the offensive player inside the circle, and the player after her will be the passer. The defender and goalie remain the same.
Your players need to focus on shooting angles, capitalizing on the rebounds, and drawing the defender outside and away from the goal.
Most goals are not long shots from the top of the circle; they are scrappy goals scored in a scramble in front of the goal. This drill will teach your players how to stay calm in the chaos. It focuses on picking up the rebounds and taking quick, accurate shots on goal.
This drill involves three players at a time: The goalie and two offensive players. One player will toss the ball randomly to the other. The second player, after receiving the ball, will immediately take a quick shot on goal. The setup is simple and revolves around the shooting circle:
- The goalie starts in the goal.
- One offensive player sets up near the P-flick mark.
- The second offensive player sets up at the top of the circle. This player will toss in the balls.
- The player at the top of the circle tosses 10 random balls (one at a time) to the player taking the shot (positioned at the P-flick mark). These passes should be as random as possible: High, bouncing, fast, slow, to the right, to the left, etc.
- The player taking the shots must reposition herself to take the fastest shot on goal with each toss. The shot must be a one-touch shot; she will be given no time to set up the ball. If the ball is tossed to the left, for example, the shooter must take a reverse stick shot.
- The goalie will defend the shots and the shooter is allowed two rebound opportunities.
The shooters need to focus on taking quick, accurate shots on goal. Large backswings and hard hits are discouraged in this drill. The focus is to create a fast pace in a chaotic situation, where the player must reposition herself quickly to take one-touch shots on goal.
Deflection shots can be some of the prettiest goals to watch because their unpredictability makes them almost impossible for the goalie to stop. This drill will help your players learn the proper body and stick positioning for deflections. There are three main teaching points to this drill:
- Keep the gut to the goal: Keep the stomach facing the goal.
- Have a strong, still stick: Do not swing at the ball.
- Angle the stick: Redirect the ball into the goal by angling the stick.
The entire team is involved in this drill. The players will line up in four lines, positioned behind cones set up near the goal. The first players in each line work together in each round. They’ll move to the back of the line, alternating between lines, when their round is over:
- Split your team up into four groups.
- Set four cones up in a semi-circle in front of the goal. Set down the first cone about five yards away from the end line and the first goal post. The second cone should be set down at about 45 degrees between the end line and the top of the circle, lined up with a goal post. The third cone will also be set up at about 45 degrees from the end line, but lined up with the other goal post. The final cone will be placed in line with the first cone, five yards away from the end line and the second goal post. Each of the four groups will line up behind a cone.
- One player is positioned at the top of the circle.
- A goalie stands in the goal.
- The shooter (the player at the top of the circle) signals for the first players in each of the four lines to start running towards the goal before she shoots the ball. The two players positioned closest to the posts run towards the posts, and the players positioned further run in front of the goalie (near her pads). The players must run with their guts towards the goal, keeping their sticks angled on the ground with the toe of the stick pointed towards the goal.
- The shooter takes a hard shot on goal. This can be aimed at the goalie, posts, or outside the posts, but it must stay between the lines of players.
- One of the four players must touch (deflect) the ball before it gets to the goalie.
- After the goal is scored or the ball is hit over the end line, repeat the drill with four new players.
Focus on having your players get a touch on the ball before the goalie can clear it. This drill reflects the positions of the offense along the circle during a short corner. On a short corner, these players would be responsible for getting deflection shots off the hitter's initial shot.
Pick up the Intensity
Some players need a competitive incentive to perform at their best. You can add challenges to each drill to make it more fun. For example, you can make the drill a game to five. When a player scores, the offensive team gets a point. When the goalie makes a save, the defensive team gets a point. The first to five wins, and the losers must do some type of conditioning exercise.
Making the drill a game increases the intensity and simulates more of a game-like situation. This often gives the players the motivation to increase their intensity and they will learn more from the drill.