One of the oldest sayings in all of sports is "defense wins championships;" get your team ready to go with these field hockey defensive exercises. In field hockey, as with almost every other sport, there will be days when a few errant shots just miss the goal or the ball doesn't bounce your way. Consistent defense, however, will be reliable week in and week out and will always give your field hockey team a shot at the win. The following field hockey defensive exercises can help improve players of all levels.
- Playing the Passing Lanes. Divide your players into two teams. You can use any number of players so long as the two teams are equal. Designate one team on offense and one team on defense. The team on offense must make at least four passes before attempting a shot on goal. If the defense is able to get a takeaway, they switch to offense under the same four pass minimum. Goalies are optional for this field hockey defensive exercise.
- Zone Defense. Designate an offensive team and a defensive team. The offense should have more numbers than the defense, you can do three versus two, four versus three, or six versus four. The offense has creative freedom to do whatever they want; the primary objective of this field hockey defensive exercise is to train defenders in a mismatch situation in which they have to play zone to deny penetration and a shot on goal. While a goalie is optional, it is recommended that you have one to work with the defense in this situation. Since players are defending a zone rather than an individual player, communication is important to ensure the defense is working cohesively to prevent any holes from opening up.
- Outlet Passing. For this field hockey defensive exercise, the defense will be on offense and vice versa. You will have two teams of two players. The defender closest to the goal will try to outlet the field hockey ball to a teammate, who will be covered by two attackers. This exercise is designed to teach players on both sides of the ball what to do in lieu of a defensive stop.
- One on One. Your players will probably enjoy this field hockey defensive exercise the most of any on our list. One player is on offense and one player is on defense. If the attacker gets a shot on goal or the defender gets a takeaway, the roles switch. Include your goalie so he may get some extra repetitions.