If you have ever watched a field hockey game or participated in the sport, you know that field hockey is a fast-paced game requiring a certain level of precision, speed, and skill. One of the essential field hockey skills to acquire is the ability to master a wide range of hits that the sport has to offer. Each hit is used at a specific time and for a particular purpose.
A long hit in field hockey is classified as a type of free hit awarded from a penalty. It is also known as a corner hit or a long corner. A long hit, also referred to as a drive, can be a technique employed when a player wishes to take a hit into the goal, clear the ball in a defensive move, or make a long pass.
Learning how to take a long hit is one of the most challenging techniques to master, requiring a solid understanding of the proper positioning and dedicated practice. We can further understand the long hit in hockey by taking a closer look at when to use a long hit and how to use it. We can also explore some of the other hits and techniques in field hockey.
The term “long hit” in hockey may sound a bit ambiguous, and it can be. However, those most familiar with field hockey terminology will know the term “long hit” is often used interchangeably with the term long corner and corner hit.
There are two corners in field hockey: the long corner and the short (penalty) corner. A long hit falls under the free hit category, and a free hit is awarded in field hockey when the opposing team commits a foul. The free hit is taken as close to the violation area as possible (source).
The primary situation you are required to take a long hit in is when your team is awarded a free hit. This occurs when the team’s defender or goalie unintentionally pushes the ball across the backline.
The game restarts with a long corner, which the player takes from an area on the backline or sideline. This area must be within 5 yards from the corner flag and closest to the point at which the ball crossed out of bounds.
The opposing team must then stay no less than five yards away until the ball is hit or touched (source). Once the player has hit the ball, they may not touch it again until another member of their team or the opposing team has played it.
The ball may be lifted off the ground slightly if it is done so unintentionally and in a way that doesn’t endanger any of the other players on the field.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) no longer uses long corner marks. Instead, they take the long hit from the 25-yard line closest to where the ball went out (source).
If the foul occurs within the defence’s own scoring circle, you may be required to take a Penalty Corner. If you want to read more about free hits in field hockey, then check out this article that explains the use of free hits in field hockey.
As well as being classified as a free hit, long hits are also now generally considered in field hockey to be a method of driving the ball down the field.
The long hit as a free hit has a very limited application, as it can only really be employed when the ball is passed unintentionally out of the scoring circle. When using the term more broadly, the long hit technique has evolved and is now employed by field hockey players in other areas of the game.
As the long hit is one of the most powerful moves, it is a vital technique to master. There are three additional instances in field hockey where you would be required to take a long hit, as outlined below. Players can use it as both a defensive move as well as an attacking one.
The first situation you would need to take a long hit is when you are shooting for the goal. This is because you need a hit that will give you the most power and speed. When you are taking a shot at the goal, you are on the attack, and you need to drive the ball as hard as you possibly can.
The second situation in which you may need to drive the ball is if you are playing in a defensive position such as sweeper. By taking a long hit, you can clear the ball out of your goal area, thus preventing the other team from scoring.
The third instance in which you will use the long hit technique is to pass the ball across a considerable distance. If one of your teammates is on the other side of the field and they are the only ones free, you may decide to try and get the ball to them.
Because you are crossing such a distance, you need a highspeed ball that won’t be easily stopped or intercepted. As such, the long hit gives you the speed you need to get the ball all the way across the hockey field.
Taking a shot at the goal, clearing the ball, making a long pass, or taking a free hit are the four primary instances in which you would use a long hit. However, there may be several additional instances where you are required to drive the ball, so you should learn to use the proper technique (source).
As with all field hockey techniques, there is a right way and a wrong way to take a hit. When preparing to take a long hit, you need to make sure that you are in the correct position and that you follow through with the ball.
The long hit is similar to a drive shot in golf, so you will see that your body’s positioning will almost mirror the golfing technique. It is essential to remember that, in field hockey, only the flat face and the stick’s edge are used.
Here are five steps to master the long drive technique.
Place your feet together, making sure that the ball is directly in front of you and only a couple of feet forward.
The standard hand positioning for most field hockey moves is to have your left hand at the top of the stick with the right hand halfway down the stick (source).
However, for long hits, the positioning is slightly different. Move your hands toward the end of the hockey stick and grip it tightly. Your hands should be quite close together. Think of the hand position as being similar to holding a baseball bat.
Once you have placed your feet together and are tightly gripping the end of the hockey stick, bend your knees, and then shift your weight onto your back leg.
With your knees bent as you place weight on the back leg, take your hockey stick back until it’s in line with your waist. Ensure that the hockey stick’s face is forward and that the toe is pointing straight upwards.
By this step, you are ready to hit the ball, so you need to take a single step towards the ball and then swing the stick. It’s essential to make sure the toe of the stick hits at the lowest point of the swing.
Make sure that you always:
- Keep your head down and follow through with the ball.
- Control the hit as much as possible.
- Keep the swing smooth.
- Try to hit the bottom half of the ball.
In addition to the long hit, there are four other hit techniques you can master in field hockey. These are the slap hit, sweep, push passes, flicks, and scoops (source).
A slap is a versatile hit in hockey that can be used without adjusting your hand position. A slap is considered more challenging than a push and is often employed when the player takes a shot at the goal.
To perform the slap-hit, you need to keep your hands apart with your left hand at the top of the stick as your right hand is halfway down the grip. Your backswing must be flat and relatively short. Remember to keep your hockey stick parallel with the ground.
Slaps require the player to play lower to the ground. Due to the lower nature of the shot, there is not as much room to swing, so a slap’s follow-through is not as long as it is with a long hit.
A sweep in field hockey is a mighty move. It is used in the same instances as a long hit and has become a very popular move on the field. These are two types of sweeps in field hockey: a forehand sweep and a reverse sweep.
The forehand sweep is more potent than a push pass, and it is excellent to use when the player wants to make a long pass over a short period.
To sweep the ball, the player’s hands must both be on the top of the stick. You’ll need to bring your body low to the ground, and the hockey stick must be kept parallel to the ground and swung in a circular, sweeping motion.
In this move, the stick’s flat side is used as the point of impact instead of the head. The trick with a sweep is to rotate the body and continue the rotation to increase the shot’s power.
The reverse sweep requires the same motion as the forehand sweep. However, the ball must be on the left side of the player. The hockey stick must be positioned with the flat face pointing up.
Push passes are probably the most commonly used technique in field hockey apart from dribbling. When performing a push pass, the player does not use their backswing. Instead, the stick remains in constant contact with the ball. It is pushed as opposed to hitting.
Push passes are great because they give the player complete control over the ball. It also allows for quick and extremely accurate passes. Push passes can be used to shoot at the goal; however, they are only recommended up to a distance of about 50 feet.
To master the push pass, your hands need to be about a ruler’s distance apart. Also, ensure that your feet are apart and that your knees are bent; your back foot should be in line with the ball. Shift weight to your front foot while keeping the hockey stick and ball in contact.
Remember to keep your knees bent and keep low, ensuring you have more control over the ball.
A flick is also known as a lift or aerial shot. When a player performs a flick, there is no backswing, and the ball is lifted into the air while staying in contact with the head of the stick.
A player may want to use the flick technique if they are taking a shot at goal or getting the ball over a great distance. You need to be careful when employing this method too enthusiastically. Elevated balls can be ruled unsafe by umpires depending on their height.
The flick technique involves the player getting their bodies low to the ground. The player must lean on their right leg and twist their right arm and wrist back. The ball must be in line with the top of the player’s left foot, while the hockey stick’s face must be against the ball in a slightly upward-facing position.
A drag flick is a technique that you will often see used by professional players. It is a trick that takes both time and hard work to learn and master.
While the name suggests it is a flick, it is considered to be a push. The drag-flick is most often employed on a penalty corner or when the player takes a penalty shot from the top of the scoring circle.
Unlike with a long hit, a drag flick does not require the player to take a backswing. Instead, the player uses a powerful push that launches the ball at the opposition.
To become a true field hockey master, there are some tips that you should follow closely. These will improve your overall game and set you on your path to becoming a world-class field hockey player.
Head’s Down; you need to keep your head down. Your head position is one of the most important factors when determining the success of a long hit. Always keep your head down until you have hit the ball and look up only after the follow-through.
Field hockey is a physically demanding game, so you need to keep your fitness level up at all times. Practice your sprints and even add in some strength and endurance training.
For long hits, you need to achieve upper-body strength and work on your core strength to possess enough power to hit the ball.
Just like in golf, the long hit requires you to rotate your hips while remaining steady. There are stretches and exercises you can do, which will teach you how to safely rotate your hips, allowing you a full range of motion.
To achieve the perfect long hit, you need to ensure that your body weight is transferring forward and not backward. You need to use your body weight to put power behind your long hit.
A long hit requires a strong backward swing followed by a forward swing known as the “follow-through.” Remember not to lift the stick above your head and to keep your eye on the ball.
Knowing how to take a long hit means knowing how to handle a hockey stick and its relationship with the ball, So be sure to practice your drills.
So it’s a good idea to practice your hockey drills whenever you get the opportunity. Routines include dribbling around cones as well as other stick tricks. It’s also crucial to practice your long hits, stops, and tackles.
It’s always important to become familiar with the conditions before you play a game as well as make sure you have warmed up enough that your hand-eye coordination is on point — an excellent way to run through various coordination exercises, including bouncing the hockey ball on your stick.
The long hit is one of the most powerful moves in hockey. Remember that with great power comes great responsibility.
Remember not to lift your hockey stick too high, don’t cause the ball to lift dangerously, and hit into a free space to avoid injury to another player.
As a field hockey player or someone wishing to learn field hockey, mastering techniques such as the long hit are crucial. To understand and enjoy the game, you need to take the time to practice the right stick and body positioning, as these will ensure that you have the right foundation.
Given time and practice, you will undoubtedly learn all the tips and tricks you need to become an accomplished field hockey player.