‘Slapping in every occasion?’ by Arseni Sañe

The experienced Catalonian coach Arseni Sañe (Terrassa, 1970)  share his vision about the misuse of passing techniques in the youth stages, particularly in Spain.

Arseni has build a solid career as a player of the first team and coach of several youth teams in Atlètic Terrassa Hockey Club, current superstars like Santi Freixa or Roc Oliva have started to play under Arseni’s instructions.

Currently working as Technical Coordinator in the Illuro Hockey Club, coaching Vallès DHB (second men’s  team of Atlètic Terrassa) and collaborating with the Catalan Federation of Hockey.

Arseni

How many times we go wrong in choosing correctly? Certainly in countless occasions…

During a hockey match every action is a decision to make.

Sometimes decisions are without possession of the ball: going to press or not, should I place myself to the right or to the left, make this move or not…

There are also several decisions involving the possession of the ball and I would like to discuss the use of different passing techniques or rather the misuse.

Currently in Spain, in a educational level we are giving less attention on teaching some of the passing techniques that are being wrongly replaced by the common known by the name of “Slap” and as I am for some years to this point monitoring the development of this technique would dare to do an analogy with an’ invasive species’ that eliminates the fauna of a country.

The famous ‘slap’ has suddenly become the ideal technique for everything and for all ages.

We gave so much emphasis to this technique that virtually eliminated the use of others widely used before.

The arrival of new materials has facilitated  the use of the ‘slap’ and although it is important to mention that it is a technique that allows great precision and power but precisely because of that does not fit every situation of the game.

First things first: a quick review about passing techniques.

To start we can designate passing techniques with the hands together or with the hands separated.

With separate hands the push and slap-shot. Two techniques for short distances with precision and high speed and that also allow shooting at the goal, still with hands apart we have the flick/scoop, totally different than the previously mentioned and with very special characteristics.

Then there are some options for hands together like hitting or slapping, in forehand or reverse, two passing and shooting techniques with different characteristics to be applied depending on the space context, speed and power required.

With all this variety of options the difficulty is to choose the right technique at each time.

We can say that for a short distance the use of the push or slap-shot will be the most adequate, for a medium range the ‘slap’ and for a greater distance hitting or flicking the seem to be the appropriate options.

This can be an easy criteria to follow for adult person but in development ages we see that children do not use the techniques correctly.

If we also analyze the matches in the youth competition, we can realize the progression of the ‘slapping’ almost as an unique or exclusive technique.

Here in Spain the competition in the early youth starts in fields of 3 × 3 and 5 × 5 where there is practically only push and some ‘slapping’. These are age categories where there is also a lot of driving and less passing.

In an older stage the fields of 7 × 7 (children with 11/12 years old)  and 9 × 9 (children with 13/14 years old) for me the key moment where coaches should strive to teach all the passing techniques as otherwise children tend to only use of the slapping as it seems to be the easiest option for them.

It is not unreasonable to say that in the age of 11/12 years old you notice that a player can virtually do everything using the slapping, since building up from the back to shoot on goal.

Isn’t it strange that such children (with 12 years) in England can hit perfectly? Could it be because as they play always in normal 11 × 11 fields, they have the need of a long passing technique? That brings an obvious conclusion that that the field size influences the use of techniques and therefore it must be our duty as coaches to teach the appropriate techniques to apply at appropriate moments and distances.

As a youth trainer myself it hurts to see a pass from 2m to a team-mate or a shot at goal from the edge of the circle with a slap.

The slapping is a perfect passing technique that offers power, accuracy and security and it can be used very often but not massively or exclusively in a hockey game.

Arseni Sañe (@arsenihockey)

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