In this mellow winter nothing better than talking about the most beautiful event of this period, (no, it’s not Christmas) the indoor hockey season and the importance of this variant for player development.
Allowed me to start with some facts: some weeks ago, Germany U21 won the Junior World Cup for the 6th time (!!) in history; the senior German national team won since 2000; 2 Olympic Gold medals, 2 World Cups, 2 European Cups (besides a Bronze medal and a Silver World medal), at club level a German team had won 3 times the most important European tournament in the last years and besides this enormous outdoor achievements, Germany have been also dominating the indoor scene either in club and nation competitions winning almost every tournament they participate.
Some might refer to this period like I heard recently just as an ‘hype’, others can blame an outstanding generation of players that was raised within the last 20 years in the country, while others can fairly mention factors like the traditional psychological endurance, athletics or a very strong national youth system to justify the permanent capacity not only to perform at the highest level of the sport but to present year after year new worldwide talents.
If countries like Netherlands, Australia or England have similar conditions or even a bigger number of athletes pool why aren’t they achieving similar success?
Although the path previously referred is obviously a sum of a variety of complementary factors I believe that a very important part of the German successful pattern lies in their strongly involvement with Indoor hockey.
Worldwide, hockey nations use the winter months to rest from the outdoor competition allowing players to compete in indoor format, to keep their fitness in an acceptable level and having some contact with ball until the second half of the outdoor season restarts, there is also the case that some national teams use this period for test matches and few international players prefer to skip indoor competition to have some rest or do some physical recovery.
Nevertheless, Germany uses and promotes indoor hockey as a sport inside the sport, having a larger competition time and ‘investing’ in training, coaching and also promotion: weekend after weekend, indoor matches have hundreds of (paying) spectators eager to watch a fast, technical, exciting game!
(Although it is important to remark that unlike the majority it is common that clubs in Germany have their own indoor hall.)
That ‘bet’ or ‘culture’ in this variant is in my opinion, the detail that brought Germany to the very top of the game in a sustained way supported by an enhanced style of player; skill developed, tactically irreproachable and with a predominantly effective decision making.
Why indoor hockey improves your game?
– More contact with the ball – improves ball tension;
– Appropriate push passing technique both statically and in progressive situations;
– Fake passing/elimination skills;
– Specific hockey mobility and enhancement of the main physical areas due to a more permanent need of a ‘lower’ body playing style;
– Swift and reactive dynamics;
– Indian dribbling style mostly due to a better stick/body angle to the ball and also because of a better stick movement towards (close shape in diagonal) and proximity to the ball which increases speed of contact and change of ball direction;
– Defense – Engaging, blocking, channeling, 1×2, 2×3, re-positioning (counter control), ball protection, etc;
– Attack – dribbling skills in tiny spaces, passing criteria, 1-2 situations, counter attack, scoring positioning in a smaller space, ball protection, etc;
– Decision making in smaller areas, etc,etc…
While ago I have tweeted that: ‘Philosophically speaking, indoor hockey shows no mercy for your weaknesses or mistakes, is a sharp, edgy and purist game!’
I truly believe that besides the technical and tactical benefits, the elements that are referred in the Tweet above make indoor hockey it such a special game. Therefore I regret that is so neglected by international and national governing bodies.
*As a quick note and since the current hot topic about indoor hockey is the new rule of 5X5 instead of the old format of 6X6 would like to state that among others the intent to create more space for individual actions promoting a more skill related and therefore exciting to watch game and the need to create similarities with other (more recognizable/famous) indoor sports seems logic and fair to me, nonetheless I would state as a member of the ‘community’ and professional that everything that aims for a improvement and growth of the game is surely welcome but we must be careful and sensitive with the way trials of rules or specifications are implemented or tried because it is necessary to create not only a standardization of the rules in different levels, ages and competitions but also consistency otherwise is even more difficult to fixate and attract new members to this amazing family!
Happy and healthy 2014!