Before starting any sports practice or game, you must make sure to run a thorough warm-up that gets players both physically and mentally ready to play. A good warm-up routine includes both a cardiovascular component such as running and a series of stretches that highlight the muscles used most during the sport in question.
The following field hockey warm-up drills are an excellent addition to any warm-up routine since they emphasize the basic skills of the game while getting the joints moving and the blood flowing to avoid later injury.
One thing I’ve noticed in my years of coaching field hockey is that players hate running laps. So at our field hockey practices we’ve replaced running laps with a 5-minute long version of freeze tag. Tag is an excellent way to get players running around while keeping their minds more active than if they were simply running laps around the field.
After the cardiovascular section of your warm-up is completed, it is time for the stretching. I like to start off with head rolls and neck stretches and make my way down. If you have no experience leading a stretching routine, don’t hesitate to contact other coaches or a certified yoga instruction for some guidance on which stretches are not to be missed for your field hockey team.
Hits and Misses
Once you’ve finished stretching your team’s muscles, it is time to begin the field hockey warm-up drills. When selecting drills for your warm-up, look for simple drills that emphasize the basic skills of the game without pushing players too far–save that for the conditioning drills!
The first warm-up drill I like to use at my field hockey practices is a basic hitting drill, since the hit is hockey’s most basic and useful skill. For this hitting drill, I divide my team into partners and have them stand facing each other 10 feet apart to start off with.
When running this and all other warm-up drills, the emphasis is on perfect form. For example, when hitting it is important to make sure the player’s hands are firmly together near the top of the stick. Use the hands and wrists to bring the stick backwards, and the goal should be to hit the lower half of the ball when the stick is brought back down. Don’t forget to follow though with the stick after the hit is completed. Another thing to remember is to keep the feet parallel to the direction you want the ball to go.
I have my players hit back and forth for 2 minutes at this distance, then I blow my whistle and have each player back up one giant step, repeating this process two more times before moving on to the next drill.
Push Pass Perfection
The next of the field hockey warm-up drills focuses on the push pass, which is a better way than hitting for moving the ball over large distances. Using the same partners as before, have your players stand anywhere from 20 to 40 feet apart and push pass to each other.
The form of the push pass differs slightly from that of the hit. For the push pass, players are to place their left hand near the top of the stick with the right hand further down. Keeping their eye on the ball with their knees bent, players are to shift their weight from the back foot to the front as contact is made with the ball. As with the hit, make sure to follow through completely. The follow through is complete when the stick is pointing towards the direction of the pass.