How to Intercept the Ball in Field Hockey

Intercepting the ball is the easiest tackle to make and the most effective because you gain possession of the ball on your stick with no immediate opposition. In an interception, you cut off a pass between two players by stealing the ball mid-pass. The only difficult part to this tackle is that you need to pay attention to your timing. If you stand in position too early, the opponents will not pass the ball (as they’ll see you in their path). If you approach the ball too late, the pass will have already been completed.

Strong Stick Interception

The advantage of this tackle is that you intercept the ball on your strong stick. This means that you will have already beaten your two opponents and gained possession of the ball on your strong stick — you can immediately continue forward. If the ball is traveling in front of you from your left and towards your right side, be ready to accelerate and attack the ball as soon as it crosses your body.

  1. Place your hands in the basic grip. Keep the stick low.
  2. As soon as the ball crosses in front of you and is nearing the right side of your body, reach out with your strong stick. Make sure to beat your opponent to the ball!
  3. Receive the ball at the toe of the stick, and continue forward.
  4. Scan for passes.

Hot Tip: Watch Your Opponent

The easiest way to intercept a pass is if you read the visual cues your opponent makes. Generally, she will pass the ball after she looks at her target. So, if the player taking a free hit signals to a teammate by making eye contact, you can safely assume she will pass the ball to that player. In that situation, you want to be ready to intercept the pass by being prepared to sprint into action.

Reverse Stick Interception

You won’t always be able to use your strong stick to intercept passes — you will have to rely on your reverse stick, as well. So when you are preparing to intercept a pass, read your opponent to figure out if she is going to make a flat pass, and to where. If the pass is coming from your right side to your left, use your reverse stick to intercept the ball mid-pass. Like any interception, watch your timing. If you block your opponent’s initial passing lane too early, she’ll be able to easily choose another destination. So, be careful that you don’t put yourself in a hole.

  1. Place your hands in the basic grip and hold the reverse stick.
  2. When the ball is crossing in front of you and is nearing the left side of your body, reach out your stick and receive the ball on the toe of the stick, mid-stride.
  3. Immediately control the ball and pull it to your strong stick to dribble forward.
  4. Scan for passes.

Get Ready…

If you try to intercept the ball too early, the offense will be able to change its tactics. The best time to intercept the ball is after the pass is made, while it’s traveling between your two opponents. As long as you are ready for the tackle and interception, you will be in position.

Once you start the tackle or interception, fully commit. Hesitation is your enemy in these situations. So, have confidence in your defensive abilities and you will catch every opponent off guard every time.

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