How to Take a 16-yard Hit in Field Hockey

The goal of a 16-yard hit is to get the ball out of your team’s defensive zone and to create counter-attack opportunities up the field. To receive a 16-yard hit, the other team has to hit the ball over the end line in your defensive zone. When this happens, your team re-gains possession of the ball and, if you’re the hitter, you want to be prepared to strategically push it up the field. This guide will explain what a 16-yard hit is, as well as a few strategies to get the ball out of your defensive zone.

Basics of the 16-yard Hit

A 16-yard hit is a free hit awarded to the defending team when the attacking team hits the ball over the end line. This hit is almost always taken by a defensive player, but it can be taken by any player on the team. The ball is placed 16-yards away from where it crossed over the end line. The standard rules for a free hit apply for a 16-yard hit.

Read our guide, “How to Take Offensive Free Hits in Field Hockey,” for more information on the rules for free hits.

The Cardinal Rule

The most important thing to remember when taking a 16-yard hit is to never hit the ball to the middle of the field. When on defense, you always want to move the ball away from the middle and towards the sidelines. If you hit the ball to the middle of the field and it gets intercepted by an opponent, she can easily bring it back into the zone to score.

How to Take the Hit

You do not have to take a full hit on a 16-yard hit; don’t ever feel pressured to slam the ball down the field to your offense. You can also choose to dribble, push, slap, or pass the ball. In fact, hitting the ball is generally not always the best option. In certain situations, a better play would be to pass the ball to a teammate on the sidelines, and then support her as she advances the ball up the field.

Hot Tip: Take Quick Hits

The time it takes you to set up and take the free hit should be short. The faster you take the hit, the less time your opponents have to set up their defense. Quick hits also help build momentum for your team.

Advanced Strategies

One of the more advanced strategies on 16-yard hits is to work the ball up the side of the field in threes — three players working together to form a triangle, using flat and through passes to move the ball around their opponents. Check out our guide, “How to Use Triangle Passing in Field Hockey,” for more information on this type of passing.

Another common strategy is to switch the ball around the back (passing the ball back before crossing it across the field). You generally never want to cross the ball in front of the defensive goal — except in this situation. There are three essential elements needed to successfully switch the ball:

  • The opposing team needs to be at least five yards away from the player taking the hit.
  • The player taking the hit must pass the ball back to another player to cross the ball (this will create more space between the defense and the opposing team).
  • The player hitting the ball across the field must be able to make accurate, hard hits.

To switch the ball around the back, follow these three steps:

  1. The player taking the 16-yard hit will pass the ball back (towards her goal) about five yards to a nearby defender.
  2. The defender receiving the pass will trap the ball, and then hit it directly across the field to the opposite sideline.
  3. The defender on the other side of the field will receive the ball, and then play it up that side of the field.

Get the Ball Rolling

Get the momentum going for your team by using the strategies listed above. On a 16-yard hit, your goal is to advance the ball up the field into your team’s attacking zone.

Work on the basics — quick hits, aiming towards the sidelines, and using short passes instead of big hits — before moving on to the more advanced strategies. If you use these simple techniques when taking 16-yard hits, your team will be successful getting the ball out of your zone.

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