The Art of Pressing

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Jerome, Sep 9, 2017.

  1. Jerome

    Jerome FHF Top Player

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    The press as a way to defend and opposition attack in hockey has been around now for a long time, and ever since the removal of the off-side rule has become even more a vital piece of any coach and teams tactic's and strategy. However in recent years we have seen it shift from simply a defensive tactic or strategy to both a attacking and defensive tactic or strategy. An if you watched the most recent European Field Hockey Championships, I think the great Alyson Annan Coach of the Netherland's may have just moved pressing to the next level again.



    So what are the different types of basic presses in field hockey well there is-



    1. Full Press

    2. Half field press

    3. 3/4 Field press



    Each of these has its advantages and its disadvantages, and the good teams and coaches use different combinations of these basic presses, based on what the opposition might be doing. So what do I feel are three advantages and disadvantages of each of these basic presses.



    Full Press: Advantages


    - You can control the hole field and shut down the space out of the oppositions defence.

    - You can force your opposition into the part of the field which maximises your chances to force a turnover.

    - You can apply pressure to the full-backs forcing them to make a mistake on there 16 yard hits causing a turnover.



    Full Press: Disadvantages


    - It stretches your team opening up potential gaps across the field.

    - If there is no communication from the lines behind the lines in front will potentially fail to pick up the movement of the opposition play and the balls.

    - If the opposition can get in behind your front line with a good quick pass then the press will break down and you become exposed to the fast break.



    _________________________________________________________________________________



    Half Press Advantages


    - You close down the space in a much tighter way in your defensive half of the field.

    - Your teams lines are much closer together thus better for communication and making sure that all lines and space are covered.

    - You can see the oppositions defensive half in-front of you and judge the potential openings for a fast break should you force a turnover.



    Half Press Disadvantages


    - If the front line of the half court press breaks down or moves to attack the ball to early this will more often than not force a break down of your team structure.

    - It doesn't put any pressure on your opposition in there defensive half allowing them time to get control of the ball and set up there attacking play.

    - It can set a negative tone for the game for your team which can be hard to break even when you successfully force a turnover.



    _________________________________________________________________________________



    3/4 Field Press Advantages


    - The 3/4 press gives you the advantage of still being able to see the opposition area in front of you.

    - This gives you the time and the change to intercept any full-back 16 yard hits that are hit straight up the field.

    - It gives the front lines of the press the flexibility to pivot around and force the opposition into the areas of the field you want them to go into which maximise the chances of a turnover.



    3/4 Field Press Disadvantages



    - Again it stretches your team and means you may not be able to close the space down across the hole field.

    - It allows the opposition the ability to get our of there defensive 25 without any real pressure on them, and allows them the room to switch the play.

    - If the front line break down then it will expose you to a fast break.



    _________________________________________________________________________________



    Pressing like any other tactic or strategy used has its draw-backs and its risks, so as a Hockey Coach what do I think is the best pressing approach, well I think you need to have a combination of everything to be successful. You need to be able to read what your opposition is doing where their weaknesses are and then apply a press that best suits that.



    I personally use a very very aggressive press which is designed to force the play, force the opposition, cause confusion in the opposition and lead to turn-over after turn-over and eventually the entire break down of the oppositions structure. Now this is what most of my teams use the majority of the time-



    [​IMG]



    Now this is like I say very aggressive, and its not something that every single team could execute as it requires two key things-



    1. High level of fitness

    2. High level of skill, patience and procision



    The idea with this press is that you are happy to let the defence have the back pass that is fine, and the front line or up-side down mushroom cap as it has been coined by a couple of my teams, is there two place doubt in the mind of the defence and jump on anything shaky or poorly executed from the opposition.



    As I always say as I take my teams through this, this press is high risk yes, but there is massively high reward if you get it right. Over the time I have been using this I have watched teams-



    - Hit the ball over the side-lines and face our attack rather than try to break it up.

    - Hit the ball over the back-line and face a penalty corner again rather than try to break out of it.



    I have on countless occasions watched opposition defence lose there confidence and change there minds mid hit, and my teams on many occasions have pinned the opposition right back into there defensive 25.



    With this press that is when as a Coach you know it is really working.



    An while I cant lay claim to come up with this press in its original form, that rest with a good friend of mine and Coach from Victoria Mitch Dickin, I can say that I have further developed and tweaked it and continue to do so. I do believe its the next Quantum leap in field hockey pressing at International level, and hope one day I will be able to put it to work at that level.
     
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  2. SugarRayParlour

    SugarRayParlour FHF Newbie

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    Jerome,

    At international level (in fact, at most levels above reserve grade), the vast majority of teams - male and female - have players that are perfectly comfortable transferring the ball around the back with real pace, and have players who are not only capable, but highly willing, to carry the ball out from the back. Placing 5 players around the 16 yard hit isn't 'high risk', or 'aggressive', it's downright suicide.

    It seems to rely on two things: the oppo playing with 3 at the back - far from a given - and the first defender immediately playing the ball backwards around the back. If the bloke starting on the ball has even a half decent overhead on him or her, they will eliminate your front 5 in one fell swoop, and it's now a 7 v 5 into your own goal with an attacking overload. Often, a major aim of pressing is to force the oppo into playing passes into areas of the field they'd rather not pass into - i.e. to their left half under pressure, or directly into the middle of midfield. With your 'press', the oppo are two passes away from their LH having a 1v1 with your own RH.

    I have a few questions: what exactly is the function of starting with 5 players around the first ball? Doesn't that leave the oppo's entire midfield unmarked? How many times have you seen teams playing at a good level 'hit the ball over the side-lines'?
     
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  3. JE87

    JE87 FHF Starter

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    I'm guessing they wouldn't be THAT tight on the pitch - but how you've drawn it, it looks like as said by @SugarRayParlour that one decent ball over the top and it's eliminated 5 players. If you're happy for them to pass backwards, why have the RW so aggressive? Surely with good ball pace there is no way any of those players will get across in time to put real pressure on, so the left defender has time and space to do what they like.

    Also have no idea what the LW is defending here...

    Agree above, this would be crazy at international level. Even 3rd league in Europe, if not lower!!
     
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  4. Nij

    Nij FHF All Time Great

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    I umpire the top two local grades. There are players in the second that would throw the 15MH to the far 23ML, and that's without the press diagrammed. You've just eliminated half your defence for them, well done!
    If they did decide to go backward, that ball is completely switched and heading up the far sideline in 6 seconds. The RB will be facing a 2v1 about 10 seconds after the free hit, and the press still has eight players outside their own half. Again, self-eliminating defences.

    Those teams who do use an aggressive press will never send more than two-to-one, and will immediately retract the extra player when the ball has left their zone. At best it's four players against the entire back three, and rarely is any single defender totally unmarked as it appears they are here.

    Even a remotely coherent team several divisions down from the top will beat this press 9 out of 10, just by thunking it through the screen. The best you're hoping here is that your opponent can't play hockey and doesn't knock someone out by raising the hit. You've gone beyond high risk play and into negligence.

    TLDR: results come in spite of this press, not because of it.
     
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  5. Mick Mason

    Mick Mason FHF Top Player

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    Yep, in every team I have played in or coached a wing who was marking the sideline like that would next be marking the drink bottles, it has about the same effect on play.
     
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  6. Jerome

    Jerome FHF Top Player

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    Thank-you for your comments, but I wont be engaging in an argument or addressing them.

    By all means say it doesn't work, that fine with me it doesn't actually worry me.
     
  7. Nij

    Nij FHF All Time Great

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    What's the point in posting an "article" on a forum if you don't want to engage with others?
    Stick them on a blog somewhere and leave this space for sensible discussion.
     
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  8. Ravennghorde

    Ravennghorde FHF All Time Great

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    It's like a 4 move checkmate, only works if the opposition cooperates with you.
     
  9. Ravennghorde

    Ravennghorde FHF All Time Great

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    You posted in a discussion forum so man up and discuss. Several people have pointed out why they don't think it will work. Are they wrong? How are they wrong?

    I currently have the impression that you coach some clueless U14s. Dispel that impression.
     
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  10. Jerome

    Jerome FHF Top Player

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    Actually I posted in as at Article under the Training & Coaching Section of the forum not as a discussion. Oh and I actually dont have to justify a dam thing to you and I wont be.
     
  11. Ravennghorde

    Ravennghorde FHF All Time Great

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  12. MKochar

    MKochar FHF Legend

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    Some good examples and talk throughs of presses there, with some good detail.

    For people commenting, remember that any press is only good in theory, the execution is the bugger, all it needs is a missed tackle, or a person 5yds too deep/high or too far left/right and the whole press breaks down.

    To add to the list, you have a high split press. You also have the sideline press. You can also have a halfway box-in press.

    *PERSONALLY*
    That white board press seems overly aggressive, and has the front 5 within 15yds of each other. Should they get it out, your midfield are absolutely screwed as they wont know whether to engage the ball carrier, or stay marking.
     
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  13. Nij

    Nij FHF All Time Great

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    I feel you missed out a handful of o_O with a flourish of :confused: and maybe a :rolleyes: to cap it off, there. Otherwise well said, couldn't think of a better response.
     
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  14. peterwins

    peterwins FHF Legend

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    @MKochar could you give a brief description of the three additional preses you mention?
     
  15. MKochar

    MKochar FHF Legend

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    I actually dont have to justify a dam thing to you and I wont be.

    :p:p:p:p:p:p:p;);););););)
     
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  16. ArbyJames

    ArbyJames FHF Regular Player

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    Welcome back Jerome. You've been missed.
     
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  17. peterwins

    peterwins FHF Legend

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    Answer A: Cries a quiet tear and retreats in ignorance to his distant outpost of the field hockey world.
    Answer B: come on, Mani. Help a fellow hockey nut out and share a little of your knowledge. Being outside the hockey mainstream in the USA, we often use different terms or are behind on some concepts. My request was a genuine attempt to learn. Pretty please:)
     
  18. MKochar

    MKochar FHF Legend

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    high split press.
    Used a lot by international teams, but essentially sending a Centre Forward high during active play and the oppo deep defenders have it, denying them to pass the ball between themselves. Once high runner has gotten inbetween these players, it forces the full back to dribble out. This essentially splits the pitch lengthways from penalty spot to penalty spot. the job of the centre forward is to deny the ball going across from L>R or R>L across this imaginary split. Essentially its easier to defend a pitch 30 yds wide, than 60.

    sideline press.
    Used from a 16yd hit, position the forwards in such a way that is starves a right half or left half of the ball, and pushes the ball where you (the defence) want it to go. Often used by allowing ball to the left half, leaving an open channel down the sideline as his/her only passing outlet, they take this option, but the defence know this, and once the pass is executed, they step into that 'free' wing space and intercept.

    halfway box-in press.
    Can be used as a kind of half court press, but allows the oppo to get into a space, around the haflway and usually within 5 yds of the touchline. All of a sudden all forward space and options have been denied, the defender turns around for their easy outlet/transfer through the remainder of the back4, only to find that the defence has arched round and now that option has disappeared too. Think of a scorpion tail going from flat to bent!

    These are just principles of strategies, how they are executed, and in what formation is down to local taste.
    Hope that helps.
     
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  19. peterwins

    peterwins FHF Legend

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    @MKochar
    Perfect. Thank you very much. 1 and 2 are familiar, but 3 is new to me and I love the scorpion's tail image. Very descriptive and memorable

    I owe you one. Thanks again
     
  20. reversechop

    reversechop FHF Regular Player

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    @MKochar so, on the halfway box-in press, do you have your forwards creeping up and round once the ball gets to a certain area (near halfway for instance)?
    Do you try to get the opposition to move to one side in particular, similar to your sideline press?
    I'm very intrigued by this tactic, sounds like it could be very effective in my league.
     

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