Penalty corners are frequently given in hockey matches when a defender fouls an attacking player within the 25-yard area. So it is an area that many coaches focus on in training to help the team prepare for this set play.
Practising penalty corners can get a little bit repetitive if you do not try and make drills a bit more fun.
So to keep things fresh and to keep players motivated, here are five fun drills that you can try for taking penalty corners:
1. Injector targets
To improve the accuracy of the injector’s delivery of the ball, you can set up a variety of targets representing players receiving the ball that they need to hit. These targets could be small gates set up with cones, or an object to hit.
You can make it more competitive by keeping score of targets hit from number of attempts.
2. Stick stop and hit
Players line up in pairs on the centre of the edge just outside of the area. The injector plays the ball onto the edge of the area and one player is assigned the role of doing the stick stop and the other is the hitter.
The injector continues to send balls to each pair, with one stopping the ball and the other hitting the ball towards goal. The pair swaps around each time so that they practise both the stopping action and hitting the shot.
3. Set plays to switch to other side
Teams defending a penalty corner can easily break down an obvious tactic such as injector playing the ball to nearest player who then stops ball and their nearby team mate shoots.
So practising moving the ball along to another less obvious player will provide a change in tactic and make it harder for the opposite team to close the ball down.
The drill can either be practised with defenders running out to close the ball down or alternatively you can introduce a countdown to limit the time each side has to react.
4. Set play dummies
Another way to try and hide your tactics from the defenders is to play a dummy.
The player who is expected to stop the ball will actually leave the ball to a player behind them who takes the ball into the circle and then passes to the free player that just dummied the ball.
The receiving player will then either shoot or pass on to an unmarked attacker, depending on how quickly the defence have closed in.
5. Defending penalty corners – goalkeeper drops
It is easy to forget about specific defending drills and concentrate more on attack play but defending penalty corners is a really important part of team training and something that the goalkeeper will need to do to prepare for a game situation.
One drill is for the goalkeeper to lie along the floor as soon as they see the ball about to be hit to make it easier to stop the ball. An example of this is in this Hockey Heroes TV tutorial:
So a practice drill for this would involve the goalkeeper continuously dropping to the floor when shots come in – they will certainly get a good workout in training!