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Leading hockey coach backs reverse stick debate at junior level

By Richard Bright

Another leading coach has added weight to the debate over the dangers in junior hockey as calls grow for a summit to discuss the reverse stick rule.

Former GB coach Jon Royce says that ‘mismatches’ in skill at junior level becoming too dangerous for the modern game.

It follows GB Olympian John Shaw’s comments to THP that the reverse stick was effectively a ‘coconut shy’ for the next fatality in the sport.

“The problem on a junior pitch particularly is that you have players of vastly different standards,” said Royce, a coach at Brighton and Hove HC.

“The reverse stick [rule] came in without any feeling for the consequences in the sport. Everyone has to go to work on Monday morning. No one wants to go to hospital. It’s just plain dangerous.”

Shaw’s concerns at grass roots level are such that he believes the only way to stem danger would be for coaches to air their views with England Hockey.

The national governing body told THP that it would be open to a meeting, but it stressed the need for clubs to  report all injuries to its monitoring service first.

A statement said: “With the best possible information over a sustained period of time, we can then engage in informed conversations around safety in the sport, and make informed decisions.”

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Calls to look into the reverse stick seem plausible given that the rule – unlike the penalty corner – has never been looked into properly by the FIH.

Royce added: “Why did hockey introduce the backhand hit? I can only guess it was to increase the goals scored and make the game more understandable and accessible to play on the forehand and backhand.”

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