Thursday, February 22, 2024

Talking Hockey: Has game structure curbed art of dribbling in world game?

Shahbaz M wishes coaches would give more freedom to players to flaunt their stuff

I will forever remember two passages of phenomenal plays took place in the first of the best-of-three Dutch league finals back in May 2019, both by HC Bloemendaal players.

The architect of the first was Jorrit Croon inside the first five minutes. He picked up a loose ball around 30 yards from Kampong’s goal, flicked it up in the air and whilst balancing it on his stick, Croon bulldozed his way past four defenders before beating David Harte in the goal.

His jaw-dropping 3D skills were matched by his Belgian team-mate Arthur van Doren’s hypnotic stick-work later in the game. Van Doren was pushed to a corner by two Kampong forwards, trying to snatch the ball from him. With seemingly nowhere to go, the Belgian dribbled the ball at blinding speed and nutmegged a player to steer clear of danger.

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  1. Would one congratulate a player who blindly dribbles for his own showboating directly into a brick wall? I think the answer is NO. Watching the top clubs and international teams creativity and flair are on show in many forms – the vision to see a defence splitting pass or create an attack that overloads a team from a quick passing movement, should also be recognised as a skill, as is the ability to read the game. Players creating space for themselves and the team off the ball also needs better recognition. The beauty of hockey is that it is not one dimensional if played well. Value all players not just the ones who can do tricks.


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