GB Olympian John Shaw says his fears over the backhand/reverse at junior level continue to mount as a leading coach
We know when we play hockey that we play a quick, skilful and exciting game. We also compete in a game that has danger running through it.
Short corners have become a set piece where we allow defenders to put on several pieces of equipment to protect themselves from danger.
Meanwhile, the reverse hit has challenged me massively as a coach. It is exciting to watch the backhand mastered well and also frightening to see it done in a packed D where the player hits it without any regard for the opposition.
Some players have an idea of where it’s going but a lot invariably don’t. I suggest the majority.
So why am I highlighting the issue once more?
It comes from a recognition that at the top level, skills are honed with practice that occurs often. However, most hockey is not top level.
We have rules that are identical from juniors to international. The awareness and competence levels are so different when it comes to defending and attacking in these two parts of the game, while juniors put themselves in very dangerous positions (although they are learning).
Recently, I saw an under-13 girl hit a reverse stick shot just under the crossbar against an opposition that didn’t even see it. It was hit very hard.
I saw it from behind as I was umpiring at the far end. The girls defending did not move as it shot past their heads.
We have already had some very nasty injuries and also deaths in recent years. I feel it’s time to react once again and I ask our governing body to take some genuine responsibility.