After a long time we hockey fans had some reasons to cheer. India’s world ranking improved to 8th from the 11th position. The team also defeated former world champions germany after a gap of 10 years. One hopes that our team continues to improve and these green shoots of change are not transitory
Lets analyse the main weak points of the Indian national team.
1) Fitness- we just don’t seam to have the stamina to last for the entire 70 minutes. This was recently seen very clearly in our hero world league match against Australia where we scored 3 quick goals but ultimately lost the game by 8-3. Hopefully the reduction of playing time to 60 minutes (4 quarters of 15 minutes) should go in our favor since our players will get more time to recoup. We need a long term perspective plan to increase thee players muscle strength, specially targeting the youngsters.
2) Defence- faults inside the circle in the dying minutes have proved to be India’s nemesis on a regular basis. We need to clearly work more on trapping the ball neatly says Jamie Dwyer, the Australian legend. I myself find the footwork of few burly defenders of our team rather slow.
3) Penalty corner conversion- this is one area which has scene considerable improvement in recent years but still there is a lot of scope for improvement. We do have talented drag flickers like the young Rupindar Pall, Raghunath but I see that our team is not yet confident enough to try some variations which makes it very predictable for the opposite team to defend. As we all know that PC conversion has become a major source of goals, we should work on a long term plan to produce players who can net the ball like a machine gun
4) Clinging to the ball: I see our players hold on to the ball a lot longer than is perhaps necessary. Perhaps this is because as youngsters they have been coached in the Indian philosophy of individual artistry. But this no more helps in the present era of short passes. We need to rectify this and train our players to eject the ball as soon as possible
I will discuss what according to me can be the solution to the crisis in hockey in my next post