Playing defense in hurling

Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Skill development

Playing the defensive positions in hurling — the center fullbacks and the cornerbacks — is an art in of itself.

A look at the positions of the 15 hurling players for each team. The goalkeeper, fullback and cornerbacks have the fewest opportunities to score points or goals.

Unlike practically every other position in the game, these players rarely have a chance to score. Instead, they shine when the score against them is low. There job is to keep the sliotar out of the net and assist the goalkeeper in moving the ball down the field.

GOAL SIDE: Positionally, these players should constantly strive to remain “goal side.” That is they must work to drop themselves between their mark and the goal. Anytime the mark moves closer or nearer, these players should do their best to block the view of the goal. Often times, the goalkeeper, who has the best view of the field will yell out reminders to his defensive players to keep this position.

READY TO HOOK: Though its not always possible, these players should also try to keep themselves in a position that lets them hook (lift up) their mark’s hurley in the middle of the swing. Such an action will disrupt the swing and likely make it impossible for them to hit the ball accurately. The best place to be for a hook is behind them and on their dominant hand side. Note that it’s still better to be goal side than it is in a hooking position.

SPACE FILLER: Good goalkeepers will constantly be scrambling for the ball, even if it’s the play is not in the goalkeeper’s square. When the goalkeepers are on the move, the fullback or the cornerback should fade into the goal area and defend the scoring station. Unless something seriously goes wrong, the backs will only be there for a few moments, but while they are they must try to block any shots that might come in. If everything works properly, they won’t face any, but it always pays to have insurance.

CLEAR OUT: On the most basic level, the job of every defensive player is to keep the ball away from the goal area. Don’t let goals in. Don’t let points in. The best way to do this is to get control of the ball and blast it down the field. Even if there’s no one open, just send it down the field and let the other players sort it out. Sure, in an ideal world you can knock it to your midfielders, but that’s far less important than getting it away and giving the defense time to access and adjust their strategies. Clearing out the ball gives you time.

Here’s a good drill for pick-ups and defenders.

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