At practice the other day, I had an opportunity to learn a little more about hitting with the hurley, the stick used in the sport of hurling.
Beyond the simple physics of swinging the bat-like stick at the ball and making it go away, I found myself working the angles of striking as well.
Early in the practice, I was delivering some ground hits to some players as they simulated ball captures during a ground hurling exercise. But as we practiced, a problem soon surfaced. Our practice field is so rutted and patch that ball was bouncing oddly or stopping too short for the exercise to function well. So instead of actually ground-hurling myself, I hit the ball from my hand to give my fellow players a ball worth chasing.
Later on, I was chastised by my coach for not getting the ball skyward enough. In an exact reverse of how I was helping the other players he wanted me to hit with another angle in mind.
Both instances were the result of changing the angles of my swing to help put the ball where I wanted it. Both are useful for hurling and hurling training.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN ANGLE?
When talking about the angle of the hurley, I’m referring to its position at the point where it hits the ball in the zenith of your swing.
Imagine a the most mechanical swing you can: In this “perfect” swing, the flat of the hurley is absolutely perpendicular to the ground.
What I want you to do is consider adjusting that angle so it’s no longer perpendicular. Make it a conscious choice of the angle you’re choosing.
While you typically won’t want to do this in a game, striking the ball with your hurley at an acute angle (less than 90 degrees) will send your ball to the ground. Depending upon the force of your strike, the ball won’t immediately stop dead. Instead, it will bounce down the field.
This type of hit, which I call a “swat” since it hits at a downward angle, can be useful in games occasionally because it’s unexpected. Camogie players, who often do more ground-based hurling, might do this more regularly than hurling players.
More importantly, this is a good hit to use in training because it gives a good erratic bounce that players can then chase down.
Hitting the sliotar (the ball) at an obtuse angle (more than 90 degrees from the ground) is an important thing to master. The angle of the strike, which we can call a “scoop” hit, depends on the height of the hit you want. Higher hits are better for scoring points and efforts to shuttle the ball far down field. More level hits, a “smack” if I may continue to label them, are good for quick passes down the field or blistering shots at the goal.
The thing to remember here is the extreme scooping strike is going to create time for your fellow players. The sheer distance the ball must travel in this high-arcing strike is going to give them time to get under the ball to gain control. Conversely, lower-arcing ball gives players (especially your opponent) less time to react.
And please note: The obtuse angle I’m talking about here is only a few degrees greater than the 90 degree angle. Likewise, a slight upwards motion on your hit is also important.
BEWARE THE BACKSPIN
Be careful though. Too much of an obtuse angle can backfire on you. Instead of making a solid strike, you might just graze it. Your limp whack will cause it to backspin and only travel a few feet.
Even worse you could just miss the ball completely.
I’ve done both in practice and in games, and it’s plenty embarrassing.
YouTube video on hitting tips: http://youtu.be/l93DPGnN0UkRead More