Floris Jan Bovelander knows a thing or two about penalty corners and conversions, being one of the pioneering greats of the drag-flick in modern hockey. But the Dutch great isn’t too big on its over-reliance by teams and believes players need to develop additional skills to stay ahead in the scoring game.
“For one, I think one good flicker in a team is not enough, you need at least two or three. Because there are so many interchanges all the time, at least two have to be on top of the circle at any time because then it will be difficult to defend. But the PC defence has evolved a lot, the rushing is way better than what it was so you also need good variations to score,” Mr. Bovelander told The Hindu during the Dutch demolition of Chile here.
The variations need creativity too, according to him. “It’s not just about going left or right and experiment on field. You need to practice them, under pressure, to succeed in matches with least touches because the more stops there are inside the circle, more mistakes are bound to happen – the injector can make it, the stopper can, anyone else can and the mistakes keep adding on and then there will no goal,” he explained.
And despite the pre-eminence of the drag-flick, Mr. Bovelander believes the hit should be used more often, both for variety and as an exhibition of a player’s skills. “You see it in women’s hockey sometimes but not really in men but I think they should hit more. It’s really difficult but it can be effective, specially in variations because as long as the goalkeeper is standing, which most of them do now, you have a chance to score.
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“I don’t know why they don’t do it more but I think it’s also because players cannot really hit. You see it in open play, it’s all sweep shots, they don’t really hit because you need to be able to control and stop the rolling ball and hit on the go. It is a skill going extinct, very slowly, but then again it might come back, specially with the no-water pitches after 2024. It’s a good technique that players should have, I feel,” he insisted.
He also appreciated India coach Graham Reid for trying to bring in an amalgamation of the best of cultures to build a strong team. “Graham, I feel, understands the Indian culture and attitude and retaining that is very important but also brings in some of the Australian discipline. And you need that mix. Like the Dutch, they keep passing and passing and nothing really happens for a long time, they need to be more creative sometimes,” he admitted about his own side despite their current form.
But he still ranks them among the favourites for the World Cup title here. “They are a young side but they are on their way up, Belgium I think are on their way down right now and Australia is always the best so yeah, these teams can go all the way,” he declared.