Coach Shiv Jagday: how to maintain the possession of the ball in a confined space under pressure?


In order to maintain the possession of the ball in a confined space under pressure in the Right Defensive Quadrant (RDQ), the first thing to do is to create an atmosphere of mutual understanding – with the opposing forwards, which has a tinge of fear, to facilitate the execution of intimidation tactics when needed. Just the way the forwards have done, in a game situation, where they are executing a Tomahawk in the opponent’s circle to take a shot on the goal. Hardly any defender comes near them with the fear of getting hurt. Do the defenders come closer in the range of the swing to stop and discourage them from taking a shot? 9 out of 10 times they don’t. In the same way, defenders with the ball have to make it absolutely clear that they are in charge here? Don’t cross this fine line or bear the consequences.

What not to do? Avoid teaching the young players to spin in a circle as soon as one is put under pressure by an opponent forward. Trying to over protect the ball in fear of losing it, as this also minimizes their quality in positive passing and offensive options. First develop these skills in isolation, training in specific game situation, so the players know when and where to apply them.

For example: Right Full back or Right Half caught with the ball on the corner of the RDQ. How to hold the ball for few seconds so your teammates may come to support you or lead away to create space, time, quality passing and receiving options.

How will these 3 steps help?

  1. Improve players ball control, especially possession skills under pressure.
  2. Develop awareness of how to use their personal space, invested space.
  3. The importance of elegant footwork.
  4. Learn how to take calculated risks to burn the opponents.

Common strategic errors to avoid:

  • Avoid – Unnecessary- running with the ball towards the opponent forward with speed, who is puttingpressure. Why jump in to the hungry roaring lions open mouth.
  • Why go with the ball to the person who has come to steal it from you, in your own defensive quadrant. The strategy and mind set has to be different. Saying to yourself, I have the ball and I am in no rush to just throw it away, resulting in a turnover. Or dribbling directly to the opponent. Let them come and make the first move. It is my ball and nobody can steal it from me.

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By Pablo Mendoza

Pablo Mendoza is an FIH Hockey Academy Educator and the owner of A Hockey World. Contact: