Beginner’s Guide to Hockey

 

We recently had the opportunity to chat to SA Hockey player Quanita Bobbs about why she loves hockey and where you can go to get training in this fast-growing sport.

How did you first get into hockey?

I grew up next to the hockey field. My dad is part of Central Hockey Club. From the age of 10, I would go with him to the hockey club everyday Saturday to watch the senior teams play. Watching them grew my love for the game and eventually, I joined the club as a player.

Why are you passionate about hockey?

It is a beautiful game. You can never get bored of playing hockey. It will always challenge you as a player, and I think that’s what I like about it the most. Ever since I picked up the stick something just felt right, and I knew this was my sport.

What are you doing at the moment?

Currently, I am back home from a season in England. I play for Central Hockey Club and give private coaching sessions to young hockey players through Enhanced Sports. I also have a national selection camp coming up for the Hockey World League we are hosting in Johannesburg from the 8 to 23 July.

If someone has never played hockey before, when is a good time to start?

Hockey is a sport for all ages, from the youth systems to master’s level. I would recommend starting at a young age, as you pick up and learn good habits early on in your hockey career; however, in saying this it’s never too late to learn or start anything, so I would encourage anyone to join a club and play hockey no matter what level you are at.

If I’m at primary school level, where should I go if my school doesn’t offer hockey as a sport?

You should join a hockey club that has a good youth system. When I was in primary school I played for my school and for a club. I think participating in both will greatly improve your hockey, as club hockey has good, experienced coaches. Another benefit of joining a hockey club is that you can watch senior teams play, this way you can learn by just watching players older and better than you.

What kind of equipment will I need?

You will need a hockey stick, hockey boots with relatively good grip and protection, shin pads and a gum shield. I would recommend that you own your own hockey ball, so when you at home you can knock the ball around when you have nothing else to do and practise your skills.

How fit should I be?

Hockey is a physically demanding sport, as it requires high intensity sprinting for long periods. I would say that you need to have a good base level of endurance and then develop your speed endurance and agility over time.

How will I know which position is the right position for me?

Hockey has evolved immensely since I started playing. Playing a fixed position as a central midfielder when I was in school to playing striker, defender and other midfielder positions as the dynamics of the game have changed. Hockey has developed into total hockey, so I would recommend developing skills that can help you in all areas of the field as well as having knowledge of what every role or position on the field requires – this way you will never feel uncomfortable. 

How often will I need to practice before I become good?

Hockey is a very technical sport, so I would recommend you train two to three times a week. With at least one technical session a week working on basics such as passing skills, receiving skills and shooting drills.

What is the key hockey terms I’ll need to grasp?

Hockey is quite similar to soccer, so general terms such as “square pass” or “through ball” would be the most common. In hockey, you get free hits, penalty corners and penalty flicks.

You have certain rules such as the 5-metre rule on free hits (defending and attacking) as well as the ball is not allowed to touch your feet or the back of your hockey stick.

How or where do I go to join a beginner hockey club?

In the Western Cape region there are many clubs you could join; personally, I would recommend joining Central Hockey Club. They have the best youth system for kids. They have coaches that are passionate about the development of their players. The staff and players of the club are extremely welcoming and friendly. I would also recommend joining the Enhanced Sports super skills clinic, where you have a day of training with different kids and various hockey coaches of all ages and experience. The Enhanced Sports clinics are always good fun and are for all hockey abilities. Enhanced Sports presently run clinics in Cape Town and Gauteng

National

SA Hockey Association

Pro Series Hockey

SA Schools Hockey

Actions Sports Hockey

Gauteng

Southern Gauteng Hockey Association

The Wanderers Club

KwaZulu-Natal

Munies Hockey Club

Quanita Bobbs is not sponsored by Olympic International.