KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 — National women’s hockey coach K. Dharmaraj has urged state coaches to rethink their strategy in order to improve their players’ basic skills after reviewing their performance at the concluded Malaysian Games (Sukma) in Perak.
“Penalty corners are one of the most critical part of the game,” he told Malay Mail.
“Most of the teams in Sukma had bad penalty corner conversions and at the top level learning the proper technique for push-out, stopping, hitting, flicking for short corners is crucial.
“It’s good to learn how to handle the ball and do drills and such but if you want to be a national player — in any country — you must be involved in penalty corner defence and penalty corner attacks.”
Malaysia’s women’s team are going places under Dharmaraj. Seven players are already plying their trade in top tier clubs in Scotland, Italy and Germany.
Two days ago goalkeeper, Farah Ayuni Yahya, joined England’s East Grinstead which boasts Olympic champions and national team captains from around the world.
One of the reasons Farah was offered the stint was her incredible showing at the Commonwealth Games, where Malaysia gave away 12 penalty corners against England but only allowed one conversion.
They had superior defence that day while England couldn’t convert well enough. Malaysia eventually lost 3-0.
Another observation Dharmaraj had of the Sukma teams was that many never used their substitutes.
He said the same players were used for the entire match as teams were desperate to fulfil their targets of winning.
“I think the coaches are not looking at the important part of the game. I feel if the basics aren’t good then do focused drills. For example just do push-out’s from 5.30am till 9am to perfect it,” Dharmaraj suggested.
“Then use the technology available to us in this day and age to better yourselves. I see some teams video reviews and recordings but I’m not sure if they’re using the info in the right way.”
He said when the players were too tired, they could not operate or think at optimum levels.
“It’s not all doom and gloom as there were some promising 15-year-old players I’m going to look at. Hopefully in the next Sukma there will be more girls participating and the quality of play at a higher level.”