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Ball Control-Basic Level

Defined/Explained

"Ball Control" is how well you handle the ball while it is on your rods or in your possession. If you have good ball control, you will rarely drop the ball or let it roll/slip away from you. We are generally talking about un-forced errors or the ability to control the tempo of the game by how well you can keep and juggle the ball.

Purpose

Ball control is VITAL in the respect of not loosing the ball. If you have the ball on your 3-bar and you get nervous then accidentally kick the ball to the goalie, you have just lost an opportunity to score, that is death. On the other side of the spectrum, if you have such wonderful ball control you can tic-tac the ball around and watch how your opponent reacts to what you are doing, you will be able to pass or score at will on him/her. Ball control is clearly the first skill you must master, without it you may as well spin the rods because the ball is of no use to you. Every player of any level of skill will have good ball control. You could never advance in play skill if you keep loosing control of a ball on your men.

Basics

Understanding the foot of the man. Go to a table and stare at the foot, the area where the ball and the man come in contact. Notice the Sides of the man are FLAT and the front/back of the man are ridged, angled, curved and covered with little lines or divots. The tip of the front is rounded and the most difficult part is the outer 4mm of the front and back of the man have a ridge, this alone can cause you to lose control!

Learn to "tic-tac" the ball. The best way to learn ball control is to learn to bounce the ball back and forth. Sounds easy?!? Now do it faster, now slower. Now do it while looking at the next rod over, now the goal, now with your eyes closed. This is like a Zen ninja skill. ADVICE: Do not overcompensate, if the ball is moving a bad direction, gently coax it back to where you want it.

Try to pull and push the ball, don't smack it. While you are tic-tac'ing or when you are setting up for a shot or pass. Think more about pulling, rolling or shoving the ball rather then hitting it. A hit leaves a brief moment of contact with the ball, therefore less directional control. A shove gives you a gentle acceleration of the ball, much more control.

Strategy of Ball Control

Shoot or pass well. Did you know there is a time limit in the rules (sec. 22) to pass or shoot a ball? Let's say you get the ball on your 3-bar and want to shoot it. You only have 15 seconds, if you waste 10 seconds getting the ball ready to shoot, you surely do not want to run out of time so now you have to hurry. And how much good is a hurried shot? How about passing, you only have 10 seconds to pass, if you waste 10 setting it up you are screwed.

Slow adjustments, think about spin, THINK... The ball is a tricky sucker. It wants to slip away. I have watched championship matches worth $10,000 where the score was 4-4 and one player had the ball on the 3-bar ready to score. That player lost control of the ball and coughed it over to the other players 3-bar. That player turned right around a goofed it up and lost it to the other player. Never hit the ball so hard it will leave your control unless you are shooting or passing. Slow deliberate actions are the way. And always be away of any spin on the ball.

Be ready to shoot or pass at any time. If you have complete and confident control of the ball, you will be able to shoot or pass at will. If you don't need to stare at the ball to keep control of it, you can look at the defense and look for holes and weaknesses. Which would you rather be, the player with their eye on the goalie or the one staring at their own men to keep control of the ball? If you feel comfortable, you will play better and be less nervous. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.

Do NOT try to "control" the ball with the front or back of your man. This is a throw back to loose ball control, or vice versa. Use the sides of the men or the toe to control the ball. Do not use the faces, the front and back, you will just lose control. Keep the ball relatively under your rod, not too far back or forward. If it starts to get away, pin the ball with the toe. Do not smack at it with your man.

GOLDEN RULES of Ball Control: 1. Never serve the ball to your opponents 5-bar. 2. Never lose the ball from your 5-bar backwards to the opponents 3-bar and 3. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER Lose the ball from your goalie to the opponents 3-bar. You might as well score a point for them if you do that!

Ball Control-101 will be available soon, for now learn these techniques.