How to Bully in Field Hockey

Bullies are not very common in field hockey nowadays. They used to be used to start the game at the center line, but now they are only used to re-start a match after play has been stopped. You might be wondering what a bully is. A bully is a faceoff between two opposing players on the field; they go head-to-head with one another in hopes of winning the ball for their team.

From the procedures for taking the bully to how to win the ball, this field hockey guide will cover everything you need to know about the bully.

When is a Bully Awarded?

Bullies are awarded to re-start a match after time or play has been stopped for an injury. It can also be called for any occurrence where the time is stopped, but no penalty occurred. Basically, if neither team is responsible for the stopped time, the referee will call a bully.

The Procedure for Taking the Bully

The procedure for taking a bully is quite simple. But surprisingly, most beginning and intermediate players do not know how to take one properly!

  1. Place the ball near its location when the time was stopped. The exception to this rule is if the ball was within 16 yards of the end line; in this case it must be placed outside of the 16-yard area. The referee will help you place the ball in the right spot.
  2. One player from each team is chosen to take the bully. The players will face each other in such a way that each player’s defending goal is to her right. The ball will start between them. All remaining players must stand at least five yards away from the ball.
  3. Both players start with their sticks on the ground and to the right of the ball. When the referee signals to start play, both players will then tap the flat faces of their sticks together (in unison) once over the ball. After the first tap, the players are permitted to play the ball.

Strategies for Success

Generally, the players taking the bully should have well-developed stick skills. If you are taking the bully, focus on gaining possession of the ball as soon as you tap sticks. To complete a bully quickly and effectively, follow the strategies listed below:

  1. Start with your stick on the ground.
  2. At the referee’s signal, tap your stick against your opponent’s stick one time.
  3. Then, quickly turn your stick to the reverse stick and place it behind the ball.
  4. Pull the ball to your right (the strong side of your body).
  5. After you have pulled the ball to your right, there are two things you can do:
    • Pull the ball hard and turn the pull into a reverse stick pass. One of your teammates should be positioned directly to your right, ready to receive the ball.
    • Gain control of the ball on your strong side and either pass forward (to a teammate) or carry (dribble) the ball wide.

Make your choice depending on the situation. If you have an open player near you, it is better to pass the ball off quickly. Then, work with that player to create a give-and-go situation (two versus one). Also, be aware that your opponent starts within a stick’s distance from you. So if you carry the ball, know that you will be marked closely.

If you lose the faceoff, your goal should be to steal the ball from your opponent. If she chooses to dribble the ball, channel her wide and jab at the ball. You can also throw in a block tackle if she attempts to move forward and past you. If she passes the ball, you want to mark the new player who gains possession, channel (force) her wide, and cut off the pass between the new player and the original bullier.

Getting Out of the Block Tackle

A common mistake beginners make is that they both try to move the ball forward (past their opponent), instead of pulling the ball back and gaining possession. The result of this sloppy play is that both players get themselves into a stalemate. Both girls will block tackle (keep their sticks on the ground to block the ball) and squeeze the ball between the two sticks with nowhere to go.

If this situation happens, follow the steps listed below to get out of it:

  1. Pull your stick along the ground towards your body.
  2. Capture the ball in the hook of your stick.
  3. Continue pulling the ball towards you.
  4. Turn your stick into the reverse stick and pull the ball to your right side.
  5. Gain control of the ball with your strong stick.

With this escape, you can do two things. You can try to pass the ball through your opponent’s legs to a teammate. Or, you can complete the steps covered in Strategies for Success (above) to dribble the ball or make a flat or through pass to a teammate.

Hot Tip: Watch Out for Hacking

Beginners often make the mistake of trying hit the ball and end up hacking at the other player’s stick. Don’t do this! Hacking will result in a free hit for the team that was fouled. Make sure you are always going for the ball, not the other player’s stick. If you use the techniques described above, you won’t get called for hacking.

Don’t be a Bully!

Winning the bully is just like winning a 50-50 ball. You and your opponent have an equal opportunity for success. So, develop your bullying skills by practicing in your spare time — just grab a partner and work on your technique.

Understanding the rules will help you tremendously. Remember, after the first tap, go for the ball! Don’t waste your time bringing the stick back down to the ground. Quick movements and developed skills will give you the advantage in winning the bully. Don’t be a bully, but work on your bullying!

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