Tackling From The Left -
Too Dangerous And Scary

by Shiv Jagday



During the opening minutes of the first match of the first day between Belgium and Malaysia, a sad incident occurred.  The Belgium striker ALEXANDRE De CHAFFOY was tackling the Malaysian defender from the left and got his leg fractured. 
The Belgium team lost both its most dangerous striker and this key match due to the fatal mistake on the part of both players involved.  It was disturbing to see Alexandre on crutches or in a wheelchair for the rest of the Tournament. 
This is not what hockey is all about. 


In the key pool match between Canada and Malaysia, the Canadian right winger Chris Gifford, got his left hand fractured in the opening minutes.  Like the Belgium forward, Chris was tackling the Malaysian defender from the left.  Chris did not play the remaining matches against, India, Spain and Boleros.  This was a big loss to the Canadian Team, and the pain and suffering through which Chris went was not easy to watch. 


In the final match between India and Germany, the German Forward tackled the Indian deep defender from the left.  He got himself badly hurt on his leg and had to be carried from the field. 

The game situations, where these 3 incidents occurred were more or less the same.  A forward is tackling the deep defender from the left while the defender is in the process of executing a hard hit, to make a long pass or clearance. 
Please see the photographs. 

During two major International Tournaments—the Olympic Qualifier, Spain, January, 1996 and Sultan Azlan Shoh Cup, Malaysia, October, 1995—3 players have been badly injured.  Their further participation in the Tournament ended abruptly -- one does have not to pay this big a price to play hockey. 
The whole objective of this article is to educate our coaches and athletes.  So they are aware in advance of this potentially dangerous situation and know How to Tackle From the Left. 

Both coaches and athletes are jointly responsible. From a coaches point of view, we must educate our players, How to Tackle tactfully from the left, in this potentially dangerous situation. From the athletes angle, they should be smart enough to recognize the dangerous situation and have the knowledge to make the right decision, and avoid injury at all cost. 

I know I am getting myself into trouble by stepping on the umpires toes. So I’d better be sensible, keep quiet, and not step.... 
However, there have been instances, in the scrimmage, when I both coach and umpire. I see this dangerous situation—INJURY PRONE—coming.  The deep defender is getting ready for a big hit and will probably swing through the hit.  I blow the whistle and give a free hit.  Needless to say, I – as an umpire – get a lot of dirty looks and sometimes get asked why I blew the whistle?  What’s wrong?  I just don’t want to see blood or anyone getting hurt. 

There is no point taking an unnecessary risk.  Safety First should be the motto of each and every player. 

When a deep defender is in position to take a hit, the forward should approach him cautiously, from the left.  The chances of the forward getting the ball are minimal, except for the very few who are shrewd and cunning and can easily steal the ball, just as they can pull the tooth from the roaring lions mouth.  Usually the forward is in a ‘no win’ situation. 

The whole aim of the forward should be to put pressure and force the deep defender to rush into making a bad pass.  The pass may be intercepted and counter attack employed.  If the forward steals the ball it is an added bonus. 

The forward should never be caught in a position where he is vulnerable to injury.  This occurs when he is caught in a No Man’s Land -- neither too near nor too far from the swing range—follow through—of the hitter.  It is a Dangerous Zone. 
Please see the photographs. 


First step.  Hold the stick in the left hand only 
Never get caught in the No Man’s Land—Danger Zone—when the defender is in the process of hitting the ball. 
Try to hop into the No Man’s Land—Danger Zone—when the hitter is in the process of Receiving, Controlling and Dribbling the ball.  Please see photograph No.4. 
Try to put pressure.  Play the cat and mouse game. 
Never Ever stay in this Danger Zone when the hitter has taken the back swing to hit the ball. 
The most important thing to do is HOP CLOSER and bring your body very close to the back of the hitter.  The whole body—including legs and arms—must be behind the hitter’s back.  Your head and face also covered and protected behind the hitter’s head. 
Please study photograph. 

Just try to dip quickly, and see if you can top the ball away, with the reverse stick, being held in the left hand, while the hitter has taken the back swing. 
If this is not possible, just pressure him to take a quick mishit. 
The other option after step 4 is to back peddle out of the No Man’s Land, staying away from the range of the hitters swing.  SAFE ZONE. 
Please see photographs. 

It is not an easy tackle, and it is also not worth risking your personal safety for.  Wise players don’t take unnecessary risks. 

Sports and injuries are inseparable, though some injuries can be totally avoided by playing smart and taking necessary precautionary measures. In some circumstances they are unavoidable, but the degree of damage can be controlled or reduced sharply by being cautious. The most important thing that our coaches and players should know......How to tackle from the left, and avoid injury at all costs. 

If the coaches can bring home this point of safety, our moral obligation to the players has been taken care of, to a degree.  We should never let the three incidents mentioned earlier, happen again. One of the most scary moments happened in the World Cup, 1990, Lahore, in the match between Canada and Ireland – it is hard to forget. 
Nick Sandhu, the Canadian deep defender had the ball under control and was in the process of hitting to clear.  When Irish forward Jimmy Kirkwood, dived low from the left to tackle.  Jimmy got badly hit by Nick’s follow through.  Jimmy’s cheekbone was fractured and needed 15 stitches.  The scene was full of blood.  A very sad moment in the World of Hockey. 
The other day, I was talking to Nick; even to this day, Nick feels so sad and sorry about that incident. Photo included.