(photo credit: Adam Troy)
Understanding the tactics of defense in Floorball can open up the game to a broader audience. Floorball is a fast-paced, competitive sport, with many opportunities on the offensive side of the goal with quick counter attack measures.
However, unlike ice hockey, players in Floorball are not allowed to check their opponent. This creates a strategy differential in how defense is played in Floorball.
Defenders need to be aware of their stick, body position, offensive players and the flow of the attack coming at them. It is important through the development of youth players that they understand some of these concepts related to defensive play in order to be successful.
Floorball’s rules of play prohibit stick checking, stick lifting, or contact with the stick prior to contact with the ball. A defensive player may not go through the offensive players stick in order to obtain the ball. Doing so results in a free hit, which is similar to a free kick in soccer. However, based on these rules there are some strategic moves defensive players can make in order force a turn over. A defensive player may pressure the ball and in doing may force the offensive player into a turnover without fouling. This method can be effective at both ends of the court. However, defenders must be mindful not to foul, especially in the defensive zone, which requires the defender to be aware of their body positioning to the ball and player.
Body positioning and awareness of the spacing on the court is important when defending. When on the defense it is important for all players to understand these concepts. The entire team must work in sync and understand their roles in the defense and know what to do as the offense moves the ball around. In many cases the defense will form a box in the defensive area with each player responsible for a specific zone. Each player should be communicating with each other as offensive players move the ball, but should equally be aware of offensive players’ movement without the ball. This is important as most offensive plays are built on quick passing and movement into open space between the defensive box.
When teaching the concepts of defense to new or younger players it’s important to emphasize zones to start. In many cases younger players that are playing defense want to hang back as play moves into the offensive zone. It is best to encourage them to move forward to at least mid-court emphasizing the importance of keeping the ball in the offensive zone. With regards to body positioning introducing the defensive concept can be as simple as staying between the ball and your goal. At the beginning this will be a challenge and there are a number of other drills that can be done to help teach defense, but it will take time and patience. While everyone wants to score the goal spending time focusing on the importance of defense will help solidify the team aspect of the sport.