Feature: Reverse Stick Shooting, by Greg Nicol
The biggest reason for the trying to perfect the reverse stick shot is to add another dimension to strikers methods of finishing.
The 1st thing to establish when trying to perfect the reverse stick shot is where exactly on the stick do you want to make contact with the ball. The ideal area to use is the inside edge of the stick about 1-3 inches up the shaft from the head of the stick. The reason for using the edge of the stick is that you now have the full width of the stick behind the ball when contact is made, as opposed to just the depth of the head of the stick when executing a normal front stick shot. This allows the striker to generate a great deal of power with a shorter and quicker back swing. This will give you an advantage over the keepers who obviously need that extra time to get balanced for the shot.
Strikers must remember not to try and hit the reverse stick shot too hard. Particularly on water based turf the stick will tend to slide too quickly under the ball resulting in a shot that sails way over the cross bar. The margin for error is really small when trying the reverse stick shot so it is wise to let the width of the stick generates the power for the shot and not the swing.
The most important aspect of perfecting this method of shooting is the 1st touch and footwork of the striker. As with all circle play the striker needs to be aware of where the defenders are and where the space is in the circle before the ball arrives. In doing so the 1st touch could be a deflection or pass into the space away from the defender and with quick footwork a shot can be taken. The perfect foot position when executing the reverse stick shot is as follows. The front foot needs to be in line with the ball and perpendicular to the goal. Initially the front foot will be the right foot but as one gets better at this skill it will become possible to execute the shot off either foot, i.e. left foot forward. This will also catch the keepers unaware as they are expecting the shot off the right foot.
If as a striker you are being marked tightly it may be wise to trap the ball first and perhaps put a dummy or body swerve on the play before you place it in the space for the shot. This will just give you that extra time to get your feet in the correct position for the shot.
Once the ball and your feet are in the correct position strikers must remember to stay as low as possible for the shot. Your back knee as well as your hands should almost be touching the turf. If you come up too quickly the angle of the stick will not be low enough to the ground at impact, resulting in a complete miss of the ball or a shot that just tops the ball. What may also happen is that by raising your body the ball will be further away and therefore make contact with the stick on the head and not up the shaft. This will result in the ball going off at right angles to the target and can be dangerous to anyone in the circle. For the most consistency when executing this shot one needs to have a low centre of gravity throughout the shot. I have often found that the best reverse stick shots occur when I am so low that I fall over when making the shot.
For the beginner I would suggest that to train this shot one starts with a stationary ball and that you just sweep the ball with the edge of the stick with a small back swing. As you improve you can take a few paces with the ball and extend the back swing slightly. Eventually you will be able to enter the circle at a reasonable pace and use a full swing. This is not a skill that can be perfected overnight and a lot of time needs to be spent on getting the fundamentals right before trying it out in a game.
Key points to remember:
Finally remember to be patient when training this skill. It may take some time to perfect but once you start scoring a few it will keep the defenders and keepers guessing and will give you a great deal of pleasure.