Walk through any hockey centre in Australia and you’ll undoubtedly spot several players practicing their drag flicking skills, hoping to be the Hockeyroos or Kookaburras’ next penalty corner attacking weapon.
This Saturday, Hockeyroos champion Jodie Kenny will hold one of the keys to defeating bogey side Belgium as the FIH Pro League arrives in Sydney.
Kenny’s set piece ability is worth serious consideration given she has maintained a record of almost a goal every second game across an international career spanning nine years and 228 games.
The six-foot defender isn’t simply making the most of her strong physical traits but has mastered what drag flick expert Luke Doerner terms the ‘six key points’ for success.
“Every drag flicker from around the world is different, particularly their run ups,” Doerner who made 175 appearances and scored 112 goals for the Kookaburras.
“But there are six key points that they all do the same and it starts with what I call the starting position which is when they first make contact with the ball.”
“The stick is in their left hand well outside the right part of their ball, which is a very different position to get into compared to other aspects of playing hockey.”
Doerner likens the skill of drag flicking to that of a baseball pitcher, where the emphasis is on getting both the body and ball into the right position to execute maximum power.
“It’s about going slow, slow and then fast. The first three quarters of the movement is the hardest part to get right because the natural inclination is to go fast, and it takes lots of training and co-ordination to execute all the elements at the same time.”
“For someone like Kenny, that training might also look like flicking 100 balls per week at full speed, but another 100 at half speed or off one step to work on technique.”
When it all comes together, Kenny can reach speeds well above 90km per hour with her flicks, with Madison Fitzpatrick and Georgie Morgan others that Doerner has seen consistently in that speed bracket.
“The key with Jodie in particular is that she works incredibly hard, she’s a good listener and learner and is very persistent.”
“That’s also reflected in her ability to come back post-motherhood.”
Now an assistant coach with Belgium, Doerner has just spent ten days with the visitors who have brought a big group with them to leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of victory.
“They have brought their full squad and an under 23 squad to play Australia A in four matches as well.”
“It’s been great to work with their flickers, with Alex Hendrickx in particular leading the speed gun with consistent efforts in the 113-114km per hour category.”
“After beating the Hockeyroos both home and away last year, the Belgium women unfortunately missed the Olympic qualification, so they have brought some new faces with one eye to the future.”
Watching one of the best exponents of the drag flick in world hockey on your doorstep, as well as the two top ranked men’s sides on the planet is an opportunity not to be missed.
Tickets for all of the FIH Pro League matches in Sydney and Perth are available now through Ticketek.
Story by Adam Clifford.