The Critical Scan

The Critical Scan is a term often discussed among the footballing community. It refers to the scan you make as the pass is coming towards you. It provides you with the most clarity you can get before you trap the ball

What is scanning?

Scanning refers to the motion of checking your surroundings during a game of hockey. It is predominantly an off-ball skill but it can also be categorized as 'getting your head up' while you are on the ball. Examples of this are a quick left-to-right movement of the head while in space, a quick glance down the line before receiving the ball and an over-the-shoulder glance before receiving the ball in midfield. While these are a few examples of many they should give you an understanding of what a scan is.

So, why do we need to scan? Scanning can help create a better picture of the game. You can use this to position yourself better in space or to find your next pass before you receive the ball. It allows you to spend less time on the ball and be more decisive. 

How can we use the critical scan in hockey?

We can use it to gain the clearest picture before we receive the ball. The time between the critical scan and the receive is so minimal that the majority of opposition or teammates' movements should be easily predictable and allow for the best receive and decision-making.

The video below is focused on the critical scan in football. They focus on a key footballer for Arsenal, Martin Odegaard. Odegaard is a highly effective midfielder for Arsenal and is considered one of the best in the Premier League at the moment. They perform a notable analysis of his outcomes and success rates when he does a critical scan and when he does not.

How can we develop the critical scan?

The only way to do this is to bring awareness to scanning in general. Additionally, utilizing warmup passing to pretend to prescan is a good way for an individual to start building this skill and would allow you to elevate a simple drill very easily. This can also be implemented in technique or flow drills to raise it to another level. Finally, encouraging the player to utilize it in small games or high-pressure scenarios to develop not only the physical habit of raising the head to scan but the quick analysis to determine a correct response to the environmental stimuli (the current scenario).

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