Oltmans says robust defence important for hockey team

New Delhi: India's men's hockey chief coach Roelant Oltmans today said that a well-organised defence will hold the key for the team's fortunes in next year's Rio Olympic Games.

Oltmans, who is doubling up as High Performance Director and head coach after the ouster of Paul van Ass, said that he was working on building a solid defence and switching to different styles of play in different situations. "Organisation of defence is very important. If your defence is well organised you have confidence while going for attack. If your defence is not well organised you can be in trouble in counter attacks," Oltmans said here.

The Indian men's team is here for a three-week training stint till September 27 before leaving for New Zealand for a hockey Test series. Asked about other areas which he would want to improve in the Indian team, he said, "We want to be unpredictable and dynamic, to be able to play in different styles according to different situations."

"In France and Spain (where the team toured recently), we tried to implement these things. We have very good players in attack who scored some very good goals like the one by Akashdeep and Ramandeep. We have rooms for improvement in attack. It's good to have some series in line so that we can see how we can apply these changes."

Asked if the Indian team was progressing in the right direction with less than a year left for the Rio Olympic Games, he said, "In India people always looked for results but we cannot always think about the result. The process is important. "I am happy because I see the players improving everyday. They are learning new things and they are doing different things everyday.

"We are in the process of preparing ourselves for the end result. The end of the process is 11 months from now (Rio Olympics). All these tours and tournaments are just part of the process of preparing ourselves."
Oltmans said the Hockey World League Finals in December will be a big event which can test the Indian team. "Hockey World League Finals in Raipur in December is a big event and we want to do well. But home advantage will be slight, not much and I'm saying this with the experience of having travelled to other countries as coach," the Dutchman said.

He also confirmed that some 'experts' will be roped in from time to time to work with the players for short stints during the camp. "We can expect some extra people coming in not only in men's team but also in women's team for short periods. That is what I believed we will hear from the ministry is a short time," he said.

Asked how the players are coping up with the frequent changes in the position of chief coach, he said, "The reaction of the players is OK. I have been here for a while and so the players know me well. Every coach is different and players will have to adapt a bit. There is not going to be major adjustments."

Defender Jasjit Singh Khullar said that Oltmans gave more emphasis on organisation in defence and counter attacks. "There is no major changes but every coach adds sometimes in technique. Oltmans has emphasis on defensive structure and counter attacking hockey," said Jasjit.

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