Have a Plan
Every Shot has a Purpose – make every shot count. Every shot has to be part of an overall plan and purpose. Every shot has an ideal position… aim for it and execute. Don’t just “hit somewhere over there” and hope or the best. You need to know what your plan is to win that hoop. If you don’t have a plan you will inevitably just place your ball in front. If you are second to the hoop this is often suicide as your opponent can clear you too easily.
Golf is so reactionary that every shot you take will determine the opponent’s next move. You need to play accurate shots to force opponents to take the shots you want them to make… not vice versa. Your plan might be to entice your opponent into a testing clearance shot that may force an error. It may be to draw your opponent away from the hoop or into an awkward jump position. If you don’t have a plan for each hoop you will often fail against a tactical and thinking GC player.
POSITION, HIT & HOOP – Walk like an Egyptian
Many of the world’s best GC players are Egyptian. The Egyptian style is very different to what you have probably been taught so far. Their “hard hitting” technique is a result of many things – different grip (often Irish), stance (pigeon toed) and swing (bent back/ high backswing). This may give them an advantage at the extreme elite level but I would recommend you continue with what you have been taught so far.
Grip, Stance and Swing aside, the Egyptian theory of GC is definitely valid. The theory is best summed up as – POSITION, HIT and HOOP (PHH) or as I prefer to name it – POSITION PROTECT (PP).
PHH or PP is used constantly throughout the game. Use this phrase as a motto. Repeat it in your head continually through the game it will give you the minimum level of play for most hoops. There are some very advanced tactics you can employ as you learn about them but 9 times out of 10 PP will get you through.
The beauty of PP is best seen as the second ball to arrive at a hoop. Basically you Position ball 2 so that it can run the next hoop. If your opponent hasn’t blocked the fourth ball being able to Hit the first ball, you then Hit (clear) the ball that was first to the hoop (ball 4 onto ball 1). Pray your opponent misses a long return roquet with ball 1 and then make the Hoop with ball 2 the Positioned ball. You have – Positioned a ball, Hit away an opponent and then made the Hoop.
This can be used for all hoops but looks prettiest going from hoop 4 to hoop 5. For example in ball terms – U positions in front of H5. R also positions in front of 5 making sure it doesn’t block Y’s shot on U. If K also positions or tries to block/clear but is unsuccessful then Y Hits/clears U to the boundary. If U misses the long shot on R then R runs the Hoop.
Top level players will often position the first ball and clear with the second wherever on the court the second may be – i.e. they are quite happy to clear with a full court shot. If your opponent was first to the hoop but in a poor position to score you might want to consider the higher percentage play of PPHH. This is sending your first ball to a closer clearance position rather than a scoring position. You are positioning a clearing (Hit) ball first instead of positioning a Hoop ball. So the sequence will be Position to clear, Position to score, Hit and Hoop (PPHH). The critical thing with your position to clear shot is that it does not go too close to the hoop or your opponent’s balls; you don’t want it to become a target. Your position to score ball can’t be too close to the opponent either as it will get cleared too easily.
The idea of PPHH is that you are not rewarding your opponent for a bad shot. You are trying to put maximum pressure on them by squeezing in closer to make your eventual clearances shorter. You are forcing them into longer shots that if played badly will result in a turnover in power. If your opponent is in a bad position, make it even worse for them by wiring your ball from it; make it harder by staying outside of their stop shot zone and stay on the opposite side so they cannot in-off. Too many players blindly reward opponents bad shots by being too hoop focused, they religiously hit to the same spot regardless of the game situation.
The main thing to learn from PHH or PPHH is to give the balls a role. One ball is the scoring ball and the other is a clearing (Protection) ball. This is a very important concept in GC. As soon as you realize the balls have a role to play your games will get faster.
Role of the Balls – Shooters (Hoop)/Blockers (Position)/Clearers (Hit)
There are 2 simple roles for the balls to take:
1. Attacker – simply the ball in the best position to make a Hoop
2. Defender – the ball that defends against your opponents attack. This can be achieved by blocking an opponents shot on the Attacker and/or hoop, or the ball that bashes (clears/stuns/stops) the opponent as far away (or wired) from the Hoop ball.
Understanding the role of the balls allows for quick aggressive hoop making. Too often games drag on as opponents keep hitting each other away from the hoop with no overall plan. Players focus too much on clearing the ball in front of the hoop. They often incorrectly use their attack ball in a defensive role. When you can, position a ball to score and then hit away your opponent with your other ball; or stymie if your skills allow it. Break the cycle of constantly clearing each other away and you will speed up your games.