Hockey: Britain feel benefits of specialisation

OLYMPIC GAMES

American football has used the concept for years, a specific performer to do a specific job. But Britain heading the field in specialisation? Even the country's men's hockey manager seemed a little surprised to find his team at the tactical vanguard.

"For the first time ever Britain decided to lead the way," David Whittle said after a 2-2 draw with Korea opened their Olympic programme. He was referring to the use of short-corner striker Calum Giles, who takes to the field whenever a short or penalty corner is awarded.

On Sunday the tactic worked perfectly. Britain were awarded two penalty corners, Giles left his seat on the bench, calmly scored a goal and then returned to the sidelines. "We are the main team using this tactic," Whittle said. "A lot of countries have got good short-corner strikers, it's just that we think that we've got the best. We reckon if we can get 20 to 25 per cent of our short corners in we will do reasonably well."

Technology is also helping as Britain have video cameras in the stands recording how their opponents will defend against him. "The coach will always give a call to where we believe there's a weakness," Whittle said. "We know the formation they run out at us. The coach suggests a shot to Calum and he has a happy knack of putting it away."

As for Sunday's result, Whittle was content despite Korea's late goal that denied Britain a win.

Dextrose saline drips were given to Jason Laslett and Russell Garcia at half-time on Sunday to combat dehydration. Although the temperature did not reach the 90s of earlier in the day, it was the high humidity that caused the havoc.

The players were offered the drip at the interval when it was established that they had lost three and four kilos respectively during the first half. Significantly, when weighed at the end of the game, Garcia's loss had been reduced to two kilos, with Laslett having only lost half a kilo.

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