Thursday, 13 July 2017

Future Hockey Coaching Direction: Part 1

Since the introduction of quarters to International level hockey in 2015, I have felt that know one coach has really found a way to harness this to its full potential and maximize the benefits for their team over all the others.

Before the introduction of quarters we saw the Australian Kookaburras Men's team transform the game with a fast, free flowing running, attack through the top of the circle game which was built on momentum, but once quarters were introduced the Australian coaching staff, in my opinion, failed to adjust this plan and as a result they slipped out of the medal in Rio two years after their triumphant World Cup. Why did this happen, in part it was quarters hockey, it changes that game of momentum hockey as there are breaks which stop the momentum of teams.

So what am I thinking, well I believe the key is your rotations, I don't think anyone has really used the rotations in a way that works well, the closest I have seen to anyone doing this wasn't even at International level, it was in Hobart in 2016 at the Australian Women's Masters when WA Over 40's seemed to be doing something very different with their bench running rotations at a constant rate through the midfield, this seemed to allow them to keep the momentum from quarter to quarter much better.

So my thoughts are that you virtually carry only midfielders, and forwards on your bench and constant rotate every quarter at high levels through this lines, and try to create a sense in the opposition of being overwhelmed and allow for fresh legs late in the final quarter which will allow your team to have the momentum when it counts.

Standing for something

Ok so this blog post is going to be just a smidge different, it's going to be in a sense a little bit of perhaps what you would call a rant, and I apologize in advance to my regular readers, but I feel its time this was said about certain people in the sport of hockey a sport I am very passionate and proud to be a part of.

Ok so what I want to say, is I am someone who prides myself on saying what I mean and speaking my mind on issues that are and have affected our game, and I do this out in the open and I never ever hide behind a fake name, or persona in order to do this.

Now I know there are allot of others involved in my sport of hockey who do just that use persona's and hide behind fake names on forums etc, to give an opinion, and in my personal opinion I think that lacks courage. I know these people will say they do that so they can give an honest opinion, well how is hiding behind a persona or fake name and giving your opinion really all that honest, like I say I think it lacks courage, if you are passionate about the sport of hockey as you say and your concerned about the direction of the sport then why do you not have the courage to voice that opinion with your real name behind.

Look I understand that's how you feel you need to do it and that's perfectly fine, but don't then try to claim the high moral ground in doing it, because in my view it's a way to give a cheap shot and it's an easy snipe. Know one in any walk of life should be afraid of criticism and if you have to hide are you showing real courage like you say or is it actually that you lack the courage to be up front.

Anyway, that's my thoughts, I know this I won't change I will continue to speak my mind and tell it like it is and I will continue to offer my opinions and back it up by putting my own name on it.


Thursday, 29 June 2017

New Hockey Trophy: World 9's Challenge

A few post back I talked about a new hockey trophy played over three formats of the game on one weekend.

Well in this post I am putting forward another idea for a new competition called the-

World 9's Challenge

We will take the 9's format that was used a few years ago in Australia as part of the International Super Series. The teams competing in this new competition would be all-star teams as per below-

1. Asian Hockey Federation All-stars
2. Pan America Hockey Federation All-stars
3. Oceania Hockey Federation All-stars
4. African Hockey Federation All-stars
5. European Hockey Federation All-stars
6. World All-stars

Now could this concept work? Where would it fit into the hockey schedule? Would the best players want to participate in it?

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Australian Media Give Hockey a Fair run

Currently the Australian Hockeyroo's are over in Belgium playing in the World League, and very shortly our Men will be also playing in the World League round, yet what do I find in today's West Australia Newspaper and short little piece that is you weren't looking for it or for that matter looking closely you would miss. Now for a long time I thought that this was the fault perhaps lay with our own sport, and the way we pitch and market it to the wider community, but now I am starting to wonder and question that. I believe that the Australian Sport Media and the many Australian Sport Journalist around the country are perhaps complicit with the sports of AFL, Cricket, NRL to make sure that nothing else gets a look in, I do know in recent times that the A League, Netball and NBL have managed to get coverage but this has been largely done to make it look like the Australian Sports Media are not in the tank for Cricket, AFL and NRL.

So again I ask myself why is this, why are they utterly and totally in bed with these three sports, when you consider the following-

- AFL (Australian Football League) is basically a sport that is domestic to Australia, it will never ever be international despite what the powers running the game may like to think, in addition to this it has been racked in the past and is still racked by various controversies in the area's or drugs, betting and player mis-behaviour. Yet our winter sports media is still dominated in southern states particularly by it.

- Cricket while its a international sport yes, the domestic game here in Australia has pretty much other than the Big Bash disappeared off the face of the earth, in addition to this its still plague no matter what it thinks by issue with match fixing etc, and there is a massive cancer eating away at the game which is called New South Wales Cricket. Yet despite this is remains the dominate force in the summer sports media.

- NRL (National Rugby League) while its an international sport in a sense, all though its really only dominated by three countries Australia, New Zealand and England, and in addition it continues to be racked by betting, drugs, player mis-behaviour and club mis-management scandals. Yet despite all this it still dominate the Sport media particularly in the Northern States.

Why is this?

Now I know people will say that tennis gets coverage and like say A League does to, but these two sports have massive problems in particular with Match fixing. So again despite all these issues with these sports the Australian Sports Media continues to allow them to dominate the market, and shut out or help shut out any other sport that tries to cut through. Don't get me wrong the media will rap the AFL, NRL and Cricket over the knuckles but its nothing more than a smack and say your a very naughty sport, they don't hard and press the issues, because like I say and perhaps they wont like this they are in the tank for these sports.

When the do cover Hockey and this is generally only at the Olympics, or Commonwealth Games they cant even get the names of the teams right, often called the Australian Men's Team the Hockeyroo's when they are the Kookaburras and the Australian Women's Team the Kookaburras when they are the Hockeyroo's despite being told the facts on countless occasions by Hockey Australia. Now they should be covering our sport because we actually have a good story to tell.

Hockey is-

- An international sport played at the Olympics, which is the real pinnacle of sport.
- Our sport is scandal free.
- Allot of our top players out there are doing amazing work in the community

But perhaps I have with this just answered my own question, good news don't make a good story.

Anyway Hockey Australia are I give them there due, correcting this by working on there own online media channel etc. I believe perhaps its also time for our own dedicated Magazine in Australia for Hockey, and I would be interested in pursuing this if anyone would like to help.

But I say this one last thing to the Australian Sports Media and I know you wont like this but tough. Stop being so far in the tank for AFL, NRL and cricket, get your heads back in the game and notice that there are allot of other sports out there with a story to tell, and its a much better story than AFL, NRL or cricket could ever dream about having.

Game Sense/Player Empowerment Coaching Model

Recently I was invited to write some articles on hockey and hockey coaching for Field Hockey Forum

This is my very first contribution on the Game Sense/Player Empowerment Coaching Model, which I have adopted as my hockey coaching approach, check out the article on the forum at the link below

Friday, 23 June 2017

My Top 5 Australian Olympic Hockey Moments

Today being National Olympic Day, and this week being National Hockey Week in Australia, I thought I would share my top five Australian Olympic hockey moments. Here they are in order starting with number 5 and moving through to my top moment at number 1-

5- Australia v New Zealand (1976 Montreal Olympics Gold Medal Final) (Mens)

This may seem a little strange as that Australia lost to New Zealand on this day and took home silver, but it makes it to the top 5 because this was one of the best Australia mens teams every assembled for an Olympics, but perhaps was an Olympics before there time and has the boycott not happened in 1980 at Moscow they most likely would have one gold, here is a you tube highlight of this game.

4- Australia v Korea (1988 Seoul Olympic Gold Medal Final) (Women's)

This is the first gold medal the Australian Hockeyroo's as they were to become later won, this was won of the strongest Australia Women's teams to go away with many Australian hockey greats in it, from a young Rochele Hawkes to great like Sharon Buchannon. They would beat Korea in the final, here is some footage from that game-

3- Australia v Korea (1996 Atlanta Olympic Gold Medal Final) (Women's)

This was the first gold medal one by the greatest Australian Hockey team of all time, this team included Rochelle Hawkes, Alyson Annan among many others, and they dominated this Olympics go all the way through to win the Gold against Korea in the final. Once here is some footage from that game-

2- Australia v Argentina (2000 Sydney Olympics Gold Medal Final) (Women's)

This was the final piece in the symphony of the greatest Australian Hockey team of all time, this was the completion of a golden era for the Australian Hockeyroo's when they completed double Olympic Gold in Sydney in 2000. This team again included many great among them Rochelle Hawkes who equaled Dawn Fraser in winning three Olympic Golds in one event for Australia. Once again here is a bit of footage from that moment

1- Australia v Holland (2004 Athens Olympic Gold Medal Final) (Men's)

This is my greatest moment of all time, only just over the 2000 Hockeyroo's, why because in one simple way it was the moment the Australia Kookaburras finally broke the curse and made the top of the medal podium at the Olympics. This was a great team with many players who would form the backbone of the teams going forward. There was Jamie Dwyer, Bevan George, Brett Livermoore, Luke Doehner among many others. The Australian's one this game in extra time which makes it even more exciting, here is some footage from the classic final-

So this is my top 5 moments what do you think, would you change the order, would you add another moment from Australia Olympic hockey history, look forward to hearing from you.

Does Field Hockey need a T20 Version?

Does our sport of field hockey need a Twenty 20 version of it?

Now this is an argument which has been debated and discussed now for some time, and there has never been any real conclusions. For a long time now the great World and Australian Hockey Coach Dr Ric Charlesworth has advocated that our sport needs to change to the Nine-a-side format which he introduced when coaching the Kookaburras (Australian Men) from 2005-2014. Now this could well be the way forward yes-

We all remember the Super 9's tournament which was held in Perth, for those that don't check out this link to refresh your memory-

An while this tournament certainly was exciting, initially and had big crowds in its first year, it died away very quickly and has pretty much now disappeared, the only one that is advocating and pushing for this now is pretty much Dr Ric Charlesworth.

Now we have Hockey 5's which is being played at Youth Olympic level, and yes this is a good format, and I do believe that we should be pushing to have this included at Olympic level in addition to the current 11-a-side format, but again it is not really a format that will work as a T20 version of hockey.

So what is my solution, well I am thinking that perhaps we don't need a solution, as that our game is perhaps right now in terms of number of the field fine. Perhaps what we should be looking at is tweaking rules instead. There has all ready been a number of good rule changes around the world of hockey that I think should be brought in across the board to make the game more exciting. These are-

- In the Indian Hockey League a field goal being worth 2 rather than 1.

- The introduction of quarters, which I still think know coach at international level is yet to truely harness to their teams advantage.

However I would look at introducing these other rules changes as well-

- 3 point shot for a goal scored by a player if they hit it from outside the attacking d but inside the 5 yard broken line.

- Teams can nominate twice per game for a period of 3 minutes an attacking power play where all goals scored through this period double.

- Eliminate the draw, by re-introducing golden goal extra time for all game's, with a twist that both teams must drop from 11 players to 9 players and they are only allowed 2 subs. The time period would be 7 minutes only 1 way, then it goes to shoot-out.

So there just a few changes I might make to the game, I welcome other comments what does everyone else think, do we need a T20 version or are we ok as we are, do we need to change some rules to make the game more exciting or are we ok as we are. If you were in administration what would you do with our game, look forward to hearing from you.