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.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Could we have a World Club Comp in Hockey?

In recent times, I have been reading comments by people in relation to the Hockey Pro League, that they would have preferred to see a World Club Championships similar to what we see in Football, well I am not sure if this is possible, in hockey. Why do I say it may not be possible well?

- European Hockey League right now is the strongest club based league in the world, and there really isn't a competition anywhere else being play that can match it from a club point of view.

In saying that, I am prepared to put forward a model that may work in the end. This is my model-

- Each country hold there own Club Championship qualifiers, with one winner emerging.
- Those winners then compete in a Continental or Federation qualifier, with one winner emerging from that, or in Europe's case they get two.
- Then the World Club Finals are played with one club team representing each continental federation.

So what you would emerge with is the following-

2 x European Hockey Federation based Club qualified
1 x Asian Hockey Federation based club qualified
1 x Oceania Hockey Federation based club qualified
1 x African Hockey Federation based club qualified
1 x Pan America Federation based club qualified

Now like I say Europe gets 2 club teams qualified, but this is in recognition that they are the strongest continental federation from a club point of view.

This is the only way I can see it working, but like I say I am not sure that it would actually be a viable competition as I suspect the European teams would dominate it, I know for a fact I cant see an Australian based club right now that would be strong enough to beat a single EHL club.

Anyway what do you all think, I welcome comments and thought, is this possible.

Expanding the Hockey Pro League

Recently the International Hockey Federation (FIH) launched the fantastic new world competition the Hockey Pro League, now I personally believe this is a great concept and a great competition and is the future of the game. However there have been some out there who have there reservations about the HPL and the fact that it might take away the opportunity for countries not ranked in the top 10 to be able to compete against the best. Well in a way this is a fair argument, but it also isn't being fair the the International Federation who I believe plan to role out further changes after the HPL comes in 2019, but they need to take this first step then go from there.

With this in mind I have been thinking about how you could expand the Hockey Pro League to include all hockey countries and give everyone the chance to reach the top comp level which starts in 2019, and this is what I have come up with. We do it similar to the way the structure the Davis Cup and Fed Cup in Tennis. So this is the format up with, now bare in mind this would not be able to be implemented in full till after the first four years of the current Hockey Pro League which starts in 2019.


Hockey Pro League (Premier Division)

Men's Teams: Australia, Holland, India, Pakistan, Argentina, Belgium, Germany, New Zealand, Great Britain

Women's Teams: Argentina, Holland, India, China, Great Britain, Germany, USA, Australia, New Zealand.

Hockey Pro League (Division 1)

Men's Teams: Ireland, Spain, Canada, Korea, Malaysia, South Africa, Japan, France, China

Women's Teams: Korea, Spain, Japan, South Africa, Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Canada

Hockey Pro League (Division 2)

Men's Team: Egypt, Poland, Russia, Austria, Czech Republic, Ukraine, USA, Chile

Women's Teams: Chile, Belarus, Malaysia, Uraguay, Czech Republic, France, Azerbaijan, Switzerland

Hockey Pro League (Division 3)

Men's Team: Brazil, Oman, Azerbaijan, Trinidad & Tobago, Bangladesh, Italy

Women's Teams: Russia, Mexico, Thailand, Ghana, Austria, Kazakhstan, Trinidad & Tobago, Ukraine.

There would be in addition to these division's the following continental divisions-

Hockey Pro League: Asian/Oceania Hockey Federation Division 1
Hockey Pro League: Africa Hockey Federation Division 1
Hockey Pro League: European Hockey Federation Division 1
Hockey Pro League: Pan America Hockey Federation Division 1

Now starting from 2023 there would be a promotion and relegation system put in place, which would be as follows-

- Top team from each division 1,2,3 will be promoted to the division above.
- bottom team from each division premier, 1, 2 will be demoted to the division below
- The winners from each of the continental federations will play-off in a home and away leg against the bottom four teams in Division 3

Now like I say this is just a suggestion, it is my contribution to the debate as we move forward into a new era. I welcome comments, I think this can work and it will create interest and regular competition for all countries who play this great game.

Friday, 16 June 2017

My Idea for a new field hockey trophy

With the introduction of the Hockey Pro League in 2018, and the end of the Champions Trophy, there will be room in the International Field Hockey Schedule for a new trophy, well I have an idea which is different and brings together several version of the game under one, format. This format will be field hockey's version of the Ryder and Presidents Cup in Golf. Now the trophy I currently don't have a name for it all though I thought that the Dwyer/Aywar Cup would fit perfectly as perhaps the two greatest players of the most recent era.

This trophy would be played between the following to teams-

Australia/New Zealand v Rest of the World

The best 16 men and best 16 women's hockey players from Australia and New Zealand would combine and compete in a series of games (rubbers) against the best 16 men and women's hockey players from the Rest of the World, over one weekend. The format would take on the following-

3 x Hockey 5's Games (1 mens, 1 women's, 1 mixed)
3 x Hockey 9's Games (1 mens, 1 women's, 1 mixed)
3 x Hockey 11's Games (1 mens, 1 women's, 1 mixed)

The winner will be determined on the following points system over the weekend-

1 point for a win
1/2 points for a draw

The first team to 5 points wins the competition. However if both teams are tied at the end of four and half points a piece, then a winner will be determined in the following way-

-  Best of 3: mixed teams 3 on 3 shootout

If still tied after that then-

- Best of 5 mixed teams 1 on 1 shootout

If after all this the two teams are still square then a count-back on goals for and against over the weekend will be used to determine the winner.

I believe that this would be a very exciting format and a different format which would be very attractive to the players to participate in, also the trophy would only be contested every two years similar to the way the Ryder and Presidents Cup is in golf.

What does everyone think, would this be a great idea, would it work, would there be interested in trying to get it up and running, the first contest could be held in Melbourne say in late 2018 or 2019, with it alternating every two years with the countries that make up the rest of the world squad.

I welcome people's comments.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Passing/Leading/Game Based Drill

This is a passing and leading drill, which then converts into a game situation which I have used at training. It starts off with a pass round the back, followed by a pass to one of two leading options in the centre, then at this point it moves into a game situation where the attacking team has slightly more numbers than the defending team.

The idea of this one, is to encourage constantly leading and movement from the players, and also work on your transfer passing across the field. I welcome comments on what you think and how perhaps it could be improved.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Hockey Pro League is a great concept, now its Australia's time

A while ago I talked at length about my vision for a brand new Australian based domestic field hockey league, that would take our game into the professional era and put a game back into the public eye after years of fade away.

Well just this week the International Hockey Federation (FIH) announced there exciting new Hockey Pro League, which will be played between 9 nations in Men and women's across 6 months starting in 2019, in an home and away format. This is a fantastic concept and takes the great game that I am passionate about to the next level. So with this I thought that it was time to revisit the idea of a domestic competition here in Australia to start in the same year as the Hockey Pro League.

I believe that this competition should now not replace the current Australian Hockey League, that should remain, but revert back to being called the Australian Open National Hockey Championships, and instead this new league should be a seperate competition in addition to this.

So what structure would this new league take on, well it is my view that it needs to be franchised based and like we are seeing with Netball, links need to be formed with National Rugby League Clubs and Australia Football League Clubs. So this is what I am proposing-

2 x Western Australian Based franchise
1 x South Australian Based franchise
2 x Victorian Based Franchises
2 x New South Wales Based Franchises
1 x Tasmanian Based frnachise
1 x ACT Based Franchise
2 x Qld Based Franchises
1 x NT Based franchise

Now under this format that makes 12 teams with the bigger hockey states have 2 franchises each, and I would propose that 1 of those 2 franchise be based in a Major country region e.g, Bunbury. These teams would then play 21 games with 11 home games and 11 away games before a final playoff series to be held at the home turf of the team that finishes on top, over 1 weekend, this would be called a Hockey showcase.

The competition would also have some rule tweaks to make the game more exciting, some ideas I propose are-

1. Field goals are worth 2 and penalty corners are worth 1.
2. Each team has 2 power play periods of 2 minutes in each game, where goals will double.
3. Games will be broken up into 4 x 10 minute quarters, with 2 minute breaks at 1/4 time and 3/4 time and a 10 minute break at half time, where local juniors will be showcased in some form.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

The Importance of going behind a final result

In sport we tend to get far to hung up on the final result, for example in my sport of hockey we see a score line of 3-1 or 3-2 or 3-3 and interpret the game a certain way, which had we actually been watching the game closely or taken note of key things within the game we would very quickly realise that the final score and final result doesn't always reflect the true nature of the game.

So what do I mean when I say, we as sports coaches need to go behind the result and dig deeper to find out what is really happening in the game in front us?

Well what I mean by the is that we need to use two methods for this which include-

1. Statistics
2. Video Analysis

Video Analysis
In modern sport the use of video is so very very important, it allows you to review the game and pick it apart from start to finish, and it also allows you to pick up what you may have missed as a coach, but also remind yourself of what actually happened at key times, whether you have won or lost the game.

In my sport of hockey we use Video for not only games, but also as a valuable learning tool in relation to the skills of the game, its is particular a great way to show a player what they are actually doing considering more often than not players will tell you till they are blue in the face that they are not doing it. Video allows players and a coach nowhere to hide. To get started on using video you don't need much, your mobile phone in some cases is perfectly good enough, and with the face-book live feature now you could almost have that video coming through in real time.

Take for example just this weekend I had our game videoed and what did I discover when I watched the game back, that most of my players were running around with there sticks in the air, and not in a position of preparedness to get the ball. Now that video will be able to be used with my team as a great learning tool, which will now be all about as we move forward correcting this.

Now stats also play a valuable roll in helping us to go behind the result of a game, in my sport of hockey I like to use different stats such as-

- Consecutive passes
- Penalty Corners Won
- Penalty Corners Conceded
- Penalty Corners Converted
- Entries into our attacking d

I also have someone timing in each half how long we are in possession of the ball, this gives us a % which indicates how well we are holding the ball and using that ball.

In the end I highly recommend that all coaches go behind the results and not just get hung up on the final score.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Dealing with pushy parents

Well we see it all the time in sport the parent our there who thinks they have a talented child, and who then try to live their failed ambition through their child. So how do we deal with pushy parents as a coach, and selector, how do we help those parents to understand why a certain decision is taken when selecting the team or settling on a starting line-up etc?

The biggest thing I feel as a Coach and a selector is that you need to do the best you can to help that parent or parents to understand why the decision has been taken, and also take the approach of gently reminding the parent that the odds are more often than not 1000-1 that there child will actually reach the highest level.

You take for example in my sport of hockey, in Australia currently there are around 200,000 people registered and playing hockey across the country, now each year every single state picks 16 women and 16 men to represent them at the Australian Hockey League (AHL), which is a total of 128 men and 128 women. Now from that 128 men and 128 womens they pick just 25-30 names who go into the Kookaburra's and Hockeyroo's programs as well the AIS Hockey Program which is currently based in Perth.

So again I ask these questions to all parents out there-

1. Is the dream of being an elite sportsperson, the dream of your child or is it your dream?
2. What do you think the odds are that your child will actually achieve this dream?

I know this may seem like a harsh approach, and perhaps a dream crushing approach, and why'll I say its great to dream, that dream like my late Grandma said need to be tempered just a little with some realism.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Game Sense/Player Empowerment Approach to Hockey Coaching

Coach the Coaches Development Program

What is a game sense/player empowerment approach to coaching?

The game sense/player empowerment approach to coaching is best summed up in four key words-

1.   Engage: players in modified game strategies and concepts where they have an opportunity to develop both their skills and understanding of tactics.
2.   Promote: developing players to have a 3 dimensional hockey brain.
3.   Encourage: through game modification (easier or harder) to accommodate varying abilities thus maximise inclusion and challenge
4.   Modify: game rules, playing area and equipment for purpose of highlighting aspects of the game.


·      Fun
·      Playing
·      Thinking
·      Challenging
·      Communicating
·      Inclusion

Player Centred

At the heart of the Game sense/player empowerment approach to coaching is the player. As a coach your role is to facilitate, you are there to guide rather than direct the players in their understanding of hockey. The players should be encouraged to think about the WHY rather than being told about the WHAT through asking questions like-

·      Why should we be running into space?

Instead of telling the player where they need to stand, if you follow this approach I guarantee you will be surprised at the responses you get from your players, no matter what age or ability.

How do we apply a game sense/play empowerment approach to training?

Well this starts be re-defining what a hockey skill is, by using this simple equation-


The biggest thing to remember is that anyone can stand in partners and pass the ball between two, but where in a game of hockey does this practical apply, so why do we practice it? The game sense/player empowerment approach is, when boiled down to it practicing the skills of hockey in a game situations that progressively challenge and motivate our players to acquire the strategies, skills and rules required to succeed. It’s giving your players ownership of the game.

We start by shifting away from static hockey drills, to Game Skills Practice’s (GSP’s), that are engaging and keep everyone involved in the training session. These GSP’s also need to as we said previously progressively challenge and motivate your players.

Every training session you run, must have an objective or purpose to it, if it doesn’t then your players simple we get nothing out of it and it will be nothing more than busy work.

As a coach it is vital that you establish routines for both training and game day, an give responsibility to your player for these routines that then free you up as coach to focus on the all important player development.

As Coach you can have routines for-
·      Putting out the equipment and packing it away at training.
·      Warming up and cooling down before training and games.

Also as a Coach I highly recommend you develop a consistent routine for moving from coaching instruction to activity to reduce management time. If your players know where to go and what they need to do when they get there then this will mean more time for GSP.

For the Game Sense/Player Empowerment Coaching approach to work at its best it is vital that you engage every single player, adopting the following strategies can do this

1.   Voice and Expression
2.   Eye Contact
3.   Signal for attention (AVOID WHISTLES)
4.   Asking questions
5.   Praise and compliment
6.   Quality instructions
7.   Increase participation


·     You are the facilitator at training and games/not the centre of attention.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Training Objectives are Crucial

Last night before our weekly training session, I was watching a Junior Coach lead a training session with his team, and was gobsmacked at what I saw. In simple terms the kids were doing nothing more than busy work, and the training itself seemed to have know objective to it what so ever. This group had a 1 hour training session, and I reckon that in total they would have actually trained a grand total of 20 minutes in that hour.

Now while the Coach is not solely responsible for the intensity of training, they are responsible for setting the objective and direction of the training session, they are responsible to making sure that training is engaging and has a focus to it. What was very clear about this particular training last night is that the Coach has failed to plan, so the training is set-up to fail before its even got out of the gate, and has such he is letting the players in the team he is coaching down. These players in this particular team cant be enjoying coming to training each week, because the training session just ain't engaging.

So what should a coach be doing before each training session-

1. The Coach should know the objective/s for training what they want the players to get out of the session.

2. The Coach should have planned out the session from start to finish, and also planned back-up activities in case the one's they have planned are not working.

Like I said before its not solely the responsibility of the Coach to bring the intensity to training, but it is the sole responsibility of the coach to bring the training objective/s and focus, and a coach that fails to plan will ultimately fail themselves, and the players they are coaching.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Couple of simple passing drills for training

Here are a couple of very simple passing drills that you can use at training, again the focus here should be keeping your stick on the ball and ball control, as well as getting that shot away early. In addition there is an element here about widening the goal with both your post players in position ready to get deflections-

They are both very simple drills but work a treat, give them a go, let us know how you get on with them in your training.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

18 Years what a journey so far

Well this Sunday, when I step out to Coach the Capel Ladies South West League hockey game, it will mark exactly 18 years to the day since I stepped out to coach my first competitive game of hockey. Its hard to believe it has been 18 years, how time has gone by so fast, in that time I have had the great honour of coaching some brilliantly talented and gifted hockey players, along with some fantastic teams. So I thought on the eve of 18 year anniversary on Sunday, I would share with the world the following-

- My top ten best players I have coached over the last 18 years
- My best ever men's/boys team of the last 18 years
- My best ever women's/girls team of the last 18 years.

My Top Ten of best players over my 18 years

1. Reece Laycock (Swanleigh) (WA)
2. Emily Matison (Newman) (WA)
3. Laura Murray (Newman) (WA)
4. Brooke Anderson (South East Sharks) (VIC)
5. Paige Hardy (South East Sharks) (VIC)
6. Tabby Hodges (South East Sharks) (VIC)
7. Alice Arnold (South East Sharks) (VIC)
8. Bella Pettit (Queenwood) (NSW)
9. Jess Brimble (Manly) (NSW)
10. Kim Dunkin (Manly) (NSW)

My Best Ever Men's/Boys Team of my 18 years

Left Wing- Aaron Bennett (Swanleigh, WA)
Centre Forward- Brad Harrop (Swanleigh, WA)
Right Wing- Braden Bennett (Swanleigh, WA)

Left Inner- Robbie Elsom (Stirling Rangers, WA)
Right Inner- Tom Higgins (Stirling Rangers, WA)

Left Half- Ben Gorman (Swanleigh, WA)
Centre Half- Reece Laycock (Swanleigh, WA)
Right Half- Tom Mitchell (Stirling Rangers, WA)

Left Back- Rian Duncan (Swanleigh, WA)
Right Back- Cale Beard (Swanleigh, WA)
Goalie- Mitchell Chambers (Swanleigh, WA)

1. Sam Looke (Swanleigh, WA)
2. Wayne Brooks (Swanleigh, WA)
3. Tony Plain (Swanleigh, WA)

My Best ever Women's/Girls Team of my 18 years

Left Wing- Tiffany Crouch (Manly, NSW)
Centre Forward- Kim Dunkin (Manly, NSW)
Right Wing- Nat Johnson (ACT, State Team)

Left Inner- Kass Scarlett (Manly, NSW)
Right Inner- Emily Matison (Newman, WA)

Left Half- Jess Brimble (Manly, NSW)
Centre Half- Krista Morley (Manly, NSW)
Right Half- Brooke Anderson (South East Sharks, VIC)

Left Back- Paige Hardy (South East Sharks, VIC)
Right Back- Tabby Hodges (South East Sharks, VIC)
Goalie- Alice Arrnold (South East Sharks, VIC)

1. Laura Murray (Newman, WA)
2. Monika Young (South East Sharks, VIC)
3. Charley Madigan (South East Sharks, VIC)

So there we are, these have been hard to pick, there are some many I could have included that I have left out.

Like I say its been a fantastic 18 year journey so far, but it know where near over there is so much more to achieve, so watch this space, and lets bring on the next 18 years.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Breaking the game down into manageable parts.

For a long time now, I have been using a system I like to call the Two Traffic light system to break the game down during each half into manageable parts, and then talk about winning the majority of those parts or periods, thus making sure we win the game. This what I am talking about-

So how it works well very simple-

Red time (First 15 minutes of each half): That is when as a team we need to be running at our absolute best and putting in maximum effort, and being alert and focussed at all times, and make sure we are doing our basics well and following our process. The first 15 minutes of each half are some of the most dangerous times in hockey and this is why its Red Time where we must be doing our basics well and making every post a winner. This is not a period that a team can afford to lose, they must come out with either a draw or a win on the score board and in the statistics.

Amber Time (Middle 15 minutes of each half): This is where the game has settled down into a flow and both teams have settled down and the nerves are or have gone. There still needs to be a strong effort to make sure the basics are done well and the processes are followed. This is the period of the game where you perhaps can afford to come out with a draw in the statistics and a draw on the score-board without it hurting you terrible.

Red (Last 5 minutes of each half): Once again this is maximum danger time, I have seen it far to often where a team is scored on during this period because they relax and take the foot of the peddle. So once again I demand that we are alert, attacking hard and running hard at all times.

Also in hockey when either you score a goal or the opposition scores a goal, I as coach will call Red-time again why, because this is yet again danger time, if you scored the goal players have got this happy knack of relaxing taking the foot of the peddle, and bang opposition gets a fast break and score. So as soon as this happens its straight back doing well and at a urgent pass. Likewise if they score on you you should be exploiting that relax nature they are in and trying to break them open quickly.

So this is the devise I have developed and use, I really do welcome comment on it and would like to know if other coaches out there are using similar ideas or if they think there are ways to improve this. Please comment.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Innovation at Hockey Training

Today I had the opportunity to watch the Australian Men's hockey team go through training, and I once again realise how important innovation at hockey training is, that Coaches need to stop wanting to be the centre of attention, and work with there fellow coaches and their players to come up with new innovations at training, which keep training interesting and challenging, while still keep the basic principles of what we need to develop at training in place.

So what sort of innovations am I talking about-

- Shifting training to the grass from time to time, this will help to improve the players core skills, and also help them to further develop their ability to read the play and the game.

- Bringing in other similar sports, with similar skills, such as Netball, AFL, soccer to encourage your players to think outside the square.

- Drills that are not simply busy work, but have a clear purpose and are as much as possible about Game scenario's and tougher than anything that you will likely encounter in a game.

- allowing players to take on a run different aspects of training so you as the coach can step back and watch and observe, as well as be able to pull players aside and work on specific skill areas.

So innovation is crucial to training in my book as a coach. I welcome other thoughts and comments-

How do you innovate with your training?

Let us know.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Couple of Drills for training & A Decision Making Tree

Hi Everyone here are a couple of more drills for everyone to try at training-


This is a Game Scenario Drill, designed to improve focus under pressure, and help your playing to work on there scanning both when they are attacking and when they are defending. The game's start with two small games of keep it off (any number of players) and these games are two go for 2 minutes. After the 2 minutes the team that has the ball in both games becomes the attacking team and team that doesn't have the ball then works back to defend. Lets us know what you think?


This drill is yet another flow through type, but the focus on here is leading, re-leading and switching the play at the back as well as looking to widen the goal in attack.

I have been working on this for a while, its a Decision Making Tree, which lays out the keys points for each individual player of what they want to be doing when-

- They have the ball
- There opponent has the ball

It lays out 5 key points, and the idea of this is to try and keep the message as straightforward as possible for individual players so they understand what they need to focus on and what they can control.

Again I welcome comment on each, and if you use the drills at your training how did they go.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

My Top 10 Great Australia Hockey Coaches of all time & 5 Up and coming Coaches to watch for

Ok here we go, this is my top 10 great Australian Hockey Coaches of all time and I will also name the top five up and coming coaches-

1. Ric Charlesworth

There is simple know doubt in my book, who the number one Australia Hockey Coach of all time must be and that is the Great one Dr Ric Charlesworth, he is the best there has ever been in our game, and ever will be. Two Olympic Golds with the Australia Hockeryoos, along with Four World Cups, two with the Men and Two with the Women, and countless Champions Trophies and other international wins. I guess the one blot if you call that to the copy book is not getting the Olympic Gold with the Men. But in my book he is number 1 and always will be.

2. Barry Dancer

Barry Dancer without question is number 2 for me, he is the Coach who did what no one before or after him has been able to do, he lead the Australia Kookaburras to Olympic Gold, therefore he is number 2 for me.

3. Alyson Annan

So I here some saying why is the Dutch National Team Coach in an Australian top ten of all time at number three, well its simple, I believe that right now Alyson is the Greatest Australian Coach in the game, and its a shame that she is not here in Australian doing what she does best.

4. Frank Murray

For me number four is the great Frank Murray. Frank led both the Kookaburras to great success at international level, and then the hockeyroos with distinction later on.

5. Richard Aggis

I don't photo of Richard, but there is no doubt he was one of the most significant figures in the life of the Australian Men's Hockey team leading them to there first World Cup success in 1986.

6. Brian Glencross

Again I dont have a photo of Brian, but he is without question perhaps the second most significant Coach of the Australian Women's Hockey Team behind Ric Charlesworth, leading the Women to there first Olympic Gold in 1988 at the Seol Olympics.

7. Merv Adams

Again I apologise I dont have a photo of the great Merv Adams, but it was Merv who taught Australia how to win at international level and beat the sub-continent teams that is why in my book he comes in at 7 in my top ten. He also led Australia to the silver in the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

8.  Katrina Powell

So while Katrina Powell or Triny as she is often know in hockey circles, has yet to be a Head Coach at international level, I believe she makes the top ten of all time, because like Alyson she is one of the best Australia Coaches around right now and up there with the greats.

9. Paul Guidoin

The current Australian Women's Coach, and former Assistant to the Kookaburras makes it into my top ten of all time, because I believe he will be the one responsible for leading the Australian Hockeyroo's back to Olympic glory in 2020, and will be the most significant figure in Australian hockey over the next four years.

10. Mark Hager

Mark is the last one into my top ten of all time, and while he hasn't Coached Australia, what he has done with New Zealand, means in my book he makes to top 10 Australia Coaches of all time without question.

So there is my top ten, I am sure others will have other views and there are many that I left out, notable mentions you could have included are people like, Don Smart, Jim Irvine, Don McWatters to name just a few.

Now the top 5 up and coming coaches in Australian in my opinion well these are-

1. Ryan Tout (Victoria)- Ryan is in my view the next big thing in Australian hockey, and I believe it will only be a matter of time before he will be part of the National set-up in some form.

2. Warren Birmingham (NSW)- Warren has been around in Australian hockey for a while as a player and Coach but I believe that he is one of the next top coaches out there within the Australian ranks.

3. Rob Hammond (WA)- Rob did a fantastic job recently with the WA Diamonds and now finds himself as an Assistant in the Australian set-up and will I believe go on to be a great hockey coach.

4. Jamie Dwyer (Qld)- now for allot of people the jury might be out on Jamie, but its not for me, Jamie is a true thinker as a Coach and will be one of the great Coaches of the game to go with his status all ready as Australia's greatest hockey player.

5. Madonna Blyth (Qld)- now Madonna has only just retired from the game at international and just started coaching in Perth with Hale, but I believe that she makes my top 5 in 5th as one of the next generation of Coaches on the way through.

Once again there are perhaps other notable mentions here such as Travis Brooks, Jay Stacey, Kate Starre from Victoria, Megan Rivers from NSW, Jess Bingley from ACT to name a few.

In the end its hard you could choose any number in these lists and there would still be someone missed or disagreement on something. Anyway this is my list and I welcome comments on it what do you think?

Building a Coaching Team & Planning for Success

More often than not, sports clubs out there fall into the trap of looking for the Head Coach then expecting them to put in place the coaching team and structures that will take the club/organisation to the top, without any thought before doing this by the club/organisation as to where they want to go as a club both on and off the field. I call this a failure to plan becoming a plan to fail. We see this on a regular basis in my sport of hockey, where clubs/organisations fail to plan, thus set themselves up for failure.

All sporting clubs out there before appointing a new Head Coach should ask themselves the following question-

- Where do we want to be as a club/organisation on the field and off it in 2/5/10 years time?

They should also ask themselves these questions-

- What are our goals?
- What are our values?

Once they have done this, I believe only then can they truely start looking for a new Head Coach, there is unfortunately a danger that club/organisation sets its sight on finding the messiah the person who will lead them to the promise land. I have seen this in sport on countless occasions, Ron Barassi (AFL) when he went to Melbourne in 1982, Mick Malthouse (AFL) when he went to Carlton, Paul Roos (AFL) when he went to Melbourne. In each of these cases these clubs/organisations had been starved of success, and had fallen on tough times, and thought that they needed a messiah who would lead them back to glory on his shiny white stead, but they forgot that it takes much much more to achieve success, and if the club/organisation in the first place doesn't know where its going and what it stands for then success will never happen.

 From the point of view of my sport of hockey here in Australia I have seen it all to regularly, where a club/organisation as instead of planning for success has instead gone out and found a messiah coach to try and lead them to the promise land, but has ended up pointing there club/organisation and new coach towards failure.

So what should a club/organisation be looking for when appointing a New Coaching team?

Well the first step is to ask themselves those question above, then once they know that, the next step is to set out a criteria of what they are looking for in a Coaching team and not just a Head Coach, because a Head Coach is only as good as the team of Coaching and support staff around them. This teams of coaches and support staff must also complement each other and work well together, if they dont then that is going to be a real problem.

From experience when I am surrounding myself with my Coaching and support team, I am looking for people who as I say compliment me, who make up for my weaknesses in there areas of strength, I am also not looking for yes people, those who will agree with me even though they know full well I am wrong. I am constantly looking for people who challenge me to be the best I can be as a Coach, and who will offer their own opinion. I often say to other coaches when they say something to me, know I dont what to hear what you think I want to hear, I want to hear what you actually think.

Clubs and organisation should also be prepared to be challenged by there new Head Coach and Coaching team, and should never ever be afraid of constructive feed-back, if they are then all I can say is again you will end up failing.

The other thing I also say to all coaches out there when they take on a new role, is that you must and should always leave the club/organisation in better shape than when you found it, and that you should all the time be creating and developing many different people to take over as Head Coach when you move on, and as Coach you should never feel threatened by this, otherwise you need to stop coaching because you ain't to good.

So in conclusion you should always be planning for success, because if you dont then you are simply planning to fail.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

SOB: Stick on Ball Game Scenario Flow through drill

Here is another Game Scenario Drill, I designed and used tonight with my team at training, its great little drill designed to get the players working on keeping there stick on the ball, which we refer to as Stick on Ball or SOB for short.

With each pass and lead there are different skill elements which the players are working on things like-

- Stick on Ball
- Leading on the Flat stick
- Leading on the reverse
- Pushing the ball hard into the corner of the goal.
- Transfer slap hits.
- Using the pace of the ball to get control of the ball
- Rolling out.

As I say its a great little drill, I welcome comments on it and let me know how it went with your team.

I hope to bring many more of these as we go along.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

My Hockey Coaching Game Plan Principles

Over the 18 + years I have been coaching, I have slowly developed some basic game plan principles which apply to every squad I take on. An while my game plan as any quality coaches game plan should be doing, which is evolving and adapting to the situation/s that your team find themselves in at any particular time, the core basic principles that unpin this game plan will always remain the same.

So what are my core basic game plan principles-

1. Everyone can play any position on the field at any given time. (Flexibility)
2. We attack from defence and defend from attack. (Two way hockey)
3. We apply maximum pressure to the opposition at all times. (Constant Forward Press)
4. We focus on our processes and let the result take care of itself. (Process = Result)
5. We control the centre of the field. (Control Centre = Control Game)
6. Where possible we attack through the top of the circle. (Possession = Control)

So those are my six Basic or Core Game Plan Principles and when you watch any squad I coach you can pretty much see in some form each of these principles in action throughout the game in different forms.

What do you think, how do you set up your teams do you have principles that you always look to implement with every team you coach? I look forward to reading your comments and hearing from you, lets get a discussion going on this.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

First Principles of Sports Coaching

There are certain un-written first principles that all Sports Coaches should be following at all times, and these are what I call a Coaches un-written Duty of Care if you like, similar to a Doctor's oath etc.

Sports Coaches First Principles

1. A Coach shall never place any player under their charge in harms way.
2. A Coach shall always make sure that the line's between Coach and player remain clear and defined
3. A Coach shall at all times conduct themselves in an appropriate manner.
4. A Coach shall never ever use bad language in front of there players.
5. A Coach shall create a environment for there players that is safe haven at all times.
6. A Coach shall always put there players and club first.

If a Sports Coach follows these six 1st principles at all times when they are coaching they will never fail, its only when a Coach deviates from any one of these 1st principles that things will start to go wrong. In recent times we have seen this in Australia at the highest levels of elite Sport where the Coach at certain clubs or with certain elite sports organisations has forgotten that they have a duty of care to there players and as a result has dropped the ball on the 1st principles of Coaching. 

In some cases within Australian those Coaches I am referring to have actually made it all about themselves and have crossed way over the line on point six and as a result have found themselves on the Coaching scrap heap.

I say this to all the Sports Coaches I talk to particular those who Coach junior sport, you must at all times put your players first and apply 1st principles and your duty of care.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Attacking Forward Press for Hockey

These days modern hockey requires teams when they haven't got the ball to be pressing up on the opposition to do everything they can to win the ball back, and close down the passing options for the opposition.

For a while now, I have been using what I call a very aggressive forward press, at its best this press I have witnessed strangle opposing teams and force them to turn the ball over simple because it would be easy to face and attack than try to break through it. My teams started using this Press in 2013 at the Junior State Championships in Victoria, and I used it ever since with every team I have coached. I cant lay claim to coming up with the idea that belongs to a good friend of mine Mitch Dickin, but I have since tweaked it to make it even more effective.

Here below is the diagrams of what it is all about-

In each case you want the opposition to have the back pass that is fine, because with relentless pressure this back pass will gradually get shaky and the opportunity to force a turn-over to your forwards will be there. This is a very high risk strategy, but it brings very high reward if you get it right, and my premiership success in 2015 with Manly was pretty much based on this, during that season we pretty much had teams pinned back in there defensive 25 and they often struggled to move the ball even to half way without risking a turn-over.

If you have any questions on it please feel free to leaves comments and seek further information.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

A New Distribution Offence for Hockey

For a long-time now, I have watched and picked up different ideas on tactics and strategy from other sports, and tried to see if they could be adapted into my sport of field hockey. One such idea was to create a new type of distribution offence based on the Great American Basketball Coach Tex Winter's offence, which is called the Tex Winter Offence.

I have spent many hours looking over books, articles, vids about this offence to see if there is away for it to adapted with adjustments into hockey, and I now think there is. I wanted to share with you my readers the first two set-ups for this new distribution offence that I have come up with so far, (see below)-

The concept of this offence is to spread the load amongst the forward and the midfield creating multiple options to score, and confusion in the defence. For every single pass and lead made in this offence there should be another three options to go with it where possible.

As I say this is the start of my development, and I would welcome comments and further ideas on this as I move it forward. I am yet to test it in a game, but do plan to begin working on it at training to see how it goes.

All comments welcome.

Coaching Game Skills Drill: Structured flow-through

I wanted to share a Game Skills Structured Flow-through Drill which I used with my girls tonight at training with everyone out there.

Now for some of you this may just look like a bunch of line's, and squiggles on a page, but it is actually a very effective GSD, for working on the following-

- 16 yard hits
- Transfer passes from one side of the field
- Leading and re-leading in different direction both on and off the ball
- Moving the ball fast in transition form defence to attack.

This is the base drill, which you can as the players get used to each add different elements and obstacles to it.

Its set up as a full field GSD, and you run it using both sides of the field from either end's sixteen.

As a Coach I am always using my white-board to come up with different GSD's like this one to use at training. If you would like a copy of this GSD with explanation then please leave a comment with how to get it to you and I will send you a copy.

I hope to bring more of these to you in the coming months.