Friday, 31 March 2017

Letter to my Seventeen year old self

This year marks 20 years since I graduated Wanneroo High School, all the way back in 1997, so today I decided to right a letter to my seventeen year old self, letter him know what lies ahead and to give him some advice, and hear it is.

Dear: 17 year old Jerome

How are you doing, hows the final year of high school going, hows the Presidency of the the Student Council and student body going?

My advice to you on this final year of high school, is enjoy every moment of it, and don't get to hung up on the Presidency and take your eye off the ball and lose sight of how special this year actually is as your last year of compulsory education.

In the years ahead out of high school, there will be many set-backs, missed opportunities and aborted career paths. You will go to tafe first and study childcare as you will miss out on getting the marks to go straight to uni, don't worry about this, as it will actually prove a benefit to you, as you will gain to more years of maturity on everyone else when you finally arrive at uni in 2001. You will enjoy your time in childcare and meet some great people, but your desire to study teaching and be challenged will prove to great, and it will be one of your tafe lecturers that sets you back on your path here.

When you finally get to Edith Cowan University, you will instantly enjoy the environment around you and start to thrive and grow into the person you are today. During this time at university you will begin your life long passion with hockey, at first you will feel like a duck out of water, but trust me it wont take long before you will feel right at home on a hockey turf coaching.

During your time at university you will start to entertain a possible career in politics, I say to you ignore this idea, its not going to be for you. Dont get me wrong you meet some interesting people throughout this time, and you make a great friend in Jai Mountney the gentle giant from Tasmania at the 2001 National Union of Student Education Conferance, but ultimately your desire to embrace the radical centre puts you at odds with many in student politics and the Australian Labor Party. Its also becomes a bit of a distraction and takes you off your track of becoming a teacher.

Dont get me wrong you learn some valuable skills from it, and this is where you become a tough negotiated and where you develop your thick skin which will be useful later when you get right into your hockey coaching passion. You will also meet your first serious girl-friend during this time, my advice there is be careful, perhaps hold back on wearing that heart out there so openly as things end here in a very tragic way.

Throughout all of this your parents are there for you and support you ever step of the way, remember that without them you would be know where. Also enjoy your chats with your Grandma because she will be gone from your life by the time your 37. Make the most of the time your spend with your family, they are always important and as the years where on you start to see them even less. Enjoy your weekends in Mandurah, and Collie with your Aunty Ruth and Uncle David, as it wont be long before your favourite Aunty Ruth will be gone from your life.

Now lets move onto your real passion in life Hockey Coaching and sports coaching, this is your true calling in life, this is the very thing you want to do, dont worry about those na sayers out there that tell you your made, as I say while it would appear at first that you are like a duck out of water, trust me you are really good at this. You do go back and finish your teaching degree as back-up but nothing feels more right than a hockey turf and you coaching.

Early on dont lose heart mate, when it seems like opportunities to move up as a coach seem to be blocked and your vision of the game and ideas about coaching are looked at as being far to radical and frankly stupid by some. In the end it wont matter your time will come and come it certainly will trust me on this.

It will take you having to move away from your home state of WA to Victoria for you to finally get your opportunities, but its well worth it, so know matter what your Dad says to you dont hesitate remember your success as a coach will be based on the fact that you are willing to and prepared to take risks in order to succeed.

In terms of when the opportunity comes up for your to purchase the family home in Wanneroo, I strongly urge you to think twice about this, think long and hard, as this decision will have a massive impact on everything for you for a number of years. While I can turn the clock back on the decision now, if I can I urge you think very long and very hard about it, as I dont think you are ready for that responsibility.

Once last thing above all this remember to have fun, and enjoy your life and role with the punches and do the best you always can.

All the best Big G, go get them.

Kind Regards
38 year Old Jerome

P.S- Oh stay away from any America's who offer you flashy ideas and concepts, they are trouble, big trouble.

P.P.S- Oh when you move to Sydney and re-kindle a relationship with your old Primary School friend Casey, make the most of those three months, she will be gone in heart-break before you have a chance to get started on your life together.

P.P.P.S- Enjoy the hockey premierships they will be special.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Player Management a big part now of Coaching

The great Australian hockey coach Ric Charlesworth, has a saying that as a coach, " You have to comfort the troubled and trouble the comfortable."

This is very true, more and more in modern hockey as it is across all sports, the Coaches role is more than just being a coach, its also about be a good player manager. Now what do I mean by this, well different players respond in different ways to certain types of approaches. Within a team you will have different characters, and they will respond differently to different ways of coaching and different types of encouragement.

For example player 1 might respond to the tough approach, where you say, " Come on my Grandma can play better than that," by going out there playing harder and faster and better to prove you wrong, but if you use that same method with Player 2 they instead go into there shell and sink into a world of self pity and mistakes. Now this is where a Coach in modern sport must be able to take different approaches and understand there players and what makes them tick.

So as a Coach how would I advice going about this, well I guess the best approach is to try and as much as possible get to know each of your players personally and find out what motivates them to play the game they play. This should hold the key to how you approach managing them as a player, however I do send this caution with that also, you need to be sure as much as possible you keep that sense of aloof line as a Coach between you and your players, so that they dont become to familiar with you.

Its a hard thing to do, its a real balancing act and thats where that quote from Ric Charlesworth that, " You have to confort the troubled and trouble the comfortable," is very true.

My finally piece of advice to all Coaches in this area, is that you often need to trust your gut, and what it tells you in every situation. You also as a coach need to be aware not to get consumed in your players problems as they will end up being your problems and that is not good for you. I also recommend you do some Mental Health Training as a Coach, and one course that is very good is an Online course in Australia through Relationships Australia.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

From Coach Driven to Self driven

I am a big believer and advocate for all sporting teams out there to be self driven, athlete centred as opposed to Coach driven, athlete compliant approach.

All the teams I coach my focus is on having a athlete/player centred approach to everything we do, on and off the field. It is my firm belief that the individual player knows best about there own game and what they need to work on to improve, and the team also should no best about what they should be doing collectively to improve as a team. So how do I go about this, well that really depends largely on the group of players in front of you, some players will embrace this model of a player centre approach or player empowerment very quickly, other will take much longer and may never embrace it.

- At the start of any season, or at the start of my time with a new team, I like to sit down with the group and have a bit of a goal brainstorming sessions, where together as a collective we set out the goals and the plan for the season or time ahead. Basically the road map for where we want to go as a team if you will.

- The next step along the way is to encourage engagement from everyone and a leaderful team if you will, but inviting different players or groups of players to take on different roles within the group or look at different aspects of the game.

- At training the drills tend to be for me more Game based, as opposed to Skill based. I believe that the focus should be on teaching the skills of the game within the pressure of actually game scenario's. If you watch a training session I run what I like to call Game Skills Drills (GSD's) or Game Scenario Drill's.

- During these drills, I will often pause them getting everyone to stand exactly where they are then I will pose open ended question to the players such as, What could we be doing better? What other alternatives could we use in this scenario?

With your questioning you are encouraging the self driven approach and the team collectively to think in a 3 dimensional way.

During the first 10-15 minutes of training I also like individual players to drive the skills practice session where we are working on specific individual skills, I encourage each member of the team from week to week, to come to training with specific aspects of there game that they would like to work on, and where possible I pair them up with others who also want to work on that specific skill.

Implementing a Athlete/Player Centred approach wont be easy, and in the end if you decide as a coach to go down this path you are in effect doing yourself out of a job, because the ultimate outcome from this approach is that the team becomes self sufficient and the players together are able to coach themselves. What you are effectively doing is going from being the centre of attention within the team to being behind the team and players pushing them forward. Now some players will try to pull you back into the space where you want them to be, you have to be prepared to hold your nerve and stick to the plan, no as I say in the end it could make you pointless to some degree.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Helping Players Cope After Selections

Once a selection process has been completed when selecting a team, then comes the task of informing those players both-

- Non-selected
- Selected.

The players that have been selected, they are obviously far easier to have a conversation with than those non-selected players. At the end of the day the selection process is never easy and I have always found the letting people no of the outcome the hardest part. The selected players are obviously over the moon, and the delighted, but for every selected player there is also going to someone disappointed, and the breaking of that news is never easy.

So how do I do, well I have over the years developed my own unique style in doing this, and approach that in the most part seems to work. I do this in two parts-

1. Phone call: I call each player both selected and non selected to let them know of the outcome, and provide some constructive feed-back in the conversation.

2. Letter: I follow up the phone call with a letter, giving them information on the future going forward, some further constructive feed-back etc.

Now for the most part this approach work, however you will always get someone that is not completely happy, that they missed out and they will often then take this disappointment and point it in your general direction for a while. As a coach I expect that, that is part of the normal cut and thrust of what we do as coaches. Eventually over time and distance from the decision those players gradually see the truth and gradually accept that perhaps what was said was correct at the time, and move forward, and those that don't well in most cases they end up fading into insignificance.

I think the biggest thing as a Coach, you must remember is that you need to as much as possible try to help those who have be unsuccessful to understand why, and also to keep the feet on the ground of those that have been selected, reminding them that, you can quickly go from being in a team to being out of it.

Ric Charlesworth has a great quote which I think sums it up perfectly, " You have to comfort the troubled and trouble the comfortable." Thats it in a but shell.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Hockey in WA Must Restructure: Part 2

Recently on this blog and on The Roar, I proposed a major shake-up to the top grade's of hockey in WA, well today I go a step further, and talk about how I feel the game need to be re-structured across the board, so that the sport continues to thrive in Western Australia. With the almost certain departure of the National High Performance program from Western Australia in the not to distant future the pressure on the Metro competitions and clubs will increase, they are all ready struggling with numbers and to produce good talent, lets look at the most recent Hockeyroo's squad chosen there are just two WA players in it, compare that to the 80's and 90's when there were a minimum of 5 in most squads picked.

- So whats gone wrong I here you asking?

Well its simple powers that be, thought that they would always be the powerhouse of Australian hockey, and the result they sat back and did very little or nothing for far to long, which allowed the processes for producing talent break-down, in this state, the game has also suffered with our greatest talent production line the country, breaking down. This has happened because the people running the game in WA have shrunk back to the Metro area, and lost sight of the bigger state.

So what do we need to do, well I am proposing a very radical prescription. The first step will be that two new bodies are set up-

1. Perth Metro Hockey Authority
2. Country WA Hockey Authority

The Perth Metro Hockey Authority will take over running the Metro competition and player development and the Country WA Hockey Authority will over see the various Country competitions out there and will also take responsibility for player development/junior development. Both new authorities will then break there areas up into zones and hire Development Officers to work on Junior Development in those regions.

Hockey WA itself will go back to being the over-arching state body with responsibility for the following-

1. States Teams and Talent Identification
2. Setting the overall vision for the game in WA

An that will pretty much be it.

Now don't get me wrong there has been some good change in recent years within hockey in WA the introduction of the coordinated Talent programs have been a success and those who ran these programs and introduced them should be acknowledged well done, but its not enough now, we must go a step further. Every other state in the country has jumped ahead of WA in all areas of junior development, and I now think there is a strong argument thats says that WA as a Hockey powerhouse would be 4th behind, Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales.

We need to be looking East at some of the initiatives they have introduced over there like-

- J-Ball in Victoria and ACT
- Kookaburra 8's in NSW along with the new Joey Ball.

As I said before its time for real change in hockey in Western Australia, I actual believe that its perhaps time that we had a inquiry into hockey and how it is run in this state set up by the new WA State government through the Department of Sport and Rec.

Now don't get me wrong there are some real success stories here in WA in terms of game development, juniors, increasing numbers in the game etc, like Bunbury, Busselton, Albany and Geraldton, but these are off-set by massive problems in the Metro areas, and in particular Peel where the game seems to be in free fall.

Once again I am offering ideas, I am offering the start to a proper debate and conversation, what I am not doing here and I make this clear is picking on individuals, as I realise that some in the higher levels of the game in WA often develop tin ear, and tend to take everything and every bit of constructive positive feedback, as a personal slur on them, well thats not what I am doing here.

I want hockey in WA to be strong because when WA Hockey in strong Australian hockey in tern is strong, and the simple fact is big changes are coming in the game at International level and right across Australia and the change train is leaving the station and we want WA hockey on that train, but it cant wait for WA hockey and will be leaving anyway.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

My Game Day Coaching Routine

I am often asked by other coaches, what my Game Day Routine is as a coach, what do I do to build myself up to the game.

Well no matter what time the game is on the day my actually routine doesn't change, the timing of each thing in the routine may change slightly but the general activities within the routine doesn't. This is generally what I like to do.

- After I wake up in the morning on game day I like to go out and take a bit of a walk, this isn't a long walk often its to get a paper, or a coffee or even just to a local park where I might sit on a bench and just watch the world go by around me, this I find helps me to clear my head and begin my day.

- I will then have a light breakfast, normally some toast or cereal nothing to heavy

- Then I finishing packing my coaching bag, making sure I have everything I need in there. This bag generally includes my magnetic board etc.

- Then I will review my game notes, the line-up and my opposition intel which I acquired from my forward scouting etc.

- Next I go and have a shower and get dressed and ready to go.

- After getting dressed, then I step off the routine a bit depending on the time of the game and either watch a bit of TV, generally some sort of sport, or listen to Sports radio.

- Then depending on game time, I will have a light lunch, if time doesn't allow a light snack.

- Then I get my head-phones on and turn on my music and off I go to the ground. I will generally listen to music all the way to the ground, I like to do this as it gives me that alone time to focus and get my ready for my players.

- I will arrive at the ground a good hour before the players start arriving, and during this time I like to watch other games or chat to people I may know at the ground.

- As the players arrive I like to greet each as they come in, with a smile and hello, and just check in see how they are feeling.

- Then about 50 minutes before start time we head down into the rooms, and I give my pre-game talk to the players, I try to make sure this is kept to a minimum and short as possible with only key points and not allot of detail, fact is by this stage the players can only take on a small amount of info.

- Then the players go off to warm-up and I will stay and chat to the Manager and just relax.

- Then we hit the turf, and I am giving my last minute messages to individual players, and also looking at the opposition to pick up any last minute points.

- I will then go shake the oppositions hand and wish them luck and also the umpires, I think this is very important.

- Then with a few minutes to go, we come back to get and I simple say ok lets take the game away from them.

Then we are into it.

So thats pretty much my routine, and while it may change slightly in terms of the timing of it depending on game time, mostly the pattern is the same. As Coaches I urge you to make sure you develop your own routines.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

My Top 10 World Field Hockey Coaches

I have decided to do a list of who I consider to be the top ten Best World Field Hockey Coaches in the game right now. Bare in my this is very subjective and its my opinion and I am sure others out there will include others, anyway I will list them in order from 1 to 10 and do my best to give u my reasons for each choice.

1. Alyson Annan (Holland)

Alyson at number 1 for me is a no brainer, I believe that right now at this time, Alyson is the best Hockey Coach in the World, there is no one equal to her. I believe that Alyson has well and truely taken the mantle from her Australian Coach/Mentor Ric Charlesworth as the guru of Hockey Coaching.

2. Danny Kerry (Great Britain/England)

If Alyson is number 1, then Danny is without question Number 2 in the world right now, what he did with the GB team taking the all the way to gold at Rio was amazing.

3. Carlos Retegui (Argentina)

Now some might be surprised that I have Carlos at number 4, but I believe this is again another no brainer, what he has done to transform Argentine hockey is simple amazing.

4. Mark Hager (New Zealand)

Mark Hager for me comes in at number 4, and while he is yet to get New Zealand to a medal at a major competition, he certainly has transformed New Zealand Black Sticks (Women) and that is why I place him at number 4.

5. Max Caldas (Holland)

For me the great Netherlands Coach Max Caldas comes in at number 5, he has been very successful at club level in Holland, with under-age teams an then onto the senior Dutch teams, he is without date one of the best in the World.

6. Jamilon Mulders (Germany)

Jamilon for me comes in a number 6, and that is perhaps a little low, it amazes me how well German prepare the teams, they seem to no matter how they are travelling mid Olympic cycle find a way to the podium every 4 years, and I admire that, and Jamilon is a key to that. They were very un-lucky in Rio but there is no question he is one of the top ten coaches in the world of hockey right now.

7. Valentin Altenburg (Germany)

The same reason for Jamilon apply here to Valentin, did an amazing job getting Germany to the last 4 in the Olympics in Rio considering where they finished at the World Cup 2 years before. He is one of the best in the world right now.

8. Paul Gaudoin (Australia)

Paul who was an Assistant Coach under both the Great Ric Charlesworth and then Graham Reid with the Kookaburras has now moved across to take over the Hockeyroos. I believe that he comes in at the moment at number 8 simply because its early days and we are yet to see how it will go, but I have know doubt what so every that he will by the end of this next four years rival Alyson as the best in the world. Paul you were the worthy winner in the race for the hockeyroo's job and I doff my hat to you, mate.

9. Rob Hammond (Australia)

Now I am sure some are saying how can I have someone who hasn't been Head Coach of a National team at number 9, well its simple, Rob Hammond is in my view the next big thing, he has all ready transformed the WA Diamonds, who the year prior to him taking the job looked tied and disunited. An I believe he will be a very good Hockey National Head Coach as soon as he is given the reins.

10. Colin Batch (Australia)

Colin is the last one into my top ten, the former New Zealand Mens Coach now Australian Kookaburras Coach, I believe will be very good and will transform the Kooaburras, I am just not sure whether he can get them to the top step of the Olympics again, if he does then he will move up this top ten.

So what do you think, I know I have missed a few out and perhaps you could make several top tens, but for me there is only one number one and the Netherlands Women have her and that is Alyson and that is a real shame for Australian hockey, that someone of that ability is not within our ranks and its a great shame. Anyway let me know what you think.

Practicing 16 yard Hits: Game Play Scenario Drill

One very important aspect in any game of hockey is getting out of defence which is taking 16 yard hits. Its also one of the least practiced skills at training.

A few years ago I coached a team who had a major problem in this area, when the opposition place on a very aggressive press they were unable to get out of defence and often resorted to the old fashion hit and hope. Now I know this when I am coaching a hockey game and I see the opposition start to look for the long ball, I know I have them.

Anyway therefore we needed a drill that could teach this and at the same time bring in other aspects, so I asked my two full-backs to come up with a design a Game Scenario Drill which we could use at training. If you ever watch one of my training session you will notice I don't what you would call standard flow through drills or hockey drills, because as simple as this they teach nothing to the players. I believe instead in using Game Scenario Drills or (GSD's) as I call them, along with questioning to get the players to self learn.

Anyway my two full-back came up with this little GSD which worked wonders for solving the problem and I have been using ever since (see below)-

If you would like a PDF copy of it please leave a comment and tell me how to send it to you and I will send you a copy.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Its Time: We need a Australia Hockey Coaches Association

Its time in Australia we need a Professional Hockey Coaches Association, its time that we follow the lead of every other sport in this country and do it.

Why do we need a Australia Hockey Coaches Association you ask?

Well there a several key reasons-

1. Hockey coaches in this country need a body where they can share, ideas and resources and work together for the betterment of the sport as a hole.

2. The Hockey coaching accreditation process in this country is not as good as it could be, and if we had this association they could take over the processes from Hockey Australia, allowing Hockey Australia to focus on the bigger picture.

3. The association would be able to represent coaches and help them with areas such as contracts etc.

4. The association could establish a proper Insurance and super annuation scheme for all hockey coaches which we so desperately need.

So with this in mind what sort of form would this Coaches Association take in terms of its structure, well I propose that we have a National Executive.

This would be made up of one representative from each state, they would then elect a President, and appoint a CEO or General Secretary that would run the association and speak for the association from day to day.

Each state would also have a small office, which would include a state executive led by a State President and State CEO or Secretary who would speak on matter within that state.

This body would also be responsible for raising the professional standards of coaches, and running professional development for all Coaches. I believe the time is now it is a must and need to happen sooner rather than later.

I call on my fellow coaches across Australia lets join together and make this happen.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

My New Book

For those of my readers who would like a copy of some of my essays in a book form, then check out this link-

Monday, 13 March 2017

My Greatest Achievements as a Hockey Coach

I am often asked in my travels and when I am doing workshops and speaking to fellow coaches what are some of or what is my greatest achievement as a Coach? You know what my answer is to that questions, I am still to achieve it.

Now why do I say that, well any good sports coach worth what they do, is always looking for the next mountain to time, the next goal to reach for, you should never be content with everything you have done, because once you become content, that means its time to get of the Coaching stage. Now don't get me wrong so far in my hockey coaching career, I have achieved a great deal, but I am not yet content with this, I am constantly looking for the next challenge, reach for the next goal, chasing that next dream, reaching for that next star.

So I guess that now moves us on to what some of those achievements have been along the way, well I guess the premierships rank right up there and I have three of those-

2001- Old Guildford Under 15's, Premiers, Minor Premiers and Challenge Cup winners, undefeated season.

2010- Newman Nights Provisional 4, Premiers, this was a great achievement as we came from 4th to win the flag.

2015- Manly Hockey Club Women's 1's- Premiers, Minor Premiers, undefeated season, first time in the finals in 8 years for any team at the club.

2015 with Manly was particularly tough, as that mid-season I suffered a massive personal trauma, when my I lost my beautiful partner, who I was set to marry, in tragic circumstances, when she was taken from this world and from me. It was hard to continue, but I new this, that she would not have wanted me to wallow in self pity, and that she would want me to pick myself up, and get on with what I luv doing. An to this day I know and I do believe she was riding all the way with me to our win that year, and during the Grand Final she was there to keep things calm.

Now besides the Premierships what else have been achievement for me, well it would have to be the chance to Coach to state teams so far to National Championships, one with Victoria and one with the Australian Capital Territory, yes interesting isn't it neither with my state I was born in Western Australia. There has also been the many junior representative sides that I have had the chance to coach to-

South East Sharks (Victoria) Under 15's JSC and Zone Challenge finished 3rd and 5th.
Peel Hockey South West Carnival Team which went on to win
Peel Hockey Club Championships Under 15's Team which went on to win.

But despite all that, to me some of the greatest achievements I have had so far are things like taking a novice player at the beginning of the year, and developing them over the course of the season in to a good hockey player. Watching young player develop into strong hockey players is another of the achievements i am proud of.

But at the end of the day my greatest achievements are yet to come, and these are things like-

- Coaching overseas.
- Coaching at International level
- Coaching the Australian Hockeyroo's to the Olympics and winning gold.

So once again I say to all Coaches out there your greatest achievements are often yet to come.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Who I look to as a Coach?

I am often asked this question when I talk to other coaches, or speak to other coaches at the various workshops I have run. Who do I look to as inspiration as Coach who do I look to to learn from?

Well the answer to this one is I look to many different coaches and also many different people from both within the hockey and sports world, and in the world in general. The first Hockey Coach I look to for guidance, and who inspires me is obvious, that is the great Dr Ric Charlesworth-

What can I say about this man, he is to me the greatest ever sports coach coming out of Australia ever, he is just brilliant. He has taught me so much through reading his books, being able to talk to him and watching him close up in how he goes about it. The record speaks for itself, but I want to talk beyond the coaching record, to the man himself, he is generous with his time, and he never ever looks down on people or ignores people, he always freely gives his time. He is and always be the greatest inspiration to me from a Hockey coaching and a sport coaching point of view and have the greatest influence over how I go about it. Thank you Ric you are a true legend of World Sports Coaching.

The next sports coach who inspires me comes from the sport of Ice Hockey and its Herb Brooks-

Herb was the Coach that led the 1980 US Ice Hockey Team to a great victory against the might of the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. The reason he inspires me is because he was an innovator, he was constantly looking for that edge, that something different that would keep the opposition guessing. His view was we dont defend the might of the Soviet Union we attack them, thats how we will stay with them and it paid off. As a Coach the lesson Herb gave me is just that, that you should always be looking to attack, looking to innovate, making sure you stay one step ahead of the opposition at all times. Herb was without doubt a Coach before his time.

The third Coach who really inspires me is I guess a little bit of a surprise its Gerard Neesham-

Now I am sure some out there will say who is Gerard Neesham, Gerard Neesham, Coached the Fremantle Dockers in the AFL, he was there first club Coach, he also coached my Western Australian Football League Club the Claremont Tigers from 1987-1994 and in that time he tooks them to Grand Final every single year bar one in 1992, and won the Premiership in 87,89,91,93. He again was an innovator, in terms of the AFL, he was a man before his time, but what really I look to here is how well he managed his players who he had under his coaching, he found ways to get the best out of what others would consider sub-par players.

Now other notable mentions here are Mick Malthouse, Alistair Clarkson, John Buchannan, Alex Ferguson, Phil Jackson, Tex Winter, Brian Clough, Ryan Tout, Jim Galanos, Rod McQueen, Lisa Alexander, Allyson Annan, Katrina Powell, Kevin Sheedy and Wayne Bennett among others.

From outside of my sport, and perhaps from outside of the sporting area there are two perhaps who inspire me the most. The first is John Bertrand-

John Bertrand is most remembered as the Skipper of Australia II in 1983 when we won the America's Cup and ended the US 132 year dominance, but what it is about John that inspires me, is how he goes about uniting teams and building success. It was his efforts on the water in 1983 in uniting the crew, and getting them working together which made sure we were successful and without that the Cup never would have been won. Also what he has done to re-unite Australian Swimming and sort out the mess after London is truely inspiring and I gain allot from that as a Coach.

Now I know this next choice will be seem a bit odd, its from the world of Business and its Mark Boris, who is the founder of Yellow Brick Road-

Now why does he inspire me, because he is determined, and he is not afraid to take risk, try new things and stand up for what he believes in. I also like the way he is straight talker, there is no bull from him.

Other notable mentions in this area are, Ben Lexcen, John Longley, Warren Jones, Paul Keating, Richard Branson, Ray Mclean, Julia Gillard, Ashley Kate Frazier, Nellie Mary Hoad, Una May Buck, Ruth Brunswick and Georgie Holton.

Now finally two people, who have helped me become the person I am today, and the Hockey Coach I am today, that is-

What can I say about my Mum and Dad, Greg and Margaret Buck, they have grounded me in the values, I hold so dear today, they both showed me the importance of community, of helping your family and friends out, of helping lift your fellow community members up. They have taught me the importance of understanding and compassion, and they have shown me how important it is to stand by each other in good times and bad.

So yes these two truely have inspired me to be the Hockey Coach I am today, they have given me the grounding from which I have now launched my Hockey Coaching Career, and I know this that there is never enough words here that can say how much I thank them for everything they have done and how they have stuck by me through good times and bad, when it would have been so much easier to just give me the flick. Again thank-you Mum and Dad.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Taking Hockey Back to the People

During the 1980s and the early part of the 90s Hockey in Australia had a broad base of support and people playing the sport across the country.
These people came from all walks of life, but now for some reason the game in this country – a country that is considered by many to be leader in the game – is now only played by a very exclusive group.
It has in effect become a sport run by the elite for the elite. This must end and must end now otherwise the game in Australia will disappear into irrelevance.
We have to take the game back into schools, we have to broaden the base and we have to get more people interested in the game and more young people interested in playing the game. In this paper I am going to explore some ways that we can use to achieve that.
During the 1980s and early part of the 1990s when I went to primary school you would regularly play hockey as part of the Physical Education classes. It was part of the school sports programs in both the private and public schools systems and there were always inter-school competitions.
From around the mid to late part of the nineties the sport seem to disappear – at first from the public school sector where it is now non-existent, and later in the private system.
The governing bodies who run the game in Australia have failed to put the effort into producing a game and the resources to go with it that are simple for schools and teachers to implement who in most cases have never played the game.
The governing bodies have failed to come up with a modified format of the game, which is easy, cheap and safe to play in schools while keeping the basic integrity of the full game in place.
So how do we change this? How do we take the game back into schools?
The first step is to develop a modified version of the game that is tailored to school and actually works, a game that doesn’t necessary need a full hockey field or a hockey turf to play it.
Therefore I am proposing a new modified game call X8s Hockey, this game while based on the full game only requires a maximum of eight players per team on the field at any one time, and each team is only allowed a maximum of two interchange players on the side lines. It also removes the feet rule from the game other than in the attacking and defensive circles, and takes away the dangerous penalty corner.
We have reduced the games to a total of two eight-minute halves with a four-minute half-time break, meaning that games can be over and done with in a maximum of 20 minutes. All of this will make it more appealing to schools, and the game much more straightforward hopefully to teach, while still keeping the basic integrity in place.
Action needs to be taken. I urge Hockey Australia, the state bodies and the hockey community to have this debate.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Constantly Learning and Developing as a Sport Coach

All Sports coaches out there should be constantly learning and developing through various avenues-

1. Reading books and articles.
2. Watching vids throughout Youtube etc
3. Attending courses and workshops
4. Listen to talks.
5. Players within the teams I coach

As a Sports Coach, I am constantly learning and developing, I am always looking for that edge in my sport, and I believe its vital to learn from other who have gone before and not just in my own sport. I believe as a Sports Coach, if you believe you know it all and know one else can offer new ideas, or that you cant learn anything from another sport, then its time to get off the stage and walk away.

Just recently I read these two books-

Both of these books provided me with different ideas and concepts that I hadn't thought of before, and both showed me different ways to approach things, and both also reminded me of important aspects of Coaching.

In the case of Leisel Jones book, this reminded me of how important it is that a Sport Coach, remember that they have a duty of care to the players they coach, that they should be doing everything they can to lift there athletes/players up and give them every opportunity to succeed not only in their sport but in their life. Now this is something that many coaches in Australian sport have forgotten in recent years, the un-written duty of care rule, they have put there athletes and players in harms way because their own giant ego has got in the way.

The second book, by the best Sporting Coach in the history of Sport in Australia Ric Charlesworth, has shown me the importance of challenging your athletes/players to be all they can be, to as Ric says hold there feet to the fire and keep raising the bar and helping them to lift.

Therefore I urge all Sports Coaches, take the time, read, learn and constantly develop, because if you are not doing that then its time to get of the stage.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Developing your Sports Coaching Philosophy

Any Sports Coach worth there salt, will have a Sports Coaching Philosophy that underpins everything they do, and every approach they take to the Sport they are coaching. The Sports Coaching Philosophy is what also underpins a Coaches game plan. My first coaching philosophy was two pages in length, and after 18 years of coaching hockey its now down to one very clear paragraph.

A sports coaching philosophy should include-

1. Your values
2. What your expectation are as a coach
3. Your standards.

Now I here some of you saying how do I get this into one paragraph, well at first when you start our as a Sport Coach, you often don't but in time you learn to say things in a more suck-sinked way, and that is how your philosophy gradually reduces in length and firms up as you begin to firm up what it is that you mean and what it is that underpins your coaching.

My advice to all new Sports Coaches, on developing there philosophy is that you need to seek out that inner coaching voice, you need to be able to relax, and quietly listen to that inner coaching voice in developing your philosophy. I also say don't panic if you cant hear it when you first start out, in a very short period of time you will here it.

Once you hear it, then I suggest you right everything down, this doesn't have to be in order either, then gradually piece it together in a way that makes sense to you. Also don't worry if its long winded this will change over time.

Friday, 3 March 2017

How to build a sporting program from scratch

There are two things as a Sporting Coach that present a challenge-

1. Building a sporting program from scratch
2. Re-building a sporting program that has fallen on tough times.

So how does one go about each challenge, well each is different and each has its obstacles along the way and the end rewards can also be different.

Lets look at challenge 1, building a sporting program from scratch, is a hard task, and as a coach you need to look at this as that your the historic doormat for someone else to eventually take the prize, just look at when the West Coast Eagles started, both Ron Alexander and John Todd were the historic doormats, and it was Mick Malthouse who ended up with the ultimate prize.

When you take on challenge 1, you must accept that it often takes a few years before the sporting program you are building will emerge and mature, and this is largely because the player group that you put together is often inexperienced and the players require time to mature at the level you are playing at.

In terms of challenge 2, that is different because you inherit the position and the list you often find yourself in, now there are two ways you can approach this, you can clean house and replace everyone and everything, or you can only discard what is working and make changes around the edges. As a Coach I have had to do both under challenge 2.

As a Sporting Coach both challenges are equally tough but are equally enjoyable and rewarding, and in both cases clubs need to be patient also. Two often clubs in both cases get punchy because there not seeing success, and abandon the plan, sack the Coach and start again. I sight both the Geelong Football Club who had the courage to stick with Mark Thompson for seven years and were rewarded in the end with Premiership success, and Hawthorn who stuck with Alistair Clarkson and were rewarded with becoming the most successfuly AFL club of the modern era.

So Sporting clubs need to remember that whether you are starting the sporting program from scratch or re-building it, that this will take time and that by being patient rewards will come and often sustain rewards will come.