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.