I am a new coach and need pointers!

I am a new coach and need pointers!

I just became the head coach of a middle school field hockey team and would like some pointers on how to coach. I have experience with goal keeping and defensive drills, I was a keeper, so I would like to learn more about offense as well. Any help is appreciated!!

Amanda EmerichCoach, United States of America
Mick MasonCoach, Australia

Coaching is as much about how you motivate players (and help them motive themselves) as it is about skills. Don`t get hung up on drills. Small games help players develop skills in an environment that is closer to competition than any drill you can find, all you have to do is find the constraints that help the players find solutions that you are guiding them to.
An example from my game folder would be..... For developing quick handling and shooting at goal, or for defenders, getting the ball out of the circle quick smart.... I set up a box using cones, 16m x 16m with the goal on one side and two goals on the sides of the box. 4 to 8 players in the box, half attacking, half defending. The attack group has to score in the goal. The defence group has to carry the ball through one of the side goals. Coaches hit a ball into the group from random places to start the game. Normal rules apply. Defenders soon learn to mark hard and prevent the pass, attackers learn to be aware of passes and to shoot with a minimum of touches. All of them learn to keep their sticks down. You can change the defenders focus by adding a player (CH) that must stay outside the box and who must receive a pass from a defender for defenders to score. Perhaps add a rule where no points are allowed unless there is a particular skill shown first, or 2 of your players have passed the ball. Make it harder by adding an extra attacker who can play in the box or go out to mark the CH. The possible variations are endless. One way of finding what works is to ask the players, make them part of the planning. After every game my players and I have a round-table and one of the things players have to do is apply a bit of introspection and put forward an aspect of the game they think they (themselves) need to improve on (these are 16-17y.o. players, younger players often need to be introduced to this gently). The players soon start to give you an idea of what they want from the trainings, and if you ask them to help modify rules they will have great ideas that you can try. The purpose of all this is to get players to use their imagination and to explore skills in a competitive environment. If you see players trying a solution (skill) and they just need help with a technical detail, pull them aside and show them a grip or stance etc that will progress what they have tried and send them back in, but let them search for solutions themselves, avoid telling them what to do, just assist in helping them learn how.
Two great books that can help...
The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle (and it`s companion, The Little Book of Talent)
Practice Perfect by Doug Lemov

I hope this helps.


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