Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Coaching: The Top Trumps for hockey

Jack Rolfe explains why his MatchPlay Cards make hockey fun to understand

The concept
They say every idea starts with a problem and I suppose the first concept of MatchPlay Cards came about through interviews for my dissertation (How do coaches deliver, integrate and develop psychological skills within the coaching environment?). The study recognised five golden tickets to psychological development 1) Open eyes to psychology 2) Transferring responsibility 3) Ever- changing environment with ‘Randomness’ 4) Training ‘above’ the game 5) Being reflective. The big problem was how do you make these findings accessible, engaging and playful for coaches and players? Playing cards are interactive, they’re competitive and unpredictable so it was a no-brainer!

I see MatchPlay Cards as a coaching take on Top Trumps, UNO and Trivial Pursuit. Rolled into a deck of 60 cards to challenge players as individuals in and out of team environment to create ‘A game within a game’. One hundred percent encouraging players to think differently and independently. All wrapped together with a set of goldmine reflective question cards to ignite conversation between coaches and players.

As the cards grew during the design process it was important that each card didn’t look stacked with information but rather a map of discovery towards a desired destination with the use of powerful language to allow plenty of twisting and turning by the cards owner/s.

MatchPlay Cards in action
MatchPlay Cards can often create huddles of wisdom on the field and grow strategic magicians. The coolest thing for me is to see players owning their game. The younger generation of player is very different to the one 10 years ago. This new generation wants a lot more choice, variety and feeling of influence in their environment and possibly more competitive experiences than the previous generation. MatchPlay Cards bring this to pitch!

Simply weaving a couple of cards into a small sided game or providing a certain player with a challenge card can begin to influence player behaviour and welcome them to the playing group to work together to find tactical and technical solutions.

What coaches and players are totally loving about MatchPlay Cards at the moment is their flexibility and lack of rules. Each of us has our own way of bringing them to life on the turf. Hide & seek remains one of my own personal favourite MatchPlay games, can the each team adapt and recognise the oppositions mission in the heat of the action. One team might have FREE RANGE (Score from anywhere) whilst the other has TIKI-TAKA (Barcelona style – no passes can be longer than 5 metres), I am curious about how quickly players can recognise opposition characteristics in order to find both technical and tactical solutions.


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