In our latest Club File series, we hear from one club which saw Covid as the catalyst for innovation and individual improvement
At new Kent hockey club HC Knole Park, months of lockdown did not stop the club’s members from developing their skills, whilst staying connected and improving wellbeing.
In the March lockdown, the club saw an appetite among members to continue hockey training despite the constraints of the ‘Stay at Home’ order.
“There were a lot of skills videos and content emerging during that time from the entire hockey community. We thought about what our club is about and realised it’s about connection and individual feedback, as well as personal development. Therefore our own programme was built around those important factors,” said Ruth Bingham, chair of HC Knole Park.
The club also offered free membership during the first lockdown to allow more young people to access the offering.
Club captain Adam Ward adds: “After approximately two weeks in lockdown we realised that our members were desperate for some support to keep themselves and their families active during this tricky period.
“To support members we arranged a daily virtual group session which is led by our director of coaching Duncan Parnis. In this session Duncan took everyone through a simple fitness session followed by a 20-minute hockey skills session. Each week has had different themes, including supporting mental health awareness week by setting our members a daily kindness challenge.”
A new third lockdown this year meant a new refined and developed lockdown programme while the club hosted a highly successful online bake-off. Unique to Knole Park was the individual feedback made possible during team online hockey sessions. Players were able to submit unlimited videos and receive personal individual feedback, which was a huge success.
“I don’t think we ever considered we would still be doing this months later,” admits Bingham, “but I am so proud of how we have responded as a club, adapting and moulding our offering to support our members throughout the challenges of the pandemic.”
The club’s director of coaching, Duncan Parnis, added: “This lockdown, most players were already in these routines so we offered a competitive element with weekly 3km blasts and a suggested running programme.
“It was great to have the buzz of the 3km blast like a Saturday fixture, with players submitting their times for an invisible leaderboard. It was great to see how people improved so quickly and began to really enjoy running their 3km!”
The pivotal area for the club has been to make sure that participation levels remain in tact.
Alex Foster, a club parent, said: “We have been hugely impressed with the lockdown programme and the coaches’ enthusiasm and commitment. After a year of very little school sport, as the parents of teenage girls, we are very concerned about the effect this will have on this group going forward.
“Duncan has certainly done a great deal to reduce the chances of our girls and others dropping out of sport.”
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