Thursday, May 26, 2022

Hockey Coaching: Drills repetition and performing in gameplay

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Todd Williams
Todd Williams
Todd Williams is a former Australian international, the hockey professional at Magdalen College School in Oxford and was a Premier League coach for over 12 seasons with Hampstead and Westminster, Slough Ladies and Surbiton.

Imagination inspires creativity. Over the years I’ve seen all sorts of things on the hockey pitch from tyres to rubbish bins, rebound nets, tackle pads, chairs and swimming noodles all somehow providing some added feature to make a drill more fun or challenging.

For those who coach on a sand-filled surface, I even found a great use for old climbing rope by twisting it and tying it so that it would (or sometimes wouldn’t) make the ball skip to try and replicate the bounce on a wet surface.  

Critically though, there are two things that drills can offer that are either harder or impossible through gameplay.

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  1. Agree with these articles wholeheartedly. There has been too much emphasis on gameplay at the detriment to basic/core/fundamental skills. You can have the most creative, fun and exciting game in the world planned but if the first pass never goes to the right person and then the person it goes to can not control the ball then the game never gets going.

    I think using junior tennis players is great example of why you must “drill” players and not just use gameplay. Personally high level tennis juniors have skills that far surpass the equivalent level/age hockey player. Now this is largely because tennis is an individual sport (with more money) that means kids have had considerably more contact/coaching time so will simply have played more of their sport. However if you look at what they do in their practice session, they hit forehand (or backhand/volley/whatever) after forehand after forehand in a row, honing and perfecting their technique through repetition. Yes they will most likely have goals or aims (hit so many in a row without and error or hit a certain area on the court so many times) but the exercise will be repeatable and repetitive. Hockey coaches are unlikely to ever have the contact time with their juniors that tennis coaches do, but to ignore the need to practice specific techniques or skills will not benefit their long term development.

    The skill is obviously to ensure the practices/drills/practices are still fun and engaging so that kids want to repeat them over and over again.


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