This section explains how we look to develop our players at Mount Anville HC. It briefly touches on areas that should give you a good insight into the structure of the coaching at the club.
After safety and enjoyment of the game, player development is next on our priority list.
We have different goals for each age group. Our goal is for each player to look forward to every session and develop rapidly under the guidance of great coaches.
We focus on the development of each individual player. We tweak a lot of our “normal” training sessions in order to maximise the development of each player each week. For example we try to avoid games/drills with queues. A player standing in a queue, leaning on their stick, is not improving. We encourage our coaches to make sure each player always has a ball.
Where we see fit, we take players out of their comfort zones and let them train/play matches in a more competitive environment i.e. some of our players train with older age groups in order to expose them to a higher level of the sport. Generally, when you give young, enthusiastic players the opportunity to train at a higher level, they adapt very quickly and develop at a much quicker speed.
Small Sided Matches
Regardless of age group, all of our training matches are on small pitches with small numbers on each team. This ensures all players are fully involved in the game and therefore improving. Studies have shown the top football nations in the world have their youngsters playing on pitches the size of basketball courts (“Futsal”). Each player touches the ball ten times more than on a big pitch and therefore develops ten times quicker. Spanish and Brazilian footballers are known for their incredible passing and first touch. This all comes down to playing in small spaces when they are young. When they progress to eventually play full pitch they find it so easy as they feel like they have so much space and time on the ball. Click here for a very interesting article about how some of the top footballers in the world dedicate a huge part of their success to playing futsal at as a young player.
Our training drills and matches often include a decision making element i.e. 3 different goals players can score in. Good players make good decisions i.e. “One goal is blocked, I’m going to pass/dribble towards another”. Our coaches will help our players make the right decisions but will not make them for them. We encourage our players to make mistakes – players learn from their mistakes which ensures better decisions are made in the future. We do not have coaches who stand on the sideline, shouting at their players, making all their decisions and nearly playing the game themselves. If our players are afraid of failure, they will struggle when they reach a truly high level as they will have no one to make decisions for them. It is up to our coaches to offer solutions but under no circumstances try to play the game for them. We would be grateful if spectators could also adhere to this. Encouragement is brilliant but please do not issue instructions.
Click here for an example of one of the best football teams in the world playing on a small pitch with wide goals and limited to two touches. These world class players lose the ball a lot but they are constantly refining their first touch and passing skills under high pressure so when they go onto a full pitch (with a lot more space) against real opposition it feels like they are under no pressure at all and they excel.
It is our goal to develop a passion for hockey in each player. Passion combined with enthusiasm and good coaching develops players at a rapid pace. The large majority of our coaches have represented Leinster and Ireland. They got to a high level of the sport as they had passion for it. We would hope this infectious passion for the sport will be passed down to our players.
Problem Solving + Communication
Our coaches ask our players questions and let them come up with solutions. Studies have shown you are far more likely to remember the solution to a problem you have solved as opposed to listening to someone solve it for you. We encourage players to think about a solution and share it with their teammates so they can become problem solvers on the pitch i.e. “The opposition are strong down the centre of the pitch. Let’s attack down the sides.”
Coaching in Images
Many of our coaches will “coach in images” which makes concepts/techniques very memorable for our players. For example when dribbling, a player can carry the ball in a number of different positions. We use the clock face to teach this sometimes complex skill i.e. 12 o’clock – when the ball is directly in front of a players feet. 4 o’clock – when a player carries the ball, open side, slightly behind their feet.
We encourage our players to practice new skills slowly but perfectly. Only when they perfect it they should look to add some speed. This ensures each time a player practices a skill they should be one step closer to being able to perform it perfectly at full speed. Too many times young players try to do a new skill at 100mph right away. They never perfect the basic technique so they will never be able to perform this at full speed consistently.
Goal Setting System
We will have two “Skills Test Days” per season. Players will be given exercises they can practice at home. They will be given a target % to improve by at the next skills test. Players who hit their target will be rewarded. Please note the focus is on % improvement, not being “the best.” This keeps everyone regardless of their starting level motivated to improve. These skills will be the foundation of our warm up each week.
We have different set of rewards for different age groups based on:
- Skills Test Improvements
- Rapid Development
- – Asked to play up an age group
- – Asked to ball girl at an Ireland match
- – Put forward for Leinster programmes
- – Invited to Specialist Training clinics with special guest coaches – drag flicking, overheads, goalscoring, etc
- – Invited to Senior Club training (play with full Internationals!)
- – Offered GW Hockey equipment sponsorship
- – Invited on Team Trips
Parents will receive a personalised player report twice a year from the club. The report will include feedback from your daughter’s coach as well as your daughter’s skills test results.
New Strength & Conditioning + Elite Style Sessions (1st-4th Year)
Girls from 1st-4th Year will be given core strength exercises to do at home and at the start of each session. Girls at these age groups will be exposed to a new elite style of training.
Elun Hack will be Head Coach at these sessions so each player will be working with the Leinster U16 girls Head Coach. Elun is also a qualified Strength & Conditioning coach.
Our coaches select teams on merit/potential and do not take age into consideration – many of our coaches don’t even know which player is in what class. This ensures a fair selection process. Our coaches assess each player and stream them into a team/group which we feel is best suited to aid their development. Teams/Groups are always open to change right up until the end of the season.
In the past our teams have done very well in provincial leagues and cups at all age groups. We would like to make it clear that player development far outweighs our desire as a club to win every match and every league. We do not measure our playing success on leagues and cups won. We determine whether our development structure is successful by how many players we help go on to represent Leinster and Ireland.
Please note: This section is only in relation to the development of players. There are a number of other very important aspects of our club which are key factors when considering our hockey club “successful”.