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Indoor Hockey and its development: Part I
02 Apr 2007 09:01

After the success of the Samsung Indoor World Cup, discussions about Indoor Hockey started. Tayyab Ikram, the FIH Coaching Manager, gives his Indoor Hockey opinion about the way the good practices, the development and the relation with ‘field’ hockey’. He gathered different opinions from development and coaching experts.

Indoor Hockey is a supplement to the outdoor game. Indoor Hockey provides more playing opportunities outside of the traditional seasons and in different circumstances for example when fewer players are available or there is limited playing space.

Indoor Hockey can be played in nearly every country in the world irrespective of climate, financial conditions, populations and facilities. There is a big gap between field and indoor hockey in terms of resources needed, as it can be played on most of the indoor surfaces available and even on leveled pitches outside!

We have experienced that indoor hockey offers an excellent way of introducing hockey where it has not been played before. Hard surface courts are available almost anywhere and that’s the starting point for deciding on indoor hockey.

Because it involves fewer players than field hockey, it is also an excellent way of playing and developing the sport if there are only small numbers of participants.

Indoor Hockey could be considered as one of the big stones for the development and practice of our sport as it gives the opportunity to start at early age. The size of the pitch and the even surface make it more appropriate for young players to enjoy and discover the fun of our game

The skills involved in indoor hockey also help the skill acquisition process for the outdoor game. Indoor hockey is extremely important in coaching and developing young players because the speed of the game challenges them to make quick decisions and time their actions. As the field is much smaller and the ball changes direction all the time, all players are integrated in the game.

Indoor hockey offers easier tactics for young children, who can quickly be introduced into the playing and running concepts. Indoor is also important from a marketing point of view as it is a sport that is easily televised. A great atmosphere can be created, resulting in larger audiences and sponsorship. All of this has value on its own and can also be of spin off to the field hockey game.

The FIH is therefore attaching increasing importance to the indoor game including a review of its rules which has just been launched by the Hockey Rules Board.

INDOOR HOCKEY – how do the experts around the world see it?

Laura Darling, USA & member of FIH/DCC Coaching Group:

‘Indoor plays an important role in USA Field Hockey.  Hockey is most popular in the regions of the USA where winters are not conducive to an enjoyable game of outdoor hockey from December through March. Hockey enthusiasts have turned to indoor to extend the competitive seasons of hockey. Many indoor sport facilities have opened and look to rent space to a variety of sports looking to move their game inside for the winter months. Indoor soccer, lacrosse, and hockey have become popular in the Northeast USA.’

‘USA Field Hockey has responded to the interest by creating a National Indoor Championship for Adults and young athletes. We hold qualifying tournaments during the month of December, January, and February. Teams meeting the selection qualifications are invited to attend the National Indoor Tournament. March 2007 USA Field Hockey's National Indoor Championship included 1,500 athletes / 150 teams.’

FIH Master Coach Ruediger Haenel feels that Indoor Hockey in Germany is a compact part of hockey family.

‘There is a strong and serious competition system. You can play Indoor Hockey in any school facility and the combination of indoor and outdoor hockey means that you can play hockey all year round and therefore be able to compete with other sports.’

Rodolfo Mendoza, FIH Master Coach in Pan America:

‘Indoor Hockey is mainly a winter sport and played more frequently and consistently in the Northern Hemisphere, where winters are longer and extremer, compared with the South. Definitely, Canada and USA are from a climatologic point of view the more important countries in the Americas where Indoor Hockey is played.’

Up to date, the Pan American Hockey Federation (PAHF) has organized three Indoor Pan American Cups simultaneously for both Men’s and Women’s.

In summary, Canada, USA and Trinidad in Men’s, and Canada, Trinidad and Mexico in Women’s are the only countries in the Continent that have played in Indoor World Cup. Canada Men’s is the only team that has played at the two World Cups. 

In the Caribbean region Indoor Hockey is played in many countries (Guyana, Barbados, Venezuela, and some more) but Trinidad & Tobago is the country with the more consistent participation in both Pan Am and FIH Indoor World Cup.

In South America, Paraguay, Brazil and Peru have shown some activities in Indoor, Women’s U17.Chile is increasing the interest to play Indoor. 

In Argentina indoor hockey is also played outside Buenos Aires, especially in the South of the country where the climate, cold and dry, does not permit to have good grass pitches and where synthetic field are too expensive for most of the Clubs. Indoor Hockey National Tournaments (Men’s and Women’s, senior and U18) are regularly run and played. It is significant to say that Indoor Hockey is a very active sport in one of the most southern cities of the World: in Ushuaia (Argentina). A Cup called “The Tournament of the end of the World” is run every year. 

John Hooper an Australian Working in England - A coaching expert on Indoor Hockey and Field Hockey:

‘I view with optimism England’s re entry into European Indoor by hosting both the Men’s and Women’s Euro Hockey Indoor Nations Challenge to be held between in 2008.

This event will mark England’s international indoor comeback.  The last appearance for an England senior team in Europe was in 1998 when the women won silver, but the highlight for England came in Glasgow in 1996 when the women won gold.’

‘England has announced it will extend the Indoor season and extend the Outdoor season in warmer weather on either side of Mid winter Indoor season. With frozen pitches and poor weather this seems a sensible practical position. Much like Germany does at the moment.’

‘Recently the penultimate “Big day in” England Men’s, Women’s and Juniors All England Indoor hockey championships, has attracted profit making crowds of between 4,000 – 7,000 spectators. All of this televised by Sky Sports. Sponsorships and being well organized has made this a self funded event.’

‘England hockey has made public announcements about their support of Indoor hockey and England hockey executive members have made this clear to all level of England hockey community. A strong feeling that England hockey are supportive, organized and want to move Hockey including Indoor hockey forward in the right direction has made Indoor hockey feel like its part of the General hockey scene rather than poor cousin. England is developing a great environment for both Indoor and field hockey coaches to flourish in.’

Lucho Pacheco from Peru, Indoor Hockey Expert:

‘Indoor Hockey in Peru could be considered one of the big stones for the development and practice of this sport as it gives the opportunity to start at early age. Peru lacks field hockey pitches as the only ones belong to schools and a private club who generously open their door to the practice of the hockey.’

‘In these circumstances Indoor Hockey has become the easy sport to practice in cement outdoor pitches most of which are basketball pitches or small football pitches.

Every year more schools are joining to promote and compete in this new sport as it is considered easy to develop as well as liked by the children. The P.E teachers are attracted with this new sport. They don’t need big pitches and they can start with few materials.’

Roberto Flores from Peru, President National Federation:

‘Although I am an advocate of Indoor Hockey, I must admit that its development in South America has been anything but impressive. The most serious attempts in the region were made between the years 2003 and 2006 when it was agreed to hold U/17 (then transformed into U/18) yearly tournaments. The first one was very successfully held in Asunción, Paraguay, in 2003, followed by another in Florianopolis, Brazil in 2004. Unfortunately successive attempts in San Juan, Argentina (2005) and Lima, Peru (2006) failed to materialize due to the insufficient number of registered teams. There has never been a competition at Adult level. The Field game seems to be so well established in countries like Argentina and Chile that little support is given to the Indoor game, except in some rather remote provinces.’

‘It is completely different in Peru, where hockey is a small sport that thrives in isolation from all the other South American countries. Our players (including juniors) play field hockey (on grass) and indoor hockey, devoting half the season to one, and the other half to the other. The lack of artificial turf was definitely a catalyst for such a decision. And our players certainly enjoy a more varied yearly calendar!’

Bill Gaudette, FIH Coaching Expert of Indoor and outdoor Hockey, USA:

‘In my opinion, Indoor Hockey has the ability to provide a level playing field for nearly every country in the world irrespective of climate, financial conditions, populations and facilities. An equal opportunity for the small country to effectively compete with the Giants of Field Hockey.  With a commitment to excellence, a quality coach, a few players and a local facility, the “will and might” of a smaller nation can emerge as a key competitor within the FIH world of Indoor Hockey.’

‘Indoor hockey is a fast paced sport that appears well suited to the tastes of American Sports fans. First we need to foster the drama in Indoor Hockey and then follow the example of basketball which is more of a “microscopic activity” that women can personally love, hate, admire and analyze. Yes women need to be a key factor in our marketing efforts as they will be a major influence in our spectator base.  In the USA for example, 90% of men and 75% of women care about sport. And, instead of seeing Indoor hockey as a “rich kids sport” we need to have the label a “poor kids sport”.  Initiatives could be developed to bring to the indoor court spectators with wild tee shirts, painted faces and bodies similar to what is seen for football throughout the world.’

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