My name is Karen Bird, and I play, coach and umpire hockey, as well as being on the England Youth Hockey Panel.
I spent last week coaching hockey at the Warwick school pitches in Warwick, the Midlands, England encouraging young people in the Midlands to get involved in hockey.
We have taken a part of the game of hockey, dividing the basics of the game into five sections over the five days of the course. While one of the other coaches, Sophie Orchard, took the younger age group, Chris Todd, who has played hockey for England Youth squads, and I took the older group
Based on each of the skills we had outlined for each day, we demonstrated different ways to approach each skill; for example different ways of passing the ball, dribbling, tackling, or shooting, and then introduced these new skills to appropriate practices, finishing the day in a game situation, with the scoring based on the skill learnt throughout the day.
In doing this, the children can get involved in a fun and competitive environment, while continuing to demonstrate and practise the skills that they have learned during the day.
At the end of every course, we leave the last day as competition day, a chance for the young players to flaunt their new skills and knowledge in the form of a large circuit with small exercises.
The children are constantly playing hockey, playing small tournaments, and doing some fun hockey based quizzes at the lunch break with points awarded and prizes allocated at the end of the day.
It is very rewarding as a coach to watch the children learn a new skill and the amount of improvement we see throughout a week is tremendous.
Every time we run a course now, there are kids that come regularly who have just got better and better, and they wouldn’t come back unless they enjoyed it.
It is so much fun, and as we as coaches improve the practices and coaching methods we use, the courses and players improve enormously, and most importantly they become more and more fun!