GHC Director of Hockey Dan Fox recently summarised much of the work he and the club have been doing during the 2019/20 season. This was written in March, just before the season ended prematurely due to the virus pandemic, at which point we all needed to stay home and stay safe.
While we are all really missing out on our biggest ever summer programme - meant to begin this week - please have a look through and get ready for hockey and GHC when we can get back out on the pitches...
Coaching - Overview
The club has been delivering approximately 100 hours of professional coaching and support each week. This included over fifty hours across the Junior section, approximately 25 hours in the Senior section and 15 hours to our Partner Schools.
Recruiting coaches for the 2020-21 season takes places throughout the season and I am working out the jigsaw of coaches and teams at present, with a view to having it complete in April. We are expanding the number of coaches at the club and increasing their level of experience, their qualifications and their exposure to hockey inside and outside of the club. At present we have 22 professional coaches.
Partnering with local schools gives opportunities to young and aspiring coaches to supplement their club coaching income and increase their range of skills. These links also attract new players to the club, improve provision for GHC players who would otherwise not be able to access school hockey and help secure our place as a community-based organisation committed to offering opportunities for all.
Our School Partnerships also generate revenue for the club. This money pays for the coaching teams in each school, for new equipment at the club and is fed back into our overall running costs. As well as the first ever games between Broadwater, Glebelands and Guildford County Schools this season, we have forged new links with Pyrford Primary School, Hoebridge and Barrow Hills, bringing the total to eleven schools with regular weekly coaching links. As we look to expand this programme, I am looking for introductions from parents to their local school sports departments so that we can replicate our success in this area.
Good coaching practice takes time and effort. As well as running Coach Education sessions across this season I have been planning the programme for 2020-2021.
Currently all Lead Coaches receive weekly session plans based on a season-long outline, individual support and mentoring when appropriate and the chance to attend coach ed sessions on a variety of topics.
Next season Coach Education will be filtered into Junior training programmes. Every 6th/7th week the coaching teams will have an evening away from their squads, working instead with other coaches and discussing best practice. How this works for Adult club coaches is to be confirmed.
Coaching - Direct Roles
Next season I will be Men’s 1st team head coach and continue to run the Boys U18 programme. Across the week this will continue my commitment to Tuesday and Thursday evening sessions with the Men’s programme.
In addition, I run Junior academy hockey on Tuesday and Thursday evenings (6:30-7:45) and coach across the age group squads on Friday evenings as required.
On Saturdays I am with the Men’s 1st team and see other Women's and Men's sides where possible. On Sundays I try to get a balanced view of players and teams across the Junior section. The challenge of seeing as much hockey and as many teams as possible given the limited time available has been tricky.
The solution has been recruiting good coaches to deliver sessions to every member. Our provision for Adult teams puts us on a par with (and way ahead) of almost every other big club in the UK.
Other club focused initiatives continue...
Young Leaders Programme
Our Young Leaders Programme has built on the tradition of volunteer coaches working with Junior teams. The quality of delivery and level of engagement is really good.
The integration of coaches, their skills, and how we develop them from August to March is a work in progress. I am delighted that a significant number are going to continue coaching next season. How do you find great coaches? Make your own.
Strength and Conditioning +
Strength and Conditioning for junior players has begun on Tuesday evenings, run by qualified S&C coach Sam Plater. More was planned to follow in the summer. Adult skills classes and opportunities for 1-2-1 sessions run by top coaches outside of normal training slots is something that I would like to offer next year, probably on a Thursday evening.
Lucy Holder is continuing at the club next season and will formally take charge of our U6 age group. As well as coaching, Lucy will be using her sports psychology degree(s) to deliver a series of workshops to our Junior (and Senior) players.
Summer Programme 2020
The summer was planned to be our busiest ever. Our Mixed Summer 6s was due to kick off on 22 April. This year's Summer Academy aimed to have 200 Juniors playing weekday evening hockey from the end of April to the middle of June. This was to be led by top coaches and include the chance for parents to attend partner classes for parents at the Broadwater Leisure Centre.
As part of the same programme, we were going to lead both the Waverley and Guildford Borough Surrey Youth Games (SYG) teams in weekly training and at this year's festival in June. I spoke to the SYG Young Ambassadors from thirty-five local schools about playing new sports, The Olympic Games and how to get people involved.
Sport Godalming have donated to our Schools Programme and I was due to talk at their Annual General Meeting in March - a good chance to meet all the other local sports clubs in our borough. Unfortunately all of this was cancelled and postponed due to the need to "social" and physical distance during the pandemic.
Sponsors and Partners
Other sponsors and partners continue to support the club and this year has seen some great new relationships. Tireless work from James and some great contacts from parents and supporters have made this possible. I am always looking for support for projects and would like to push this further. Please get in touch if you or someone you know might benefit from a partnership with GHC.
Junior Skills Camps
Hockey Camps are running well. We have up to 40-70 players on each of our 17 dates. It is challenging and engaging hockey for young players, plus a chance for our coaches to share good practice. Most importantly the camps are great fun, both for GHC members and for players from the wider community who join in and make up 30% of attendees.
There is plenty of other day to day content. I spend a lot of time talking to people about players, session plans, match tactics, penalty corners and much more.
The potential reorganisation of the structure of England Hockey is a good example of an issue that needs careful thought. Likewise, a new Junior League structure for ages 9-13 is a topic that six large clubs in the local area are discussing now.
GHC - A Great Place to Play
Ultimately, there is an army of people supporting the organisation, as there has been for a long, long time.
It is a pleasure to work with a group of people whose shared passion is hockey and are striving to find ways to make the club deliver a great experience for everyone.