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A bumpy road to success

October 13, 2020

It is the multi-million dollar question that coaches in all sports in all countries are continually asking themselves. What is the most effective way to develop talent?

In an exciting coaching workshop run by the FIH Academy, in conjunction with Coach Logic and Notts sport, renowned coach and coach educator David Passmore will be exploring several aspects of talent development. 

Passmore, who is a FIH Academy Educator and Head Coach to Ireland U21 women’s team, is excited at the prospect of sharing ideas and concepts with passionate coaches who are currently working at all levels across the international hockey community. The course draws on wide-ranging research into athlete development but then looks at how coaches can effectively use the research to create a great learning environment.

“The research shows how important the environment surrounding a young player is,” says Passmore. “And in particular, how the coach’s approach to the longer term development of each individual player in their group is so much more important than having a short-term focus.”

Athlete-centred development is something that Passmore is hugely interested in. Besides hockey coaching, he is also a teacher developer and one area that he is keen to explore is how coaches can develop mental and physical skills within their own hockey coaching sessions, rather than isolating these areas into separate areas of psychology and strength and conditioning. 

“We will be looking at the practicalities of how you create that environment and ‘what does athlete-centred’ really mean. We will also look at how does that reflect in coaching practices at different age groups,” says Passmore. 

Long term development is one thing, but Passmore says another factor that is key to the coaching environment is alignment. This involves national federations, regions, clubs and schools working together to eliminate conflicting demands upon players. He stresses that the athletes need to feel part of a system in which they are being looked after.

Athlete centred and aligned systems are concepts that have been around for 20 years but Passmore feels that early approaches were too restrictive. “There was this idea that talent could only be developed within that one system but actually there are loads of examples where players have developed in different environments but still made it into the national squads.”

Passmore, who refers to himself as a ‘pracademic’ [combining academic research with practical application] will be citing examples of these players on the course but it is the classic situation in which a player has trained in a different sport and then transferred successfully to hockey. Great Britain’s Lily Owsley is one such example – she was an elite track athlete whose speed has made her an outstanding hockey player. 

The third factor that Passmore will be highlighting is the quality of resilience. “If a player goes on an upward trajectory with no set-backs, then they will never learn how to deal with things. Players need to learn how to deal with disappointment. In some cases that might mean they disappear from the sport for a year or two but, if they come back, they will come back stronger. A bumpy road is better than a smooth path."

The FIH Academy Talent Development Coaching Workshop is taking place on 20 and 30 October, with participants joining from all around the world. Visit here for further details.

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