First and foremost we need a common landscape, from which all coaches, captains, helpers, players and in the case of juniors, parents/guardians can draw their understanding of the game and the club.

We do this by developing and in-bedding club wide playing principles and coaching strategies appropriate for all levels of performance.

Playing Principles

Of course we coach skills, basic, core and advanced, but we are also bringing in the concept of ‘Playing Principles’ to all areas of the club.

These principles are not skill or specific tactics but general concepts that can guide and inform our coaching, captaincies, and playing styles. So, as an example, we have ‘Spatial Awareness’ (local and global) as a principle. Now with that in mind we can bring this topic up in all areas of the game. We can coach it in practices and in game play. We can talk about it pre-game and at half time. Teams can develop their use of the ideas that come from this principle and individuals can be creative with their application of it.

The principles will bring about a commonality of concepts and language across the club; making it easier for comfortable movement around the teams and to answer the problems caused by unavailability issues. Principles can help players be more useful to team performance by defining basic modes of play.

It will standardize training and playing within different groups, teams, age groups, with different coaches, volunteers and captains. It is designed to be very simple, comfortable and effective.

We’ll share more details of these principles throughout the season.

Player Development and Progression.

The pathway from team to team and from age group to age group is a coach led strategy.

This is open all year round, not based on age…but based on “ability.” Whether you are 13 or 60, if you are good enough we need to provide the “right stretch and opportunities” for you. This might be Ladies 4ths, Ladies 1s, ladies 4s, Men’s 4th etc. Stratford Hockey Club can provide this as we have many teams.  It’s all about the right player in the right environment.

All players will have a designated level/age group to perform and/or train in. This will be constantly under review with team captains, session coaches and team managers informing the lead coaches of the development of players.

The performance of players and their potential to move up to work with a higher ranked team, or indeed an older age group (although the participation in the correct age group training is vital, and required) will be measured against appropriate skill execution, fitness elements and the adaptation to, and application of playing principles. Team captains and selection can enable this but ultimately the Lead Coaches will have final say as sometimes tough decisions may need to be made.

Junior Progression & Age Group Sessions

Juniors progress into senior hockey throughout the season, at varying times dependent on many reasons ranging from personal skill, strength, personal & other player availability, etc.

Every transition is ‘fluid. When a junior is selected to play senior hockey it is initially as an experience and may not always be permanent or regular. This is designed to help juniors progress in a controlled and managed manner for maximum enjoyment and safety. We all want our children to progress quickly but please remember that often they may not stay in the senior side at that time. Please support the Captain and coaches in explaining to you children that these decisions are relative and they may not automatically progress to senior hockey.

Badgers/Foxes hockey sits in between junior and senior hockey. It is NOT always a natural progression into seniors and is NOT there to play 1 year then move to senior. It’s a great introduction to competitive hockey for a cross section of ages and both sexes.

When, Where & How do Individuals Train, and Why?

When playing senior hockey it is vital for the future of young players of all standards that they attend age-group training sessions as a priority above Club training. If invited to attend club training, they can attend both but age group training takes priority.

For example; U14 session on Monday is principle based with the emphasis on the understanding and application of playing principles. Emphasis is on play coaching and paused explanations. U14 session on Wednesday is specifically designed for this age group, skills  (individual and unit) will be coached technically and differentiated by outcome.

Club training is a completely different atmosphere. Depending on the young player, this experience can be advantageous but also could be detrimental. Certainly not to be attended instead of Wednesday sessions or indeed the support of Monday sessions. To attend regularly, at the expense of bespoke U14 sessions would need very special and unique individual circumstances to be accounted for. The final decision on this exception for Adult sessions can be made by the appropriate section head coach (Stuart Holby for Men’s, Sharon Smith for Ladies).