2023 National Coaches Forum Day 1 Recap

The first day of the virtual 2023 National Coaches Forum was one full of in-depth tactical and technical field hockey discussions as well as broader discussions about understating the importance of mental and physical readiness of athletes. There is even more to be discussed on Day 2 – with the new addition this year of an umpiring conversation by USA Field Hockey’s Director of Umpiring Sean Rapaport. If you were unable to make Day 1, you can still register to tune into Day 2 tomorrow, November 30, and you will receive the recordings from Day 1! You can register here.

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Jami Muelders, Germany Men's National Team Assistant Coach, kicked off the Forum with a high-level presentation examining build-up strategies and specifically the puzzle pieces that come together to build a team’s “Hollywood Scenario” of breaking an opponent’s press. With emphasis put on preparing athletes to know which decisions to make and when, so they are able to determine their “exit options” also referred to as “what is next?,” Muelders also emphasized the impact of psychological stress on an athlete put on them by their opponent and how it is perceived. That perception will impact their ability to execute the team’s key puzzle pieces which would lead to breaking the opponent’s press and successfully executing the transition to offensive possession. He brought an intriguing analysis of the growing use of aerials in today’s women’s game that would be valuable to watch on the recordings!

U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach David Passmore joined the Forum to lead an interactive presentation about the "USWNT’s Pre-Game and In-Game Preparation and Processes". Passmore shared direct examples from the team’s recent FIH Hockey Pro League and Pan American Games experiences, bringing an inside look that hasn’t been offered before! Part of the pre-game preparation of the USWNT is gathering information about the opposition, and Passmore offered insight to remember the emotional piece of game play while watching video that impacts decision making. Another piece of pre-game preparation is to practice the unideal scenarios, touching on the control what you can control concept. Situations such as unexpected pauses in play, late arrivals, multiple cards, or removing a goalkeeper can be managed successfully if practiced effectively and if players understand the team’s non-negotiable concepts. His in-game coaching practices are focused on the main question “what is important for this team?.” He offered many suggestions for how to manage the game breaks, how to present the key points to athletes most effectively, and how to manage the dynamics between coaches during breaks. Interested in hearing details breakdowns of Team USA’s Pan American Game prep for playing teams like Chile and Argentina? Register to listen to the recordings here!

USWNT's Assistant Coach, Javier Telechea, wrapped up the day by showing participants the deep value of training and developing defensive skills in all athletes on the field. Defense is not to be overlooked, take a minute to reflect on how much time do you truly invest in defensive skills. He discussed how a coach can instill a variety of defensive strategies to be used in different situations all while keeping everything tied to the team’s identified values. Having a strong tie to team principles keeps trust and in his words, “to trust is to train.” He also showed how valuable it is to train athletes to trust the structure, protect the center, and to play disciplined. An effective way to teach concepts like these are with video, not only in video review sessions but also during practice for live feedback and quick re-execution to show new understanding. Interested in breaking it down even more? Check out in the recordings Telechea's analysis of training 1v1s and 2v1s all across the field.