Virtual 2023 National Coaches Forum Concludes

That’s a wrap! The virtual 2023 National Coaches Forum was packed full of invaluable presentations and discussions. The first day was full of tactical and technical discussions and Day 2 moved into different perspectives, offering insights into new technology to incorporate into coaching philosophies, a Collegiate Roundtable with three open and honest coaches, and a breakdown of the umpire’s point of view and relationship with coaches by USA Field Hockey's Director of Umpiring Sean Rapaport. 

Did you miss any of Day 1 or 2? You can still receive the recordings of each 3.5 hour session!

Starting off the day were Jimmy Culnane and Peter Murphy, showing participants features of Team Oppy, a sub-management and game management software. They broke the web-app down into digestible pieces to demonstrate the benefits of using it in any level of play. It offers sub-management tools such as tagging players to track minutes played and it will suggest an optimal amount of time for each player to be on the field. Additionally, it will tag players with their corner position and alert the user if no inserter, for example, is on the field! Among its other unique features that set it apart from competitors, it also offers a customizable dashboard for users to see specific statistics that are most useful for them and their team. Team Oppy offers different levels of subscriptions for different users, from a simpler setup with standard features for quick set up and learning, to the most detailed set up with the biggest range of offered statistics. Interested in learning about their AI Cam feature which live codes video as the game is played? Tune into the recording to find out how to use it with your team!

The Collegiate Roundtable is a participant favorite year-after-year, and this year was no exception. Steve Jennings, Ange Bradley and Pam Bustin joined Craig Parnham for an open and honest conversation not only about coaching strategy and philosophy, but also about athlete well-being. Increasing awareness on taking care of your own and your athletes’ mental health has been seen across sports in recent years, and these three coaches offered great advice. Don’t forget – take care of yourself to best take care of your athletes! Another topic discussed was how to define the keys to a successful season, and all three coaches gave in-depth responses all centered around the need for a collective sense of passion, trust, desire, and of the team’s vision. But how do you get there? Steve, Pam and Ange all offered their insight into how to best facilitate team bonding. A word of advice from Ange – building that team bond never rests! It starts in the off season with building strong athlete leadership so it is in place for the fall. Pam’s advice was intriguing to hear too, sign up to receive the recordings to hear what she had to say! Are you also curious what Steve had to say about what thing a coach needs the most to be at their best? It might not be what you’d expect and you can watch the recordings to find out.

Sean Rapaport, USA Field Hockey’s Director of Umpiring, joined the forum as the last speaker of the forum. He shared with participants the main responsibilities of the umpire in a game. He also brought to light the many steps that take place before an umpire makes a call. The FIH even coined a phrase to describe this: “The Umpire’s Brand.” Step 1 - Awareness of the game and the situation. If the umpire is aware, they’ll be prepared to make the call. Step 2 - Recognition. Recognizing what happened needs to happen so quickly, and umpires are constantly honing these skills. Step 3? Action. The action, or making the call, is often the part people gripe with the most – do you want to put your umpiring skills to the test? Sean gave video examples of different calls and asked for opinions, which was an interesting and eye-opening experiment. Or, have you ever wondered about step 2, what the umpire’s thought process is before making a call? What about how umpires are instructed to watch the game or interpret the rules? Any coach has! Sign up to receive the recordings so you can watch and learn the answers to these common questions.