Game Sense Player Empowerment Coaching Model

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  1. Jerome

    Jerome FHF Top Player

    Jan 2, 2014
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    Western Australia
    Game Sense/Player Empowerment Coaching
    By Jerome Buck
    What is a game sense/player empowerment approach to coaching?

    The game sense/player empowerment approach to coaching is best summed up in four key words-

    1. Engage: players in modified game strategies and concepts where they have an opportunity to develop both their skills and understanding of tactics.

    2. Promote: developing players to have a 3 dimensional hockey brain.

    3. Encourage: through game modification (easier or harder) to accommodate varying abilities thus maximise inclusion and challenge

    4. Modify: game rules, playing area and equipment for purpose of highlighting aspects of the game.


    · Fun

    · Playing

    · Thinking

    · Challenging

    · Communicating

    · Inclusion


    Player Centred

    At the heart of the Game sense/player empowerment approach to coaching is the player. As a coach your role is to facilitate, you are there to guide rather than direct the players in their understanding of hockey. The players should be encouraged to think about the WHY rather than being told about the WHAT through asking questions like-

    · Why should we be running into space?

    Instead of telling the player where they need to stand, if you follow this approach I guarantee you will be surprised at the responses you get from your players, no matter what age or ability.

    How do we apply a game sense/play empowerment approach to training?

    Well this starts be re-defining what a hockey skill is, by using this simple equation-


    The biggest thing to remember is that anyone can stand in partners and pass the ball between two, but where in a game of hockey does this practical apply, so why do we practice it? The game sense/player empowerment approach is, when boiled down to it practicing the skills of hockey in a game situations that progressively challenge and motivate our players to acquire the strategies, skills and rules required to succeed. It’s giving your players ownership of the game.


    We start by shifting away from static hockey drills, to Game Skills Practice’s (GSP’s), that are engaging and keep everyone involved in the training session. These GSP’s also need to as we said previously progressively challenge and motivate your players.


    Every training session you run, must have an objective or purpose to it, if it doesn’t then your players simple we get nothing out of it and it will be nothing more than busy work.


    As a coach it is vital that you establish routines for both training and game day, an give responsibility to your player for these routines that then free you up as coach to focus on the all important player development.

    As Coach you can have routines for-

    · Putting out the equipment and packing it away at training.

    · Warming up and cooling down before training and games.

    Also as a Coach I highly recommend you develop a consistent routine for moving from coaching instruction to activity to reduce management time. If your players know where to go and what they need to do when they get there then this will mean more time for GSP.


    For the Game Sense/Player Empowerment Coaching approach to work at its best it is vital that you engage every single player, adopting the following strategies can do this

    1. Voice and Expression

    2. Eye Contact

    3. Signal for attention (AVOID WHISTLES)

    4. Asking questions

    5. Praise and compliment

    6. Quality instructions

    7. Increase participation

    How do we apply a game sense/play empowerment approach to the game day?

    Game day is where the Game sense/player empowerment approach to coaching all comes together. If you have been following the approach in everything you do leading up to game day, then this should bring reward and results.

    This approach at the end of the day is all about empowering your players to take ownership of their game, and the game in front of them. It is all about having a squad of three-dimensional thinkers on game day, players who when they realise something is working, can quickly change things up without requiring you as coach to do it for them. The most important thing a coach must remember on game day when taking this approach to coaching, is you need to let go and realise that, YOU CAN’T PLAY THE GAME FOR THEM.

    So what are some practical examples on game day of where you as a coach can apply the game sense/player empowerment approach to coaching?

    - Pre game talk: during the pre game talk make your key-points first then invite a couple of your players to contribute points as well.

    - Pre game warm-up: appoint a player or players to coordinate this, I generally have one player take the warm-up and stretches, then I hand over to my Captain and senior players to coordinate the pre-game hitting up on the turf.

    - Half time talk: again I will have a couple of key points to go through, then I will ask the keeper for there views then call on key players across the field to make some key points, one key to remember at half time your players will most often only take in three key points generally, so you want it as much as possible to be short and sharp.

    - Post game talk: this is where this approach really kicks in, my approach is to generally head off with the team for a post game walk and cool down to a quite part of the turf, and here I will pose questions like

    § So what do we think worked well during the game?

    § What do you think we need to improve as a team?

    With these questions you are getting your players to think, and working together to set the approach for training the next week and setting the approach for the next game.

    My final tips to all coaches when you decide to adopt the Game Sense/Player Empowerment Model of coaching are-

    1. You are a facilitator at training and games and not the centre of attention.

    2. It may take a while for all or some of your players to embrace this approach, stay true to the approach and hold the space eventually your players will move into that space and you can step back.

    Useful Reference

    · Australian Sport Commission:

    · Aussie Hockey

    · Physical Educator

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