The newly-formed partnership between India’s head coach Terry Walsh and high performance director Roelant Oltmans has started to make it’s presence felt in all levels of Indian hockey. In an attempt to bring an uniformity in the
way game is played across the country,and also create a systemetic process in developing the grassroots,the duo conducted a clinic for the city coaches on Sunday at the Mumbai Hockey Association Ltd (MHAL) premises.
Twenty five coaches turned up for the seminar,which was held hours before the Bombay Gold Cup final.
The idea behind the session was to get the local coaches introduced to a
more professional stream of hockey so that they could in turn introduce it
at the grassroots level, says Vernon Lobo,former manager of Air India’s
Oltmans and Walsh,who follow the Dutch philosophy,chose to address
two specific aspects: the importance of using rolling substitutions and focussing on player mentality.
The coaches talked about how Indian hockey is still very traditional
and centered around only skills,and has not moved forward to introduce modern strategies, says Jasdev Singh,Western Railway team manager.
They gave scientific details with what they said. They told us that players lose a lot of calories when they play at a 100 per cent,and as a result they can’t perform well in the last 20 minutes of the game. Which is why we need to make use of the rolling substitution so that the players get a chance to rest and perform better in games, he says.
St Anne’s School coach,Newman D’Souza goes further to explain. It’s all about keeping the players fresh and making sure all the players are getting good exposure. The example they gave was that Sardar Singh was made to play the entire game without a break because he was one of the best players in the team. What they said was we need to get out of the mind-set that only the best players will play,and keep making the substitutions so that the best players stay fresh,and the substitutes also get more game time and get better. We don’t want to focus only one one or two of the best players,but make sure all 16 are at the same level he concludes.
D’Souza also goes further to mention that the interaction was very beneficial for coaches who train players at the grassroots level.
This was probably more important for coaches like me who teach young players, says D’Souza,who
trains children in the 10-14 age group. It’s important for us to know the right information and pass on the right knowledge to the players. This is important for us because we can at least start getting the basics set at the lower level,so that when the players move into the
sub-junior,junior,or even the national level,they have their basics intact and don’t waste time going
backwards, he states. In terms of the mentality,Oltmans and Walsh specifically focused on the
fact that,according to them,the midfield is generally invisible in domesticmatches. They have have noticed there are five players sent forward to attack and there are five in defence,but there is nobody who will cover the huge gap in midfield, says Lobo. Javed Sayed,Central Railway coach,
further mentions that the gap in midfield can be covered up by the mentality of the player rather than a
change in formation. In the forward line,the left-out and right-out players should be called the left-striker and right-striker respectively,along with the central striker. Just calling these three ‘strikers’ will give them the mentality to continue attacking in the game. The left-in and right-in players should be called ‘midfielders’ so they know that their job is to fall back while defending to cover the gap in midfield. It’s the change in the mindset that comes just by using different terms for positions, he claims. They also included a free role for one of the defenders. This player would stay up and have the
freedom to move around in midfield and cover gaps, he adds. Sayed also goes further to state that the new mentality suggested by the coaches would require a high level of fitness,which,according to Sayed,was the coaches’ indirect message to those present. Fitness is always important, he concludes.
Given that the clinic was well received by those present,it is important to ensure the local coaches are able to pass on the knowledge. Regular interactions with top coaches is always a good way to make sure the information is brought into practice, says Viren Rasquinha,member of MHAL coaching committee and former India captain. We hope to get former international players to keep coming to help train. As for Oltmans and Walsh themselves,it depends on their schedule, he adds. The pair have started working on devising a plan to hold coaching clinics throughout the country. The idea is to split the country into various zones and organise sessions in each area throughout the year.