A Coaching E-Newsletter for DEVELOPING Coaches and their Players

Why Launch this Coaching E – Newsletter?


To educate the current generation of coaches and their players, regarding the soft skills

Background: Before going any further, here are some intriguing questions, which need to be addressed. We – who care for hockey - need to have an honest look at the present situation of the game, reflect and ask ourselves the following critical questions, which are;

Q 1. Where - in which direction - is our game going?

Q 2. Is it going in the right direction?

And if yes, is it good for hockey in the long run?

Q 3. And if not, what needs to be done?

Q 4. What is lacking at all levels of the game?

Q 5. Why so, who is the culprit?




Here are my honest views and I feel strongly about them.

Q 1. Where - in which direction - is our game going?

A 1. Present Situation: Our game is becoming more and more “power based and vastly robotic. It is dominated by hard skills and the soft skills are diminishing day by day, with the exception of very few players / teams, who implement them. Yes, they do implement them, but sadly not to the degree, which they should and is expected from the players of this high caliber.

Said this, there is no question that the game has improved vastly in most other departments, which has resulted in to a highly improved performance.

Q 2. Is it going in the right direction?

And if yes, is it good for hockey in the long term?

A 2. The game is not going in the right direction from this particular point of view. There is a huge imbalance of soft and hard skills and their application. 

It is not good for the game in the short and long term.  It is holding us back, as these soft skills have so much to offer the game in a positive way. We must take corrective measures in a systematic way, to bring this much needed positive change, to revive and sustain the soft skills.

Q 3. And if not, what needs to be done?

A 3. There has to be an optimum balance between the soft and hard skills, and their application. There is definitely a place for both. The place and time to bring this positive change, is not when the players are in their early to mid-20’s, as it is too late and much harder to correct and change. It is when the players are in their pre-teen, early to mid-teen years. These are the golden years of learning and development. 

Side note:

Please refer to SCA’s 9 steps Elite Youth Player Development Model, which has been developed, on the basis of Long Term Player Development Model. On top of this while being the games’ student since 1957, has provided me with an opportunity to observe the game going through its various phases of development, over the decades.

Q 4. What is lacking at all levels of the game?

A 4. With all due respect, the current players and their coaches, are on one side the experts of hard skills, on the other hand have very little knowledge of soft skills and its application or may be have ignored and forgotten. Hard to say. One thing is clear from their actions - as it appears - that they are still in an embryo stage, where as soft skills knowledge and its application is concerned. This present situation can be compared to Yoga, as it was known to the western world in the early 50’s. It is no secret that Yoga was invented in India, and so were the soft silky skills of hockey. Now Yoga has become a house hold word, in the western world, and people are aware of the various types of breathing techniques and their benefits. And not only one simple type of regular – shallow - breathing. Same is also true with the current hockey players /coaches, as they are only aware of one type of dribbling and call it an “Indian dribble” J

By the way, this is also true with the current Indian team, where with the exception of Sardara Singh, and Rani Rampal, key players of the current Indian Men and Women hockey teams, it is hard to find very  many players, who strike an optimum balance of soft and hard skills.

It would help to have more Sardars. He was very good. Sardara Singh seemed to be the one warrior in the two losing battles against Belgium and Britain.” Paul Van Ass, former Dutch born coach of the Indian team, while referring to the 2015 FIH Hockey World League tournament.

Q 5. Why so, who is the culprit?

A 5. We all want to win. Period. This is a positive and powerful thought, desire and process. So coaches find effective strategies, tactics and game plans to achieve their objectives. And in some cases, also the shortest way, too.  So manufacturing Penalty corners and executing hard sweeps / hits from various angles, around the 23 meters line into the circle, while fishing for deflections in the goal, is the mode. Nothing wrong with this. Especially if it wins matches. But this snatches the art, beauty and grace from the game to a certain degree.

The new experimental rule of 2 goals awarded for a field goal in the “2016 Coal India Hockey India League”, is a step in the right direction. In the final match Jaypee Punjab Warriors, defeated Kalinga Lancers 6 -1, by scoring 3 field goals. This put a lot of pressure on the Kalinga Lancers, when they were 2 -1 down and this opened the game, to provide Jaypee Punjab Warriors, more opportunities to score field goals.

Facts don’t lie: Here are the stats from the July, 2015 Pan Am Game’s final match between Argentina and Canada. Both teams have qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Argentina also won a Bronze medal at the 2014 World Cup.

During the first 15 minutes period of the Pan Am final match, the ball entered the Canadian circle 14 times. And out of these 14 times, 9 times it was a result of executing a powerful hit, sweep or backhand hit, by an Argentinian player. And once a hard push. Resulting in 71% Hit and Hope tactics and twice the player’s implemented, give and go and dodging techniques respectively. Is this hockey?

Canada entered the Argentinian circle twice, during this period.

Please refer to the Link for the presentation, “Hit and Hope”.

To win is not the most important thing, football is an art and should be showing creativity," Socrates, Brazilian Football player


Definition of Hard and Soft Skills - Author Daniel Coyle

Hard skills can be defined as skills that have one path to an ideal result; skills that you could imagine being performed by a reliable robot … repeatable precision, and tend to be found in specialized pursuits, particularly physically ones. For Example; Drag Flickers in hockey.

Soft skills can be defined as those that have many paths to a good result, not just one. These skills aren’t about doing the same thing perfectly every time, but rather about being agile and interactive; about instantly recognizing patterns as they unfold and making smart timely choices.


 “U.S. players are not taught technical skills at an early age and that ultimately affects the quality of play in Major League Soccer. It's a very hard league to play in. It's very physical, there's a lot of running. So there is a lot of physical work and to me, in my mind, too little play,former Italy midfielder Andre Pirlo. May 25, 2016.

I echo Andrea Pirlo’s views and like to correlate them, with field hockey, as it is currently played at the global level. Believe it or not, we are more or less in the same boat. Think about it. No wonder, scientist say, that field hockey players cover 140 meters per minute, compared to Footballers who cover 125 meters per minute. Isn’t the football field bigger in size?


A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion. German proverb

Purpose of this Coaching E – Newsletter?

The Primary objective of this coaching E newsletter, is to educate the current generation of coaches and their players, regarding the soft skills. And more importantly, Why and How they are developed and applied, during the run of play. This way bring the much needed positive change in our game and fill the missing gap. We must Revive, Preserve, and Sustain the Soft Skills.

The core Theme of the quarterly E Newsletter’s is:

  • Develop our juniors in a way, which will bring an optimum balance of soft and hard skills in their game
  • Fill the knowledge gap of soft skills
  • Create an optimum balance of Art, Grace, and Power to make our game more appealing to the masses

Remember; This is not a quick fix – Band Aid – situation, or cop-out by changing the rules. We must Treat the root cause of the problem and not the symptoms. Do what is right for the game. Let’s follow the motto, “Short Term Pains for Long Term gains, rather than Short Term Gains for Long Term Pains

Law of Imitation & Inertia

The sad part is, that the young and upcoming hockey players in the “Hockey Global village” follow and imitate the current hockey players. This way the cycle keeps on going, from one generation to the other –The law of Inertia, and the much needed deficiency is hardly ever addressed. This needs to be stopped and corrected. An effective strategy to achieve this is, to introduce and teach the young players – all round skills - when they are in their early to mid-teens. Bend the willow when it is young. In order to do so the junior coaches need to be educated, as they are the ones who are in the trenches to bring this positive change. And this is what this Coaching E Newsletter is all about

“It drives me crazy seeing kids wanting to throw overheads, Tomahawks and attempt drag flicks before they have mastered the basic core skills. These advanced skills are required in the modern game, but they must be developed over time.”       Adam Commens, Australian Women’s Head coach, Feb. 2016.

I won’t find a better advocate than Adam to fight my case and convince the junior coaches and players.

Reality: We all see, understand and interpret the things differently, depending upon our background, knowledge and beliefs.

We request you to rethink about your preconceived notions, about the game, the way it is being played currently. And how we can reinvent it to bring the balance of art, grace and power.

The creative solution:

To bring an optimum balance between the Hard and Soft skills,   we need to treat the root cause and not the symptoms. The simplest and most effective strategic way is to bring this change from the bottom, rather than from the top. We must change and improve upon the training methods currently employed to develop the Elite Youth players.

Where do we go from here?

We all – if you agree with me - need to work together, as a team, to bring this positive change. Change is never easy. This will demand a new way of thinking, with a new mindset, skillset and toolset. The Path to the Top is Arduous.


Quote: Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools    - Napoleon Bonaparte

Coaching E-Newsletter staff

Editor: Elaine Goodman

Design & Communications: Ranbir Kahlon

Conceptual Thinking & Philosophy: Shiv Jagday

Shiv Jagday

Skype: coachshiv