July Board Shorts
Many of us sat glued to our televisions on Sunday, July 17, rooting on the USA Women’s Soccer Team as they battled against Japan in the finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Through overtime and penalty kicks, we anxiously cheered in anticipation of Team USA winning their third World Championship. Our hopes and dreams were shattered, as were those of the women who so proudly wore the red, white, and blue that day, as the team fell short of their goal with 48,817 in attendance at the World Cup Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany.
As stated in the Executive Summary of our USA Field Hockey High Performance Plan to the USOC, “International sport competition is unrelenting in its ferocity of play. Global competition is like no other in its intensity and absolute cut-throat action. It is unpredictable and unforgiving. International competition is played at such a level that only small degrees of advantage often provide for the win.” I am confident that US Soccer players, coaches, umpires, and fans would agree.
WINNING on the international stage is extremely important to the growth and development of field hockey at all levels. Many resources have been allocated to high performance and the influence of these incentives has been tremendous. In a nutshell, we will have a sustainable product that will remain for decades to come, our overall pipeline has grown, and our ability to produce at the highest levels with an offensive mentality has increased. Here are some of the details:
• Establishing the position of Technical Director for High Performance and hiring the best in the business in 2005.
· Coaching education process includes Level I, II, and III (with FIH, high-performance and development components).
· Use of technology significantly upscaled in the coaching and playing areas across the country.
· Web-based learning modules include: Skills From the Top, Peak Performance Zone, Stick Starz, TurfTykes. The NFHS will add a Field Hockey coaching program online, equating with USAFH Level I.
· Futures as a web-based-training and education module for players and coaches.
· National Coaches Forum as an annual symposium bringing the nation's top coaches together to provide high performance feedback.
· Playing level improvement of the national teams with an objective to win against the world's top teams and with a playing style to accomplish the task.
· Throughout the levels of play a genuine improvement in playing levels from development through to national teams.
· Greater depth on the women’s national team and squad, development squad, and juniors.
· A gradual development in the depths of men's hockey on the international scene, both senior and junior.
· Stability in the high-performance programs. Carefully monitored programs for players, coaches, and administrators with sound succession planning.
· Hosting and being hosted by the world's best teams. Bringing the best international teams to the shores of USA in both the women's and men's programs. The OTC in San Diego has proven to be a magnificent drawcard in combination with the playing level of our national programs. Holland, Germany, New Zealand, Argentina, etc. on the women’s side. The men, with Dutch and German clubs and now the Australian Development Team, along with the Queensland programs, joining the more traditional opponents of Argentina, Canada and Chile.
· National championships. Women's national championship at senior and junior level, with the National club championships as an offshoot.
· Junior National Team Development Program, which effectively utilizes NCAA coaching sources in the International performance arena.
· FIH awareness and involvement with USA FH. Much closer liaison between FIH and PAHF.
· Closer working relationship with USOC.
· Working effectively with NFHCA.
· Stronger ties between NCAA and USAFH.
· Establishing a National Umpire and Technical Manager in 2011 committed to the growth and development of umpiring.
It typically takes a decade to see sustainable results and 2015 will be here before we know it. In the meantime, there is evidence of the women’s side reaping the benefits of the resources allocated to high performance. As revealed in the International Competitive Analysis (Women) in the High Performance Plan to the USOC, “the most significant addition has been the influx of several youth players who have brought much of the missing flair, speed, explosive movement and finishing the group so desperately has been searching for to compete and win against the world’s best. The midfield skill component has been elevated significantly and the goal scoring capacity of the squad has been moved forward in a progressive fashion. The basic skills sets of the players continue to grow with technical skills and tactical knowhow being elevated to the elite international level. Experience in key tournament play is still lacking. However it should be noted that at the Champion’s Challenge in Dublin the USA finished in front of three opponents who are more highly ranked.” We have more tools than ever to win games, and are we are undoubtedly taking greater risks in our play to win. Greater risk equals greater reward! Our aspiration of being on the podium in London is within reach.
“Seb Coe, LOCOG Chair, said: 'I hope that seeing the design of the London 2012 Olympic medals will be a source of inspiration for the thousands of athletes around the world who are counting down the year before they compete at the greatest show on earth. All of our preparations are focused on ensuring the athletes are at the heart of the Games.”
The USA Field Hockey Board of Directors share Coe’s sentiments. The decisions we make are focused on ensuring the athletes are at the heart of the game and that we will be prepared for the cut-throat action and ferocity of play in 360 days.