The October session was led by Josie Rice on the topic of “In possession” specifically the transition phase immediately after regaining possession. 

After the normal introductions to the newbies the Isle of Man players warmed-up playing small sided games with tennis balls and a mini basketball plus moving in a small area with players taking turns to lead by calling instructions to skip, jump to the left, hop, etc. Many changes of possession and consequent quick reactions required.

Players paired up and decided on objectives for the day.

Following the warm-up the group split into small teams playing 4 v 4 and 5 v 5 games on quarter pitch areas with changing constraints creating overload/under load scenarios.  The coaches stopped play regularly to facilitate group discussions, and promote peer review of play/tactics etc.

In the lunch break theory session they watched short relevant video clips and worked in pairs to assess which phases of play and highly skilled actions were being demonstrated.

After lunch and warm up, goalkeepers worked on their own choice of saves, and some ‘free swimming’ involving the chance to work individually took place.

Small sided games encouraged “keep” phase and counter attack.  This transitioned into 10 v 10 on ¾ pitch with bonus points being awarded for turnovers, transition into attack and number of players in attacking circle when shooting. 

After warm down and partner led feedback the session concluded at 3.30pm.

The November session led by Phil Capper was held on Remembrance Sunday on a very windy and wet KWC pitch.  

Players warmed up and were given information about the topic for the day (building on the previous session with emphasis on the create and attack phases of play).  Prior to, and following observing 2-minute silence at 11am the players worked in small groups covering the individual and group skills that would be combined later in the session.

Lunch break was taken a little early and extended slightly to allow players to dry off and get warm indoors.  

Luckily the rain eased off by early afternoon so it was fairly dry by the time the afternoon warm-up had been completed.  Afternoon play built towards playing a small sided game over constrained pitch with regularly substitutions ensuring freshness and high energy play. Points were earned for using the skills learnt earlier in the day – maintaining a guard player to preserve possession, strong roll to go down left side in possession, passing down defender’s left foot, getting ahead, using the drop-pass to re-direct attacks, leading through, winning a PC and of course scoring a goal.  As always regular breaks were taken for players to consult and feedback in their groups.  Winners on the day were “the bib team” but both teams racked up a good number of points over several 6 minute bursts. 

Background for selection of players – the players who are currently in the Northwest Talent Academy training squad attend to add to their ‘coach contact hours’ due to difficulties in attending Monday evening training at Fylde.  These players are currently: Ela Blakemore, Archie Cox, Ross Grimley, Kyle Gunnion, Claire Mason, Evie Watterson and Rhyse Williams.

The other players invited to attend were selected following observations/recommendations by the IoM Junior Squad coaches both at training and in local league matches plus lengthy review discussions.  These are the players who currently show the potential to be nominated for selection assessments for NWTA September 2024 cohort. Additionally, there are a few players who have previously been involved at NWTA or the previous Fylde Performance Centre.  Their inclusion helps maintain play at a consistently high standard so giving the other players their best possible chance to work at a higher level. During the course of the remaining 4 sessions, it is possible that more players may be added and others could drop-away from the group. 

The current group consists of the seven NWTA players plus; Ethan Adams, Alex Andrew, Tom Babb, Elena Caley, Lucy Cartwright, Summer Craig, Macey Crellin, Josh Dougal, Kian Ledwidge, Sienna Millward, Luca Parlato, Douglas Quayle, Cameron Roome, Robyn Stones, Lucie Sutterby and Liam Taverner.

The local sessions provide the England Hockey Talent coaches contact time with the NWTA players and also with the opportunity to consider other players for observation at sessions organised within the Northwest area.  

Following the November session, Josie and Phil have asked for two players to attend an Observation Day at Sedbergh School on 3rd December.  They have been impressed by Ethan’s and Lucy’s, willingness to take on new ideas, engagement levels, standard of play and their contributions to group self-reviews.  We will miss them at our December session (the same day) but hope that they have a great experience challenging themselves within a different group of young, talented players. 

Future Sessions

3rd December, 28th January, 25th February and 17th March.  All have a start time of 10.30 and finish at 15.30.  Lunch break and theory session are normally from 12.30 to 13.30.All local hockey coaches are welcome to attend either for full day or part day to observe. Both Josie and Phil are more than happy to give information on the content of the session if approached at an appropriate time.  Equally each session requires at least two local assistant coaches so please contact if you would be interested in being involved.  Assistant coaches must be qualified hockey coaches, have current Safeguarding and First Aid cover plus be DBS checked in advance.