“Listen to the players, they are so clever and will teach you.”
This past bank holiday weekend saw the IIHA hold the first of what it hopes is several coaching courses this coming season. All throughout Saturday and Sunday, two of the Swedish Ice Hockey Association’s coaching experts, Anders Ottosson and Bjorn Pettersson, passed on their knowledge to nineteen participants. What everyone encountered was an informative, fun and action packed weekend. Luckily the sun also obliged!!!
Having arrived early on Friday, Anders and Bjorn were able to take a quick look around Dublin and enjoy some of the city’s sights like Trinity College, Grafton Street, the Spire and “The International Bar!” In the evening though, it was to Dundalk where work awaited as preparations needed to be made for the course the following day.
As the sun shone early on Saturday morning, several weary eyed faces turned up at the Fairways Hotel to have some coaching wisdom imparted upon them. First up were the introductions and we all learned that both Anders and Bjorn have endless coaching experience. Then it was the turn of the participants to introduce themselves and present was a variety of coaching backgrounds. Some had years of experience while others had none at all but everyone had one thing in common; they all wanted to learn something new. The theory of coaching and the importance of good leadership followed suit before we went into the topic of skating.
For the skating, the class went outside and we were allowed to become kids again! Of course, we needed to warm up first so some games ensued. There was a point behind all of the games though as the instructors explained to the course participants. Anders and Bjorn explained that each of the drills could be expanded and built upon for our own off-ice training sessions and almost everything done of the ice could be brought onto the ice. Each of the aspiring coaches had a thoroughly good time and learned so many new things. Unfortunately, the rain came out and we gained a few extra minutes for lunch!
After lunch, it was back to the classroom and once the instructors made sure “everyone was in the boat together” we got cracking on some more skating theory before moving onto the important topic of stickhandling. Again, important insight was passed on and several interesting videos emphasising the importance of good skating and stickhandling ability were presented. It was a good lively afternoon session to keep everyone wide awake as the afternoon Zsss common after lunch were floating about! That was it for Saturday and everyone was eager for more on Sunday. Later that evening, the two instructors took charge of the Dundalk Bulls Ladies’ weekly off-ice session and the reports are that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the change of pace and different ideas brought by the Swedish instructors. Everyone learned something new!
The next morning, the instructors naturally finished off the previous day’s topics on the theory of coaching, the importance of leadership, skating and stickhandling before smoothly going onto passing and shooting. By now, the aspiring coaches were at ease with the instructors and were ready to ask several questions as the popular topic of shooting came up! Everyone picked up some useful advice to impart on the youth but the players amongst us picked up some tips which will be tried out in the coming season!
After another off-ice session, which was full of fun and games, the group went back to the classroom and finished off the theory. Afterwards, the group had an opportunity to ask any and all questions they had on everything that was covered over the previous two days and anything that wasn’t. Before finishing up the weekend, the coaches had some final words of wisdom to pass on. They explained that it was important that coaches always want to learn and be open to new ideas especially by listening to their players. They said that young players in particular are very intelligent and always have great ideas so should be listened to. That was it for the course but many new friendships were created and Irish ice hockey has made some very good friends for its bright future.
All in all, it was a great weekend and everyone who attended said they had a marvellous time while the instructors themselves said they loved every minute and hope they’ll be asked back. Many people need to be thanked for the weekend but in particular; the Swedish Ice Hockey Association and the two instructors, Anders Ottoson and Bjorn Pettersson, must be thanked as everyone is very grateful for all of their help. While Tony Griffin, General Manager of the Senior Irish National Team, must be thanked for all of his help in setting the whole event up. The Fairways Hotel and its entire staff must be thanked too for all of their helped throughout the weekend. Vytautas Lukosevicius must be thanked for his help in organising the off-ice facilities and Derek Tuite should be thanked for taking and providing the photographs as always! Lastly, each of the participants should be thanked for attending as the course wouldn’t have been a success without them.
Photographs courtesy of www.derektuitephotography.ie.