The object of this manual is to discuss the type of preparation needed to produce competitive underwater hockey players and a competitive underwater hockey team.
Any sport, when examined, can be broken into more and more precise sets of requirements - skills, techniques, fitness, communication, mental attitude and so on. Underwater Hockey is certainly not any different in this respect. In fact it could be argued that Underwater Hockey, by its nature, requires more preparation. It may be the only sport in which the active players can not clearly communicate.
Hockey (by "hockey" we mean the underwater sort) is also physically demanding. It is a sport in which players who are recovering can not contribute; in soccer or any field sport, players standing to rest can still catch, kick or hit the ball. It is a sport in which a significant amount of skill is required before even beginning to contribute in a game.
At its best hockey is a fast-moving, tremendously skillful game, physically and mentally demanding. At its best hockey is also the ultimate team sport. Positions and tactics must all be understood and practised to become automatic. A top team plays together as though with ESP. Playing in such a team can be very satisfying and is probably the best goal to aim for; such teams generally win.
It is very tempting for new or relatively inexperienced teams or coaches to concentrate on the team tactics - positional play. However this may not be the quickest way for effective results. Team tactics are important, but they rely on individual skill and ability. This manual will therefore commence by examining the basic skills required for underwater hockey thus working up to peak of the performance pyramid shown below:
When coaching a team to this philosophy don't spend all your time at one level of the pyramid until the performance of the team at that level is adequate.
Rather the pyramid represents the proportion of time to be spent on a particular aspect. All aspects should be worked on continually. This keeps players interested and encourages them to understand the importance of what they are being taught. NEVER FORGET TO ASK WHY A TEAM PLAYS. Normally it is for enjoyment and the game is normally the main source of enjoyment.
The manual consists of a set of articles written by Wellington players of some particular knowledge or ability together with some player feedback from three Wellington school players, and an article taken from Jeni Pearce a Nutritionist. The manual is presented in a manner which may suit the development of a new team. Coaching methods and motivational aspects (for coach and team) are examined first. Fitness is next, followed by basic skills and a progression upwards to tactics, team skills and motivation.
COACHING/MOTIVATION. The first article, Motivation is on the means of coaching. It advises on how to build a team from individuals and how to motivate them to win.
FITNESS is the basic element. No team can play underwater hockey without the minimum fitness of being able to swim underwater on the bottom. Until this can be done by all team members the TEAM is not playing underwater hockey.
Fitness is essential for a top team. Skill can not support an unfit team against fit opposition.
The fitness required includes:
The chapters on fitness deal with the stretching (Stretching) , the physiology of fitness (Physiology ) and fitness sessions (Training Sessions).
BASIC SKILLS. A high level of fitness is not sufficient to play the game. As in any sport there are certain skills that are essential in order to play the game with control. These are discussed in Teaching Beginners Basic Water Skills and Skills and Techniques.
INDIVIDUAL SKILLS. The skills a player uses can be further expanded from the basic skills - turning, passing and moving the puck around. Advanced individual skills include puck control without looking at the puck, tackling and beating players one on one or one on two, receiving the puck and setting up other players. These are discussed in Skills.
TEAM SKILLS. The linking of all players together as a whole team is introduced in Team Skills. Here are given:
NUTRITION. Not to to be forgotten in the preparing of top players is the importance of their fuel or diet. Nutrition is taken from an NZU Newsletter and an article by Jeni Pearce.
Finally there is an example of a checklist to evaluate players' performance, some examples of feedback from players themselves, concluded by a section on how to rise up a level to get into a representative team.