Dutch coaches make learning fun

  • Battle royal: Hailey Trott, left, battles Evie Hook at the SportWays field hockey camp last week as Taylor Mullan, second right, and Richard de Snaijer, right, look on (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The SportWays field hockey camp was an ideal blend of fun and learning, according to Bermuda players Chrysda Smith and Taylor Mullan who also said that the local youngsters they worked with give them great hope for the future of the sport on the island.

The teenage internationals were two of several assistant coaches from Bermuda who helped Dutchmen Richard de Snaijer and Sake Hermans, who have taught some of the best players in the world, tutor youngsters last week — and even learnt some new stuff themselves.

“We’ve learnt a lot,” Mullan said. “It’s surprising because they’re teaching kids way younger than us, but we’ve learnt stuff we’ve never done before.”

Hermans and De Snaijer taught, among other things, the four-zone system — a basic starting point that is standard in Dutch hockey.

“We started off with basic stance, the four-zonal system,” Hermans said. “We started off with the coaches, and they could transfer that knowledge to all the kids.

“That was the first thing we actually did, because the basics need to be correct to become a better hockey player. So that was a little strange, I think, for the kids to hear, but you could see them developing. In the afternoons, we had a little bit of games around it.”

De Snaijer explained: “Around your body in sports, you have four zones. Two frontal zones, right-left, and two back zones, right-left.

“If you have a hockey stick, you are talking from a neutral position. Your body stance is neutral, that’s page one in the hockey book.

“If you know how the neutral position is, you can use all different types of techniques. But if you only dribble one way, you don’t know what can happen [out of vision].

“We went back to basics first, and now they have the opportunity to develop more things around them. You can be aware of how many techniques you can learn around your body, not only learn what happens in front of you, but also what happens all around you.”

De Snaijer and Hermans were keen to bring in the “fun” part of coaching too.

“We started off with, let’s behave like a family and let’s make sure we help each other like a family and play sport like a family,” De Snaijer said. “So we are the older brothers or the dads of the camp! And these are all our kids.”

Smith said that she appreciated the guidance, while also having the opportunity to let her own personality shine through.

“They would explain what we have to do, and then we have to run it on our own,” she explained. “I appreciate that kind of freedom and independence. We’re not running the camp, but we are running it to some extent and we are able to correct the students when they make certain mistakes.

“I even learn from the children, because we play with these girls in the under-21s so it’s kind of weird coaching them when we usually train with them. So, from a coaching perspective, I recognise a lot of those skills required and it gives me hope, especially for the future when we go on under-21 tours. Seeing the group of girls who are going to come up soon, we have a lot of strength and faith in our under-21 girls.

And the Bermudians definitely enjoyed the experience and got a lot of benefits from the “fun” parts.

“It’s so fun,” Mullan said. “Some of the kids are so happy, and they’re fun. We play simple games like Simon Says and silly games like that just to bring everyone together.”

Smith added: “It’s not like straight hockey. We have social things and I think that’s what brought a lot of the children out of their shells. At first they were extremely shy, but the socials brought them out of their shells and that reflected on the field.”