1-2-1 Hockey Coaching
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Poacher turns gamekeeper
Double Olympian and European Gold medallist Glenn Kirkham is a true great of British Hockey. But at 34 Glenn made the emotional decision to play his final match for East Grinstead, ending a ten-year club career that included seven National League indoor titles.
But Glenn's plans to leave Premier League Hockey behind him ended when he accepted the role of Head Coach of East Grinstead. So how has Glenn adapted? How does one of Great Britain's most talented players approach coaching? Has it been easy for the poacher to turn gamekeeper?
"I'm here to develop a strong squad that enjoys playing and our watchword is positivity; positivity from us as a team off the pitch and a positive style of hockey on it."Glenn Kirkham, Head Coach, East Grinstead men's 1st XI.
1-2-1HockeyCoaching.co.uk asked Glenn about his transition into coaching and what makes a successful coach and a Premier League hockey player...
1-2-1: "Did you plan to take over as coach at East Grinstead?"
Glenn Kirkham: "Not at all. In fact I had no idea that Karl Stagno would leave his post at the end of the 2017 season. When I was approached by the club I had to discuss the role with my wife, Marie. Once we had decided that it could work I realised that this is an incredible opportunity to coach at an elite level and stay involved with a top club and with outstanding players. The game moves on so quickly that I had worried about drifting away from top level sport, so this has actually proven to be great timing"
1-2-1: "Have you enjoyed coaching the team?"
Glenn: "It is early days for me and for this new side. We have a lot of new players including Richard Hildreth and Liam Ansell from Surbiton, Australian Youth international, Luke Tyne and Dutch Premier League player Tyne Van Groesen who has signed from Den Bosch. This has made for an exciting start to the season and a fascinating challenge"
1-2-1: "Has the new player group been the biggest challenge as head coach?"
Glenn: "Ensuring that we had a competitive player group has been the priority. Premier League sides can't rely on 12 or 13 players to play a whole match, let alone a whole season. Making sure we have a competitive squad is the biggest challenge"
1-2-1: "For coaches reading this article, what do you think is your most important role as a coach?"
Glenn: "This ties into the idea of a wider squad. Generating a shared understanding of how the team is trying to play is my aim. Everyone should know their role, not just five or six key players. Given the limited time we have together this takes some creativity. For instance we use CoachLogic to share video feedback online rather than using up valuable training time."
At the same time, I aim to get players to enjoy playing the game. It is not 'you have to play like this' rather a shared set of ideas within which people can be creative and enjoy themselves.
"I aim to get players to enjoy playing the game. It is not you have to play like this, rather a shared set of ideas within which people can be creative and enjoy themselves."Glenn Kirkham's team coaching philosophy.
1-2-1: "Given your experience as a player and a coach, what are the key attributes you look for in a player?"
Glenn: "A big factor in the Premier League is the physicality of the play; this is having the pace to get on the ball, to close down in the tackle and also to be strong on the ball. We develop this and work out if new players have potential by using a lot of gameplay in training. We've used a lot of 11v11 in pre-season because it has given players exposure to the pace of the game and to the tactical decision-making that they are going to need to produce under pressure if we are going to be successful.
I want East Grinstead to be a possession side. To win the ball back from opponents high up the pitch and not just be a team happy to play on the counter attack having sat in deep defence. I always prized doing the simple things well and I think that a team that has that as a focus will play a positive and enjoyable style of hockey.
I'm here to develop a strong squad that enjoys playing and our watchword is positivity; positivity from us as a team off the pitch and a positive style of hockey on it."
Watch Glenn's East Grinstead team in action this Sunday (8th October) against Holcombe;
4pm East Grinstead HC