Ranked in the top-10 teams in America, 2021 saw the Liberty programme have their most successful year to date, featured in the nation’s top offence, ranking first in the country in goals per game. After their most successful year, staff were named 2021 National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) South Region Coaching Staff of the Year this week and also earned BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year honours for a second straight season.
On a quest to develop adaptive, skilful and problem-solving players, Liberty Field Hockey Coaches have adopted the use of MatchPlay Cards© into their student-athlete programme as games based approach sits at the centre of preparing players. Let's take a look at some ideas as to how they are bringing them to life....
"I am a coach who is trying to move to a more games based approach and I had just begun to learn what constraints were and the impact of them. I got the cards because I wanted more ideas on constraints to add to the training."
"What I couldn't believe that the power was in this deck of cards that I could give to players or ask them to pick a card, suddenly it opened up this whole new world. The next thing I know is that I am designing whole sessions around MatchPlay Cards ©"
"It maybe we play 5v5 and I get a player from each team to choose a card from the deck and those are the two rules we're going to play with or it could be for the individual cards that we say, here are 3 cards, now go and assign them to people on your team or assign them to somebody on the other team."
"Seeing the response from players where their engagement levels went through the roof and for me as a coach to sit back on observing their interactions because the cards are getting them to problem solve as part of my journey of understanding that I can just facilitate the problem solving, rather than doing it for me."
Working in a full-time programme with student-athletes, coaches keep training fresh with what they call "competition days, MatchPlay Cards© fit in really well" sharing that as coaches they use them as "Lucky dips, where athletes are either picking out cards as overall rules or assigning cards to each other"
"Players are now asking for more chaos and games, we're designing games with lots of constraints and problems to solve to develop adaptive players"
Noting the importance of the coach still has to coach, Alan shares that "It is the illusion of choice for the athletes, depending on the focus of the session as coaches we would then choose let's say five-team challenges and these 10 player challenges and then allow them to pick out cards from the preselected deck rather than having the whole deck of MatchPlay Cards©."
"There is something in the fact that you have the card in your hand and you're not being told what to do by a coach."
Considering the impact of selecting cards, coaches are Liberty are now thinking about the on-ball and off-ball impacts of cards for players as Alan explains "If we choose one card for one team, it actually gives a challenge to the other team. I am exploring this idea of choosing cards that have double use, in and out of possession for players to recognise the problems in the game."
Join coaches of Liberty Field Hockey and shop your decks of MatchPlay Cards© right here: https://www.thecoachinglab.org/shop