Training during the season varies from training during the off-season. What you’re able to do, or the type of training you should be doing should be different in the off-season. Depending on your season you won’t have the time to allow your body to recover between games. At the same time, you want to make sure that you’re not overdoing it, and putting your body at risk for overuse injuries. The off-season is a great opportunity to give yourself a break and mix up your routine.
Ideally a team or individual should work with or at least consult with a personal trainer, or strength coach. These professionals have the education and knowledge to help you and your team reach their max potential in time for the season. The result of this training will hopefully allow you or your team the ability to show measurable increases in a variety of areas. In many cases simply consulting with a certified strength professional will allow you to develop a plan to achieve your goals.
Most coaches will have a general idea of where their players stand regarding physical fitness. However, it’s helpful to have a baseline in which to effectively track player development. Within the fitness plan there should be check points along the way to evaluate the progress each player is making, and if needed make necessary adjustments to the plan to meet those goals. In the off-season, it’s recommended that teams spend time away from the sport played. In many cases it is encouraged that players spend time playing other sports to help develop different muscles. This not only gives players a well needed break from playing their designated sport, but also helps to rejuvenate the player beyond the physical.
How a player or team chooses to develop during the off-season will vary based on many factors. In some ways, the opportunity to give players rest is valuable at all ages; though a player looking to prepare for the next step in their playing career will likely need to seek out private instruction to meet the new demands. While not everyone can afford this as an option with a litany of fitness programs available online the amount of resources available can help guide players in the direction they want to go.
After a long season, it’s important that players and coaches utilize the off-season to rest, restore, improve, and prepare for the next season. What are you doing to prepare?
For many, the goal in many cases is to compete at the highest level of competition. Those opportunities will vary depending on the sport that you play. For many athletes, the top tier of competition means representing your country to compete in the Olympics. It’s one thing to compete and represent your country, but to do so on such a large stage is a unique and special experience for all athletes. While the meaning of the Olympics has evolved over time the nostalgia it brings in watching people who’ve spent their lives striving for greatness fail, or succeed. I can think of a variety of examples in my lifetime that stick out while watching both the Winter and Summer Olympics. Hopefully we’ll get the chance to see Floorball in the Olympics in the relative future.
Floorball is a recognized sport by the International Olympic Committee, and the International Floorball Federation staff have been working to ensure that Floorball be included in future Olympics. One of the more important steps to making that a reality was the inclusion of Floorball in the 2016 World Games. By all accounts Floorball could successfully showcase its athletes and brand as a sport on the World’s stage. This was an important step in gaining attention and hopefully acceptance as an Olympic sport. Through the success of the World Games we are hopeful that Floorball will continue to be a sport in the 2021 World Games in the United States. Having a successful World Games in the U.S. would help set Floorball up to be a potential Olympic candidate for the 2024 (Paris) or 2028 (Los Angeles) Olympics.
Floorball is growing around the world. More and more countries are getting involved and investing in Floorball programs, clubs, and national teams. However, in my opinion the largest market missing is North America. While Floorball is further ahead in the development of the sport than the US, there is still a growing contingent of Floorball groups, clubs, and players gaining momentum. However, Floorball is relatively new and built primarily on the grassroots movement. In comparison to other sports there isn’t much support from corporations and large organizations haven’t quite embraced it. The largest reason for this is a lack of players, leagues, and opportunities to get involved, specific to North America. If there was more dedicated support and money infused into the sport to build the sport, like any other product, would have the opportunity to flourish. Given the framework of Floorball it can be easily adapted and played anywhere in any condition. This will be a key factor in the long-term growth.
It makes sense to see Floorball as an Olympic sport, hopefully as the World continues to develop it will become a force that can’t be ignored. By that point the framework of leagues, classes, and development will already be in place and moving forward. Being in the Olympics will only help Floorball take the next step in its worldwide development.
Choose to include. A simple phrase that evoke a not so simple response for some. If you haven’t heard about Special Olympics and their mission about including persons with intellectual disabilities you should certainly look into them. The movement to create inclusive opportunities for all is an important one. Inclusion and sports has been and continues to be a medium to challenge and expand that idea.
I think Floorball can play an important role in that movement in both Special Olympics and Unified Sports programs. Any chance I get to talk Floorball is a chance I’ll certainly take. I’m fortunate to have opportunities to share the sport with others. I think Floorball is a great fit for creating opportunities of inclusion. Floorball is already a recognized sport with Special Olympics and is being played, but not in North America at this time. I’m not alone in this process as others around the country share that same passion for the sport, and are working to get more involvement, especially within the Special Olympics community. There have been demos around the country raising awareness and making sure that all have the opportunity to experience and play this great sport. Floorball by nature is an inclusive sport and can be easily adapted to meet the needs of the players, and is a great way to engage a broader audience.
I have been fortunate enough to have been included in a few events within Special Olympics. Specifically running Floorball demos at winter and summer Olympics for Special Olympics of Washington State. Each event has been a wonderful opportunity to showcase Floorball to Special Olympic athletes. What I really enjoyed was seeing the athletes jump in and learn a new sport and succeed. One of the great components to Floorball is that other than the goalie it needs very little equipment. The adaption of rules and game play make it a fun, fast, inclusive activity that promotes a healthy lifestyle. The other function is that Floorball provides more opportunities for athletes to choose and find sports that they’re passionate about.
This past week Special Olympics USA Games were held in Seattle, WA, and was a marquee event for the region. Thousands of athletes from around the country came to Seattle to compete in a variety of events. While the focus of the event is on the athletes and competition there was another part focused on training and developing youth through a program called youth leadership experience. This program consisted of over 100 students and leaders from around the country. As part of that program I was invited to develop a team building experience for the group.
I have a background in team building and development through my undergraduate program at Western Washington University, and graduate studies at George Williams College of Aurora University. I was more than happy to use that experience to help with this program, and thankful to have my wife and a friend join me to assist in the program. One of the challenges to the experience was the time constraint. Team building takes time and there’s a progression to it for thorough experience. While I did get the time I would have liked I felt the groups were able to take something with them. Through the experience I’m hopeful the participants were able to take something with them throughout the week. I really appreciated that Special Olympics staff for thinking about the importance or team building and making it a priority. Whether it’s a small or large group it’s an important part of development to spend time in this area.
To round out the event the groups were surprised by the Chairman of Special Olympics Dr. Timothy Shriver. I was fortunate to be in the crowd and get to listen to his message to the youth leaders. It was powerful and inspiring. His message while focused on inclusion was inspiring and encouraging the group to be themselves. His message take from the stage production Hamilton “I am not throwing away my shot”. Listening to the students around the room explain their passion and that one thing they strive for was powerful. It spoke to me, and helped encourage me that the path I’m on with Floorball is where I need to be. I’ve developed a deep passion for this sport and I’m working hard to raise awareness, and get more people involved. Sometimes that’s be a challenge and it’s forced me to put myself out there, but in the end I’m pushing forward.
I encourage anyone reading this to get involved with Special Olympics or Unified Sports. I also encourage you to ask yourself the same question. What is your shot? What do you desire to do, accomplish, or become? For me it’s developing the sport of Floorball. Until a few years ago I never knew that’s what mine would be. Be open to possibility and I’m going to continue to push, build, educate, and include.
Practice is one of the building blocks to focus on when developing a player or a team. The key is to avoid common pitfalls that coaches can fall into when designing and running a practice.
A good coach expects their players to be prepared for practice and for game day. Equally a good coach should be more than prepared for practice and game day. In many cases that preparation starts prior to the first practice or game. This preparation can roughly be broken down into physical training, technical skills, and offensive and defensive strategy. Coaches should be thinking about the big picture and have a clear understanding of how they plan to guide their team towards those goals. What has evolved in this process over time is a focus on documenting data. Coaches are looking to quantify their athletes’ development during the preseason through the end of the season. From a physical development standpoint, a team goal could be to increase agility and speed. The question is how do you go about doing that, and how do you evaluate what the progress is for each player toward that goal. If you don’t have a plan in place and measurable outcomes you’re missing out on helping your players reach their potential.
Practice appropriate for age group
The information or practice plan you create as a coach will vary depending on the age and skill level of your players. One thing I’ve seen, especially with younger players, is the coach teach or trying to teach skills and tactics in a manner that isn’t suitable for the physical or mental development of their players. Whatever sport you’re trying to teach if you’re trying to introduce a skill or topic make sure to think through the learning development or process of your players. Teaching a 2 year old how to play soccer greatly varies from a 5 year old. When I first approached the City of Lacey to run Floorball classes for kids age 7-15 I was very intentional when choosing that age range for several reasons. The skill and development of a 7-10 year old is enough to make a drastic difference. I’m also very cautious about lumping wide age groups together in an instructional setting for this reason. How I run the class, and the activities done will vary because of these differences. You must adapt to the group. Don’t expect them to necessarily catch up to you.
Practice without fun misses the target
Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly times to hunker down and get things done. Time to push players to be better, stronger, suffer through pain. However, a good coach knows when to push and when to play. Allowing players spaces to have fun, be creative, and enjoy the game is a vital aspect to the overall development of players. I would argue that this aspect should be carried on to the highest levels in some fashion. One of my goals during a practice is to give players the opportunity to prepare for game day. During this time players should be given space to learn, develop, have fun, try, and fail. Through this time players build camaraderie and confidence in their abilities that will carry on with them throughout their lives. I encourage all coaches to look for opportunities to continue their own development and learning. As you expect your players to come prepared to practice make sure you’re equally prepared to teach. Use these moments as opportunities to instill positive lifelong skills in your players.
For the younger ages the focus should be on having fun, developing skills and growing. For the older ages the same still applies, but you can spend more time focusing on tactics and developing advanced skill development. As your group develops and the more time spent with them you’ll get to know and understand where your group is at. From this knowledge you can figure out the best way to challenge them, adapt your approach to fit their needs and abilities, and improve how you develop your practices going forward. Get out there, keep learning, growing, and having fun. If you need more information or are interested in starting a Floorball program reach out and we’ll help you get going.
When I first approach someone about Floorball the question always comes up. What’s the difference between floor (ball) hockey and Floorball? In its simplest terms I break it down by saying different equipment, and different rules. While there is clearly more to it, that’s a very simplified answer. When I instruct a new group, one topic I spend more time on, and one that is harder to teach is effective defense.
Effective defense is in and of itself an art form. It requires all parties to understand their role and position in their space while being acutely aware of who and what is around them. To further complicate matters defensive players must also recognize body language and other non-verbal cues in order to decipher what is coming at them. How a defender responds will vary depending on the situation and how one responds the first time may not work the next time. Knowledge and skill will come with experience, but it’s important to create situational challenges during practice to help simplify the defenders decision making skills. When I’m working with defenders I encourage them to regularly scan what’s around them. What I am trying to do is get my defenders to know where they are at all times, especially in relation to the goal. I will encourage them to find markers on the boards, or floor that can be quickly used to identify where they are in space without always needing to look. By doing so they have a better chance of being in the proper position.
Figure A. Figure B.
It’s a good idea to remind players that their role on the court will change and evolve. At times they’ll be a defender, and others they’ll be a forward. It just depends on the situation. If the group on the court is thinking in this manner as the defender moves out of position into an offensive role another player will see that they need to adjust to match the situation. In figure A, if the defender chooses to go for the ball they will need support from the center and forward on that side. If they’re playing to maintain a shape of a box then the player near the ball becomes the “free” player. If the ball is in the corner the defender closest to it will choose to pressure the ball or to seek a better position of defense. In this situation with the ball behind the end line the player with the ball has a low percentage of scoring. From here they will be looking to press the ball behind the goal, along the boards, or attack the goal with a pass or shot. Ultimately they goal of the offensive player in this position is to draw out the defender and slot the ball into the middle to a crashing forward. Statistically most goals are scored in an around the front of the goal box.
Get out there and start training, pushing, and learning to get better in all aspects of your game.
Floorball is growing around the USA, and there are a number of programs and businesses that are working on the grassroots level to spread the word. One such person is Patrick Jesue out of Detroit Michigan. Patrick comes from a hockey background and has been working to develop Floorball in Detroit. He recently traveled to Switzerland to coach in the U19 Women’s World Floorball Championships as part of the coaching staff for the USA Women’s U19 team. Patrick currently works at the Brownstown Sports Center where he’s implemented Floorball into their facility programming, and started Detroit Floorball.
How did you get involved in Floorball?
PJ: In 2014 I went to Las Vegas for a USA Hockey Level 5 National Coaches Symposium. One of the ADM regional Managers, (Guy Gosslin) was walking around with a USA Hockey branded floorball stick. I inquired about it, and he told me it was floorball stick. I proceeded to ask a lot of questions, and he informed me while playing professional hockey in Skellefteå, Sweden they would play it for off ice. That it was very popular in Scandinavian countries and that it would benefit our hockey players tremendously because of the way the game was played. Ball possession, finding open floor to create space, ball protection, and stick skills. I was really intrigued because I enjoy watching the European style of hockey, and also being from Detroit it made me think how the ” Russian Five ” played. For 4 years now I have been enamored by the sport and want to do anything possible to see this take off in the United states. In the 2nd year of our Club we purchased 90 beginner sticks, and a set of Swerink boards to make sure we give an authentic feel to the game. I have been researching equipment, strategy, and also the skill development part of floorball to one day say that I have played a role in the grassroots of the game
What compelled you to start a Floorball program?
PJ: Initially, because I worked at an ice arena I saw it as a means to get young children interested in a sport that closely resembled hockey, it would give them an chance to enjoy playing and then I would give them an opportunity to try hockey for free with hopes of growing the largest learn to play program in the Metro Detroit area.
What makes Floorball appealing to kids and adults in your area?
PJ: With my original intentions being about the growth of hockey, I quickly learned that anyone who saw us playing wanted to give it a try. A majority of the kids wanted more. The outreach from players wanting to invite their non-hockey playing friends made me quickly realize that this was not hockey. It gives many more children a chance to get to play at the fraction of the ice time and equipment costs. We invited some of the hockey parents and also some of my close friends to play on our Sunday night floorball drop-ins and they quickly appreciated if from the fun aspect as well as great cardio exercise. Most important was the comraderie among one another.
What are some highlights so far from your Floorball program?
PJ: Since our inception last year the Detroit Floorball Club was averaging about a total of 45 players at Sunday night drop in. We also did Saturday mornings in the summer for a girls only floorball drop-in and had great interest with that. If I had to state my favorite part, it would be having all of the 8 and under kids out playing. They are the youngest ones and most impressionable. They loved playing throughout the summer.
What does the future hold for Floorball in your area?
PJ: In this short amount of time, we have seen the players become very interested in the sport. I have had many conversations with school gym teachers about implementing floorball instead of floor hockey. A big goal of mine is to spread the news about how fun, safe and what a great exercise activity it is for everyone. We hope to have some competitions in Detroit in the very near future.
What advice would you give to other individuals or businesses looking to start a Floorball program?
PJ: If they are in it to make money or be an entrepreneur, they are getting into for the wrong reasons. The onus should be on the game itself and watching all players develop while enjoying themselves. Now having the opportunity to see how the game functions in the other countries, we need to be patient and enjoy the ride. We are in the infant stages, in what I feel is going to be something very big. There will be frustration that comes with it, but the reward of seeing the players excitement will far out weigh that frustration.
One of main aspects to Floorball Guru, if you haven’t noticed yet, is we’re focused on educating anyone and everyone about Floorball. It’s a challenge to educate people and help them see what you see. It’s a path laid with skepticism, failure, but in so many ways a positive path to learning and growth. Floorball has a number of benefits that make it an applicable and enjoyable sport for all ages and abilities. The hardest aspect to any new sport or venture is education. If no one knows it exists it doesn’t do any good. You could have the best product out there, but if people can’t find or know where to buy, and why to buy you’re missing out. For Floorball this is part of the challenge, and there are many people out there working to change that though even that is a challenge in and of itself.
A little known fact about me is I have a twin brother who lives in Nashville, TN. Nashville is great city, and has a great fan base built for hockey, specifically the NHL’s Predators. When I got involved in Floorball I initially thought of my brother and how much time we spent playing stick sports in the driveway. We even pulled a hose out and froze half of our parent’s driveway with our older brother one winter. Dad wasn’t super happy but it was fun either way. As we spoke about Floorball and I got a stick in his hands he began to see opportunity with the sport. He’s been active in trying to educate and get people aware of the sport, but it’s a challenge for him.
For starters no one around him has equipment. I bought him sticks as a Christmas present, but he can only do so much with that. How can you sell a program if you don’t have equipment? You’re hoping that someone else sees the value and is willing to give it a shot, but that’s not the norm. I’ve looked into community grants, corporate programs, but those have their own challenges. At one point the International Floorball Federation had a grant available where clubs and organizations could apply for an amount of equipment to get them started. I know a group in Utah that did this and it’s helped them grow in their ability to expose more kids to Floorball. They’re doing quite well with the development there. While not everyone has those same options it’s important to be active in seeing what’s out. In the end it may require a bit of investment, or finding others to invest in your idea to get it done.
In business and life we’re presented with opportunities to engage. In many cases we get to choose whether we engage with it or not. Sometimes that can lead to positive things, while other times it’s negative. For many the negative aspect is a fear of failure. Failure to try, to put themselves out there and not have a positive outcome. Like many of you I’ve had those experiences and continue to have those experiences. It doesn’t stop me from trying, pushing and working to make a difference. To see my vision of this sport and what it can become, and the benefits that it brings and will bring to so many. While in many cases it’s difficult to make a financial investment it doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. Go out and talk about your passions. Find like minded people and surround yourself with them. Above all else stay positive. There’s nothing worse than being around someone who is negative. I’m not talking about someone who’s cautious or someone challenging an idea. I’m talking about someone who only sees the negative, doesn’t offer solutions to the problem, takes no responsibility, and isn’t invested in your idea. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. Stay positive, have fun, work your tail off, and you never know where it will lead.
For those reading this what’s stopping you? Money can be found, loaned, and invested. If you’re a facility, what people and departments can you bring together to maximize available resources? If you’re a hockey program, how can you use Floorball to increase overall participation and engagement to your brand? Think outside the box, be creative, and don’t stop pushing forward. As soon as we get comfortable we stop evolving. I’ve yet to meet anyone who when given the opportunity to try Floorball doesn’t see the value in it. Usually it’s the people who have never tried it who immediately dismiss it. Those people are always out there. Don’t let that discourage you. Keep at it, stay creative, and I fully believe that good things will come in the end. Too often we want the immediate, but in reality you have to play the long game. It will work out in the end.
Teaching anything takes more than knowledge of what you’re teaching. It takes an understanding of who you’re working with and how they learn. It also takes a willingness to never settle, and to constantly work on your craft. As people become more aware of Floorball it’s been fun to see who reaches out. I never know who is going to contact me with interest in getting involved in Floorball. While I tend to set up demos for various groups and organizations in some case I’ll get someone to reach out to me. I love to teach and while I’m not and educator I do spend a lot of time teaching or coaching a variety of topics from sports to business. It’s something I’ve had to work on and build but the experiences I’ve learned along the way have helped me craft my own style.
If you’re reading this you’ll get the inside scoop on something that I think is really important. If you want to be a good teacher, coach, administrator, etc. Observe others in your field, profession, etc. Watch what they do, critique how they present a topic, how they approach a room, a group of people and pull from that something you’re not doing that you see value in and starting doing it. I call it stealing. It pops up if you’re paying attention. It could be a way someone frames a game, or skill, or just how they interact. When I catch a moment like that I do a mental note and the next time I can I try it out for myself. Needless to say it doesn’t always work, but at the very least I learn from it and can work to make changes the next time. I love watching how someone instructs because you can quickly see the ones who know what they’re doing and if they’re effective or not. You can also spot the ones who aren’t quite there.
I can tell you I didn’t learn much of this overnight. In fact I spent a solid 5 years working, volunteering and coaching to develop this aspect of my life. In doing so I have been fortunate to learn from many people who have helped shape my teaching style into what it is. The fun part for me is that I know I’m not done, and hopefully never will be. I’m constantly learning, growing and stealing strategies from others to change the way I think and see the world so I can more appropriately approach a situation as it arise and gain a positive outcome.
What’s surprised me over time is how applicable these skills have been outside of simply coaching or instructing. I’ve used the strategies learned in business, personal life, and when engaging with him two boys. As Floorball Guru continues to develop and grow I’m hopeful that I can continue to learn, grow, and have opportunities to help others develop their own style.
2017-18 has been an interesting venture for Floorball Guru. In the winter of 2017 I was announced as part of the coaching staff, along with Patrick Jesue out of Michigan, and Pekka Nuutila from Finland, and GM Anders Buvarp for the USA U19 Women’s Floorball Team. The team had already qualified for the 8th World Floorball Championships in Switzerland. Needless to say I was very excited for the opportunity. A few years earlier I had the opportunity to play for the USA Men’s team in Riga, Latvia, which eventually helped push me to start Floorball Guru. I can tell you that being a coach of anything is a challenge, but when you’re trying to find player and build a sport that’s not widely played in your country it’s a tall order. While Floorball is growing and more people are getting involved it’s still built on a grassroots movement. Compounding the challenge is a lack of female players playing the sport in the US specifically.
To build our team we relied on past players, but also seeking out new players and teaching them the sport. While not an ideal situation the long term goal was to build a team while building a long term plan to attract new players. Thankfully there are a number of wonderful and dedicated people around the country and internationally who have helped us along the way. In the end we were able to put together a team that can compete with an eye to future. I honestly think that we’re on the verge of some great things happening in the sport throughout North America. I’m grateful to have the chance to volunteer my time and work with some amazing people, coaches, and players.
Finding players wasn’t the only challenge we faced. With the current layout of the USA Floorball Association all players have to pay their way. This isn’t uncommon for many amateur sports, but when the majority of your competitions are 3,000 miles away things get expensive fast. Simple getting the team together to train, get equipment, apparel, hotels, food, fees, etc. It’s not cheap. We have to rely a lot on the generosity of friends, family, and strangers who donate to the cause. Back in November the U19 women’s staff made a concerted effort to find and attract corporate sponsors to help defray costs, but to also join us as we continue to build things in the US. All of this together is what makes these experiences happen.
Leading up to the tournament the coaching staff spent a lot of time finalizing details, working on our marketing strategy, and built our fan base of supporters. What I’ve found is that there are so many people around the world rooting for each other. It’s been a neat experience to figure out how this all works when our staff and players are scattered across the State, and Internationally. I couldn’t wait to get to the tournament and take it all in. In the end it was an amazing experience and one that I am using to continue to grow Floorball in the US. While we didn’t get the results we wanted I couldn’t have asked for a better group of players and staff to work with. I feel that through this experience we are another step closer to our goals.