Floorball’s best are coming to Alabama

If you didn’t know The World Games are coming to the United States, specifically Alabama, in 2021.  If you haven’t heard of the World Games they are an international competition comprised of a variety of sports in what is more or less a proving ground and pathway to a sport potentially being added to the Olympics.  I liken it to the NIT of the NCAA, which is not a slight to either, but a way to correlate the two in how they function.  To give a brief history, Floorball has been part of The World Games in the past.  It has been a demo sport in Asia, and in 2017 The World Games were hosted in Poland, and Floorball was included in that event.  The 2017 games were a huge success for Floorball, but the long term goal is to be in the Olympics.  In 2021 Floorball will again showcase the best it has to offer in the hopes of being added to the 2024 or 2028 Olympics.  Being part of The World Games 2021 in the U.S. is a great step forward to exposing North American to the sport on a big stage.  While the competition proves to be great the ground work leading up to the games matters far more in the long term development, especially in North America.

Floorball in North America is largely a grassroots movement.  While the U.S. and Canada have National Team programs with various leagues around the continent it still relatively unknown as a sport.  The World Games could change that in a big way, but only if the marketing and promotion leading up to the event is done effectively.  The trap we could fall into is going out and “selling” the sport without providing the necessary resources and support for new players and programs to flourish and continue to play the sport after the hype of The World Games is gone. We need to be thinking long term about how as a community we are going to help each other be successful.  Floorball in it’s current stage in the U.S. is not basketball, soccer, or baseball.  We don’t have the same resources and continuity that other sports have, but the potential is there.

I feel that the focus should be on education and development, specifically in schools. We need kids playing the sport, and excited about it as a viable sporting option.  We need to train physical education teachers and recreation leaders how to play the sport, and get excited about the sport.  Our youth are vital to long term sustained growth as a sport.  Too often we focus on the adults, which is great, and needed.  However, if Floorball is to grow and be a foothold in the sporting landscape youth development is key.  We need demos, classes, educational resources, training, leagues, events, all geared towards showing how fun Floorball is.  The technical side will come in time, but we need to grab people’s attention, and the best way to do that is to keep it fun.  Developing tournaments and leagues for the sake of having them doesn’t solve the problem if we don’t focus on building a solid base.  If we do this right the benefits and vision that so many have for this sport will have a much better chance of coming to fruition.  We have to work together, but we have to be focused on the same goal.

The Floorball community, especially in the U.S. has a unique opportunity in hosting such a marquee event that we need to make sure and capitalize on it while we can.  The ground work that is laid over the next 3 years will shape how the landscape of Floorball looks in the U.S., and I hope that as a community those involved in Floorball can band together to make it a success.  As we push forward I hope that this is a tipping point to pushing Floorball further as a sport.

The Importance of a Solid Back Office

Many people enjoy sports, and many have made a career out of playing and working in the field of athletic competition.  There are countless organization across the world dedicated to building athletic competition across a vast array of sport disciplines.   As for the sport of floorball we will continue to see it permeate the sports world as more and more people come to find that is exists.  While some organization are already suited to add floorball to their sports offerings it is likely that many more will pop up dedicated to floorball.  I feel that floorball will follow the same path as many burgeoning sports such as soccer, lacrosse, and rugby.  As you read this you might even be planning a floorball club or league yourself.  How do you get started?

Many of these answers will be relatively the same, but will vary based on what state you live in.  A large amount of club teams and sports leagues position themselves as non-profit organizations, and there are a number of resources out there to assist you in the development of your organization.  It will be vital to make sure that you go through the proper steps and file the necessary documents.  Another important step to consider is how you plan to structure the organization and the league.  Who you involve in the administration of your organization and/or league should bring value and have skills sets the complement each other.  In many cases these individuals will be volunteers, however, it’s a good idea to have someone on the payroll who is a professional in that area (i.e. lawyer, accountant, etc.) to ensure that the organization has checks and balances, but also that it’s following all state and federal laws.

While these steps are important it’s what you do moving forward that will help with the growth of your club or league.  In the age of technology there are a number of resources out there to assist in the day to day operations when running a club or league.  The key is setting up the framework using a website or registration program in order to attract and inform your customers.  The struggle with this is weeding through the vast amount of software programs out there.  If you’re not careful you’ll likely spend more money on a program than you need, or can afford.

As a recreation professional I have been in the beginning stages of program development many times.  What I’ve found is that it’s important to find a software program that will work for you.  What are willing to spend?  What features are important to you, and how does the software integrate with your current website and operations?  The most important aspects for me revolve around how easy it is for me to navigate on the back end, and how easy it is for my customers to navigate on the front end.  While there is a learning curve in the beginning over time the amount these programs should create less administration work not more.  At Floorball Guru we can assist you in making those decisions and helping you find what will work for your organization.

Floorball Event Planning for Success

Hosting an event is quite the undertaking on in its own right.  It takes a lot of time, planning, energy, and resources to put it all together.  If you’re lucky the event takes off and is a success, if you’re not it has the potential to cost you more than you might be willing to cover.  As in any event there are a number of boxes that must be checked off prior to the start of the event, and in many cases needs to be confirmed months or even years in advance.  While running a tournament sounds like an easy thing to do it is not, and will require dedicated and detail oriented people to make it come to fruition.

The goal for any event will vary based on the mission of the organization.  How will the event meet our organizations mission?  Where will you run the event?  What’s our budget?  Is the goal to make money or break even?  It’s quite the undertaking and should not be done lightly.  There can be a lot at stake for the organization.  It’s difficult enough to build an event from the ground up, but a poorly planned and run event will make things drastically more difficult.  It’s all the more important to make sure that you have a solid team behind you to help your event go off without a hitch.

When starting anything new it’s best to think through the processes needed to get things going.  How you approach this will vary depending on your organization and the availability of space and resources.  For many the most difficult aspect to an event include finding a suitable space to host the event.  While floorball can be played on just about any surface the ideal locations include gymnasiums.  Some things to consider is that you may be at the mercy of what you can find, afford, or it may be based what’s available.  You may want to consider the time of year you’re planning your event.  If you’re planning on an indoor event you’ll likely be competing for space during the traditional academic school year due to school sports and other competing organizations.  In many cases summer tends to be more ideal, however, you’ll want to confirm whether school gyms are open or available in the summer.  If you haven’t thought of it already before you approach a facility to rent you’ll most likely need to have some sort of organizational liability insurance.  I’ve found that many facilities require a minimum 1 million dollar individual to 2 million dollar general aggregate, and the facility will want a certificate naming them on your policy.  This is a simple step that requires a phone call to your insurance broker, and is usually part of the overall facility contract.

Events, leagues, and tournaments are great ways to get people involved in the sport and your organization.  I would encourage everyone to reach out to local business to create partnerships, but also to help defray the costs and increase your overall brand exposure.  At Floorball Guru our experience working to start and sustain long term programming can help you along the way.

Art of Zorro In Floorball

You might be wondering to yourself, what is zorro? Zorro is a floorball unique floorball skill, which involves lifting the ball onto the blade that mimics the same movement of lacrosse.

The goal is to rotate the stick quick enough and at the right angle so the ball effectively sticks to the blade.  Zorro has also been referred to as airhooking or skyhooking.  Over time the art of zorro has evolved into a form of juggling, like that of soccer juggling.  Players have begun to push the boundaries of what can be done by adding their own personal flair.

While zorro moves are not new to the world of sports there are examples of this in hockey.  To me the clearest example comes from 1996 and the University of Michigan Hockey; Mike Legg scores a decisive goal lifting the puck onto his stick and scoring from behind the net.  As zorro has developed, more and more player has gravitated to the skill and fun involved in learning and trying to one up each other.  At the same time, social media has helped showcase players’ skill and creativity.

If you’re paying attention to floorball and the rules you’ll notice that many zorro moves being showcased on YouTube are beyond the rules of the game.  While during a match players may not touch the ball with their stick above the knee, zorro moves do have their place.  It takes a skilled player to effectively pull off a zorro move during competition, but when done right can be devastating to goalies.

Despite the positive qualities that zorro can provide on the offense there are some drawbacks to it during a match.  To complete a zorro move during a match a player will need to use a blade that is designed to cradle the ball.  The drawbacks to the blade is that it will affect other areas of the players’ game including shooting and passing.  Another drawback is the that being able to use the skill at speed during a match is very difficult, and can be used in limited scenarios.  Thus, most floorball players do not play with a zorro blade.

Zorro is a great skill to learn and its flashy characteristics bring a unique flair to floorball. Whether you choose to learn and the art of zorro for building skill in control and hand eye coordination; or you use it to enhance your game on the court the best part about it is it’s fun.  Get out there and learn what you can to get better.

Floorball & National Girls and Women in Sports Day

For the last 32 years the National Girls and Women in Sports Coalition has developed an awareness campaign to promote opportunities for girls and women to play sports in their communities.  The NGWSD’s focus is on empowering women and girls to get moving, embrace physical activity and push past their limits.  This program wants to see more women get involved in sports at a young age and continue through adulthood.  Much of their focus is on education regarding Title IX, enforcement, and resources.  Currently many female athletes don’t have equal opportunities to participate in sports.  Each year around the country various organizations participate in the National Girls and Women in Sports Day by offering free clinics, access to women’s sporting events, and education about women in sports.

This year I was asked if I would be willing to offer a free clinic in Floorball in partnership with the City of Lacey, WA and Saint Martin’s University, where I’m the Director of Recreation.  I was more than happy to provide this opportunity.  SMU has participated in the NGWSD for many years offering clinics in a variety of sports that are taught by the athletes.  Floorball is still growing and I’ve been working to develop the sport where I live.  This clinic was another opportunity to get people playing.  Once they day came we had 24 girls ages 7-16 show up to learn about Floorball.  Most girls that day had zero experience playing Floorball or hockey.  The structure of the day was a condensed version of what I normally teach for my classes.  In a one and half hour clinic we covered basic Floorball history, safety rules, rules of the game, and a variety of skills (passing, shooting, dribbling) ending with scrimmages to put it all together.  All told, the clinic was a success and I’m hopeful that it opened more opportunities for girls to pursue sports going forward.

Women in sports has been gaining more attention in recent years.  That’s a good thing on all levels.  I firmly believe that the growth of Floorball hinges on getting girls involved.  I encourage more schools, business and organizations to participate in the NGWSD event each year and continue to promote girls to play sports.  I know I will continue to do so, and I look forward to next year’s clinic and seeing more Floorball programs around the country exposing more girls and women to Floorball.

Youth Programming

To grow the sport of floorball there must be a continued focus on various factors.

The first step is educating people about the sport and the benefits that is has for them.  In the US kids are already being taught floor hockey through physical education.  This is usually done in smaller lessons over a short period.  Students are taught basic skills and rules of the game.   Growing up this was always my favorite P.E. activity, yet the equipment was always lacking.  Over the last year I’ve spent a more concerted effort educating P.E. teachers about floorball and why it is better suited to teach and play than floor hockey.  Unfortunately, it takes a lot of time, energy, and resources to inform and educate people and get them involved.  The second step will be focused on developing a youth system.

The great thing about kids is that they tend to be open to new experiences.  If you throw in a stick and a ball it doesn’t take much to get them involved.  In my experience when I’ve introduced floorball to kids they’re normally very excited to get their hands on the equipment and start playing.  To develop players, we need to get them in front of the sport.  One way to do that will be to offer classes within school, and through outside instruction.  While some areas may be able to jump right into building teams and competing the majority will not be able to readily do so.  It will be important to teach the proper rules and game play to ensure that players are learning and playing the sport in accordance with the International Floorball Federation.  This will help in the long term as more players begin to compete in organized events and international tournaments.

As the saying goes, kids are the future, and with them the sport of floorball will grow dramatically.  Floorball provides options for kids and parents looking for more opportunities to learn, develop, and get involved in sports.  There are several challenges need to be overcome to build the sport.  For many learning about the sport they may feel apprehensive in learning and starting a new sport they may know little to nothing about.  In doing some research there are a few programs out there available to help along the way.  In some cases, there are floorball curriculums that have been developed for this specific purpose.  The beauty of sport is that you can be creative, and you can draw on a wealth of knowledge from those around you to make this happen.  This is one of main reasons I started writing these blogs and started Floorball Guru.  I want to use my knowledge and expertise to work with other like-minded people who see the value in floorball that I do.   If you’re interested in getting started please reach out to me and let’s create partnerships to grow the sport.

Understand Benefits Of The Game

Focus is a primary driver for any athlete. It creates a beneficial structure that allows enhanced muscle memory to take over during play.

The game of floorball has revolutionized the ability for athletes to focus. Beyond the stick itself is a game of strategy. While floorball is usually compared to hockey, athletes in basketball, baseball and football have all see their focus enhanced through playing floorball.

When you take away the ice in hockey, you allow players to assess pinpoint focus as well as build their overall stick handling, teamwork and movement in a level playing field. This creates communication between teammates, allowing for more control in a player environment which reduces injuries. Creativity in floorball play fosters athletic enhancement in their own sport, as the adaptation crosses back and forth within the lines of communication.

In taking this a step further I’ve begun to engage collegiate athletes playing sports such as volleyball, basketball, and track and field.

During the pre-season for basketball the Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams for Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, WA reached out to me looking to change up their workout routine.  From that I was able to come in and run a 2 hour session for the athletes.  While the focus was to educate them about the sport the foremost goal was team bonding.  However, don’t let the “fun” atmosphere distract you from the fact that I made them work.  Floorball on its own is a very good workout, which was appealing to the coaches, and I made sure to mix in the fun too.

I worked with both teams and designed a short program that would fit their needs.  For the guys the focus was on the scrimmages.  I had already done an introductory program with them in the past so we focused on game play.  They wanted to add goalies so we used 4×6 nets with goalies wearing masks, but they wanted to keep their stick.  While it wasn’t the traditional goalie look they loved it.  Because they’re collegiate athletes it doesn’t take long for the competitive drive to kick in.

For the Women I had a little more time to work with them.  After the basic rules talk I played a few stick handling games as a warm up and then we got right to scrimmaging.  The guys’ format for scrimmaging was changing out after every goal in sort of a king of court format.  The women were broken into three teams and played 5 min matches.  We played for over an hour rotating on that format.  Needless to say they were very tired, but most seemed to prefer this exercise to their traditional exercise program.

Between the two teams maybe one of these athletes had ever heard of or touched a Floorball stick, and that one athlete came from Sweden.  What stuck out to me was seeing highly skilled and competitive players step out of their comfort zone and have fun together.  The program met the coaches’ goals of building “esprit de corps” while ensuring a high level of fitness.  It is likely that as a result of this program that I’ll continue to work with these teams in in the future.

Alternative Training

Training for many is a mixture of love and hate. Floorball has shown improvement with athlete training, because it differentiates how modern athletes build up their skills with a cardio-vascular exercise.

There are always aspects to training that people enjoy and don’t care for.  While it’s important to focus on stick handling techniques, the work done away from the court is just as important.  It’s easy to forget the less glamorous or fun aspects related to training.  However, these exercises and activities are a vital component to the overall development of players.  Adding alternative training methods such as barre fitness and yoga will help players develop smaller muscles that will help them with strength and stabilization throughout their body.

Yoga is a well-known training method across the fitness world.  When done properly yoga can help improve your overall performance including power and endurance.  Yoga has a variety of styles which can focus on relaxation and meditation to strength and flexibility.  Improved flexibility is beneficial for all athletes by helping to restore the body to its natural state.  A body that is working correctly will allow players to perform and feel better while helping to lower potential injury.  The goal in regards to the body is to improve overall mechanics and movement.  The use of yoga as part of a training regimen will allow players to be more efficient and effective in their movements.

Another training method to consider is barre fitness.  You may be wondering what barre fitness is?  As the word implies barre does refer to the use a ballet barre as part of the program.  Barre fitness classes are ballet-inspired utilizing a mix of ballet barre routines, Pilates, dance, yoga and functional training.  You won’t be doing dynamic moves and running around, but a mix of stationary exercises that are focused on activating and developing the smaller stabilizing muscles, specifically in the core.  While this training is beneficial for field players, it is particularly valuable for goalie training.

While lifting weights and cardio are all important aspects of a training regimen and will help in the overall physical preparation for competition it’s important to mix things up.  Using alternative training methods players will increase all aspects of their athletic performance, while helping to minimize potential injury through training.  While it’s important to be training don’t forget to add in rest days.  Rest days are an important aspect in any training plan, and should not be skipped.  However you choose to train be open to new techniques and methods because they can add value to your training program.

Pressuring Your Opponent

In Floorball, when playing defense means adding pressure to your opponent. Its really the name of the game. If you do not pressure your opponent, you are not playing the game to its fullest potential.

While a key component to the game is being able to hold, and control the ball; another large aspect is the ability to pressure on defense and recover the ball.

The rules of floorball make prohibit attacking the stick of the offensive player through stick checking or stick lifting.  Both are common choices in hockey to dispossess your opponent.  However, in floorball this would result in a foul (free hit) or potentially a 2-minute penalty.  Defensive players are also prohibited from using their stick to reach for the ball between the opponents’ legs.  This action would result in a 2-mintue penalty.  To dispossess the opponent of the ball there are a few things that can be done while reducing the potential for giving up a free hit.

It’s important to first understand where the ball is on the field as that will determine the amount of pressure needed to be made on the offensive player.  Let’s assume the team Red is on offense and team Blue defense.  If the ball is in team Blue’s end of the court team Red can choose to be more aggressive when dispossessing the ball from team Blue to create a turnover and a quick counter attack.  Since most goals scored tend to fall in this scenario this is one area where it’s safer to give up a potential free hit and makes more sense from a tactical standpoint.  If the ball is lost in the offensive zone it is important to stay aggressive and pressure the opponent to create a turnover.  Sometimes when players lose the ball their first reaction is to give up on the play or immediately drop back on defense.  If the ball is lost players need to make smart decisions on when to pressure, and when to drop back to disrupt a quick counter attack.

If we imagine the roles are reversed now and the ball is in the defensive zone with team blue on defense and team red on offense.  This time team Red has the ball in the bottom corner of the court.  In this situation, the defense has a variety of decisions to make on how and when to pressure the offense.  Depending on where the ball is the defense doesn’t want to give up a goal, or give up a free hit in a dangerous position.  On the court, there is an imaginary line that runs between the corner dots and the goal line.  Any foul committed in this area will place the ball at the corner making this area a somewhat safer area to give up a free hit if necessary.  A player with the ball in the corner is not as big of a threat to score from this position.  It is important to no be sucked out of position while pressuring the offense.  Defenders near the goal line will likely move back and forth between pressuring the offense and backing off to defend a pass to one-timer shot option.

Every person and every team has differed on how they choose to play tactically, and some players choose to be more aggressive than others.  In many cases the choice on how aggressive to pressure the player with the ball will differ depending on the location of the ball, the score, how much time is left in the game, the tactical strategy of the team, and the experience of the player.   The key is to be smart about how you pressure the ball so you avoid needless penalties or give up potential scoring opportunities for the opposite team.

Avoid Ego To Build The Game

Anger only wins when you feed it. Competition is fostered through the belief of winning together. Floorball is a sport that is still growing, and needs active participation from every coach out there to consistently improve and broaden the game.

However, since getting involved in floorball I’ve noticed a few things crop up that confuse me.

One of the main things that I’ve seen is a sense from some that they’re focused on competing with other clubs or states trying to plant the proverbial flag as the best in the country.

This notion doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, especially when there isn’t a whole lot to base that off of.  Making a statement that Idaho has the best floorball players in the country, and they’re the best state in the country for floorball is silly.  Not because they are or aren’t, but that fighting over a statement like that doesn’t matter.  If teams want to prove it on the court that would be the area to stake claim to those statement.  There are a variety of tournaments for floorball, but the number of teams and overall quality is somewhat lacking in development.  While there are established leagues throughout the country they are not the norm at this point.

If floorball is to gain acceptance and growth then the entire floorball community needs to get behind each other and support each other.  Current leagues and clubs that have been established should be more focused on supporting new and developing leagues and clubs.  Growth in the sport is beneficial to all and will help improve the number of players, quality of players, and the amount of competition at tournaments.  I believe that at some point we’ll likely see more tournaments spring up across the country, and it is inevitable that there will be one or two premier tournaments around the country.  However, the top tournaments in floorball will still be the World Floorball Championships, World Games, and hopefully the Olympics.

In order to develop the sport in the US we need to all band together use our resources to the benefit of all.  Arguing about which club or organization is better does nothing to further the cause and development of the sport.  If we all use our collective experiences we’ll be better off in the end.  If you want to prove you’re the best go to as many tournaments that you can and prove it on the court.  The biggest challenge with the US is how large it is.  Not everyone can afford to travel across the country to compete in tournaments on a regular basis.  It’s a challenge enough for every other sport to do that as it is.

As it is, there’s enough of a gap between people who’ve played to those who have never played that the emphasis should be on helping each other instead of tearing others down.  Complaining or arguing about who’s better isn’t the answer.  Dropping egos and working collectively to find solutions is what will help us move the needle forward in a positive direction.  Those are the people we need to get involved and help improve the sport in positive ways.  We can’t forget that we’re still new to the game and we have to have patience to learn not only how to play, but how to play the game properly.  Be part of the solution and not the problem.