Steps to Building Floorball

From the beginning of my Floorball journey I’ve been focused on developing the sport through stages. For me the current progression of stages includes classes, leagues, and camps. Through this process I’ve learned a few things along the way.

Stage 1 – Classes

I think the foundational structure to the success of Floorball is to teach the sport. I’ve always promoted this as the most effective way to create long-term sustainable programming. Teaching the sport takes a lot of time and effort, and isn’t glamourous, but it is vital. Some of the challenges you may encounter include learning the sports ins and outs and turning it into a teachable format. A lot of this will vary depending on the audience. For young players new to the sport you may find that they lack developmental awareness related to using and moving with a stick. It’s important to spend time working on the very basic skills while providing challenges along the way to encourage growth and development. Sometimes I have been frustrated with students in this aspect because I want them to be further along in their development than they are. I regularly check myself and my expectations for my students and make sure that I’m recognizing where each student is and identify how to support them. 

Stage 2 – Leagues

From the beginning I had the goal of starting a Floorball league. For many getting into Floorball starting a league tends to be their first stage into the sport. When I look at my own goals and program development I preferred to push this stage later in the lifecycle. By developing a platform and customer base interested in Floorball I was ready to move on to stage 2. If you’re wondering about the timeline between the two stages, it was about two years from when I started teaching regular classes to when I launched my first league. The timeline isn’t necessarily important and will vary for each individual and program.

My goal for developing my league format was focused on youth between the ages of 7-14 and adults. I can tell you that for me the adults have been more challenging than the kids, but I’ve been working on that. More to come. I chose kids 7-14 because this tends to be a very active age group in sport development, specifically 7-11. This age group is typically when leagues are formed for many sports. After 11 I’ve noticed a big drop off, which I attribute to competing sports. One thing to think about for your league is that players may be familiar with the sport, or it may be their first time. As such you need to be prepared to help teach and educate players on basic rules and safety guidelines. I tend to use the first week as a preseason where I will teach this information as players play. I have found this to be an effect method to setting the stage for the rest of the league.

Stage 3 – Camps

Having spent the time to develop the previous two stages I felt it was time to develop camps. I focused camps around the same ages I did for classes and leagues. Everything I’ve been developing has a purpose. I’m not thinking short term but long term. While I could have started with camps the likelihood that they would succeed is rather small. One feeds the other. While I tend to pick up kids along the way there is a core group of kids and parents involved in the process. This builds a following to keep growing. The challenge is to ensure enough opportunities for kids to grow and be challenged. While many will tout the importance of their camp and how kids will develop, and that’s true, in reality, camps are basically daycare for many. Knowing that I build my camp to make sure that it’s more than drills and scrimmages. I try to make sure that kids are engaged throughout the whole program, which is not easy.

I’ve spent years developing this process in my area. It’s taken some time to get from point A to B. I encourage everyone looking to develop their own programs to really think the process through. The path I chose isn’t for everyone, but I do encourage you to follow it if you can, while thinking about the long term. Setting up a solid foundation will ensure long term growth and success. If you need assistance doing so I’d love to help you reach those goals.

Approach to Positional Play

One component I really enjoy when working with sports is the opportunity to make an impact. Most of the time I don’t get to choose what that impact is, and at times I’m surprised what it is in the end. Kids seems to latch onto different things for different reasons. Sometimes you have very concrete thinkers and sometimes not as much. A big part will depend on the age of the player. The fun part is creating a space where everyone can learn and grow.

The more opportunities I’ve had to teach the more I’ve learned and improved how I approach teaching. One thing that I’ve tried to focus on and teach is positional play. All classes I teach cover this topic. Some might try to avoid it with younger kids, but I think it’s important to spend time on. I think all players, especially developing players need to have a foundation in how the game works. Once they understand their role in the moment on the field they can then start to branch out which is where creativity can flourish.

Some kids are going to struggle with this concept. Some might grasp it right away and quickly realize how they fit into the flow of the game. Others, our concrete thinkers, will learn and try to understand their position and play it accordingly. They won’t deviate from what they’ve been told, and will likely get frustrated with the flow of the game. Depending on where you are in your teaching you may or may not have covered the topic of flow. Meaning, while a player plays a position, they may change positions in the moment based on the flow of the game.

Through this movement players may start as a defender, but end up as a forward and vice versa. If you haven’t covered that component you may see some frustration in some players as a result. Take note of it, and if needed address it. It’s important to somewhat manage frustration, but sometimes the struggle is purely developmental.  The more they learn and grow players will grasp concepts being taught.

Remember that everyone learns and processes information differently, and as an instructor we must remember to present information in different ways.  Some of these tools include using verbal cues to describe what is needed.  In other cases coaches may use a white board to map out the movement on the field.  Other tools may be a physical demonstration walking players through the process.  Many coaches use all of these tools and more to help teach their players.

Remind yourself and your players that for many this is a new sport, and that you’re all learning together.  Find any success and make sure to praise it.  As your players progress you’ll see an overall better style of play come out in the end.

Engage the Moms, you Engage the Whole Family

I’ve spent the better part of three years developing and distributing content as part of my vision for helping the sport of Floorball. Other than my book, and including my book depending on what you use, all my content is free for everyone. I don’t think that the info should be kept to myself by shared. I know I don’t have all the answers and the process I’ve gone through isn’t for everyone. However, I hope that in some ways people can grab bits of information and use it to take the next step in developing Floorball.

I’m going to drop some knowledge on what I think the most effective and under-utilized strategy to grow Floorball. It’s a simple concept but is a powerful one. Here it is. Are you ready? Are you sure? If you can engage the moms, you engage the whole family.

While I may be speaking in generalities this concept is crucial. For many families, moms run the show. She tends to make a lot of the decisions related to activities within the household. If there is something out there that interest their child, or they believe will benefit their child they’re all in for giving it a shot. They see the value activities bring and encourage their children to get involved. If they enjoy the sport, and more importantly, see their child enjoy the sport they will do everything in their power to keep that going. There is another component to this as well. If moms buy in to the product they quickly become your biggest advocate, and becomes a far better advertisement that any paid ad.

Time and time again I’ve seen this play out in a positive way. I’ve been fortunate to have some great parents engage in my programs, and they keep coming back in one form or another. While the parents have become engaged in the sport their children are as well. One of my goals is to take things a step further. I think that to create more positive engagement I need to engage the moms through the sport. Too often the parents stick to the sidelines for a number of reasons. One of my strategies is to develop a moms (or women) only programming. This allows moms to engage in the sport in a more personal way and develop skills and hopefully a passion for the sport that they can share with their child.

Floorball should look to harness the power of the group fitness world. Women tend to be more engaged in group fitness classes for several reasons. Again, I’m somewhat generalizing on a larger scale, but I’m seeing this played out through my programs and work in the field of recreation. I think a large part of it has to do with opportunities to play. By developing female only programs around Floorball I think it opens the door to more awareness, engagement, and development of the sport. Floorball is in a fight to grab attention of families around the world. There’s a lot of noise out there, and the ones that are winning are built on foundation of education and awareness.

There’s a lot of strategies out there to market, promote, and build a program. I think a lot of them are universal across the board, and there are proven methods. I also believe that when possible it’s best to think outside the box. It’s about creating opportunities. If you can use Floorball to build a sense of community, you reach beyond the basics of the sport into something deeper. I hope you’ve all experienced some form of that, and I think that this can be one really effective way to do that. Remember, if you can engage the moms, you engage the whole family.

What’s your vision for Floorball?

When I found Floorball something clicked. In reality I stumbled upon it by what some would call a chance encounter. I tend to believe that I was exactly where I needed to be. From that I’m working to continue to learn, and use my own skills and knowledge to make this a reality. There are a lot of people out there pushing the sport, and frankly that’s awesome!

The more people talking about the sport, and the benefits it brings the better. I don’t care who you are, if you’re talking about Floorball in a positive light and working to improve the game, and get people active I’m all for it. That’s the fun part about grassroots sports. You’re usually talking about a smaller community of like-minded people all, hopefully, working towards the same end.

That end may look different for each person, but that’s ok. We need all of it right now. In fact, the sport of Floorball needs you! We need you to see the larger vision of what the sport is and what it could be. That can be tough for some because we tend to want to see the fruition of our labor right away. Here’s the fun thing about Floorball, while it will take a decade to happen, it can and will happen. Think about that. How often do you get to be on the ground floor of starting something new? It seems pretty rare nowadays doesn’t it? It’s all possible with Floorball.

Where to begin?

Step 1: Investment

This step is a hurdle. I’m not going to sugar coat it. Starting anything new takes an investment. It will require you to invest time and money into this new venture with the likelihood of not seeing an immediate return. Like all investments you’re better off playing the long game. That’s the mindset you have to have. If you think you’re going to fly in with a new Floorball program and it’s going to take your community by storm you’re in for a rude awakening. I’m not saying it can’t happen, just not likely right out of the gate. Honestly, for you I hope it does take off, but for most I’d plan on a two year cycle.

Make a plan and you’ll be better prepared mentally for what’s ahead. There are creative ways to find money through grants and other sources, but for me I chose to teach. It was a way to explore my passion for the sport and share it with other. Through that process I launched Floorball Guru, which has required more investment along the way. I’ve started youth programs, camps, leagues, run events, demos, and routinely promote the sport in my way. That may not be your path. I encourage everyone to seek their own path.

What’s it going to cost? Costs will vary for a number of reasons. Every state is and location is different and requires different things. However, for most it’s doable. Between licensing, insurance, equipment, and other ancillaries you’re looking at an initial investment of around $1500 usd. That can fluctuate for each person, but I’d say that’s a decent starting point. If you’re looking to add Floorball to your current programming it would be less. The beauty of the sport is a stick and ball is all you need to get started.

Step 2: Development

Once you’ve figured out your path, or how you’re going to build your venture you’ll want to make sure you develop a timeline. I call it a method to the madness. Do you know what you want to get out of this venture? Do you know how you’re going to attain it?

For me, when I launched my Floorball classes I had a goal in two years to start running camps and leagues. I saw the challenge of starting something new on my own and the time it would take to promote and educate people in my area about Floorball. I’ll tell you that after two years I accomplished both goals. I will also tell you that in that time they were not what most people call a success. The only question you have to answer is what does success mean to you and focus on that.

However, I saw them as huge successes. I had achieved the goals I set out and was able to make positive impacts on the lives of kids in my area. That’s a win in my book. The more you do something the clearer the vision becomes, and that’s an important part of the process. You have to have a vision of where you are going. Over time you will continue to hone and develop that vision into clarity. It requires a consistent effort.

Step 3: End Game

I’m a big picture person. I’m able to see what’s happening now, but plan and see what I want for the future. I’m not touting myself, I’m just stating fact based on results. It’s not always an easy process and it’s rife with success and failure. I’ve seen both, and I’ve made my fair share of mistakes along the way. However, I hold fast to the end game for me. I see the future of Floorball in my area, State, and Country and I’m excited for what’s happening and what’s to come. I would say my biggest focus is helping others get to where they’re going. If you’re in need of help please reach out as I’d love to help.

Do Schools Really Need Floorball?

I’ve been around the block enough times now to hear a lot of the same comments and arguments. One of the first comments that comes up is Floorball would be great for hockey players. The other comment that comes stating, “This would be perfect in schools”. The true question in anything is asking the question. Do schools really need Floorball in their physical education curriculum?

Let’s step back and try to analyze that question as unbiased as possible. Believe me, I’m pretty biased on this question, but I think it’s worth asking the question. Hopefully you’ll be able to make your own decision. A big part in answering that question is to look at the current role physical education plays in our society, specifically in U.S. schools. Unfortunately in the U.S. emphasis, funding, and time spent on physical education is rather low, especially when compared to cost spent on other subjects. However, there are a plethora of studies and research done on the importance of physical health and it’s relation to long-term benefits inside and outside of the classroom. Needless to say it’s just not a priority, and without getting into the political components of the argument in the short-term that simply won’t change overnight.

If you haven’t spent time in a physical education class in the past 10 years you’d likely notice some differences from your youth. One of the differences I notice aside from a lack of funding, is the size of kids in physical education classes. In the classroom we’re asking one teacher to manage 25-30 plus kids, but in a P.E. class that can jump to 50-60 per teacher. On top of that physical education classes are fractured in their consistency. Kids don’t have P.E. every day, and instead may go one week for three days, and then have two or three weeks off before they come back to P.E. Each school teacher, school, district, and state are different, but it’s certainly a huge challenge. Simply managing that time and schedule is a huge undertaking; especially if you add on top of that the requirements for meeting and showing students are meeting state and national standards.

With all of this in hand teachers simply don’t have the time or resources needed to dedicate enough time on everything they want to do. There are some really great resources out there, and there is a huge push on teachers getting creative. The results from this are astounding, and they should be applauded. The impacts P.E. teachers are making across the country to ensure students are getting exposed to new things, moving, having fun, and learning are a crucial component to their overall development.

So where would Floorball fit into this mix? That’s a question that each teacher has to answer for themselves. The physical benefits of the sport are a no brainer. If you break down the sport it is pretty clear how it can meet state standards in regards to physical development. I think it has a place in some form in schools. If a teacher doesn’t have floorball sticks, but has hockey sticks can they teach floorball? Of course! The keys are making the necessary adaptations to teach the sport. Focus on the rules of the game, use goals that you have. If you’re lucky enough to get a grant buy equipment and make it available for students during recess. There are options, but to think that the whole growth of the sport hinges on schools is not true. It should be a component, and that is where outside organizations play the bigger role. A kid who gets excited about Floorball in school, but has nowhere to play outside of school misses an opportunity to play.

So before you jump to expecting the schools to grow the game I would turn it around and say, what are you doing to support that?

Stick Sizing Matters

One of the questions I seem to get more often, especially from new players, is what size stick should I get? This is a pretty basic question but is an important one to ask. I see a general assumption among newer players that a longer stick is preferred. But why?

It’s an interesting phenomenon really. If you put a stack of sticks in front of people they’ll generally grab a larger stick. Is the assumption that a longer stick equals a better stick? Or, is it an educational piece that they just simply don’t understand. I think for many they’ve been inadvertently conditioned to think that a hockey type sport should have a similar size stick. For many when they think of hockey they think of the hockey stick that is as tall as they are, especially in comparison to a Floorball stick.

If you’re starting out or are teaching Floorball for the first time you’ll quickly see this process play out if you have multiple sizes of sticks. However, the bigger is better idea doesn’t always work in Floorball. While a hockey stick is typically sized to around the chin, a Floorball stick is sized to around the belly. Don’t forget that the hockey stick is longer because you’re also standing on skates.

What matters is the height of the player in relation to the size of the stick for a proper fit. Too long and they player is unable to access the full performance of the stick. Too short and they will struggle physically with the sport. Both put the body out of optimal movement which reduces effectiveness and overall fun for the player. The challenge for taller players is there are limits to the length of the stick, but the International Floorball Federation does have allowances for longer sticks, though they’re harder find.

By having a short stick, in comparison to hockey, the player is able to control the ball in tighter space. By having the ability to keep the ball close to the body it makes it harder for the defense to steal it. It also allows for quicker movements in motion to move the ball, and it allows the player to flex the stick to generate optimal power. These are the basic concepts that should be implored on everyone when we talk about education of the sport. We need to make sure that people know and understand why a stick that’s properly fitted will improve their development, but also their overall enjoyment of the game.

When I teach this is one of the first things I discuss. While I don’t hand sticks out I separate them accordingly and tell players which sticks to look for. Inevitably I get kids who grab a larger stick than they need. I don’t always correct them. I’ll let them work with it, and usually they struggle. At this point I will encourage them or hand them the proper stick and ask them to tell the difference. It doesn’t take too long for them to realize which one is the better fit. It’s about education and it may seem like a small thing, but the more we can educate the better understanding players will have; which only adds to their own learning and hopefully enjoyment of the sport.

Navigating Equipment Choices

You’ve hopefully found out about Floorball through some form or another.  Hopefully you were able to get some hands on experience through a demo or some other form.  If not, it’s likely that you’re intrigued by the sport and want to know a bit more.  Doing a brief internet search you’ve likely come across a variety of companies selling Floorball equipment and you might be wondering what the differences are between sticks. Similar to other sporting equipment out there, Floorball equipment varies in quality, performance, and construction.  It’s hard to know what the right choice is for you, and even harder to make a choice if you’ve never actually held the stick in the first place. 

I’ve been in your same situation and I’ve been fortunate enough to try many sticks. As part of my platform I write unbiased equipment reviews on my site because I want to help people make educated decisions about their equipment.   If I think something is garbage I’ll make sure to state that, because I don’t want others to be frustrated with it.  It’s really frustrating shelling out money to only be disappointed with what you get, especially if you’re unable to get your hands on it first.

The Floorball Stick

Floorball sticks are comprised of fiberglass, carbon, or a mixture.  The characteristics of a Floorball stick will vary depending on their construction, but a lot of your final decision will depend on your playing style.  Increasingly, Floorball companies are developing and marketing equipment to meet your playing styles.  If you’re lucky enough to have a shop near you, or an opportunity to try multiple sticks I encourage you to do so.  Some things you’ll want to pay attention to is the flex of the shaft, and how the blade feels.  This can take a bit of time to recognize, but once you do you can start to more effectively hone in on the characteristics you’re looking for in your stick.

When I’m looking at a stick I’m looking for something that will complement my playing style, and give me the performance I need.  I’ve played with $40 sticks that I feel perform better than $80-100 sticks, and vice versa, so don’t solely make a decision based on price.  One of the unique characteristics to Floorball sticks is that they’re lightweight, but keep their shape during flex and allow you to increase performance.  When I grab a stick I’m evaluating its weight but that’s not my main priority.  I’m more interested in how the stick feels. I note the flex of the stick first and foremost.  Floorball flex is usually in the name of the stick and marked on the shaft as well. 

Stick Flex

For younger players and most beginners the ideal flex would be a 32-35. The purpose of flex is to create energy through the shaft of the stick that when released propels the ball forward quickly.  It’s not solely about strength, but finding a balance in the flex of the stick and the player.  For most this means that you’ll still be able to create flex out of the shaft to create energy effectively.  If your flex number decreases (i.e. 30,29,27 etc.) it will require more force to flex the stick, which creates more energy.  One thing to note is that depending on your playing style a stick with a flex rating at 27 may not be the right fit for you, whereas, a flex of 29 might be the right balance. Until you get your hands on it, knowing the difference is a challenge.

Blades

The other piece to the puzzle is the blade.  Blades are being constructed with a variety of characteristic.  In many cases sticks are already paired with an appropriate blade, though you can easily change the blade to suit what you’re looking for.  Blades are typically marked based on how hard or soft they are.  You should be able to find this information marked on the blade.  A hard blade is good for shooting, though harder to control fast passes.  A soft blade is great for passing and control, but you lose power during shots.  The characteristics of the blade come down to how it feels, which you won’t know until you try it. 

Conclusion

I would recommend when you purchase a blade to go ahead and purchase a different blade to test out.  You can always switch back and forth to find a pairing that works for you.   The more you play, the more you experience the better understanding you’ll have on the equipment that works for you. For more information about equipment choices check out podcast and written reviews.

 

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.

Equipment Trends On The Market

Floorball equipment has evolved over time as companies have refined the manufacturing process.

It is important to know what you are purchasing, in order to ensure the best quality for your athletes or recreation program.

In recent years, there have been notable advancements in stick and blade construction using strong and more durable materials.  When looking at a floorball stick it is an engineering feet when you consider the forces placed on the shaft and blade.  The lightest stick in 2016 weighs in at a mere 177 grams through Fat Pipe Raw Concept 27.  As the sport and equipment evolved more has become available to the consumer.

If we look at sticks there are a number of variations to choose from introductory to professional.  On the retail market recreational players have the opportunities to play with the same sticks as the top players in the world.  Sticks also tend to change in color or layouts yearly in an attempt to meet market trends.  This gives more options for the consumer to choose their preferences in both color and functionality.  Currently there seems to be a few things happening with floorball brands.  On one hand most companies are pushing neon colored sticks on the market this year in some fashion.  This trend would fall in line with what’s happening in other sports like soccer where neon colors adorn jerseys, and shoes.  If a neon pink shaft and blade is your preference of color you can find that.  On the opposite side of the spectrum some companies are opting for a simplistic approach.  In this manner colors are basic all white sticks and blades, or all black.  One thing to take note is that blades and shafts are not necessarily compatible between brands, so beware that your Exel Blade may not fit a Salming shaft.

For the consumer there are a number of options available related to equipment from sticks, blades, grips, and accessories.  In the US there is a minimal amount of companies selling equipment, so depending on what you’re looking for you’ll be forced to go overseas. As the market continues to grow in the US more and more emphasis will naturally be focused to meet the demand.  In many cases with equipment it’s a matter of preferences for the consumer and as a whole there are a number of options available in the market.  The US is a primarily untapped market in the sport and as it catches on, and it will, more and more products will begin to flood the market.  As a result it is likely it will also influence in many ways how equipment and apparel is made and marketed in relation to the US and Europe.