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Hockey Australia Coach Developer Pilot

Hockey Western Australia (HWA), in conjunction with Hockey Australia (HA), ran a joint Coach Developer (CD) Pilot Program for the 2016/17 season. CDs were used during the West Australian Under 15 Boys State Selection trials, which ran over a weekend.

The format of the trials was that boys were placed in random teams based on their preferred positions. Coaches were assigned to teams of players that they weren’t necessarily familiar with. CDs were then allocated to assist each of the coaches.

Prior to the selection camp starting John Mowat, Education Manager for Hockey Australia, ran a 1.5- hour induction session for the CDs. Eight CDs attended the session, all of whom had coaching backgrounds ranging from community level to elite national level. All CD’s were experienced coaches and had significant work experience often in managerial roles so were familiar with the general principles of both personnel management and mentoring


Apart from player retention one of the challenges for clubs Australia wide is to retain coaches particularly young coaches. Having dedicated CD’s in each club would provide ongoing support and education for these coaches and hopefully ease them through the beginning years of their coaching. The focus of HA’s CD material is establishing where each coach who is being developed is at in terms of how what they are thinking about when they are preparing for coaching and when they are actively coaching. This approach can sometimes be at odds with the approach the CD’s might be more familiar with when involved with coaching and coaches, as much of what occurs in team coaching is based on giving directives.

The 1.5-hour introductory session therefore focussed on what could be described as “micro counselling skills”, consisting of a range of different methods of questioning open ended, push/pull,  para phrasing, and reflective techniques including summarising. The CD’s were shown examples of the various techniques being modelled, then given opportunities to practise them. They were also shown modelled behaviour of how to use the REVIEW method for examining what occurred when they were coaching.

During the selection camp coaches were matched up with CDs who oversaw them coaching their teams. The way the CDs observed and interacted with the coaches varied

Direct feedback from the coaches that worked with a CD included:


“I didn’t realise I would learn so much about coaching”

“The CD provided great feedback throughout the whole competition and really enhanced my ability as a coach. Their friendly nature helped a lot”

“One of the best parts of the experience was being able to learn strategies and approaches to coaching from people with experience in coaching”

Over the weekend John Mowat moved around to observe the CD’s in action, and to clarify any concerns or questions the CD’s might have about the process. At the end of both days the CD’s met to discuss their experience of the process and to suggest changes that might be made to the material on which the program was based. One of the CD’s, a very experienced teacher suggested that some material be made available about the various types of feedback that can be given and in what contexts it is best used. This has subsequently been added to a guide book for CD’s.


All coaches and CDs completed a post-program survey. The question “Are you likely to coach again?” received a response rate of 100%.


HWA & HA have continued on with the program at further selection trials and were looking at strategies to roll the CD program out into regional areas. The CD material has also been presented to coaches in the Hockey Queensland coaching network and to the Hockey Victoria staff responsible for overseeing coach development in Victoria. HA’s intention is to engage with other States and Territories to enable them to utilise the approach at club level. Having the CD resources online would allow interested people at the club level to utilise the approach without having to wait for it to flow through the hierarchies that exist in sport. From the pilots that HA has conducted it is obvious that prospective CD’s are aware of the various techniques and have use them in other contexts. The pilots served to model how they could be use in coaching contexts for developing coaches.

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