Coaching Philosophy & Development of Athelete

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Since I started coaching in 2004, I have continued to learn and grow as a coach. I have been professionally coaching for more than ten years. I believe that a good coach should have a set of principles that he stands by and believes in his heart. I’ve been developing my principles over the years and thought I would share them.

Winning is not everything in sports. It is a part of the sport, but it should never come before the well-being of the athletes. Having fun is an important part of sports. People want to have fun, so they play sports. I strive to foster an environment where athletes can enjoy themselves. Developing an athlete physically, psychologically, and socially is an important part of sports. Athletes learn life lessons, playing sports as well in a class. It is my goal to push my athletes to become stronger people physically, have a strong and sound mind, to understand social situations, and how to work together.

These are all things that an athlete uses both on and off the field. An important part of coaching is helping an athlete to strengthen those qualities in their lives. That is the reason; I would choose to help an athlete develop in these areas over having fun and winning. If an athlete is strong in all these areas, having fun and winning will follow.

The art of coaching is to know what technical move, tactical behaviour or complex competition a player is ready for at a certain stage of physical and mental development.

The best coaches do not work at the beginner level of sports because coaching young athletes rarely give them any economic gain. Coaches with terrific knowledge and experience are interested in older teams that can afford to give them higher salaries. Not getting the best coaches creates a problem for younger athletes.

The failure to interest well-qualified coaches means that poor quality and tedious coaching is taught to young athletes in schools and clubs. Due to this fact, young athletes are coached in the same way that grownups are coached, without taking into consideration the natural order or development of the young athlete through time. The alternative schemes that most coaches adapt do not give a solution to the problem of affirming young athlete’s quality coaching. Moreover, coaching youth at the beginning stages of sports is too important for the future development of the athletes to allow coaches to assemble quirky methods of coaching.

Unfortunately, it is the force of habit that constitutes the greatest obstacle to progress in youth hockey. Traditional methods are often followed blindly without giving sufficient thought of the consequences, both in training as well as in the structuring of the youth competitions.

To move past these obstacles and achieve better results in the future, coaches, administrations, and federations must first review the structure and organization of their youth hockey programs. The complicated adult game has to be simplified until a logical progression of competitions with gradually increasing demands is designed that adapts perfectly to the actual mental and physical abilities and capacities of the child. A child should be presented with only those exercises, games, and challenges that suit their current abilities, interests, and expectations. The training program, as well as the competitions for children, should be like their shoes. They should fit perfectly to feel comfortable.
If we are to improve the development of young players, it is crucial that we recognize the mistakes made in the past. Awareness of these errors is the first step towards more effective training and learning methods.

Once hockey coaches have been convinced of the need to modify the traditional way of teaching their players, they soon discover that the process of understanding and learning hockey will shift increasingly to self-teaching.

The key to develop successful youth Hockey players is in understanding and meeting the needs of young players, rather than subjecting them to boring exercises or a game designed for adults. These are some basic, yet important, needs children have that coaches should always keep in mind.

Nothing can be understood completely as long as it has not been experienced. Coaches should allow the children to experiment with tasks. Children need to discover on their own everything that surrounds them. The discovery also applies to the world of sports and in particular to Hockey. Kids should be stimulated with games and activities that are within their physical and mental capacities. This method of coaching allows them to develop their abilities and capacities step by step through their own discovery.

Children get highly motivated when tribute is paid for their efforts in mastering a skill or problem. Through praise, they are encouraged to try even harder. For children younger than 12 years old, the teacher, coach, or parent is like a mirror in which they see their capacity or incapacity. That is why educators and parents have to learn to be positive, to praise the children frequently and keep critical comments to a minimum.

Children prefer to do things on their own without depending too much on the adults. They like to reach independence as quickly as possible. The coaching methods and behaviour of the educator should consider this need, making sure that the children are frequently allowed to find solutions on their own to problems the coach presents. The educator should interfere only when the problems can’t be solved by the pupils.

Youngsters can also perform the tasks of putting down or collecting cones, modifying the rules of a practice game, or choosing players for demonstrations or certain activities. They need to demonstrate responsibility can also be stimulated in each training session by allowing them 10 minutes in which to freely choose what to practice, how to do it, and where and with whom to execute a determined skill or game.

Coaches who are hesitant to give up some of the liability to the young athletes must realize that learning also takes place out of the coach’s presence. In any team sport, young athletes, organize their play in logical form even if a grownup is not available to guide them. First, the young athletes make sure that the teams are even. Young athletes want competitiveness. They want the game to be fair and challenging, thus making the young athletes play to their full ability.

Young athletes naturally look for communication with others. The older the athletes are, the more they need the companionship of the same age. Young athletes love to be affiliated and to identify with a group or team that strive to achieve common goals.

Young athletes crave variety, which yields less boredom and fatigue. A great variety of activities are essential to keeping their attention level. Unless you often vary the method of presentation and the contents, most young athlete’s attention drift. You should also vary the intensity of the exercises and games.

Young athletes seem to live in their own world. They have distinctive problems, they learn differently, and they don’t think logically as most grownups do. Their ideas, thoughts, or reasoning often are lacking rationality. Their emotional certainty depends on a high degree of their speed of biological growth. In general, young athletes don’t know how to use their energy and tire easily. They act exactly the way they feel. For all these reasons, grownups who live and work with young athletes should know how to stimulate and direct them in their search for personality and identity.

Coaching Philosophy
My coaching style depends on taking the group together, I learned so much in last 13-14 years of my coaching life where I coach beginner to Elite Athletes, for me healthy environment is important I value letting athletes have input in some of the aspects surrounding the team and how it functions. Not all aspects of the team are up to team discussion, but some are. One of those aspects is playing time. I think it is important to hear what the team wants to focus on, and how they want to achieve that, letting the team have input is important to me.

I value ethics in all aspects of the sports. I will not tolerate unethical actions from my athletes and coaching ethically is important to me as well. I need to set an example for my athletes, and if I go about coaching by breaking the rules, what kind of example would I be setting? In the same light of setting examples, I would stress a family first model. I would never want my athletes to put the team before their own families, and I would do the same. The family is important to me and having a team that understands that family is an important aspect of all their lives is important.

My practices will be long enough to get what I want to be done, but will not go past what is needed. I think that shorter and more efficient practices are better for the athletes and their well-being. If you practice too much, the athletes will get burned out faster. The same applies when it comes to games. I would not schedule any games that would be detrimental to the athletes physically or mentally. I want to have just enough games at the right level of competition, so they can play in an environment that will push them, but not damage them physically or mentally.

I want to allow as many people to participate on my team as possible. There are limitations regarding space allowed on a roster, but I want to find a place for as many people to play as possible. If I am forced to make cuts from a governing body, or if the number of players on my roster exceeds the number I am allowed, I would do all I can to help find the players that cannot take a place to play.

I strongly believe that coaches are mentors for the athletes. I believe that it is something that comes with being a coach, and it is my responsibility to help them on and off the ice as much as they want me to. I will never force my involvement unless it is surrounding something that puts my athlete or people around them in danger. I am not their parent, but as someone, they look up to, it is my job to support them in whatever way they need. In doing this, I can help them get stronger mentally and socially.

Principle of Developing Athletes

The most important factor in developing a player is belief, your player must believe they are capable of being great. Not only must the players believe in themselves, but you must also believe in them. Nothing is more powerful than a respected coach that a player looks up to for advice believing in them. Players (people in general) are often capable of far more than they believe. For this reason, a coach must help a player achieve more than the player believes possible. If a player doesn’t truly believe what they are trying to do is possible their practice will not be as effective or efficient, in the back of their mind they will think “what’s the point.”

I think balance is the foundation of all fundamental hockey skills, a coach that can help new players become balanced will set the foundation for faster development in controlling/running with the ball, passing verity, basic of attacking and defending, power, speed, agility etc

Challenge yourself, challenge others, the simplest key to designing drills/exercises and helping players improve is to ask them, does this challenge you? Achieving a skill/movement should be outside of the players reach, just close enough that they want to work harder to achieve it. Once the player can perform the skill/pattern consistently move on to a new challenge and continue to find new areas of the player’s game to improve.

An opportunity to learn can be found in every minute – Maybe the best way to get better quickly (when not practicing) is to become a good learner. During practice is not the only time that Learning takes place. Imagine looking at every hockey game you watch, every game you play, every hockey player/coach you meet, and other sports/activities as an occasion to learn and grow. It’s not easy, it can’t be done instantly, like everything you need to practice this strategy and it will get better with time.

Success is obtained by failing– If you are pushing yourself hard enough, you will fail, and you will learn. If you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough, then you’re too comfortable, you are afraid of embarrassing yourself, and it’s a hindrance to your development. Every failure is a chance to learn and grow.

Learn efficiently. How efficient are your practices? It’s great you’re at practice or working on your skills for 30 minutes at home, but you must give it your all, you can’t just go through the motions. Too many young athletes go to practice and go through the motion, not getting all, they can get from the practice. Don’t wait for someone to correct you, push yourself. If the drills aren’t challenging you, you need to challenge yourself with the drill. Get lower, go faster (or slower), push harder, try something a little different, ask yourself “how can I do this better.”

There is something valuable in everyone– No one player should feel more valuable than another in a team, although this often happens. It’s important to stress the point that everyone in the team is important and valuable for the team’s success. Every player will have their chance to make a difference in the team. You must treat, and train them this way.

The key to improvement is focused repetition– Many books, scientific studies, and research into skill development all come down to one key point. The more you do something, the better you get. It’s simple, practice often with a purpose. (for example, I know how to take a goal shot right handed, I have helped many players learn and improve their Goal shooting, I have a deep understanding of how the Goal shot works, however, if I attempt a backhand shot I look ridiculous…. it’s because I simply haven’t put in the time and reps!)

The goal is not to win. As a coach, your goal is to get the most out of each player (and staff member) you have, while you have them. Your goal is to teach, develop, motivate and inspire.

The process should be the goal; not a destination – If you set a goal with high expectations, and stumble early, you may lose all motivation and quickly give up on your goal. However, if your goal is simply to engage in the process of improvement – with your high expectations as your compass for your development – you will be achieving your goal every time you engage in the practice. This shift will keep you motivated longer and allow you to continue in development even after a goal is achieved.

If practice goes wrong, a drill fails, or a player doesn’t understand something it is my job as a coach to improve my delivery of the message. As a coach, I strive to make my instruction and expectations as clear as possible. When drills go wrong, I don’t blame the players, I rethink my delivery and improve.

The best teacher is a thing called Experience – While reading (or watching videos) is a great way to learn, actually doing something is the only way to improve and develop. Until the things you’ve learned have been tested and tweaked, they are not truly yours. For this reason, coaches and players should seek out every opportunity to practice. Practice turns information into tangible skills, potential into reality.

I think this is all for now. I’m still young in my coaching career and will continue to refine the above principles and beliefs while developing new ones 🙂

“Coaching isn’t a job. It’s a away of life. ..You are either born for it or notIf you don’t love every second it,  it’s not for you.”

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What is Incompetency and how Incompetent people Destroying Our National Game – Part 1

PHF BLOG

According to the dictionary, incompetence is the inability to do something successfully. In my opinion, it is more than that. It is the habit of accepting failure or botched work and making excuses for it.

Failure and mediocrity are incredible. You fail at something or do a poor job and the consequences are not good but not so bad. You lost something, but you did not lose much. You were told off, you came up with an excuse or you apologized, but nothing changed

Guess what will happen next time?

You will fail and be mediocre again and again. And of course, always have a perfect excuse to justify everything.

Do incompetent people know they’re incompetent?
No, of course not; otherwise they wouldn’t be incompetent.
Incompetent people do not understand how incompetent they are because the factors that make them incompetent to make them unable to understand their shortcomings. Psychologists call this the Arrogance of Ignorance.

So what is incompetence?

It is an inability or lack of skill to perform adequately. So, incompetence is measured by results or performance not intelligently. Incompetent people can be quite charming and intelligent, but their perceptions can be out of kilter and how they perform can be disastrous. Incompetence can result from lack of organizational abilities, Ego, self-centered, lack of self-awareness; they may have book learning, but no practical experience, they may be in the wrong line of work, numerous other reasons or any combination of these, for example, if you have a great playing experience and you are a Big wig so it’s not compulsory you will be a good coach or a pilot etc. You have to work harder to be a successful coach or a manager etc.

Below does incompetent people use some of the coping strategies. If you see people doing these things, it’s not guaranteed that they’re incompetent, but you should be wary and very careful with these people until you know for sure because their lack of competence could hurt the system

Nice and Praising people – incompetent people sometimes use ‘nice’ as a coping strategy. They think that if they really, really, really nice and praising then the teacher will be more likely to forgive them or the boss will be reluctant to fire them.

This is a dangerously effective coping strategy because most of us like nice and praising people and we would rather deal with nice people than cranky ones.

In fact, we are more likely to forgive really, really, really nicer people for their incompetence than we are to forgive cranky people. After all, this is why incompetent people adopt ‘nice’ as a strategy; it works. At least, it works for a while and then after a time we get fed up with their constant screw-ups and even their ‘niceness’ is no longer enough to compensate for their perpetual incompetence.

Hiding their selves  – incompetent people sometimes try to make themselves invisible. They sit at the back of the class or the back of the meeting room, hoping they are didn’t noticing and called upon. Also, they keep quiet and don’t raise their hands or volunteer anything because when they do their incompetence becomes evident for all to see.

One more example lot of Ex Olympians and internationals never take a part in any FIH or other coaching certifications, also most of them don’t want to work on a grass root level I mean coaching and management, these kind of people living in a fear of exposing their selves, because they were a brilliant player of their era, but coaching and management are the different fields it doesn’t matter how good and intelligent player you are actually you have a playing experience ONLY.

Invisibility is also a dangerously effective coping strategy because we cannot see them. Since they’re invisible, they’re difficult to identify. They identify when they got some responsible position in federation or in any other organization where they have to work on different sector, like banking, airlines etc, of course they couldn’t fly a plane or run a Bank until they got the right education and a license to fly etc. A funny thing is these people relying on their playing career not on their education and certifications etc.

 

Never wrong- Beware of people who always make excuses and never accept responsibility for their mistakes. These people show that they are doing a hell of work and going to make a massive change in the system, but in reality they are making things worse because of their incompetence and lying habits. Someone writes “Incompetents will do and say anything to defend themselves … including disassembling, obfuscating, lying and blaming others … they misrepresent, they use decoy arguments and make ad hominem attacks.”

 

I am following Pak hockey for decades and also worked for a while with them and I have never seen anyone once admitted to making a mistake. They had endless excuses and it was always someone else’s fault. Fortunately, it didn’t take me long to realize they are a bunch of incompetents. They are always right, teaching and applying 80s and 90s formulas won’t work in this modernized sports world, I don’t know how long we will take to realize that and change this incompetence system.

 

Always right – this is the flip side of ‘Never Wrong’ above. One characteristic of people who think they’re always right is their inability to listen and learn. They’re like super heroes, they show they knew about everything, and they even cannot able to teach a right basic skills, or organize/manage anything. If you aren’t an Olympic medalist then you have no right to say a single word against their artificial and failed logics.

If you try to guide them in a professional and a smart way then you committed a crime because they are always right.

 

Back Biting and Negative People– Some people, in order to compensate for their incompetence, try to drag other people down with constant negative comments so they look better in comparison. No matter what you tell this type of person, no matter how positive it is, they’ll bend and twist it out of shape. You can see them in sports TV talk shows; They could make Pastola (Ball Boy) look like Cristina Ronaldo, because they know Pastola never going to say anything except YES sir NO sir. These people always want to be in a lime light and if they see some young one who is well spoken and rising slowly and they are recognizing in the Sports sector, then they start taking them as a threat, and start spreading negativity about his game and his/her character also they can give you a unfit certificate after playing 100 international games, they can make your legs uneven or suddenly they become an astrologer to predict how long you can play and perform, beware if a person does that, they are also likely to do it to you behind your back. Everything you say WILL be used against you.

These people are constantly searching for the negative and take great delight in finding it in others.

Poking into everyone else’s business – Some incompetent people, unable to do their own jobs compensate by telling other people how to do their jobs and enter fairing in their jobs. They try to make themselves look good by appearing to be busy ‘improving things’ and thus avoid revealing their inability doing their own jobs. For example, if they are a team manager then they will also take a part in everything, coaching, strength and conditioning, etc, even they start substitute players without asking from coaching team, once team lost the game then they put all the garbage on players and a coaching team.

 

Overconfidence – although this is not a coping strategy, it may be a sign of someone who believes they’re better than they really are. We live in a rapidly changing world that requires constantly upgrading our skills. Overconfident people may be loath to improve because they think too highly of themselves.

As well, overconfident people may think they don’t need anyone else’s input so they try to do things themselves rather than ask for the opinions from the professionals. Never underestimate the value of teamwork. Two heads are better than one and three better than two. It takes bravery to admit you don’t know everything. Learning is a long journey and this journey will stop when you feel YOU ARE THE BEST.

Hypocrisy– is an Incompetence people’s weapon, from this weapon you can destroy any sports or any system, these are the most dangerous people in sports, these people are always with the federation for the sake of their positions and keep surviving in every federation with the help of same slogan “Rival of Hockey” this federation is doing superb this and this blah blah blah huh…….. These kind of people keeps their position secure and keep the musical chair game on

Hazrat Ali (A.S) said “Always be open to new ideas”

Always try to gain more knowledge. Refrain from being narrow-minded and ignorant. Stick to your own principles but keep yourself open to improvement and constant development. That being said; don’t get yourself into matters which don’t concern you… “He who involves himself in matters without considering the consequences exposes himself to troubles.

 

Thanks guys for reading this and I think this is very important to know the meaning of INCOMPETENCE before reading my upcoming blog, in the next blog, I will explain how the Federation’s incompetency damages our dying national sport.

Thanks

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Always PHF Is To Blame For Pak Hockey’s Sad State of Affairs and The Importance of National Hockey Events

The National senior championship event that has been recently established as a means to promote Pakistan’s national sport across the country. Dubbed as the hockey carnival of the nation, this is an event where teams of various departments and provinces compete with one another showcasing their most talented players, providing ample opportunities for top talent recruitment for the national team. Because of this, the hockey league is immensely competitive and all departments and regional teams select their best players in this well sponsored and funded event.

Playing professional hockey has always been my dream. I first found my passion for the national sport while I was at school, after which I dreamt of participating at the national level. My first breakthrough came when I got accepted into the NBP junior team in the National Junior Championship event in 2000 after my schooling years.

When I stepped my foot into professional hockey, my eyes were set at joining the NBP senior team, which I thought was going to be difficult. Fortunately, my dream came true when some of my batch mates and I were selected for the 1 month bank camp in Gojra and Lahore in 2001

There we were blessed to be around the company of some of the greatest hockey players of Pakistan, including Tahir Zaman, Rana Mujahid, Khawar Javed, Ahmed Khan, and Nadeem ND. My friends and I were simply trying to secure a place in the team as 17th and 18th player positions. This was so that we would get a chance to improve and cultivate our skills by being in constant supervision and guidance of senior and more experienced players.

After a while I finally got properly accepted into the team and played proper professional hockey. Playing alongside some of the most experienced and skilled hockey players was a golden opportunity. They not only supported me, but also gave me the confidence to play up to my potential that helped push my hockey career forward.

Perhaps, the most important aspect of playing professional hockey was discipline. All hockey activities from trainings and rest periods for meetings and social events took place between morning and evening that provided the right atmosphere for building focus and training.

By spending a little over 6 weeks, I began to witness a significant improvement in myself. I, along with others, got a good daily allowance, stayed in 4-star hotels, and benefitted from various other benefits that helped me relax mentally and pursue my career in hockey with greater commitment. Lately, I received positive feedback for my performances in championship events and also got selected for the national camp, followed by the Pakistani Jr. Hockey team, after which my career reached greater heights.

My positive career in hockey is relevant for highlighting the importance of the National Senior Hockey Championship event for new players. If any federation failed to organize a hockey event properly, then they will fail to develop hockey talent that can be the drivers of our national sport in the future. Nowadays, the National Senior Hockey Championship event has more or less become a ‘khana-poori’ event in the calendar of Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF).

The event’s new federation has played such a crucial and positive role in changing the unprofessional system and structure of Pakistan Hockey to produce real talent for the future. One of their main contributions was introducing a quality and advanced coaching program that will ensure hockey training is executed and conducted only by qualified hockey coaches to meet high and professional game standards, and also brings the qualified GK Coach Salman Akber for the Goal keeper’s development program, and after a few months he quietly resigned due to PHF unprofessional attitude.

Although the idea was well-thought out, it wasn’t implemented properly and ended up becoming another slogan. In the Azlan Shah Hockey Cup, the federation takes a large number of people for coaching and umpiring courses that do not add up to anything beneficial.

I’m utterly disappointed with this non-serious management and cannot understand why this takes place. This is one of the reasons why the national sport of Hockey is losing interest among the younger generation day by day, causing many departments to disband their hockey teams, ending the careers of highly talented hockey players.

In this opportune time for developing future talent, the federation acted very irresponsibly and set a very bad precedent for professional hockey in our country. They organized a National Championship event that failed to fulfill any real objectives. In this event, many departments had set up their training camps for players to participate in the event and had also spent a large sum of money. However, due to poor event management, each team only played 2 games and any team that failed to qualify was asked to pack their bags and go back home.

The question is how else will upcoming players be attracted and motivated to make a career in hockey if such antics occur? Honestly, is there a point in spending a substantial amount of money if players per team only get to play only 2 games? Most important of all, how can the federation expect team sponsors to recruit players if the event is not made competitive enough to encourage talent recruitment for successive games?

There is no doubt that we are wasting good Hockey talent for our future and instead of taking serious measures to correct the problem, we are playing blame games.

Professionalism

One of the most unprofessional decisions taken by the federation was that they changed the draws that were not balanced. Also, they made a few changes to the event to accommodate a hockey player’s wedding reception. Furthermore, members of the federation along with other team participants travelled to other cities that were far from Lahore and got back just in time to play the match/team training the following day. Is this the example we are setting for upcoming players and officials in the professional hockey?

Discipline is the cornerstone of professionalism, but where does that leave us? The second major blunder committed by the federation was regarding the Malaysian Hockey League. PHF changed the draws in order to make the championship event shorter since a lot of players were participating in the tournament. This only showed that the federation does not have any serious concern about sustaining interest in the game of hockey or for nurturing talent for the future.

Video referral

Video referrals failed to bring about any viable outcome in the recent championship event. Video referrals took more than 3 minutes for each appeal and failed to make a good decision. This not only showed the extent of our unprofessionalism towards the sport, but also slowed down the momentum of the match that only made the match unexciting and boring to watch for spectators.

Winning Prize

The entry fee for each team was 1.5 Lac rupees that was embarrassingly low considering that the PHF did not give out any medal or trophies for the team winning 3rd Position. There is only a trophy for the Champions and the runners up but no other prize or medals for anyone else.

FIH Champions Trophy 2016

Pakistan got out from the recent World Cup and Olympics that led to a dramatic fall in their international ranking also in part due to the lack of participation in FIH events. The PHF, unfortunately, does not have any well thought-out plans to close this gap and increase the competitiveness of our national team.

Fortunately, Pakistan was invited to participate in the last champions trophy, which was a great opportunity to score around 150 participation points. This could have been a excellent for helping the team reverse their poor international ranking and along with giving the players tremendous exposure and confidence in being able to play against top teams. Had Pakistan participated in the event, it could have easily secured the top 3rd Position, to say the least.

Why? Because due to Olympic Champions Trophy wasn’t in the program of so many teams, and because of that these teams do not take this event as seriously and simply show up to London without any proper preparation and after seeing few games of champions trophy is quite obvious Pakistan can finish in top position and can improve their ranking, as Pakistan Team always play to win events we never participate for experiments and development procedures.

 

The PHF could have used this opportunity to try new players or experiment with different match tactics to gauge how well the team performs under different settings. However, the PHF declined the invitation by the FIH and decided not to participate in the 2016 event in order to save themselves the scrutiny of the team’s poor performance.

Ranking and team development aside, Pakistan should have participated in the Champions Trophy seeing that the country is one of the founders of the event. There is no question that the PHF was afraid of facing another major defeat, despite the fact that the team had lost in two major hockey tournaments in quick succession; as such, there was nothing to be afraid of losing.

But, in lieu of the unprofessional system of the PHF, the officials became concerned at the thought of people raising questions about the national team’s performance and blame being casted onto them. Since they could not handle such accountability, they decided not to induct Pakistani team in the event.

Junior World Cup 2016

There was little doubt about how well the Pakistani Junior hockey team had been practicing for the past 12 months, in addition to giving an excellent performance in multiple tournaments prior to the Junior World Cup. Under the supervision and guidance of Head Coach Mr. Tahir Zaman, the team had been doing surprisingly well within a short space of time. During these past few months, the players developed a strong team spirit and bonding and despite not reaching the top standard, they still exhibited a substantial improvement as hockey players.

All they were in need of was some international exposure to polish their skills and discover other areas of improvement. The PHF had a plan to organize a European tour that would give the national team to play against European teams and spend between 2 and 3 weeks in camp training. Despite the good intentions of the federation, the plan never came to fruition, as it was not executed properly.

Changes to the plan were made, owing to a scheduling conflict as a result of a Chief of Army Staff hockey tournament. Due to this, the PHF lost sight of their priorities and emphasized the importance of a local event at the expense of an international tour.

A short while after this, the Pakistani Junior Team was not able to participate in the Junior World Cup due to the refusal of the Indian government to issue visas to Pakistani hockey team players. But, instead of admitting their mistakes, the officials of the federation took advantage of the situation by putting all the blame on the Indian government for their Junior team’s lack of international exposure.

And since Indo-Pak ties often get sensationalized by our media, it was not difficult for the federation to cast blame on anyone but themselves for their poor decision making and lack of serious attitude. I guess we all owe the federation officials a big debt of gratitude and salute for bashing the Indians on television and scoring political points. The fact of the matter is that the federation was able to cover the root causes of the junior hockey team’s lack of international exposure – their own unprofessional attitude towards the game.

Honestly, is this the state of our national sports federation where it is better to waste our energy and time impressing our bosses in order to secure our jobs, but not executing future plans to develop our hockey team players?

The federation should have anticipated this and taken out the time to submit an appeal and do all the paperwork necessary to strengthen their case. However, PHF neglected three FIH warnings and did not submit the required papers. During this time, the FIH asked the Malaysian Federation and those of other countries to fulfill the replacement. In contrast, the Malaysian Federation took advantage of this by submitting the required paper within 48 hours and obtained the visas for their hockey players to participate in the World Cup.

After this blander PFH said we will take this matter very seriously and they will bring this matter to the court, after so called consulting they decided to be quiet………………………..

Coaching System

When the Legends in charge of the federation first took their jobs, they used many slogans and promises to bring change to uplift the national sport from unprofessionalism. However, all ended up in vain and we are still in the same situation without any optimism for true change or progress.

The coaching system is one example where PHF failed to live up to its promises. For example, apart from the fact that Khwaja Junaid was appointed as head coach, the federation, brought a retired army serviceman, Lt. Co. Mohsin Ali, as assistant coach or manager, Mr. Hanif Khan as camp commandant plus manager, and Ahmed Alam as GK coach.

I still do not understand why you need different levels of coaches or what these different coach titles are supposed to mean for the management. The interesting thing is that the PHF boss did not buy the idea of having a strength and conditioning coach as he instructed the players, during the Asian Champions Trophy, that all players need to work hard on their like how they used to in their time.

What really perplexes me is why retired army servicemen are being hired to do the job of a professional hockey manager or coach. I guess this only shows how our hockey federation is riddled with favoritism, something that resonates with our country’s political system.

The people who are aware of the federation can easily spot the problems in the management. How can you expect hockey players to take an interest in the game or for the team to have a consistent skills development and training system when the head coach instructs one player to be substituted for another, the Chief coach says to replace everyone except that player, or when the goal keeper is neglected by the coach because he has been coached by someone else in the past or when the new captain is forced to sit on the bench because he is not a favorite of another coach.

The fact of the matter is that there are many coaches with their different approach, each of whom have considerable authority to dictate and decide who should substitute and who should not. The worst part, of course, is that each coach has their favorite and any selection and induction of players happens through tribal customs.

This only creates a stress environment of players and makes them lose confidence and hope for seeing themselves grow in the sport and take the national sport to international level. It is no surprise then that Mr. Khawaja struggled to manage his own team.

We all need to reflect on our own problems and take steps to promote transparency and team spirit of the game. If the players cannot bond well and fail to perform as part of a team, then what does this say about the management’s responsibility to provide a strong playing atmosphere and core value system? The reality is that we are too busy casting blame on one another and fail to acknowledge our own mistakes.

I always say ‘attitude is everything’ and if this is the attitude of the people in charge, then there is no doubt that we haven’t learnt anything from our mistakes. Should this continue, we will never be able to progress in our own national sport.

Another point to reflect about is that foreign coaches will always bring their own team, such as video analyst professional, GK coach, physiotherapist, and so on. Have you wondered why this is the case? I will leave you to think about it. But you should know that that the national senior team has no physiotherapist no strength and conditioning coach and team is participating in the international events with someone’s friend Oh I mean DOCTOR (I already explained doctor role in Pak hockey in my pervious Blog).

Freedom of Speech

Our federation also has issues with people who voice their opinions for accountability. Recently, the former hockey player and legend Waseem Ahmed raised some questions during a national championship event highlighting the problems of favoritism in PHF. Soon after, he received a notice and got banned to sit on the team bench of his departmental team during the championship event and had to take permission from PHF to allow him to serve as coach for a foreign country hockey Club.

Now that was harsh! Waseem Ahmed recently became a FIH high performance coach and also got recommended for the next stage of FIH high performance coaching, along with serving as a coach for the Australian hockey club.

My complaint is why did the federation behave in such manner? This is not the first time it has happened with a high-ranking former hockey player. On the contrary, we have seen this happen with various other players and former players. The PHF, instead of being open to criticism, acts in a dictatorial fashion by shutting any mention of public scrutiny. PHF, in the past, have sent notices to various department officials to set an example for others never to open their mouths against them.

Unfortunately, this method is working on keeping the sport of hockey infested with favoritism and unprofessionalism. This is why in lieu of these systemic problems, I can only appeal to the government of Pakistan to introduce institutional level changes to rid the federation of incompetence and make hockey a pride of our nation.

 

Me and Pakistan Hockey 1994-2015

Cuddled up to my pillow in my blanket on a chilly winter morning, I was half awake and half asleep waiting for my mom to wake me up for school and just like any other kid on a cold morning, I also wanted to skip school that day. I was busy thinking of reasons and suddenly the alarm struck, it was 6:30 AM and mom showed up to my room, “Hurry up, AD! Wake up son, I need to go to work early today. Come on, wake up or else I’ll be late!” I got up half-heartedly and showed up to the breakfast table quickly after dressing up. While putting Jam on my toast I realized that my dad wasn’t ready for his office. I asked him the reason of his delay and he said he wasn’t going. I was a little surprised because he seldom took off from work, so obviously I asked him why he wasn’t going and that’s when he told me that it our national television will be telecasting the Hockey World Cup Final and the match was between Pakistan and Netherlands.

I got a reason for an off too, and with dad’s help we convinced my mom and it was finally a day off from school.

As the match began, my father started to tell me the rules and knowhow of the game. The final one was a dream and the decider came through penalties. In the end Monsoor Ahmed GK of Pakistan saved the last penalty flick of Delmie and Pakistan made history on 4 of December 1994 by showing up as Hockey World Champions! Woo!! What a game it was, I still remember the moment we won; the excitement, the adrenaline rush that I felt in my body. Everyone in my building started to celebrate the win and dad and I both joined the celebrations too.

As I took to bed that night at 10:00 pm a few names remained stuck to my mind. Mr. Shahbaz Senior, Tahir Zaman, Kamran Ashraf, Qammar Ibrahim, Khwaja Junaid, Mansoor Ahmed, Delmie and Stephen Veen. It was that day when I decided that I wanted to be a professional hockey player and that historical day changed my entire life. My passion and hobby turned into my profession and now I have been working as a professional hockey Coach/Player for almost 15 years. This final game of the hockey world cup, gave me an Identity, wearing a green shirt and representing Pakistan in different FIH tournaments was more than stuff of any dreams.

In my short career, I saw many ups and down, but I must say the tenure of PHF president Mr. Gen Aziz and Sectary PHF Mr. Brigadier Mussurt Ullah was the best of times. I found myself very lucky to be a part of Pak Jr. and the senior squad in this tenure. They modernized Pakistan Hockey and worked in a professional way. At that time all the senior and junior coaches were FIH’s high performance coaches. For eg: Tahir Zaman, Asif Bajwa, Khwaja Junaid Qammar Ibrahim, Mr Ronald Oltamans and others. Also, in their tenure, the Pakistan hockey federation for the first time organized an FIH course for the local and professional coaches to give a chance to improve their coaching skills and implement modern hockey at grass root level.

During this tenure, Pakistan hockey was not only successful on the field, but also in the marketing department. We got Mr, Sardar Naveed Haider, who did a marvelous job and brought huge sponsors. The result of his hard work was that Pakistan became a host of FIH Champions Trophy and played many home series against different countries. PHF also organized a Super Hockey League for the first time in the history of Pakistan hockey. A lot of foreign players participated in this league and live coverage on TV made this event successful. Medals came in huge numbers during this time and a lot of youngsters also made their name. This PHF management gave us a boost and people all over started to recognize us.

Unfortunately, politics has always been a part of PHF. When this management started to work well, our Ex Olympians started to feel neglected and they began a huge campaign against the federation. In Pakistan, only if you are against the federation, the country’s media will highlight you. The media didn’t bother who spoke what till they had masala for the shows.

The worst part was most of these guests did not have basic qualifications required to be a coach. But in Pakistan if you are an Olympian or an international player that is enough for coaching, managing and trainer. When they become a coach they have nothing to teach. The only thing they do is wearing a green tracksuit, drink tea, eat Samosa on the side and watch players sweat it out. They have no training regimen for players; they have no clue of what players should eat and give them fatty goods and no supplements. They completely lack vision and there is no development program. Their behavior with players is appalling to say the least. They assume of themselves, as kings while the players are slaves of some sort.

This result in stressed players who never enjoy the game. The facilities are poor, which adds to the misery and this means there is no drive from the player’s side to improve him via competition, both domestic and international. This results in very few victories. These kind of coaches are insanely proud of their achievements of the 1960-1994 and don’t want to see beyond them. While we all respect that and we also are proud of them and acknowledge the fact that they are living legends, but as a coach/manager/trainer, etc when I see them, I know not much is coming out as a dividend.

Coaching:

The world of sports has transformed and sports’ coaching has become a subject. A number of nations spend a huge amount of money in the development of their coaches. Belgium is one of the prime examples. Seven years ago when the Belgium, hockey team was struggling to qualify for the European Championship, they spend the right amount of their funds in the development of coaches and systems. They brought in number of foreigner professional coaches who have not played internationals but have also worked on the grass roots levels. These coaches helped them build great processes and the result is for everyone to see. Belgium today is one of the top 5 sides of the world.

Doctors:

Pakistan is the only team in the world who takes a doctor along with the team for the past 15 years. If you have a chance to look at FIH match sheets, then you will find sports physiotherapist and trainers have replaced doctors. England is the only team that also has a Sports Scientist with the team.

Hockey is a pro-active game that requires top fitness and good health and only fit and healthy players are selected in national squads. Hence, what is the need of a doctor? What we are showing to the world? Pro Athletes get muscular and joint injuries, which can be only looked after by sports physiotherapists and trainers.

Disadvantage of an unprofessional Doctor:

I played in The Pakistan Junior Team in 2003, we had a doctor. I observed him quite closely and if there was one thing all players would unanimously to be that he was USELESS. He had no clue regarding physiotherapy but would pretend he knows everything and would always bring his portable massager that was useless. I have known him since then, he is not a qualified trainer, but he runs physical training sessions without any program/plan/targets etc. He is not a sports nutritionist, but he pretends that he is the best one. The worst is that he injects steroids to injured players to make them play in injury and unfortunately a few players finished their careers because of his stupidity. Now the question is why he is around? Maybe because he is a very good entertainer and keeps the management happy and he knows how to play with medical terms. Hats off to PHF officials who come under his influence.

Have you noticed Jamie Dwyer is still playing? Why is that globally top players keep playing even after crossing mid-thirties while Pakistan hockey players mostly struggle after they touch 30. That is because of the fitness issues. This is happening because the players’ fitness if not based on a solid foundation. Hockey is becoming a very high physical demanding game that requires top fitness. You are living in dreams if you think these kind of stupid fake doctors can take these players’ fitness to the international standards.

Tactical and Technical Coaching:

Pakistan has golden memories in hockey. I proudly have said before that we have won several top Gold medals at World Cups and Olympics but have struggled since 1994. Europe and others started research on hockey around that time. They started changing the game’s rules and introduced modern technology and brought fitness professionals to cope up with the game. Pakistan hockey, though kept basking in their glory and never tried coping up. The fact that they never wanted to come out of their successful era and still feel that their old style is good enough is where they fool themselves.

Pakistan should consider itself fortunate that they find so much talent. Unfortunately, talent can win games, but not championships. The players work so hard, but without a set regimen which is of global standards, not much can be achieved. The kind of people running the administration is unqualified professional and are in the majority. They are busy in playing musical chair like in the case of Pakistani politics (Aaj Saadi Vari kal Tuadi Vari).

There is no doubt in my mind when it comes to capabilities. We are fully capable to bounce back, but for that we need to appoint the right people for the right jobs. If the federation keeps appointing their friends who can’t even organize a senior and junior championship and can never be the coach of a local side, the results will be of the standards that we are seeing now.

Video Sessions:

Video analyzing plays a very important role in this modern era sport. But in Pakistan it’s become a joke where the laptop is an entertaining machine for the officials. I think it’s enough to say this here. We haven’t had any organized online library or any player database system where coaches and players can analyze their performance.

GK trainer:

Goal keeping is a totally different department of coaching and unfortunately no one is keen to work in this department. This definitely needs a specialized coach who knows his job rather than someone who rolls 1000 balls on GK pads every day. I think this is the more ignored department in the Pakistan set-up and also unfortunately there is also not a single qualified GK trainer. If you see current international matches, you can find Pakistan goalie dive on his both knees and do some very basic errors that shouldn’t be done at this level. I think Salman Akbar got lucky to have Shahid Ali Khan and Dutch GK coach Ronald Jenson, who polished Salman in a solid defensive wall of Pakistani defense. Unfortunately, due to federation behavior and pathetic policies he didn’t continue his services for his beloved country and moved to Netherland. Pakistan’s most talent GK is running his academy there and playing for a national league club.

Umpiring:

Pakistan used to produce quality Grad 1 FIH umpires like Rashid Ali Khan, Faiz Muhammad etc. But currently we have very low representation in FIH. The reason is no development program for umpires and no one wants to be an umpire simply because the federation failed in this department as well. A sad part of the story is no one respects umpires in Pakistan domestic hockey. PHF needs to bring educated players in this department and launch a development program for young umpires for the betterment of hockey in Pakistan.

Structure:

To be honest, there is no structure in Pakistan Hockey. Where are the academies and where are the academy coaches? Where are the grass root hockey projects? Where is club hockey, where is age hockey? Where is single hockey system?

Sorry to say there is nothing at all and even the so called legends don’t bother to visit a local ground, though they want to become the Head Coach of a National team. In this crappy system, there is no sign of any qualification for any Job. Being an Olympian or an international player qualifies you to be a head coach, which is ridiculous to say the least. It doesn’t matter whether you have played 5 minutes or 5 Olympics; these players sit on TV shows and pretend that they are the best coaches of the world without qualification.

The funny thing is that there is no post of Director of development and Director of coaching, which means there is no check and balance on coach’s performances. These coaches have a free hand and it is this system from which we expect a miracle.

Media:

PHF website is down and this highlights the progress of this department (Pun intended).

What we need to do:

We need to introduce a single hockey system ASAP. And also forget international hockey for few years and start working on the grass root level. We need to introduce a basic educational program for sportsmen and women. Start a development program for coaches and umpires, hire professional Trainers/S&C coaches, bring sports professionals on board to build a basic structure. We need honest and sincere people, especially those who really want to do something about this game rather than posting their picture on FB and Tweeter.

Make a criterion for each post, train coaches before they are coaching youngsters, and make sports lessons compulsory in schools. We need Sardar Naveed Haider Khan’s services in the marketing department as I think he is the only person who can help PHF at the moment in the marketing department. We need Waseem Ahmed,Zeshan Ashraf, Salman Akbar, Muddasir Ali Khan, Sohail Abbas, Mohammad Saqlain, Rehan Butt, and others seniors players in the coaching field. These players have played in the modern era and have a good understanding of FIH high performance hockey. Bring Mohammad Faiz in Umpiring department as Umpiring development officer. And in the end bring Mr. Tahir Zaman as director of Coaching with full authority and give him 5 years to build a solid structure.

Players Respect:

In Pakistan, there is no sign of a decent way of players retiring. PHF always treats big players like a tissue paper. Then being called in a training camp and didn’t pick them is a recent example of indecency that the recently did with Sohail Abbas, Kashif Jawad, Salman Akber, Rehan Butt, Mohammad Shabbir, Muhammad Sarwar, M. Saqlain, Mohammad Imran and others as well.

Though there are some players who use their brains. For example, I knew the monopoly and the politics of these coaches as I knew them very well. Like me who knows them very well and didn’t take any chance to make get their selves embrace and take an initiative and say bye to PHF with their heavy hearts, I never understand that why PHF invest in players? They select them in a team, give them an exposure and when they become mature and experienced players they kick them out without any sensible grounds. Also, PHF is the only federation who makes the debut of players in the World biggest events like the Olympics.

This is so strange but you can recognize that there is no vision no planning no system. Different nations planned for long times to participate in the Olympics. They designed their programs, select the best available players and started working on them. But In Pakistan there is no security of a player’s career, PHF has always given a shock to their players. This act makes players so stressed during the training camps and even during the competition and if a player is playing in stress, it means he is not going to give his best.

Due to this weird system of no proper Goodbyes, fans are left hurt to see their Super stars being treated like this, for example, if Sohail Abbas took a stand on this then I am sure it would not fall out with Salman Akber and Mohammad Imran and others. That’s all what I can articulate. This is so insulting to our players that we can’t even say proper goodbyes and appreciate our superstars for their services.

Unfortunately, we didn’t learn anything from the past and we are still blaming the players for the recent defeat and made Mohammad Imran and others to resign.

A part of this crap sportive system we still love our national game and we are hoping one day someone changes the disable system and take our national game to the top again.

Ameen