Guest Blog | Dan Fox, Director of Hockey at Guildford Hockey Club
Our popular guest feature on our blog pages continues, and today we extend our thanks to Dan Fox, Director of Hockey at Guildford Hockey Club, about the thriving and vibrant work that continues at the Club, inspiring many generations, youth sport, and having great fun at the same time.
Tell us about Guildford Hockey Club and the initiatives in place?
At Guildford Hockey Club there are 900 children that play hockey regularly. Each of them is unique. As well as the players, 140 coaches are involved delivering hockey each week.
So how do we cater for everyone and live up to our vision: great hockey for everyone?
First, we asked children why they play, and we found three threads running through their answers: to have fun, to play with friends, and to learn something new.
So that’s our test. Does a child who plays hockey at Guildford Hockey Club have fun, do they make friends and are they given opportunities to learn?
How do you ensure that these goals are achieved?
To create an environment that satisfies this test we spent time working out what ‘good’ looks like. Firstly, fun with a group of 7-year-olds or a group of 15-year-olds can be easy to spot; it’s often noisy, there is cheering, high fives, laughter and smiling. Nevertheless, at each age group, within each team, and with each player, having fun can look very different; some children are noisier, some are quieter, some are chattier, and some like to think and reflect quietly. The way to work out what works best for the most people most often is to develop rapport with the children involved. Meaningful relationships where coaches know players and understand what makes them want to come back and play again is the key to delivering great hockey.
Is it about more than just hockey?
Yes, it’s also about friendship. Children (and their parents and coaches) enjoy forming friendships. Our alumni games where former junior players return to play at Christmas and over the summer always elicit a fantastic response; evidence of the importance of the ties that children form over their time at the club. So how do we foster an environment that gives children these opportunities? The key is a safe and enjoyable environment for all, where there are clear expectations about people treating everyone with respect and kindness. This is both on the pitch and off it. Our most successful teams are those where players, coaches, parents, and supporters spend time together on and off the pitch and become more than teammates: they become friends.
What else do you look to achieve at Guildford Hockey Club?
The last, but certainly not least, point is learning. Providing an appropriate balance of success and failure in training and match play offers players the chance for players to achieve and learn hand in hand. Sometimes this looks difficult because it challenges players to reflect and think about their game and learn to cope with disappointment. This is a point at which having fun and being supported by friends becomes even more important.
For coaches and team managers, for parents and our Young Leaders, this is a lot to think about. It is not always straightforward, and we will make mistakes. So, to have a robust approach we employ a loop whereby leaders design, carry out, and then reflect on what went well and what could be better. This applies not just to hockey sessions and competitive fixtures, but also to social events, team trips and events…because a great hockey club is more than just a club.
Simply put, a great hockey club is about great people!
How can we find out more about Guildford Hockey Club?
We welcome all to Guildford Hockey Club and if you are interested in getting involved, or the events, teams, and games at the Club, then please do make contact through our regularly updated website, www.guildfordhc.com
Come and have some fun at Guildford Hockey Club.