Back To Hockey and Juniors has taught us that at the first session it is important to get a good group of existing club members along to help the newcomers settle in. We are very fortunate at our club to have such a group who all came along to our first Walking Hockey session, including our Chair.
To put the first session together I drew upon my experience of coaching in schools, coaching juniors, seniors and Back To and took advice from one of my daughters who is a physiotherapist to try to get a good balanced Walking Hockey session.
I took a feasibility check on the content of the plan by running iterations of it past my immediate family who are all players.
The program for the first Walking Hockey session, which was a mixed sex session (as I want everyone to get to know each other), was more ‘traditional’ in design rather than the way we coach now. This was to enable people to ‘feel’ things were as they remembered, and they all need a basic skills refresh anyway– especially as hockey now is so different to when all of the attendees last played. We also had a good supply of longer sticks to help with age related mobility loss.
- Individual meet and greet for all participants as they entered the pitch to help make them comfortable
- Registration of name, contact number, emergency contact number and any medical information that was relevant to the session. They were also given a detailed Walking Hockey registration form to return at the next session.
- Overview of the session and project objectives to everyone ” to develop OUR new Walking Hockey sport so that at the end of the project we have a fun, exciting and interesting sport that we and others will want to play”
- Quick outline of rules: You can only walk, we need to be safe, you need to only do what you can manage – it is not a competition! We need to play safely – no raised sticks, no aggression, and no bodily contact. This first session is to get us into Walking Hockey, we want you to enjoy it and come back for more, and we don’t want you to be put off.
- Go for a Walk. Players went for a short walk to warm up during which they chatted and started to get to know each other.
- A few gentle stretches as recommended by the physiotherapist. Focus on knees and lower back – don’t bend to far!
- Absolute Beginners: Basics of grip, push, control, pulling ball from right to left to right. These are critical skills for Walking Hockey as accuracy is everything.
- Static pushing and control in pairs.
- Passing and controlling on the move
- Break out into matches – 4 a side, small pitch, Quicksticks ball, two club helpers per pitch.
- We concluded the session by walking together then having a brief chat about how things had gone.
Of the 35 participants at our first Walking Hockey session 8 were male, 27 female. Many had played before; two were current players returning from injury, 6-7 had never played before