Danny Kerry: looking ahead to 2015

Danny Kerry half time talk at Investec London Cup 450

After catching up with Great Britain and England men’s head coach Bobby Crutchley last week, it’s now time to hear from the women’s head coach Danny Kerry. Read on to find out what Kerry thinks about the recent Champions Trophy result, the weekly training environment and what’s in store for the squad in 2015.

Progress made in 2014: “Since September, we’ve established a very high standard in our daily training environment which has a clear set of priorities and focus areas. The athletes review their training every week to ensure that the environment we’ve created is at a level which will allow us to compete for medals at world level and also that we are progressing towards the objectives of that particular block of work.”

Specific targets from training: “We’ve seen considerable growth in areas that are easy to measure such as strength and conditioning and we have also seen similar progression in key performance indicators through our match play, in test series and most recently at the Champions Trophy.”

On selection for the Champions Trophy: “We selected a group of athletes who had trained well throughout the three month block following the Commonwealth Games.  This tournament allowed us the opportunity to give developmental experience to a number of young players, which in turn has given a greater insight into what it takes to win at this level and it has created a greater depth of experience through the whole squad.”

Kerry's view on the Champions Trophy, game by game:

2-1 loss vs Australia. “Despite conceding in the final moments of the game this did not detract from the good volume of attacking opportunities we created throughout the game which is something we had not previously seen during this Olympic cycle.”

1-1 vs Germany. “A great opportunity for the newest squad members to understand a very different tactical challenge and the players really stepped up in that regard. A good team performance.”

4-1 loss vs Argentina. “Played in front of a vociferous home crowd, which provided some unique experiential learning for the group. We created three excellent opportunities early on in the third quarter when the scores were even, but the Argentinian keeper made a number of outstanding saves and they took their chances well in the closing stages.”

Quarter Final: 3-1 loss vs New Zealand. “Performance was disappointing following the group stages. On reflection we were structurally not in good shape in defence and that led to New Zealand being able to control the ball from their outlet.”

5-8 classification match: 3-1 victory v Japan: “Demonstrated the flexibility of this group to apply the good game understanding of how to break down a deep-line defence. This game [in particular] was played in especially hot conditions and we played smartly given the conditions.”

5th v 6tt: 1-1 full-time, 3-2 shoot-out victory v China. “Another very hot game against a team who, like Japan, sapped energy out of the game by playing very conservatively. We took a deserved lead with one of the goals of the tournament, a great team effort which started on our baseline. Successful shoot-out and great to see Laura Unsworth very confidently score the first sudden-death attempt and Maddie [Hinch] saving well from China to secure the win.”

Overall: “Being a player short after losing Alex Danson just seven minutes into the first game and without six other medallists from the London Olympics [who were not selected for various reasons] I feel we have grown in depth, developed an understanding of what it takes to win and are now well placed as we prepare for the Olympic qualifying tournament in June as Great Britain.”

Looking ahead to the next 12 months

Areas to work on: “Penalty corner conversion remains a priority for us, along with a continued focus on open play goal scoring. These two areas were very much a main part of our training in the lead up to the Champions Trophy, however we will now further focus on aspects of delivering these under pressure and ensuring our daily training environment recreates the specificity needed for this development.”

Focus on leadership: “We will continue to grow the quality of our performance culture. As part of this we will continue to develop aspects of leadership and followership and Kate Richardson-Walsh rejoining the programme from January [following a 3 month sabbatical] will no doubt bring her experience and qualities to this endeavour.”

Switching to Great Britain and looking ahead to 2015: “I’m looking forward to being able to play regularly as Great Britain from January onwards as we’ve largely only been able to do this in training during a period where we’ve predominantly being competing as home nations. As ever the combination of talent across the wider Great Britain squad is an exciting prospect and brings extra competitiveness to selection and raises the bar of performance even further.”

“With test matches against Spain, Ireland and Belgium plus the Investec London Cup on Olympic Park, I believe we have an excellent combination of focussed practice and match play that will allow us to develop a strong team for the World League Semi Finals [Olympic Qualifiers] in June.”