Clifton Robinsons Sticking Together Virtually

Clifton Robinsons Sticking Together Virtually
As league hockey across the country continues to be postponed due to the national lockdown, we caught up with Clifton Robinsons head coach Juliet Rayden from the England Hockey League Women’s Premier Division to find out how she is keeping in contact with her players and somehow maintaining a sense of momentum in these challenging times.

While communication platforms such as Zoom, Teams, WhatsApp and video analysis providers such as HUDL are all providing means of keeping squads together and focused, as Rayden reveals, the uncertainty around when hockey will resume is a nagging concern.

Rayden and her squad have been very proactive during the lockdown, tapping into the digital world in a range of innovative ways. The squad stays in touch via WhatsApp but there is also a player-led weekly abdominal workout and shared fitness sessions. Video analysis platforms have also been heavily utilised for some focused 1:1 work.

In addition, some of the first team players are videoing themselves in skills practices and sharing the footage with junior club members to help keep the younger players motivated and focused on hockey.

And adding a fun element to the lockdown period, Rayden says a scavenger hunt has been organised as a social event for the squad.

While everyone at Clifton Robinsons is making the best of a difficult time, Rayden says: “It is difficult at the moment to set a plan in place to ensure players are ready as we do not know when competitive hockey will resume.

“It is getting a balance between using the time effectively but not doing too much too early so the message becomes stale. The coaching team are discussing what we will do and then we will implement the plan once we have some confirmed dates.”

Once they have the go-ahead, Rayden and her coaching staff will be zoning in on two specific areas, namely: focusing on areas that the team needs to improve on from the first four games; and developing new aspects of the game and preparing specifically for the teams Clifton Robinsons will be up against when the league resumes.

Clifton Robinsons 2020

The Clifton Robinsons squad members have been doing independent work to ensure they are fit and ready for action. Rayden says the club has provided a fitness programme and the players are all on a Strava group, which allows them to share sessions. This, says the coach, is a great motivator.

In addition, the Welsh-based players have been able to get some pitch time with local clubs which has enabled them to continue some hockey specific work.

One bonus, if that is a word that can be applied to the situation, is the players’ increasingly skilled use of video analysis. The restrictions on meeting indoors, which has been in place throughout the season, has meant an increased use in video feedback. The ability to analyse and translate the information into performance on the pitch is a skill in itself.

“The ability to share clips with individuals, lines and the whole squad has been invaluable,” says Rayden. “Players are more familiar with the techniques needed for coding and some are beginning to produce clips themselves to then share with the coaches. It provides an ideal opportunity for players to take more ownership for their development and usually there is more time away from the pitch to have these individual conversations.”