When hockey feels like freedom

When hockey feels like freedom

19 May 2021

‘We are so up for next season’s hockey at Woldingham. Yes, it’s been disappointing that we haven’t played any fixtures over the last year, but we’ve used this to our advantage. We’ve gone back to basics, focused on the key areas to develop and we’ve worked on our motivation. I am so excited to watch our players competing and see how our U15 and U18 teams do at national competitions,’  says Ben Allberry, Woldingham’s Head of Hockey, who is just about to complete this first year at the school. With no fixtures, training restricted to within year group bubbles, and remote learning for most of the spring term, it’s not been the year Ben had planned but he remains upbeat about the future of hockey at Woldingham using the year to get to know the students, their strengths, areas for development, and, very importantly, work on their motivation and competitive spirt.

‘It’s certainly not the season I expected but it’s actually been really positive. I’ve been able to identify the areas we need to work on and run very targeted coaching. I am carrying this over into the summer term where I am holding skills-based sessions, not just with our scholars, but any player keen to improve,’  Ben added.

This is a strong theme running through Ben’s ambition for hockey at Woldingham. He loves working with students of all abilities and all ages from our keen but inexperienced 11-year-olds to our Upper Sixth students who need a break from studying for their A levels.

‘One of the greatest achievements this year has been seeing students who had fallen out of love with hockey find their passion and spirt return. I get as much joy from that as I do from seeing our teams win. I know I am successful when I see students play after they have left school, at university and beyond. That’s when I feel I have made a difference to their long-term wellbeing. ‘

It’s also been a good year for Ben to learn new skills.

‘This last year has stretched me as a coach and teacher. I have needed to become more creative and think more about session planning and player development. I’ve become more focused on each player and asking what each of them wants to work on to provide personalised training with clinics for individual students and groups.’

Thinking to the year ahead Ben is eagerly looking forward to seeing Woldingham hockey teams in action in fixtures and competitions and hoping to run masterclasses with specialist coaches on areas including goalkeeping.

Not content with improving the skills of our current students, Ben’s mission is to pass on his love of hockey to the next generation and is planning to run outreach coaching session with local primary and prep schools.

‘The biggest change I have seen this year is the confidence of Woldingham’s hockey players. They are now trying out new skills and believing in themselves and their ability. I want hockey to feel like freedom. I think we are starting to get there.’