Coaches Report World Champs 2009
Pre tournament preparation including training was initiated by Ben Tilly for the months leading up to the World Championships. The exhaustive nature of the UWH World Championships (WC) means that players must at a very high level of fitness to play the entire tournament without suffering from too much fatigue. The Belgian teams conditioning was similar to (or slightly better) than other teams at the World Championships that ended in similar positions. The conditioning of the teams that finished higher than 7th was better than the Belgian team. So for the Belgian team to be able to compete with these teams their conditioning will have to improve.
This will require all member of the team to improve the following:
· Anerobic fitness/ Underwater Fitness
· Aerobic fitness
If the players continue training, and improving their fitness and strength consistently, then I am confident that they will be able to compete initially with the teams that are currently ranked higher than them.
The Belgian team played the first half of the WC with a team of 8 players, and the second half of the tournament with 10 players. It requires 12 players in a team to reach the best position possible at a WC. It is expected at any international sports tournament that players will be injured or become unwell. The lack of players hindered Belgium at the WC. This was especially evident against the stronger teams as the superior conditioning and numbers of the opposition squads were able to dominate the Belgian team.
The Belgian team faced some very difficult competition against teams with a much higher ranking. As a team the Belgian team work well together and followed the basics of the team strategy well. Positional play was good, and the commitment that the team displayed against much stronger opposition was excellent.
Goals against the Belgian team were mostly scored when individuals from the opposition were either faster, stronger, or had better technique in a one on one situation than the Belgian players. This lead to the remaining defenders being outnumbered, and then scored against. All of these areas can be addressed in training, and a small improvement from the squad of Belgian players could have a very significant impact at future competitions.
As a team, then Belgians improved significantly from the first game to the last. Individually the players adapted to playing against strong, fast opposition. Their positioning on the bottom improved. The skills the players used were adapted to help keep possession of the puck, and stop the opposition overpowering the Belgian team. This was executed very well.
Roland is very strong at stopping the puck and good at stopping opposition attacks. Roland is good at instinctively using space in the pool, and making advancing when there is the opportunity. Roland could improve his game by moving around the pool faster to get into a better position when he is not playing the puck.
Works very hard in the pool, he spends a lot of time on the bottom attacking and defending. Kurt does good work back tacking, and moving the puck up the pool when the team is under pressure. Kurt can improve his speed, strength, and his ability to keep the puck when being tackled. Kurt needs to make sure when he makes breaks, that his team keep possession of the puck after the break is made. Kurt can also improve his positioning by not covering for other players in training when there is a space in the formation that others should be filling.
De Goÿ Janik
Janik is excellent at moving around the pool and putting himself in a good position to help other players. Janik can improve by getting better at controlling the puck, and being able to take and keep possession of the puck when under pressure from opposition players. Janik also needs to improve his support play. When he is in the correct position to receive the puck he needs to stay on the bottom until he has possession of the puck. Once in possession he needs to make sure the next player receives the puck in a better position than he is in.
Bruno does excellent getting himself in the correct position in the pool and fights very hard for possession of the puck. Bruno has excellent body position when fighting for the puck. Bruno needs to improve his puck skills so that he can tackle faster and more cleanly. This will also allow him to use his supporting players earlier. Bruno needs to be stronger so that he does not get pushed around the pool by the larger opposition players.
Valerian has excellent puck skills, and good bottom time. Valerian needs to get fitter, do more work in the pool, and be more assertive in his play. When Valerian is faster and more assertive in his play, then this will create more space in the pool for the rest of his team to use. Valerian needs to spend more time on the bottom of the pool getting possession of the puck so that his wings have more time to attack.
Steven was very solid playing both goalie and wing. His position play on the surface was excellent. Steven needs to improve his tackling and body position when he tackles. His natural strength allows his to tackle opposition when he is not is a good body position, but he will get better results if his body is flatter on the bottom of the pool and facing towards the opposition. Steven also needs to be faster, fitter, stronger, and more assertive. When Steven improves on these he will be able to make that tackles that he is currently making better, and then start attacking moves against the opposition.
Niels has a good understanding of where to be in pool and has good control of the puck. Niels improved the most of any of the players as the tournament progressed. Niels was able to get control of the puck, and find space in the pool in some very tough games. He needs to work on using his teammates once he has made progress up or taken possession of the puck. This will mean that the work he does is not wasted.
Florent worked very hard through the tournament. Florent was especially effective when the team were attacking and was excellent at making progress up the pool and applying pressure on the opposition. Florent needs to work harder getting into the correct position when the team is on defence. He needs to rotate back into position faster, and spend more time on the bottom of the pool before he makes tackes. Florent is very strong for his size in the pool, but will be more effective when he is stronger.
Romain made a big impact in the games he played. Romain is the only player that was able to defend and attack in a breath. That is, tackle an opposition player, and then attack once he had possession of the puck. This made a very big difference to the team. Romain has good tacking skills and strength in the pool. Romain can improve his own game a lot by being fitter. This will help him control the game, and put his attacking players in better positions with his passes.
Fred was fast, and strong. He is able to compete against many opposition players whilst still making ground up the pool. Fred needs to have better control of the puck on his stick. This will allow Fred to use the rest of the team to assist, and finish off any breaks he makes.
International Underwater hockey is a very physically demanding sport, any player that wants to compete and be successful at an international level needs to be
Every single player in the Belgian team will improve significantly from training hard to improve in these areas.
The current level of fitness and skill of the Belgian team allows the team to stop opposition’s attacks. However it does not allow them to stop opposition attacks, and then counter-attack from this position. This is the primary reason for the results of many games ending in X - 0. All of the effort the players put into the game is being exhausted in stopping the opposition. So there is none left for attacking. As the fitness levels of the team improve, this will allow players to stay down for longer, and still have energy left after stopping the opposition. As the skill levels of the team improve, this will allow tackles to me made faster and more easily. It will also make it easier to pass and beat opposition players.
The attitude of the Belgian team was excellent. I was very impressed with the team commitment and commitment to playing to the highest level possible.