Question: How have you adjusted your coaching style in order to adapt to the new quarter system?
Ashley Mowery, Assistant Coach, Gettysburg College
"I've coached the team to play and "win" each quarter at a time. This smaller goal is ideal in handling the waves of the game. I've also trained them differently to play harder and faster, knowing that a break is coming."
Zoe Almquist, Head Coach, Davidson College
"Moving from a 35-minute half to a 15-minute quarter makes it more challenging to play a game with ample subbing. For example, we used to be able to play an athlete for nine minutes, rest them for four, and repeat. Now, if you play nine and rest four, the quarter is basically over. I found myself stuck in the middle, either playing someone the whole quarter or really shortening those "play" segments, which is also tricky.
The quarter system and consequential lack of a timeout also meant I had no opportunity to reign in games with a big single-quarter slide. And because starters tended to sub fewer total times, my coaching style became less individualized and more geared toward big group talks between quarters. This required me to be more succinct and organized."
Wendy Andreatta, Head Coach, University of Rochester
"The shift from two 25-minute halves to four 15-minute quarters was originally intended to improve the flow and intensity of the game, and to some extent, I do think the intensity of the game has increased, but I would argue that the flow of the game has decreased. It can be harder to refocus and get back into the groove after an interruption, and it took me a bit of time to recognize how to help my team reset faster, and be consistent and focused with each new quarter.
The flow and momentum is certainly there in each quarter, but I have noticed that the pace feels much faster throughout each quarter. The old format of two 35-minute halves seemed more conducive to a team with endurance while the new quarters encourages all-out speed and fitness. The games feel more intense and fast-paced…but the flow and continuity feels fragmented.
Ensuring that your team is ready and focused at the start of each quarter is essential. The short interruptions allow for a reset and refocus…but when a team is performing well the break can be detrimental to their flow, and that same break can reenergize a team who isn’t performing well.
As a coach, I prefer the new format, and it has helped me sharpen my communication skills, forced me to be more efficient and less verbose. I have adjusted my coaching style to accommodate the change in format in several ways:
- Organizing my feedback during the last few minutes of each quarter so that I am ready when they run off the field.
- Distilling my thoughts into quick and simple sound bites.
- Teaching my team to recognize quickly when adjustments need to be made on the fly and empowering them to make changes as we have no timeouts.
- Treating each quarter as its own ‘game’ and using clock management and field position to control the last minute or two of each quarter.
- Coaching my team to use the built-in interruptions (goals, injuries, etc.) to quickly regroup and strategize together on the field.
- Teaching the team to problem solve in the moment…we cannot call a timeout and the quarters fly by, so we need the players on the field to think for themselves."
Thank you for your answers, coaches!
Like hearing from coaches? Check out their answers to "What advice would you give young coaches just starting out?" and "If you weren't a coach, what would you be?" Tune in next month for answers to the question, "What is the first thing people ask you when you tell them you're a field hockey coach?"