Saturday, October 29, 2011

Serious Thoughts from above (i.e. Canada)

1) Who is Anthony Herrington? Could you describe yourself in terms of life, passion and work?

I am a P.E. teacher at Sherwood Secondary School in Hamilton Ontario. I am also a Hockey Canada Skills Academy operator and was one of the first academies to be licensed in 2002. I love working with student athletes and I enjoy watching them develop through practice and determination. I also enjoy when athletes get “excited” about something as I am always searching for creative ways to motivate my students. In my spare time I am either busy with my family or scouting for the Oshawa Generals in the O.H.L.  (Ontario Hockey League)

2) What is Floorball to you?
Floorball to me is an exciting sport of indoor hockey. I love the detailed skills needed to be successful, but I also enjoy how addicting the sport can be. The game sells itself,and is an excellent way to develop ice hockey skills in the gym.

3) Do you seriously think that Floorball in some way relates to Ice Hockey? And if so how?
I have been instructing Floorball in my hockey classes for over 10 years. I am a firm believer that it helps with all aspects of hockey but I will highlight some important skills. First is eye-hand coordination. It is amazing to see how after a few months of Floorball training, hockey players are able to pick pucks out of the air, which is a difficult skill for most players to do.
Next, is body positioning and puck protection. Floorball forces you to use your body to protect the ball. After playing Floorball, hockey players start to use their body more effectively and are able to hold onto the puck longer, thus allowing them to make more creative plays.
Finally, the skill I love the most, is vision or game awareness. It is a difficult skill to teach, but by playing Floorball, the coach does not need to talk, the game teaches hockey players that you need your head up in order to make pin point accurate passes in pressure situations. I could list many more, however, I believe the most important skill in Floorball is passing and receiving at high speeds. When executed it is definitely beautiful to watch.

4) Do you meet resistance as You talk Floorball to more traditional hockey players or coaches? What is the most common question they have?
No, most people are very curious and are open to playing Floorball. It is a different way to train in the off-season for sure. I have trained many competitive hockey teams in the summer months and we delivered it as “Fitness and Floorball”. We took dry-land conditioning drills and inserted the new sport of Floorball as a way to keep the players motivated and interested in training. The most common questions are the rules…and then of course, where can we play and where can we buy sticks?

5) What is the best that ever happened in Canada’s Floorball history?
There are a few historical moments so far in Canadian Floorball. To have our Men’s National team play very competitive on the world stage last year at the 2011 WFC in Finland was exciting to watch. To play the best team in the world, Team Finland in front of a huge crowd was very exciting to watch live on the internet. The other most notable I believe, is to have one of my former students Joel Inouye, become one of the first young Canadians to move to Czech Republic to follow his dream of playing professionally one
day. He is currently playing for the T.B.C Kraluv Dvur Floorball club. We are a young Floorball nation, and I have been very fortunate to coach the past two U-19 national teams, so really everything we are doing now is going down in history.

6) Any ideas on how Floorball might be built faster in the America’s?
I think the school system is a great way to introduce the sport, and of course the hockey community is a natural fit too. I think if the America’s are able to replicate what the European nations have been doing then it is only a matter of time before it takes off. To see indoor Floorball facilities in Europe built for training and league play is amazing. I think that is the major hurdle, finding gym time or an indoor sport court that leagues can develop the younger generation. “If you build it they will come”.

7) Let’s pretend that Floorball was the big established sport and Ice Hockey would be the new thing, that a few driven or “half-crazy” individuals were trying to get going - any thoughts on this perspective?
Well that is difficult for me to imagine, as hockey is very popular in Canada. It is everywhere with lots of boys and girls playing across the country, it is part of our culture. Skating and running are totally separate skills, and that is what eliminates people from playing the sport of hockey at high levels. If you can’t skate then you most likely won’t play hockey…so if hockey and Floorball were reversed athletes that can’t run in
Floorball would probably not take up the sport of hockey as skating is more difficult than running. That is why Floorball is a game for everyone, you don’t need to skate!!

8) As I see some hockey players try Floorball for the first time I sometimes think about players that play with their boots on. How does that sound with you, am I wrong? Is floorball more like tap dance and hockey more like square dance?
Nice analogy. Yes Floorball is very fast and you need precision skills in order to handle the ball during game play. I agree some hockey players are not successful at Floorball when they first try it. Floorball requires agility and athletes that can move quickly on thecourt while controlling the bouncing ball. It is a very different skill set needed and it is easy to see the hockey player that can’t adjust to Floorball. Having said that, it does not mean they can’t play it. I am just saying that some players pick it up faster than others. These players can pick up a stick and control the ball easily and they usually have good puck skills or soft hands on the ice.

9) Any thoughts on the issue how to build a good feed of new skilled referees for Floorball in North America?
That is an area that needs special attention. Hockey has a hard enough time recruiting new referees, so I can only imagine how Floorball will do it. Maybe the pay they receive should be more than a hockey game at the same level.

10) How may Canada and USA help each other, to either build Floorball or to develop Hockey skills by using Floorball? Or is this a dead issue?
I think it is a great idea to help each other as we live close to so many cities with large population base. The more places to play and tournaments to go to, will only help the level of play in the USA and Canada. Maybe more international friendly matches should be arranged.

10b) Floorball and schools - tell us why that is important, or is it not? (we picked a B question not to end up with 13 questions and bad luck...)
Floorball is safe, fun, and easy to implement. If you train the teachers and it will develop in the school system. It is a very easy sport to have in the North American school system as everyone has played some form of indoor “floor hockey”. All schools should have a set of sticks. My school in Hamilton plays at least 3 periods in a 5 period school day..everyday !!!

11) Where are we in, 5, 10 or 15 years time?
I say we are in for a wild ride in the next 5 to 10 years or so. I think when we have a generation of players that have been playing Floorball for over 10 years, then we will really see how far we have come. To field a team of players at the U-19 or Men’s National level with over 10 000 hours of training under their belt is going to be fun to watch. I think we will compete with any Floorball nation in the world by then or even

12) Any final thoughts for this winter or some other philosophies you may want to share?
I Really enjoy the sport of Floorball and I feel lucky to have found it. My students ask to play Floorball everyday. So that to me is the best, because it means they are having fun and practicing their skills at the same time.
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Research suggest that eye-injuries are more common in Floorball as compared to Tennis, but less common as compared to Squash (similar to Racquetball).
To minimize this risk of injury Floorballcentral recommend: Use certified protective eye-wear (mandated in many European areas for the youth). Do not lay down on the court. Follow the rules strict on stick height.

Also if you get addicted to this sport - do not blame us!