Sunday, June 9, 2013

Coach Chighisola Speaks Floorball



Why Are US Hockey Folks Slow to Embrace Floorball?

June 9, 2013 by  
The title question is one I hear often these days.  But the fact that hockey people in the United States have been exceedingly slow in getting on the floorball bandwagon doesn’t surprise this old hockey guy one bit.
Before digging into this subject, appreciate that I am mostly going to attack this from the youth hockey perspective.  In the end, though, I’ll try to also address the problems related to floorball’s introduction to adults, and to the general public or non-hockey people.
Oh, and while I always attempt to deal fairly with any subject, know that I can’t help expressing a lot of my personal feelings when on a subject like this.
– Dennis Chighisola

Why Are US Hockey Folks Slow to Embrace Floorball?

Earlier today I made mention through the various social media sites about working on this article.  A long-time hockey friend from Texas messaged shortly after that, informing me that, “This should be interesting :) “  I knew quite well what he was getting at, because I guess I have become rather well known for calling things the way I see ‘em.  With that, here goes…
If you want my personal (and professional) opinion, and a short answer to the above question, it’s that most hockey folks tend to be slow to get on board with anything new, and they’re especially slow when it involves anything outside their comfort zone.
To be even more blunt — but as honest as I can be, I’ll suggest that the youth hockey masses tend to be sheep-like, and tend to only follow when someone they know has dared to try something new, and then recommends it to them.
I am not putting down my fellow American hockey friends.  I’ll always love them.  However, I have found the above to be true in countless circumstances.
Now, in recent years, I guess I’ve been known for pioneering a number of new approaches to hockey training.  The label, “pioneer”, wasn’t my idea, but instead it came from a lot of others who either did or didn’t join me in exploring new ways to do things.
This aside…  Many years ago, I read from a pretty wise man that, “You can always tell the innovator.  He’s the one with arrows in his back.”
:)   Oh, did I ever know what he was trying to say, because I’d already accumulated a closet full of bloodied shirts.
What happens when one proposes something new, is that folks come out of the woodwork to shoot him or her down.  It’s not the regular hockey guy or gal who does it, but more probably a few with agendas of their own.
Ya, those with agendas of their own…  No matter what an innovator might be proposing, there’s always someone out there seeing any kind of change as a threat.  For some, it’s a threat to their pocketbooks, while to others it’s a threat to their status or ego — in that someone else has the gall to steal a little of the limelight and maybe help quite a few of their followers.
I saw that stuff happen when I returned from my 1979 studies in the old USSR.  I brought home with me some ideas for off-ice training, plyometrics and over-speed training that would take a good 15-ish years to become relatively accepted in US youth hockey circles.  Of course, coaches at the highest levels of North American hockey were adopting the Soviets’ training methods, ever since the ’72 Showdown at the Summit.  But there were as many less aware skills instructors who were afraid of change, and they were bashing anything that wasn’t done a kzillion years ago, by the likes of Cyclone Taylor, Eddie Shore or Rocket Richard.
And, oh, did the powerskating gurus scream when I unveiled the best skating invention ever.  Of course, perky little figure skaters who’d found a home (and a lot of bucks) in hockey, screamed because they hadn’t a clue about the science behind my Skater’s Rhythm-bar.  So did the local skating gurus — who were actually climbing off telephone poles or out from under lube jobs — fear that opening folks’ eyes to the science of skating would undermine their loyal following.
Ironically, I don’t think the fallout was quite as bad when I recommended using in-line skates for ice hockey training.  As for the pioneering, I didn’t invent in-lines, nor did I cause the craze that had ice players twirling around nearly every driveway and parking lot from coast to coast.  What I did do was discover that I could teach almost everything I’d previously done on the ice with future pros and college stars, without the need for costly ice.  Better yet, I’d discovered that — with a few caveats — there were some physical qualities that could actually be gained easier on wheels than on blades.
Trust me, that there were more instances where I’d attempted to convey a better way for hockey training — or cross-training, and that some group always seemed to take offense, spread falsehoods about the new idea, and prevent a lot of players from becoming even better.
Two other factors also tend to undermine the general acceptance of new ideas…
Old wives’ tales drive me crazy.  The problem is, as off the wall as most of them are, they’re real and true in the minds of those who continue to spread “the word”.
So are the loud ones in the stands or lockerrooms oftentimes dangerous, as they freely spread advice — as if it was gospel — from someone who has less of a clue than they.  In other words, a guy who really doesn’t know what he’s talking about tells another who is absolutely lost who tells another who hasn’t a clue.
My point to all the above is that the naysayers do a lot of harm, and they’re quite often responsible for slowing the progress of America’s hockey development.
Now, just so you know, I don’t just believe every new idea that comes down the pike.  So, don’t think that’s what I’m suggesting here.  However, I do give just about everything a chance, I try to compare it to what I know about the sciences, and I also attempt to use some common sense in evaluating the new idea.  My hope is that I do just the opposite of those earlier described naysayers, and get the word out about things that can help players, parents and/or coaches.  I hope I never hype anything or shoot it down purely for selfish reasons.
All that said, how about floorball?
It’s quite possible there are some out there who are talking it down — because it might hurt their business, or because they don’t understand what that sport might be able to do for a lot of ice players.  The wives’ tale thing might be in effect some, with old-time coaches and parents thinking a game isn’t good unless it’s hockey.  I’ll argue both points, though, believing floorball could be extremely helpful to our game (in ways you may not have realized), and also believing more good can come from that relatively new sport than any harm.
On the latter…  With all the hype about floorball’s potential for enhancing offensive skills, my mind has been racing lately with the ways I could reinforce defensive principles and positioning within the floorball game.  I’m serious; just watch some floorball action to see what I mean.
Still, I sense that floorball isn’t getting the resistance some other new hockey related activities have.  Instead, I think that most hockey people don’t even know it exists.  Ya, in other words, I’m partly blaming some of the problems on the floorball people who need to somehow find more or better ways to promote the game.
Personally, I grumped quite a bit when I first became interested in floorball.  I mean, strongly believing in the way it could help ice players, I was willing to promote it — with a little help.
My way of seeing things led me to believe that the floorball equipment companies were going to benefit greatly in the end from my efforts.  Yet, they weren’t willing to help one iota, maybe with some discounted sticks and balls, for example.  That seemed penny wise and pound foolish, if you ask me, that they wouldn’t seed their sport in as many areas as possible.  After all, they’d stand to gain hugely once leagues and training programs were established.
And my take is that leagues aren’t going to get going without some prior exhibitions.  So my thought was to invite a bunch of kids local to a given area, give them some quick skill demonstrations, maybe show a short video on what the game looks like at higher levels, and then dump a bunch of sticks and balls out for the kids to fool around with.  I’d do other things, too, but I’m sure you get the general idea.  You’re probably also sensing that a lot of kids would have a blast fiddling with a stick and ball, and they’d surely love playing a brief game.  So, why one equipment company wouldn’t see the same value in that is beyond me.
Oh, excuse me…  There ultimately was a great guy from Texas who visited with me back in MA, and I was so grateful for the help he promised that I planned to dig right in.  The prospects of moving and coaching hockey in Florida waylaid that, however, and I’m bummed that it did.
FYI…  I think that guy I met last year has something going down there in Texas, and I know my friend, Mike B, has done a great job in promoting floorball up in Wisconsin.  I understand there’s also something going on south of me here in Florida.  Still, that’s not enough.
Read the rest of Coachchic's story at:
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Caution

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!