Q&A with Danny Kerry

Danny Kerry


With the success of this summers Olympics we got Great Britain Women’s Head coach Danny Kerry to answer your coaching questions over Twitter. Danny gave some amazing insight for parents, coaches and players so we have accumulated the questions and answers to share with you all! 

@clark_docherty Do you have any suggestions for 1 on 1 drills for me to practice with my son who is just starting to play age 11

Danny Kerry: Create different shapes of a pitch with multiple goals and encourage your son to explore which goals he can get through quickest. Once he's through 1 goal encourage him to be as quick as possible through another, multi direction & multi goals will encourage him to identify gaps and changing opportunities. You could also think about varying the goal size.

@tylersue_0 How do young athletes balance their education with the sports they love?

Danny Kerry: Where possible, ensure the school, parents and club are all talking. The benefits from all worlds can be achieved through dual aspirations.

@DJlittlebear (Mark) How do you keep players motivated when heads are down – what’s the best thing to say to them?

Danny Kerry: The starting point is to understand what motivates them (ask them). If facing a difficult score line at half time, ask the team what a good outcome would look like in the second half. Now the team owns the performance.

@TabbStephen From a tactical perspective, what are the 3 or 4 main things you look for and try to influence via your instructions to players?

Danny Kerry: During coaching we constantly reinforce a set of simple principles in attack & defence (e.g, in defence, how can we apply pressure to the ball) And during training we constantly ask the players to find solutions to apply those principles. This equips them for match play.

@Jedyeddy Is attack v defence the basis around all the training session to meet the golden thread needs?

Danny Kerry: The basis of the Golden Thread is high levels of engagement and something that looks like the game. Often, it will involve attack and defence. This can be varied to meet the objectives of the session. Transition, that is when we're about to win or lose possession is a key part of the game and can be built implicitly into the sessions.

@mckinneyd What do you think is the first skill to coach U8s playing hockey for the first time?

Danny Kerry: Personally, I would ask young players to explore how they can move with the ball using their stick for example, experimenting with how fast they can travel, how many ways they can change direction using their stick and they can move around one another in different spaces.

@mulligan_scott How do you best develop specific techniques in a game play session?

Danny Kerry: Identify the focus area and develop a set of rules (constraints) that encourages the player to explore elements that you are looking for. For example, if you're looking for them to carry the ball fast, a simple set of constraints for them to explore might be hands higher up the stick and them not allowed to look at the ball. This would encourage feeling the ball on their stick, vision up and moving fast.

@1jack_beast How exercises suggestions as to how to get a player to turn more on their strong side?

Danny Kerry: Create a simple small-sided game where you can only turn on your strong side. If a player turns in the other direction they lose possession.

@APBradders What’s the best bit(s) of advice you’ve been given as a coach?

Danny Kerry: A quote by Stephen Covey "Seek first to understand in order to be understood". If you think about this it applies to all your coaching interactions. For example, do you ask your athletes what they are seeing and understanding before placing your interpretation on them?

@psrhodes1 Why do you feel the golden thread & EH CoPhil is as important to elite athletes as junior/social players?

Danny Kerry: At its most fundamental good coaching is engaging and meets the need of the learner / player. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

@GoaleeGuru What’s been the hardest aspect of moving athletes to contextual & constraint led coaching environments?

Danny Kerry: That's simple! Generations of drilling (which lacks specificity) means that athletes are used to and expect to be told what to do. To overcome this, it can be important to allow players to understand why they're being coached the way they are.

@jamesstock89 Why are goalkeepers not worthy of more than shooting drills? Should there be better advice in place for goalkeepers in training?

Danny Kerry: I agree completely and that's why we've introduced "Integrating GKs into practice" workshops. We need to break down a tradition of removing GKs from sessions. The principle of 'specificity' of training applies equally to GKs as outfield players.

@parobson59 why do you sit in the stand rather than on the bench during GB/England ladies games?

Danny Kerry: Sitting in the stand gives the best tactical view of the game allowing me to better understand what is happening and being removed from the side of the pitch allows me to consider the best way to engage with players at quarter and half-times.

@JPR_25 What is your favourite quote or mantra that you stand by?

Danny Kerry: For coaching "You can't adapt to an environment you don't inhabit". Specificity of training is king.

@RGS_hockey Because of the rule changes in hockey in particular the cards system how have you developed sessions to manage Uload/Oload?

Danny Kerry: Sounds obvious, but lots of games scenarios where there is Uload/Oload. We randomly introduce these constantly when players aren’t expecting. This is to also rehearse how the team communicates and self-organises itself in realistic match play scenarios

@parobson59 What different approaches do you take to coaching women/girls compared to men/boys in order to get the best out of them?

Danny Kerry: Ask the players what elements they enjoy and why, you're then best placed to understand why they are there be creative with your sources of inspiration for sessions e.g is there an amazing skill they've seen on youtube.

@coachlogic What types of analysis post match work best for your players and how do you encourage learning?

Danny Kerry: We encourage our players to always be reflecting, for example, the players write their own development plans and present them to the staff team. Video forms a part of this process and there are numerous other sources of feedback for learning e.g peers

@ApBradders What makes you smile as a coach?

Danny Kerry: There are many moments that make me smile, but my greatest satisfaction comes from seeing long periods of work come together at the right time.

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