• Inside the circle

Ian Sloan: "I Would Love To Coach England & Great Britain"

Ian Sloan may potentially be approaching only the mid-point of his international career but already he’s formulating plans for what he will do once he hangs up his stick for good.

And while some athletes will look for a life away from hockey once their playing days are over, the 26-year-old admitted on the latest episode of Inside The Circle: The Podcast that the game will see much more of him for a long time to come.

“To be totally honest, in terms of my personal career as a coach I would love to be an international coach. I really would love to coach England and Great Britain in the future,” the midfielder said. 

“I’ve been coaching at Wycombe HC for six seasons now and I’ve recently been offered the role of player-assistant at Wimbledon HC next season which will be really cool.”

Alongside those two jobs, Sloan has recently launched his own coaching company – 5 Yards – with fellow Wimbledon player and senior international Ed Horler.

The two ran a four-day camp during May half-term before setting up weekly sessions with Hannah Martin, Sam Ward and Lily Owsley appearing as guest coaches.

While his future ambition is to coach the best senior international players this country has to offer, Sloan also said that he’s loved working with youngsters at all levels of the game too.

“Throughout all of the coaching I’ve done I’ve loved working with younger players. Wycombe have a really good junior system and have had Liam Sanford and Liam Ansell come through there into the GB teams. 

“That’s been one of my favourite parts of coaching, seeing a young player develop a passion for the game, develop a really good attitude to learning and seeing how much they’ve progressed, whether that’s at Wycombe or they’ve gone to university or are playing in the National League, Premier League or wherever that is. 

“That’s made me feel quite proud to have had an impact in that. It’s just about my passion for the game, my love for the game. 

“I am a bit of a hockey nerd so I love the tactical part of it, the thinking about how to improve people’s technique and making the training sessions really fun and competitive so people can really enjoy hockey as much as I do. I’m not sure that’s an achievable goal though!”

While lockdown has given the former Cookstown HC player the chance to develop his coaching and find new ways of helping the next generation, this is something he also normally spends  a lot of time working on.

This is because all the GB athletes are encouraged to use their spare time away from training to develop other skills to help them prepare for life after hockey.

He said: “One of the best things about the GB programme as a whole is that we have Emma Mitchell, who is our Performance Lifestyle Advisor. Her job is to help us athletes have something outside of just playing hockey. 

“As everyone knows, we’re not on a footballer’s wage so we have to have something to do when we retire. It’s also very good for our mental wellbeing to have something alongside our playing. Let’s say that this time next year I get injured and can’t go to the Olympics, it will be a very dark time for me. But if I have another side project or if I have something else happening in my life that will really balance it out. 

“In the squad we have quite a few guys who do something outside of hockey that’s completely different, we have a few guys doing some online university courses, others coaching and it’s part of our Individual Development Plan as a player to have that #More2Me aspect in there of something we’re doing outside of the game.

“I think that’s quite unusual in elite sport. The traditional method would be to say that you have to be 100% focused on your game and don’t have anything else distracting you from that. I think that’s sustainable in the short term but over the course of a four-year cycle or a 12-year career that can be pretty draining.”

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