Paul Van As inspires hockey players with texts from the American basketball coach

National coach Paul van As instructs hockey players during an exhibition match against Ireland. The Netherlands won 5-0.Quinn Swick’s photo

The Dutch hockey players looked strange on Sunday at the end of a match with Ireland when national team coach Paul van As suddenly recalled a thick book. It was a life’s work Eleven episodes From legendary American basketball coach Phil Jackson on the secret to his success and leadership.

Van As sat on a chair and read a page to the group of players. The passages that passed were about the passion, inspiration and modus operandi of Jackson, who has eleven basketball national titles to his name.

“Phil Jackson is my mentor,” Van As said after his first international match as national coach for the Dutch national team, which resulted in a 5-0 victory over Ireland. Jackson’s maxim “Sports are more than a game” struck Fan As’s heart. “All those processes behind the pinnacle of the sport; that’s it for me. ‘Man’s actions come from fear or emotion,’ I literally said to the girls at my match conference this afternoon.”

This fear must be removed from the players, they must be on the field with passion and love. You can only achieve the maximum if this passion comes completely from yourself. If you act out of fear, for example that your coach will tell you to do something, you can never give 100 percent. Then you never get the maximum freedom needed to achieve peak performance.

fear culture

Van As hit a sore spot with this. In recent years, many hockey players in the Dutch national team have been burdened with a culture of fear and a sick team climate. He appointed his predecessor, Alison Annan – who has had many successes on the field – at the start of the year. Annan was temporarily succeeded by Germany’s Gamelon Moulders, after which coach Paul van As was appointed as the new coach of the national team on September 1.

Last spring, a research report showed that half of the national team players described the performance climate as negative. Moreover, many foreigners complained that they did not dare to be themselves. Van As says he did not read the hockey team’s abuse investigation report.

It’s an anonymous report and it doesn’t do me any good. I said to all the girls: If you think it is important that I know something about your experiences, my door is always open for you. Five or six women benefited from it. I really liked that they had the courage to be vulnerable. It was a relief for them and I didn’t have to do much more than just listen to their ears. Step by step we are progressing more and more in this process. ”

Yeppe Jansen put the Netherlands up 1-0 against the Irish women.  Quinn Swick's photo

Yeppe Jansen put the Netherlands up 1-0 against the Irish women.Quinn Swick’s photo

New to women’s hockey, Van As noticed that he was getting on better with his players. It’s nice to work with her, but it’s not like she’s blindly chasing me. And I don’t want that at all.

the individual

Since his run with the Olympic and World Champion, Van As has been trying to convince his players that the individual is of the utmost importance to him. All a player has to do is be the best version of herself when she has to be. My philosophy is: I work as the national coach, and we work as the staff.

My players have a responsibility to get their best and I challenge them to do that. What do you need to become better individually besides general training? For someone, this may be additional strength training, for another, for example, target shooting or mental orientation. I don’t want to impose anything from above.

“The players have to come to me if they want to work on something specific on an individual basis. The last twenty percent has to come from themselves. And yeah, I think it’s very cool to see that there are really players that actually come to me.”

Hockey is sexy

Van Ass has been impressed with the level his players display on the field from time to time. The coach who advocates for offensive and exciting hockey saw beautiful combinations on Sundays at times at SCHC’s home court in Bilthoven. Yeppe Jansen (3) and Josje Borg (2) scored in front of 2,500 spectators.

Van As notes that there is a big difference between level in training and level in competition. In training I sometimes think: what am I still doing here? Those girls are so good. But in today’s game, they didn’t touch that level. why? This has to do with performing under pressure, with expectations of yourself and we also have to make progress in the relationship with each other.

Players and staff hope to step up contact with each other off the pitch in the coming weeks. This week, the team leaves for a 20-day trip to Argentina. The Netherlands play four matches in the Pro League (two against Argentina and two against England) and have two training sessions with the United States.

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