Balance is the challenge

balance_rocksThose making decisions for players, teams, clubs, nations, continental and global hockey should always be searching for the balance between your own & everybody’s interests + short term & long term goals.

The eternal balance between short term & long term goals is the “easy” one…

Meaning most people have had to deal with it some time or another in their life, probably often and unconsciously most likely every day. You’ll never hear me say it’s easy to solve and balance these two but most people understand it’s a challenge and agree it is important to balance them both.
Still there will always be a lot of examples where the balance is heavily tipped towards the short term goals. Eyeing this years championship forgetting to build for the future by playing too much senior players, not allowing for young talent to take in some experience. Coming back too soon from the injury to not miss out this years big tournament, even if it means you’ll miss the next three in a row or never really get back to your previous abilities. Etcetera…

Much harder to grasp seems to be the subtle balance between what is good for you, your team, your club, your country… and what is good for all concerned in our sport.

Or the balance to what is good for what seems close to you and what seems far away or even the adversary sometimes…
This is where people are concerned about foreigners in our European national competitions because it would weaken their own national team without realising we need stronger opponents to make our wins valuable victories. No glory comes from easy victories… This is where national team coaches have such a hard time allowing their players time away from their own programme.
I am a topsport father, meaning a parent to a son playing at the highest level in his sport. Of course this means I have my eye on what is best for my son most of the time. However I’m also a fanatic fan of our sport beyond the games my kids or friends play in and I’ve been involved for many years in the growth of a typical western European sport club, the foundation of our game in these parts of the world. However the world is bigger then our own backyard and what is good for us here is not necessarily what will work in other cultures, other parts of the world. So based upon those experiences it became clear to me we need more people looking beyond immediate results and beyond what works in their own part of the world.
I was asked to describe what I wished for in our sport, what I would like to change… :
  • more players/parents who truly realise the team comes first in our game & focus on the game not the extra’s you sometimes get to enjoy as a top athlete
  • more coaches who realise it is a bigger legacy to leave behind a team/club able to compete for the top prizes for years to come then to have won 3 titles in a row and leave behind a team/club in need to rebuild from the ground up = manage the balance between experienced top players and up & coming talent at all times
  • more clubs/organisations who realise they need a professional technical director guarding the long term goals and who is independent from the current teams. So a leader/manager of the current head coaches, not one of them…
  • more national team coaches who see beyond their own programme…
  • more administrators at the federation level (national, regional and global) who recognise the importance of thorough cross-border planning for the short, the mid and the long term
What I hope will never change in our sport of hockey is our open mind towards innovation and new rules to improve the game. Although sometimes we also need to pace ourselves, innovation because of innovation or outside pressure (like the IOC who prefer smaller teams because of logistics and budgets) is not the right kind of innovation. Here also balance is the challenge, the balance between innovation and tradition.

This article was originally written at the request of and my piece in its series “What would you change in hockey?”