Members of the IFF Athletes’ Commission will be writing monthly blog posts on the IFF website. November’s blog post is from Tomáš Sladký who is a former national team player and has represented Czech Republic in several international events.
Floorball was and still is a very big part of my life and daily routine as well. After closing my active career in 2021, I have become directly a floorball coach in Switzerland. This „transition“ was quite easy because I have been working as a coach last 15 years, mainly with juniors between U16—U21 in different countries. During these years I´ve gained a lot of sport- and social-experiences.
So, first let´s talk a bit about coaching in general and why it was my obvious option nr.1 after hanging my stick on the hack.
Floorball still needs some time for fully professional status so coaching is one of the few ways, how to stay in locker room and earn some money at the same time. The biggest difference in player´s and coach´s responsibilities is how you could actually effect the game and also a time-value you invest in overall preparation.
As a player you have to be physically and mentally well prepared, you have to always do your best on the field for the best possible team result. Since you have a lot of other players around you it´s always kind of easier to “follow the flow”. You feel directly the taste of the team spirit and if everything goes well (no injury during the game), you could always enjoy all kind of emotions right away during and mostly after the game. It is very important to take care of your body and health condition, including regeneration (length of sleep, what you eat/drink and anything you do extra like home-exercises, massage, sauna etc.). Of course, all of this takes some time, it should become your lifestyle because at the end of the day it´s all worth it! (If you want to play as long as possible and feel healthy after your career as well).
As a coach you have totally different pack of tools for team preparations. First of all, you have to know really well all of your players. Especially, what kind of personality they have, what skills package they can use, how strong they are on and off the field and how they can react in different kind of game situations. Trainings have to always bring something good for individual as well as for team development. They have to be hard and easy at the same time and always support team spirit. Head coach has to cooperate with his coach team on a daily basis and discuss team´s game-plan, ideal line-ups for each practise or game etc.
Moreover, you should be aware of your opponents, scout them very carefully, if it´s possible. If you are a coach of youth team, it´s very important to follow your „connecting teams“: at least one above your team and one under your team, so you can easily react to actual situation. For example, even during the season one player can suddenly make huge step forwards and it´s very important to react correctly. If he deserves to get a chance to play in older team, let´s move him up!
There is much more what coach should do but this blog can´t show everything (it´s not a coach-book😊). Anyway, it´s very complex work. To be a coach is much more difficult and responsible job that many people think it actually is. Season 2023/2024 is my third one in Switzerland, in Chur Unihockey. Unfortunately, nowadays the city of Chur is more known for Piranha, which is one of the best women´s club in last decade in Switzerland.
Golden times of men´s legendary team Rot-weiss Chur are sadly gone and Chur Unihockey (men´s club in Chur) is struggling during the last seasons to reach the play-offs, mostly they are fighting to survive in the highest league (Lidl Unihockey Prime league).
To find exactly the reason, why it goes in this direction is very difficult. In general, I have a feeling, that the problem starts in youth categories. New generation is much more complicated, young people have much more possibilities to use/enjoy their free time, specifically here in lovely Kanton Graubünden. It´s more and more difficult to find athletes with clear vision (to develop, to reach something, to became a real athlete, no matter what kind of sport they actually do).
At the same time, it´s problem for floorball. We are still talking about amateur sport with professional demands (physical condition, time value etc.). Younger players in age from 16—21 and older, they don´t see the potentional benefits of doing floorball for more than 100%, because it´s still a hobby, which you can do only after work, after school or in your free time (mostly in the evenings).
Let me show you our training week-schedule of U21 (very similar with our men´s team here in Chur):
18:30-20:00 Floorball practice
20:30-22:15 Floorball practice
20:00 Video meeting
20:45-22:15 Floorball practice
As you can see, it´s not very time consuming; however, the scheduling is very problematic. After 8-10 hours at work or in school, the players have to go to the late evening practice and do not have any extra time for active regeneration afterwards. Physical and mental demands of the players are very high but at the same time it´s not enough if we want to talk about the real sport lifestyle due to its amateur status. For the national team players it´s even more tough to handle full floorball calendar together with their private life (work/school/family).
As a former player and current coach, I really hope that one day the training´s schedule of a floorball team will consist of team practice at 10 am, time for cooldown, lunch together, time for rest/nap and easy practice or video-meeting in the afternoon. Until then it will still be a floorball that we all love to play but not The Floorball that kids admire and desire to reach its highest professional level. If doing floorball contains such a load of demands, we have to really start to think about creating professional leagues, where all young players will lead their steps!
Floorball is still very young but definitely one of the fastest growing sports. It has gone a long way since its beginning but floorball as a sport in general will face many challenges and work towards its best time in the future! In conclusion, we ALL will always do our best because we just love our floorball!