Frank Geers (NED) is a TCP member who just successfully completed his FIH Level 4 at a High Performance Seminar held by FIH in Ipoh Malaysia. Frank joined the TCP programme in 2016 and is currently in his second year of the programme. We asked him to share with us some of his experiences in coaching, the TCP programme and what his future holds.

How did you get started in coaching ?

Hockey has always played a big role in our family. My mother is a former Dutch international player and my father coached for many years in the Dutch Hoofdklasse. I started to coach the youngest youth (6-8 yrs old) when I was 15 years old. When I was 18 I started to coach ‘top’ teams in my club. Realising I wouldn’t make the Dutch Hoofdklasse as a player, but with lots of ambition, I stopped playing when I was 21 and started to focus completely on my coaching career. I decided to start at the lowest possible league in Holland to get experience and I’ve coached step by step at a higher level. At the moment I’m coaching in the Overgangsklasse at RKHV Union (Dutch 2nd level) the 1st women team. Next year I’ll start as Technical Director at HC Zwolle.

How did the TCP programme help you in your coaching journey ?

The Top Coaches Programme helped my a lot. Sharing knowledge and experiences with coaches from different European countries is a great benefit. You learn to understand different styles of play and cultures. Within the programme you’ll be challenged with performing different presentations and practice sessions. Working in small groups makes you challenge each other and in that way you learn a lot.

Who was your TCP mentor and how did the mentor relationship help ?

My mentor at the TCP is David Passmore. He’s the former assistant coach of GB women, head coach of England U-21 and Ireland men’s team. Also he worked as High Performance Manager for Ireland Hockey Federation. The relationship was, and still is, really special for me. I’ve learned so much of David. Our relationship is based on trust (sharing documents and clips keeps between us) and ownership. I’m the one who drives the Skype meetings (every 2 or 3 weeks) and in advance I’ll text the subject or questions. David has a lot of knowledge and experience and is really open in sharing both of them. In January I traveled to Ireland to see a training stage of Ireland U-21 women (David’s current team). In August I’ll attend a couple of matches and then get to play devil’s advocate, I’ll look at the weaknesses in the team tactics. This will also be a great experience for me and is a result of the relationship with my mentor.

Would you recommend TCP to others ? Why ?

Yes, I’d definitely recommend the TCP to other coaches. It’s a great opportunity to meet coaches from different European countries and to learn a lot from them. Also with the structure of having a mentor you can benefit of lot of this programme. It is crucial is that you join with an open and growth mindset, then you’ll get the most out of it!

 You have achieved FIH Level 4, what is next in your future ?

I’m really happy with achieving the FIH Level 4 at the last HP Course in Ipoh, Malaysia and also that I’m allowed to go to the FIH Final Course!  My ambition is to coach internationally and after the Top Coaches Programme and the FIH level 4 I think I’m ready for that. My other ambition is to be part of ‘Hockey Revolution’ which means that I want to become an educator of the EHF and FIH.

What advice would you give to enthusiastic new coaches ?

At first: ‘Follow your dream!’ Make sure that you have a  ‘growth’ mindset, you’ll need to be open to learn from and share with other coaches/educators. Remember that coaching a team is really different from a regular job and that you need to experience a lot of different and difficult situations. Ambitions are good, but make sure that you take it step by step. Self reflection is a crucial part in your learning process.