Inspiration and education: SportWays Barcelona Lab
Staff since: 2010
Role: Technical Director & Camp Manager
When I was 15 years old, I joined the SportWays Barcelona Hockey Camp for the first time. At that time, hockey was my life and I was coaching at my local hockey club. During my years as a participant, I experienced SportWays as an amazing organization. Because of this, I always knew I wanted to become a staff member, I loved it. In the following years, I developed myself as a coach through SportWays. When I was 18 years old, I eventually became a Technical Director, responsible for the hockey programme, at the SportWays day camps. In the same year, I joined my first overnight camp as a staff member. The first couple of years, I went to an overnight camp as a trainer and had some amazing camps with beautiful memories. After a few years, I became the Technical Director of an overnight camp as well. And in 2021, I had my first year as a Camp Manager.
In 2013, I was invited to the SportWays Lab in Barcelona for the first time. I remember this moment like it was yesterday. Compared to the other Technical Directors, I was a rookie and I felt honoured that I was invited to be a part of the Barcelona Lab. Together with specialists such as Pasha Gademan (Canadian national hockey team Coach), Craig Sieben (coach Pinoké 1st men’s team) and Maarten Stenvers (ex-coach Pinoké 1ste women’s team), I went to Barcelona and had an inspirational week. They had a lot more knowledge about hockey than I had at that time. It was amazing to get the opportunity to learn from them and to be able to enter their world of hockey. Because of everyone's experiences and different hockey know-how, I got a lot of new impressions. The way people think about hockey, their mission and vision is something that gave me lots of new insights.
8 years later, on the 5th of December, I flew to Barcelona together with the other SportWays hockey nerds, as we are affectionately called by other SportWays staff. The Barcelona Lab is about to start, one week of full time hockey. Together with the best trainers, field coordinators and Technical Directors. During this week, we create the new programme for the overnight camps for 2022. SportWays organizes the Lab every year.
The SportWays Lab has a few goals. The main objective is writing new clinics that will be used during the overnight camps in the upcoming summer. Individually or in small groups, we all write a clinic that is about 1.5 hours long. With the help of videos, new hockey trends or problems you experienced as a trainer, we write a clinic about a particular subject. We do not only write the clinic, but discuss it and test it as well. For a full week, we are seperated from the rest of the world to make sure we can get the best out of this week and out of ourselves.
During the Lab, SportWays also pays a lot of attention to the education of individual coaches and Technical Directors. This means there are a lot of possibilities to develop yourself. I learned a lot of new things which I can put to use for coaching my team back home. During the whole year, I feel more connected to SportWays because I’m not just joining them in the summer, but also in the winter. I’ve developed myself as a trainer and can truly say the SportWays Lab has been one of my most educational courses. Why? Because of all the expertise everybody brings in, the workshops from the specialists and the growth of your own knowledge about hockey.
The Barca Lab is not just about education, it’s also about inspiration. Besides writing and testing clinics, we also have different workshops and presentations to inspire each other. This year, Thomas Briels (former captain of the Belgian national team) joined the Lab for a few days. During his presentation, I really felt something special. I was impressed by his story. He told us about his journey with the Belgian national team. When Thomas joined the so-called Red Lions, they were pretty low on the World Ranking list. However, they managed to become one of the world's best teams, with both an Olympic- and World Championship gold medal. But how did they make it to this level? Which process did they have to go through? Which agreements did they make and which commitment had they given each other? In my opinion, the Belgian Team is a perfect example of a team who wants to fight for their country and operates as a real team.
Besides Thomas Briels, several top players or coaches passed by the Barca Lab. Thomas Tichelman, SportWays’ founder, joins us every year for an unique presentation. Also, in the last few years, top coaches Max Caldas (coach Spain’s national team, former Dutch national teams coach), Lucas Judge (coach SCHC 1st women's team), Paul van Ass (coach HGC 1st men’s team) and Joost van Geel (prestation manager Dutch National Hockey Federation) visited the Barcelona Lab. All individual specialists who are very inspirational in their own way.
This year, I got the chance to become a coach during the Lab. In this coaching role, I don’t participate in writing the programme myself. Instead, I supported different groups while they’re developing the clinics. During this process, I try to support them and help them when needed. In the end, when they have a clinic they're proud of, I have completed my job as well.
Besides workshops, presentations and developing the new programme, there is one other activity during the Lab; the video analysis. During this part of the programme, we get to see different videos. This year, we used the videos from the last Hockey Pro League series. After the analysis, every group selects one specific topic of something we’ve seen in the video. As a group, you prepare a presentation about this. The subject can be something tactical you’ve seen or something which sticks out about a specific player. Analysing the videos gives us some new insights that can be used in new clinics.
My seventh time at the SportWays Barcelona Lab has just finished. Every year, the group consists of some very experienced trainers, some new enthusiastic trainers and some good hockey players. But there is one passion that all these people share: hockey.
To me, the SportWays Barcelona Lab is a place for inspiration and education. Even after seven times, I still am able to develop myself further at the Barca Lab. Are you curious about the different clinics we created during the Lab? Join one of the SportWays’ overnight hockey camps this summer and join our newest and best clinics. Will I see you this summer?