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My journey into high profile coaching

Lead Talent Development Coach at England Hockey, Demy Dowley, discusses her journey into high profile coaching

"I am a teacher. Coaching has gradually taken over my life and is now my full time career but I still consider myself a teacher. Teaching is a craft, a skill, an art that is learned and developed as your experience grows."

It is the art of providing the right level of struggle and the right type of struggle to promote growth and learning. Over the years, coaching has become less about me and more about facilitating and stimulating change in others. It is about igniting a process that your learners will then continue themselves and will be inspired to do so in the long term and long after they have left you.

I began coaching at club level with juniors. I was driven by the desire to promote a style of hockey that was very team focused. This brought huge success and more importantly inspired youngsters to behave according to the values we were promoting. Soon I had to begin a waiting list for membership and engage more and more coaches to support the hockey sessions.

National Finals came thick and fast and players began to work hard on all four pillars that we set out: tactical, technical, physical and above all-psychological. I firmly believe that the International players that have emerged from here are successful because of the values they learned as well as the hockey.

My coaching grew; I worked with the junior county programmes and was delighted to be involved with new initiatives around the single system for talent development in England Hockey. This provided exciting platforms for coaching in the Junior Regional Performance Centres and the highlight was taking the North to Futures Cup where the level of challenge was immense and the learning equally huge.

Working with other coaches was one of the strengths of this system and it was here that I first worked with Vicky Joel. We had a lot in common; both being amongst a tiny number of females coaching a mens’ hockey team in the leagues.  Both driven by the same philosophy; to inspire our players at Futures Cup to compete with freedom, belief and passion.

The North always struggle at Futures Cup and it was a glorious day in 2013 when the U16s girls won the competition and it was a beautiful display of hockey being played with unity and joy. Vicky went on to lead an International programme for Wales and went to the Commonwealth games. I went on to coach England U16 and U18 girls.

Now, I am lead talent development coach for England Hockey and drive the experience that athletes get in our National Age Group Academies across the country. I love my job. I am reminded every day, that it is not about teaching young people how to win, it is about letting them know they can get better.

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