Hugo Inglis is a 186-cap veteran for the New Zealand Black Sticks Hockey team and one of the most competitive guys you’ll ever meet. He’s also an incredibly reflective and deep thinker.

I got the chance to chat with Hugo on the Athlete Development Show about his rise to elite sport from childhood experiences in his Dunedin backyard, and much more.

Here’s Hugo describing the 3 things he’d focus on if he were to coach a team of 16-18-year-old hockey players.


“I think an important learning for me is that each individual’s different, and you shouldn’t tailor team wide programmes to individuals because they [the players] all have different things that make them tick, and I think in the past we’ve had instances in our programme where it’s just been ‘Alright, this is the programme, this is what we’re working on’ and that’s it. And you don’t feel like your individual needs are being met, or looked after.

The second thing, if I had a bit of time and was coaching, I’d probably play a lot of small sides games. I’m a really big fan of that sort of learning environment. Just getting out there, playing, and there’ll be times when it’s coach heavy, where you are issuing instructions, but also, there’ll be training sessions when you don’t say anything, you just let the game flow and let them learn as the go, and learn by doing. I think it’s really important. And I think we maybe get bogged down a bit too much in youth hockey with setting up a drill. Let’s do the drill a hundred times, and when you’re getting to 16 to 18 year olds, I think they need to be more in that match phase play where they learn just through situations and, yeah, consistent competition.

And the last thing, if we when tournament specific, and performing at a tournament, I’d just try to… ah, one lesson that I think has helped me a lot lately is, I don’t go to a tournament anymore and expect myself to have the best tournament I’ve ever had. Whereas, when I first started in the team, I went to every tournament expecting to play my best hockey. You know, I thought I was going to score ‘x’ amount of goals, and score the winner in the final and that was in my head. And so, then every tournament, I wouldn’t live up to that and it would be disappointing. Whereas, my mindset’s changed to ‘I want to reach a level that I know I have reached before’. And whilst some people might say that you’re not stretching yourself, or whatever, you actually can look back on tournaments and see progress, and say, alright, I did this really well, I didn’t do that so well, but overall, you know, good tournament, well done, keep going.”

I also asked Hugo to provide some advice for youth athlete aspiring to be the best they could be. Here’s what he said:


“You have to have that training ethic, and maybe it’s not something that comes naturally or straight away, but it’s something that can be developed. But you’ve also got to have the enjoyment. So, when I was young I loved every minute I was on the field, that was when I was happiest, probably, growing up.

And after school, I’d always get home, eat something, and then pick up my hockey stick and dribble around the house. That was my daily routine. I just loved the game, and loved sport.

So, I think you’ve got to have that love for it. And if you lose that, then you’re probably going to struggle. You might do well in your career based on talent and hard work, but if you don’t have that enjoyment factor then it’s going to be a little bit empty.

So, I think, do something that you really enjoy and don’t be forced into a path that’s not for you. For example, if I’d continue with football in the goal, I don’t think I would have had that same satisfaction regardless of how far I got with it.”

Catch the full conversation with Hugo here.

160809Rio_MensBlacksticks_JC0159Hugo Inglis is 25 years old and has 186 international caps for the New Zealand Black Sticks Hockey team.

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