James Coughlan vs El Niche Cache

Silky skills yup, but trappin' and passin' is most important 

Silky skills yup, but trappin' and passin' is most important 

James Coughlan wasn't a junior star but he's making waves in international hockey, so here's some of his thoughts on hockey matters...

2016 was a pretty crazy year, so how do you look back on it given all the ups and downs? 

It was a cool year, we are starting to perform more consistently throughout the tournaments but at the same time can be more consistent during matches to turn more draws into wins. The way we played in Rio should give us a lot of confidence going forward and I think that showed in the recent series vs Aussie, that with young guys debuting and coming into the side but getting a victory against the world No. 1 - we can achieve a lot in the next four years.

What has this year taught you that you can take forward?

We learned a lot about the game we want to play as a team and how we can now evolve this going forward. Individually I think performing consistently against world-class opposition is something that I can take forward and be proud of

How do you go about maintaining your fitness levels over the summer break?

I think getting away from hockey and training is important to maintaining fitness as it's important to rest your body. Otherwise, each individual is different and I like to go for long runs over the summer and just keep a base level of fitness 

As a midfield workhorse, which nations offer the greatest challenge in terms of their playing style for you?

I think the good thing about men's international hockey at the moment is that there are about 10 teams who can beat each other on a different day. The Asian countries and the Argies (Argentina) have some pretty silky elimination skills, the passing game of the Europeans and the physical nature of the Aussies all provide different challenges that keep us on our toes

You recently got snapped up for the Hockey India League - what were you doing for the auction?

We were in camp and I was actually at training, I got on Twitter after training and saw a few of the players getting snapped up and thought there was no way I'd get picked. I was lucky enough to get snapped up with the last pick, so it was an exciting night.

What are you most excited about for the HIL?

A different experience but at the same time we have some pretty talented players in our team to learn off and Jay Stacey our coach is one of Aussies best players through the 90's. Playing against the other kiwi boys up at Delhi will be a lot of fun as well.

What are some key aspects of how Australia play hockey that makes them so difficult to beat?

Their physical nature means they are at you for 60 minutes. When you get the ball they try and swarm you, turn you over and counter attack from there. If we trap and pass really well like we did in game three in Auckland we will come out on top a lot more often then we currently do, however the pressure they put on you forces errors.

What drills/skills do you practice every training session or as often as you can? 

I like to do a lot of touch drills with the crazy-catch or ball-carrying drills with cones to practice my tight skills. The cool thing about hockey is that there is so much we can do with different skills and this keeps training fun.

Which midfielders/players did you look up to as a youngster and still look to emulate?

Scratchy (Ryan Archibald) was a kiwi midfielder that I was lucky enough to play with and learn off. On the world stage it's someone like Tobias Hauke who is probably the best mid in the world and I've had some good battles with Eddie Ockendon.

What keeps you busy away from hockey?

Like a lot of the boys I love getting on the golf course and have been playing a bit since Rio. In summer I'll go surfing up and down the North Island as much as I can.

Are there any skills that you will be focusing on to improve over summer?

Not so much a specific skill but making sure that I trap every ball and make my passing and ball carrying skills as perfect as I can get them. We can learn a lot of awesome skills in hockey but if we can't trap a ball, well there's little we can do.

What were some of your highlights from the Rio Olympics?

I'm an avid basketball fan so getting to a few games was pretty cool and being front row for Usain Bolt's 200m final was exciting. The atmosphere when competing was better than anywhere else I've played sport in and Rio is such a cool city as well despite what media was reporting.

How would you define the way the Black Sticks play hockey?

We like to go forward as much as we can and are at our best when we are creating turnovers and attacking from that. We are probably one of the most physical/fittest teams in world hockey.

What's the best advice you have received?

You've got 10 years to play sport at the highest level and the rest of your life for the rest of your life so make the most of it and enjoy.

What advice would you offer a young hockey player?

Keep sticking at it. I had a road to the NZ squad where I never made an NZ Under-18 team nor was I a Junior Black Stick and I didn't go to the Junior World Cup, but as long as you play consistent, good team hockey you will get your opportunity eventually.

Favourite food in Black Sticks camp and outside of Black Sticks camp?

We are lucky enough to get out around NZ and try a few cafes - C1 in Christchurch is a favourite. Overseas there are some good and there are some bad. I love the Dutch breakfasts - chocolate bread and croissants made me put on a few kgs. I've got one of the sweet tooth's in the team, so I'm well educated in talking about this.