OLYMPICS LONDON 2012: Danny Kerry has Team GB women's hockey well-prepared
By James Toney, Sportsbeat, London 2012
DANNY Kerry is the perfect example of modern day sports coach at London 2012 – he studies management self-help books, uses words that Harry Redknapp certainly couldn't spell, and, most importantly, he gets results.
Kerry took charge of the England and Great Britain women's hockey team in 2004 following their failure to qualify for the Athens Olympics.
MODERN DAY: Team GB women's hockey coach Danny Kerry masterminded rise in world rankings
In that time he has masterminded a rise up the world rankings, aided by the performances of experienced players such as captain Kate Walsh, striker Alex Danson, free-scoring midfielder Helen Richardson and rising stars like Georgie Twigg.
They finished sixth in Beijing and haven't been off the podium since, winning World Cup bronze, twice placing third at the European Championships and also claiming the final spot on the podium at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi – while they also claimed silver at the Champions Trophy earlier this year.
Kerry uses lots of language you wouldn't see in a Premier League manager's press conference – self-regulate is his favourite – but no-one can argue with his logic.
Whether it's taking his squad on commando training with the Royal Marines or forcing them to perform improvised stand-up comedy in front of a room of strangers, Kerry believes there is method in his madness.
"Our work around self-awareness, self-regulation and understanding of others, is one of the major advantages we have over our rivals," he said.
"I've tried to work hard to keep the girls in a good place and even in this final three or four days there are still details to manage.
"I think in Beijing I got too tired, too stuck into my work and didn't do the management very well. Hopefully I've learned from that and I'm in a better place as a coach
"We've progressed everything in the last four years. There will not be a better conditioned team at the Olympic Games, we've done huge amounts of work around team building and character. The players have a deep understanding of themselves and each other.
"We've moved on every facet of performance. We've been on the podium regularly now and expectations are high but we're all in this together."
Walsh, who attended her first Games in Sydney, claims this is the best prepared team she has ever been involved with and Kerry has been boosted by the return to fitness of Danson and Crista Cullen, who were both injured during the recent Olympic test event.
"Everyone is fit and well, we suffered a number of injuries in the final run up but everyone is back and we've got them up to match pace, their fitness was never an issue," he added.
Meanwhile, Richardson – who was critical of the pitch during the test event – claims the controversial bright blue and pink surface at the Riverbank arena is much improved.
"It was obvious at the test event it needed more play on it and they've obviously listened," she said.
"There is not much bobble on it now, it's really settled down and it's playing very nicely now."
Great Britain open their Olympic campaign against Japan on Monday before further group games with South Korea, Belgium, China and defending champions the Netherlands.
© Sportsbeat 2012