Michael Pallister’s affiliation with Champion’s Edge dates back to 2009. He has served as a head camp coach and now more recently contributes in a Director capacity, in addition to his duties as an Assistant Coach at Princeton University. At 6’9, Pallister is probably the tallest field hockey player/coach in the world. Routinely a camp favorite, the nimble-footed Australian is more than just a circus attraction on the field; he also knows a ton about the game.
Prior to joining the Princeton coaching staff in 2011, Pallister spent three seasons with the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Field Hockey program as graduate assistant while pursuing a Master of Business Administration. He also served a head coach with the Cape Ann Coalition club team in Massachusetts. Pallister spent the spring of 2012 in Vancouver, Canada, working as a coach with the largest club in North America, the West Vancouver Field Hockey Club. Through the WVFHC he was also involved with the high performance ADANAC program and assisted the Canadian U21 Junior National Team in their buildup for a European tour and World Cup qualifying.
A native of Canberra, Australia, Pallister represented the Australian Capital Territory in the National Championships as a junior before playing in the Men’s State League One competition for St. Patrick’s Hockey Club. He completed an undergraduate degree in finance and accounting from the Australian National University in 2004, before finishing an MBA at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2010.
Vitals – in his own words.
Stick: 37.5″ TK Synergy 1 double shammied
Hockey Shoes: Asics Gel Fuji Racers
International Side: In the men, Australia, and for the women….. Australia (sorry USA)
Discovery Channel TV Show: My one addiction! Moonshiners, How its Made, Gold Rush, Swords, Swamp Loggers, Alaska, The Turtle Man “LIVE ACTION!” , Container Wars, and of course the grand daddy of them all… Shark Week!
Q: Australia has been massively successful on the international hockey stage for the past 15 years. What stands out to you as the biggest difference between the US and Australia in terms of youth development?
I started playing hockey when I was five in ‘Minkey’, the Australian version of mini hockey, which has organized leagues for under 7’s and under 9’s. From an early age you are taught the basics and simple tactical and technical progressions. By the time you are in the under 13 age group you are playing on artificial turf every game with access to both a youth league and also the mens grade hockey as well as high performance centres in most metropolitan centres. There are talent identification programs that pull in gifted athletes into government sponsored training programs. This is all before you turn 15! Growing up, one of the best things for me as a player was being able to play in the men’s grade with my dad. I was 14 or 15 and playing in the men’s competition with guys who have 30 plus years of experience.
The majority of girls I’ve talked to here in the US only started playing at middle or high school (12-14 years old) and are forced to try and catch up whilst playing in a shortened season, often on grass, with state modified rules (e.g. vision reducing goggles). Its tough! There are a lot of clubs that are now offering juniors the opportunity to train and receive quality coaching which is really positive and a step in the right direction. These clubs that offer training outside of the 3 month school season are crucial for youth development. With the absence of any leagues it is these programs that drive youth development.
Q: As a strong proponent of year-round play, where do you see summer camps fitting into player development?
I love summer camps! I wish we had them in Australia. Summer camps give athletes the chance to be coached by some of the best coaches from within the country and also internationally. The good camps will provide a balance between being fun and relaxed while also really attacking the technical and tactical side of the game. You get to practice and play with players from all over the country and make a ton of new friends. You can scrimmage with college players and coaches and it just mixes up the monotony of club and high school hockey. We squeeze in 6-7.5 hours of hockey per day for three and a half days. Each day you get to watch film of the professionals executing the same skills as you are learning, train new skills, play small games, and finally full field games. You wont find another product that gives you exposure to all facets of the game like a well run summer camp. The overnight camps are like a working vacation and can really jump start your fall season. I know I personally enjoy every minute at camp, the kids are always keen to learn and have a laugh, and we have never lost a staff vs. camp all star match. Maybe 2013 will be different but judging by the quality of our staff I wouldn’t bet on it.