Former Belgium captain Joy Jouret has taken her success on the field into coaching

Progressing from athlete to coach: Joy Jouret

March 6, 2018
Throughout this week, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) is celebrating International Women's Day (8 March) by highlighting the progress being made across all levels of the sport thanks to inspiring females. Today we speak to former Belgium Red Panthers captain Joy Jouret about her experiences moving into coaching.


Coaching is so much more than tactics and training plans, it is also about human emotions and interactions. It is a truism that has been recognised by many great coaches over the years but, thanks to initiatives such as the FIH Hockey Academy High Performance Coaching Course – which took place during the Fifth Indoor Hockey World Cup in Berlin, Germany – the depth and breadth of coaching is now being truly explored and discussed.

“Looking at the psychological aspects of coaching is very important. Some people think it is a gender thing but I believe it is more about the quality of the human being. Society teaches you to behave in a certain way, it is not because you are a man or a woman.”
Joy Jouret 

Former Belgian Red Panthers captain Joy Jouret was one of the coaches on the course and she has very strong views about the essential human element of coaching. Some of her opinions are borne of practical experience gained by coaching men and women at all levels from youth teams to adults; some of her viewpoints are the result of amount of time she spends looking deep into her own coaching and ways of improving it.
“Looking at the psychological aspects of coaching is very important. Some people think it is a gender thing but I believe it is more about the quality of the human being,” says Joy. “Society teaches you to behave in a certain way, it is not because you are a man or a woman.”
Joy has been working with Sophie Geerts, one of a number of innovative and forward thinking coaches working within the Belgium Hockey Federation. She is full of praise for Sophie’s coaching methods. 
“Sophie Geerts is a magician who thinks outside the box. She is one of the best coaches in the country and she is coaching in a very innovative way. People like Sophie change the game.”
Joy cites the example of how a team copes with losing a player to a yellow card. “On a recent coaching course, the problem laid before the coaches was how to help your team cope with the pressure of being a player down. All the coaches had to present on the same topic – only Sophie looked at the psychological element.”
It is an element that Joy always seeks to include in her own coaching. She tells how her first few attempts to introduce psychology into her coaching with a men’s team was met with a heap of healthy scepticism. 
“I really stressed the importance of one-to-one and at first they were very dismissive but I said we have to stick to the plan. The resistance was because they are not used to it. After a few sessions they felt at ease and gradually opened up. It was as if you had to break through the barrier of protection, they had things they couldn’t say in front of the other guys.
“Once they are comfortable and secure, it is all about human emotions. That was interesting. Two guys in particular were feeling very sensitive and rejected by the group. They could never have talked about that without the one-to-one sessions. I felt I could build a real trust between them. For me, seeing them as human beings, rather than simply players to coach, that was important.”
Asked if Joy felt this was a fundamental difference between male and female players and coaches, she dismissed a gender difference, insisting it comes down to the individual and the way they treat others. “It is an extrinsic thing,” she said. “I believe it is a learned behaviour and it is not particular to men or women. I know some women who are very strict and abrasive, those are traditionally ‘male’ attributes. I would challenge that assumption.”
One area that Joy does agree there are gender differences is in the willingness to speak out. It was a personal discovery that surprised her over the course of the High Performance Coaching Course. “On the course, it was funny because when we split into little groups, I found as a woman you tend to sit back and listen to the guys with a lot of experience. 
“After the first day, the mentor said “be yourself” and I thought ‘if I don’t step up and make my voice heard then I don’t learn, I don’t push myself. It was only when I found my voice and spoke up that they realised I had something worthwhile to say and then I felt accepted as a fellow coach.
“I think it has been this way for so long, that you are scared to speak in case you say something stupid. Women tend to sit back and listen before they jump in.”
The beauty of the FIH Hockey Academy courses, whichever level they aim at is the open and non-judgemental platform offered to all attendees. It is this platform from which innovative, thoughtful coaching stars such as Joy Jouret can shine brightly and change hockey for the better.

Joy was one of a number of female participants on the FIH Hockey Academy High Performance Coaching Course. The push towards enhancing hockey's 'Gender Amazing' philosophy is at the heart of the FIH's 10-year Hockey Revolution strategy. To find out more about upcoming FIH courses, contact

With this year's International Women's Day movement calling on action to press forward and progress gender parity, FIH is encouraging everyone involved in our sport to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive. Join the movement: #PressForProgress

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