Coaching & Development, Leadership & Culture, Performance | Aug 10, 2016
How Max Caldas drew the poison from the Netherlands’ men’s field hockey team.

The Netherlands arrived in Rio as the world’s number two ranked hockey team and strong contenders for the gold medal. It is a perception reinforced by their pool results but this dangerous Dutch team is a far cry from the spluttering side inherited by Head Coach Max Caldas in 2014.

The team had become national heroes in winning gold at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and retaining their title in Sydney four years later but more recent years had seen the Netherlands fall into trophyless decline. Caldas, who led the Netherlands’ women’s team to gold in London in 2012, was charged with restoring the fortunes of the nation’s men. His team reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy in November and December four months after his appointment and it was after that competition in India that he saw the “final drops of poison” leave the body of his team.

Caldas explains: “In that first tournament we struggled as a group because there were barriers to thinking and talking about things.”

The first tournament success came in the form of the 2015 EuroHockey Championships and now he has Olympic gold in his sights. “I’ll never forget the first day,” he says. “I felt like Winston Churchill addressing the troops. I was very direct about what I observed from the outside looking in and I put them to the test to see how they would react.”

In an exclusive interview with the Leaders Performance Institute Caldas describes…

  • How he took his underperforming players out of their comfort zones
  • His reasoning for confronting players directly
  • How he built a cohesive unit with athletes willing to compete for each other

For access to the full interview and 900-word article, and to the most comprehensive bank of cutting-edge performance content in the world, including best practice case studies, original research, and archive of hundreds of panel discussion, presentations and talks, become a member of the Leaders Performance Institute today.

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