Premier League Hockey will be played in quarters in season 2019

COME the start of the 2019 Premier League Hockey season, the teams that are vying for glory won't be doing anything by halves - literally.

This season will see teams from Bathurst, Orange, Lithgow and Parkes face a format change, with the matches to be split into quarters.

Rather than battling over twin 35-minute periods, this season the games will be split into 15 minute quarters.

It will require tactical adjustments, but on March 10 at Bathurst teams were given an idea of how to do that at a Premier League Hockey Gala Day.

Teams played multiple fixtures under the new format at the Cooke Hockey Complex in a day organised by Hockey NSW regional coaching co-ordinator Kate Pulbrook.

"In 2019 the FIH rules are that we play in quarters, so that was another reason for us to hold this gala day, it was a way for coaches to get a feel for the new format, which we will also be using in Premier League," she said.

"Playing in quarters does change the way you approach a game, so it was a good way to help the coaches prepare.

"By the end of it I think all the players were pretty stuffed, they all played multiple games, but the feedback I got was positive.

"Coaches had to get used to new substitution patterns with the quarters and the players, they've got to be switched on and ready to go straight away.

"It was a good way for them to be exposed to the new format, figure out a few things and iron out a few issues."

The other big benefit of the gala day was that clubs had no restrictions on the number of players they could use, allowing them to give emerging talents a taste of Premier League before the start of their season proper.

"One of the ideas behind it was for teams to bring their squads and introduce players who might not have been playing Premier League previously," Pulbrook said.

"It gave them a chance to filter into this level and most of the teams brought between 14 and 20 players. They were able to rotate them throughout the day as I had no restrictions on how many they could put on the card.

"So the day was particularly focused on development … I think there were many more benefits than who won games for the players, coaches and umpires."

Joining the Premier League Hockey outfits in the gala day fixtures were the Western Region Academy of Sport squads.

It was a chance for them to sharpen their skills ahead of the annual Academy Games in April.

The weekend also featured umpire and technical officer development training sessions, something which Pulbrook feels will help improve the standard of Premier League Hockey games.

Zeke Newman, a whistle blower with international experience, shared his knowledge with the 21 umpires who attended, while Cheryl Dollin worked with the technical officers.

The 2019 women's Premier League Hockey competition is set to commence on April 13, while the smaller men's league is due to start on May 25.

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