The professionalization of the floorball sport has been a popular topic, it has been discussed and people have philosophized about it with a great number of opinions, approaches and ideas. Personally, I do not know what the exact and correct definition is, so that is why I would call our sport a competitive sport, but not a professional one. However, I am open to correction. I also cannot list any miracle cures that would turn floorball into a professional sport. In the end, there is no ONE single method; it will be a sum of many small changes that will carry Swiss floorball further. Nevertheless, you can see from the title above that there is one gamechanger that could change floorball in Switzerland in the long term.
Let me take a step back first. What has actually changed in my individual case? Since 2021, I have been enjoying up to 100 days of recurring training (WK) in the Swiss Army. One hundred days during which I am “free” from my working life, and thus from my main source of income. Or, to put it another way, my employer is financially compensated by the government for my absence. For me personally, this means:
Enjoying Vacations and Relaxing
I am intentionally starting with this provocative statement. Dear reader, before you get all upset and think that floorballers are simply hanging around lazily at the taxpayers’ cost and not doing anything, let me first explain what is going on. According to Swiss labor law, the purpose of vacations is rest and recuperation. Up to now, my “recuperation” consisted of providing top performance at Czech Opens, training camps, WFC qualifications, Euro Floorball Tours and World Championships. In 2018, I invested every single one of my vacation days in floorball and paid a high price for that: back pain and flu at the World Championship in Prague. That was the consequence of not getting the proper rest for my body and mind during the entire previous year. Thanks to the support of the army, I can get the necessary rest that will allow me to be fit at the key moment and perform best.
Training Specific Skills for the Details
During the military program, I was able to participate in a specific skills training course in Andermatt, Switzerland this summer. Together with specialists, I was able to work on things that are often quickly forgotten during the daily training routine. For me, an important step into professionalization is access to expert personnel, also on club level. Players benefit enormously from input by mental trainers, skill coaches or neuroathletic trainers. Dear clubs, I don’t mean this as a reproach, because we all want to move forward in the same direction.
Targeted Preparation for Gathering the Team
The start of a national team gathering during the week was often very stressful for me. Days off and holidays were rare and so I often went straight from the office to the camp, with a short pit stop at the gas station for my car and a snack for myself on the way there. Thanks to the military service, I can now go to the training camp rested, prepared and properly nourished. This positive result was already evident at the first training, where I was able to give 100% physically and mentally.
No More “International Match Hangovers”
After international matches or world championships, you normally land back home on Sunday evening and have to start at the office again on Monday, usually in a more or less lively condition. The loads of laundry at home are also not very motivating and the fridge is empty. Rest would be particularly important after a weekend of three intensive international matches or a week of WFC. Starting this year, I can offer myself this one-day break. Thanks to regeneration training, enough sleep and the appropriate food, I start on Tuesday in a much more energetic state, which makes not only my employers, but also my club coach happy.
In the end, it is not skills training or the day before the team gathering that make the difference. If I reflect on the changes that have taken place since January 2021, it is about the many details. “It’s only five minutes” is my absolute favorite saying. And it is precisely those five minutes of technique training, the five extra minutes of mobilization etc. that make the program a success.
It is the scoreboard that ultimately shows if it was a success or not. But it is well known that training diligence and repetitions during the course of several years correspond to success in sports. Of course, I personally hope that these new framework conditions will already have an effect in the short term–preferably already as from December 5 at the WFC in Helsinki.
Luca Graf, Captain of the Men’s National Team
Luca has been an established member of the national team since 2013 and shares the role of captain with Tim Braillard. He just moved to Sweden and will be playing for IK Sirius IBK in the upcoming season. Luca is more or less our “foreign correspondent” for the WFC 2022 Blog.