A hockey training program must meet the demands of a very physically challenging, multi-sprint sport.
Played on a similar sized pitch with the same number of players and for a similar duration, physiologically field hockey is a close match in many ways to soccer. While intermittent in nature, players must perform continuously for 70 minutes with just one 5-10 minute interval. This places a high demand on the aerobic system and good aerobic endurance is required to support repetitive bouts of high intensity exercise (1).
Anaerobic power and anaerobic endurance is high in elite hockey players (2). Although the majority of the game is spent in low-level activity such as walking and light jogging, repeated back-to-back sprints make speed and tolerance to lactic acid an important characteristic in players (3).
Strength is also central to a hockey training program. Although players aren’t required to hold off physical challenges (when compared to other multi-sprint sports), power is required for acceleration, speed and quick changes in direction. Upper body strength allows players to shoot more powerfully and pass over a greater range of distances.
The unique demands of the sport mean that strength endurance is just as crucial as explosive power. Careful planning is required to ensure that both muscular power and muscular endurance can be effectively developed alongside each other without leading to over-training and fatigue. Hockey conditioning also plays a crucial role in injury prevention…
As the sport is played on a synthetic surface, this places different strains on the body compared to grass. While the principle of specificity would dictate that a hockey training program should mirror the game as closely as possible, in this case there may be good cause to argue against training exclusively on artificial turf. There is a greater injury risk inherent in playing on synthetic surfaces, in particular with respect to spinal shrinkage (3). Again, correct training can help to minimize any risk.
The articles in this section focus on conditioning for the physical demands of field hockey. Use the sample training plans, drills and sessions to improve your fitness, skill and all-round performance.