Considering the physical challenges of the game of field hockey, training programmes should include elements of aerobic, strength and flexibility and with the Rio Olympics fast approaching what better time than now to consider 5 Top Hockey Exercises to boost a player’s performance!
The Rio Olympics are for world class players and teams, the pinnacle of four years’ dedicated preparation and an arena to showcase skills competing at the highest international level representing their country. The top drag flickers, including Sandeep Singh of India and Moritz Furste of Germany will aim to impress spectators with pace and power with the world’s most prominent female players such as Ellen Hoog of Holland and Austrian Anna Flanagan equally performing hoping to increase the sport’s popularity. It’s also the final chance to see the Australian legend Jamie Dwyer in action.
In the modern game international hockey players are elite athletes with most playing professionally, but what differentiates the world class from the rest? High intensity players require a combination of stamina, speed, agility, flexibility, strength and power with the main stress placed upon the legs and core.
Here are 5 exercises to meet the unique physical demands of a hockey player:
1. Jump squat
Explosive power, providing the ability to accelerate over the initial five yards could be the difference between stopping or scoring in high intensity hockey, therefore this is an essential physical quality of an elite hockey athlete. This exercise develops not only fast twitch muscle fibres in the leg but also a strong core for movement and dynamic strength.
2. Stability ball hamstring roll out
Hockey is a sport with a saying “get low” which protects the back and enables greater control. Exercising with a ball develops your hamstrings and core thereby generating the strength, control and balance essential to the fundamental skills of slapping, passing, tackling and the aerial ball.
3. Oblique twist with cable
This develops the core and increases strength in the low position in addition to providing the stability essential for travelling at speed driving forward with a ball. A well-developed core is an important physical characteristic of a drag flicker requiring dynamic power and maximum rotational speed.
4. Single leg depth jumps
Ankle and knee injuries can ultimately finish a player’s career which can be caused by higher grade pitches and enhanced shoe grips. The occurrence of ACL and ankle ligament injuries are increasing in both male and female hockey, however depth jumps will develop the stability of lower limb joints.
5. Mini hurdle hops and sprint
Agility and speed of direction change are important whether a player is marking an opponent, making a tackle or driving in to shoot. Mini hurdles develop athletic speed focusing on acceleration and multi-directional hops enable a rapid change of pace.