Sport Hockey Why the worst hockey workouts are the best

Why the worst hockey workouts are the best

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Ah, midseason. You’re probably kicking back, fairly happy with your progress thus far.

Rocking up to training with a sense of confidence and knocking in a few backsticks from the top of the D.

Well I’ve got some bad news for you: just because the season is well underway, doesn’t mean the intensity drops at training. Life isn’t all two on nones from the 25, you know?

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Sometimes life on the training track gets tough and for good reason.

Enter James Karageorgiou – the senior strength and conditioning coach at the Victorian Institute of Sport.

Yup, he’s the guy who busts the hump of some of the best players in the country, including the Victorian Vikings, and he says a mid-season session that pushes you to your limits can be just what the doctor ordered.

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“Once to twice a week would be average,” Karageorgiou said.

“Although this can vary if preparing for a tournament where the players may be asked to play four times in a week, then we will have a period preparing for this frequency.”

There are other factors at play, Karageorgiou said.

Implementing a gut-busting training session is “individual and team dependant”.

“[It’s] based on a range of factors including the time in the season, the time in the week and the type of demand the players have been exposed to in the previous weeks and what they are likely to be subjected to in the coming weeks.”

Karageorgiou’s VIS colleague, Physical Preparation Coach Nathan Heany agreed.

“It needs to be scheduled carefully taking into account the athletes workload and wellness, whilst also considering opposition quality for upcoming matches,” Heany said.

Flanagan doesn't have fond memories of a cardio session. Photo: Getty
Flanagan doesn’t have fond memories of a cardio session. Photo: Getty

The ‘worst’ workouts are the best workouts

Right now, you’re probably imagining the last session that pushed you to your limits.

My hamstrings are tightening up just thinking about it.

Hockeyroos goalkeeper Rachael Lynch told The New Daily, her toughest session was actually in the gym and not out on the track.

“I did a squat program where I was doing around 80 squats at very heavy weights, three times a week,” Lynch said.

“The weights and reps changed each week but I have never felt so uncomfortable in my life.”

And the results?

“It was well worth it in the end, but man it was tough,” she added.

Her Hockeyroos team-mate, Anna Flanagan also recalled an intense cardio workout:

“I think doing 5x1kms on the field [is the hardest workout I’ve done],” she said.

“We had to go up and back 50 times it was horrendous.”

Method in the madness

Heany said High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is used to help improve the aerobic fitness of the VIS women’s hockey players.

“Utilising this type of training, the players have seen improvements in their aerobic fitness tests (beep test and YOYO intermittent recovery L1 test), whilst also seeing improvements in some of their GPS measures from training and competition,” he said.

“These measures include metres per minute and high intensity metres per minute, both of which are underpinned by the athletes ability to work aerobically to facilitate recovery between high intensity efforts.”

The benefits aren’t just physical ones. They help you prepare mentally for your next game.

Karageorgiou said: “psychological gains are the most powerful as players develop a confidence and knowing that they can go to their outer limits”.

How to push your players

But what about the coaches? Well, Karageorgiou revealed one of his secret sessions to help you push your players to their limits.

On the plus side for players, it involves a game. On the negative side, it involves constant running.

One of the best training drills: match practice. Photo: Getty
One of the best training drills: match practice. Photo: Getty

“It’s five versus five on a full pitch, with all players needing to be in their own half to score,” he said.

“Usually we will have three teams rotating so that the game never stops and each team plays for six minutes and rests for three minutes.

 This will be repeated 4-6 times.”

Karageorgiou said the drill was taxing physically and mentally but it capitalised on the player’s competitiveness.

“Because most players, by nature, are competitive and do not like losing, the effort is extremely high and the constraints of the game incorporate extensive high effort running, with all the hockey skills.

“Essentially we tick a number of boxes with one exercise, which is critical when there is limited training time and player exposure due to competing club demands.”

So there you have it.

Yes, we might complain when our coaches decide to pull a heavy session out of the bag, but these can be the sessions that make or break your season.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to ice my hammies.

Tim Doutré tweets here.

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