To make progress in field hockey, you have to develop your own training program, as well as a few principles that will push you from behind and help you achieve your goals. There are not too many thoughts when it comes to your training program – pretty much like in any kind of sport out there.
What really matters is to implement these principles by the book and push them into your mentality.
So, what do you need to do to make a killer training program?
Set the right goals
You need to be honest to yourself – determine where you are and where you want to be. There is no need to make yourself look better, as you basically lie to yourself. Instead, you need some precise and realistic goals.
Claiming that you want to be better at field hockey is not a goal. It is a wish, a desire or a plan. These wishes represent the wellspring where your goals are, but they are not too precise. You have to put some extra thought into them.
Believe it or not, people put way more thought in ordering takeaway than when it comes to their sports performance – especially beginners. Since desire lacks precision, you need a goal, as goals are specifically defined. On another note, you need a limited goal.
Wanting to be a prolific attacker, a great backup defender, the fastest running player on the field or a great reflex goalkeeper will imply giving each of these aspects some attention. It will never happen. Narrowing your goals to limited objectives is much more efficient.
Make sure your goals are also realistic. Do not aim to become the best player in the world – not yet. Instead, focus on a small goal, such as scoring from any position as an attacker or gaining enough stamina to run like Bolt throughout the entire game.
These goals are easier to achieve. Once there, everything will seem more attainable, boosting your confidence and increasing your dedication. Saying that you want to be able to score from any position within two weeks is stupid if you are a beginner because not even the best players in the world have done that.
Now, think about your lifestyle too. For a field hockey player, training is a lifestyle. Such a player can train twice a day, stress free. If you deliver food and you must provide for your family, your time and resources are limited, but you are also more stressed.
Plan volume, intensity, frequency and recovery
These variables are different from one field hockey player to another. If there is one thing in common, that is the fact that you must plan everything by the book.
The volume refers to the total workload during a session. There are multiple ways to do it, depending on the position you play. You can count various exercises in reps and sets, but you can also count shots, passes and so on.
The intensity often refers to how hard your workout is. When training for field hockey, you must train different aspects – stick handling, stamina, shooting power, passing and so on. Each workout will come up with a different level of intensity.
As for frequency, it involves the amount of times you train on a weekly basis.
Every player has a different burnout level. When body reserves are finished, your burnout and your training session will have to end. Some people become better players by training three times a week at a high intensity, while others require a completely different program.
So, what do you want instead?
- Frequency – train more times a week
- Intensity – go until your body fails
- Volume – less intense repetitive exercises
If you think going for all three of them is the key, you will fail before you realize it. Instead, you must pick two of them and keep the third one under control. This choice is a matter of personal taste. If you do not feel like going out on the field six times a week, for instance, go with intensity and volume.
Some people often get the wrong mindset – if training four times a week is good, doing it six times a week must be better. The progress will then stall, so they imagine they must do even more. It will not work.
While it may not look like it, field hockey is actually a physically demanding sport. At this point, you must consider work capacity, body composition and your heart. The work capacity is overlooked by many newbies. They train on skills, dribbling, passing, shooting, tackling and so on. But at the end of the day, being in a great physical condition will let you perform more and better, not to mention recovering faster.
There are all kinds of debates at this point. Some people claim interval training is the right thing to do. Some others swear by steady cardio workouts. The best training type varies from one person to another. Are you getting ready for some games as an attacker? It may not make such a good idea to do 10K runs on a daily basis. But if you prepare to play as a midfielder, you will most likely run a lot, so everything changes.
Your short term goals in conditioning are just as important. If you need to lose some fat, opt for a steady cardio rate and drop in a short interval session every once in a while. If you just need a good heart for long and steady runs, a few training sessions a week are more than enough.
Have a reason for every workout
Even more – for every single exercise. When you create your own field hockey training program, ask yourself – why do you need to perform one exercise or another? Why do you have to practice it so many times? What is the purpose of this movement?
If you move around fast and turn suddenly and unexpectedly from one side to another, it means you might do so to train agility and teach your body how to be faster and more surprising to your opponents. Literally every exercise has a goal, so choose your exercises with your limited goals in mind.
Choosing random exercises just because they are good for one aspect or another will take you nowhere. You will see some improvements here and there, but this is pretty much it. You are just copying someone else. You are not creating your own field hockey training program. The program must be tailored to your goals and necessities.
Now that you know how to create a good field hockey training program, what kind of drills are suitable for any position? What are the basic ones you need to master before specializing in one position or another?
7 Top field hockey skills to master as a beginner
- Trapping – known as the first touch, involves training to receive the ball under control, as you gain more time to look around and decide what to do next.
- Hitting – this skill depends on the position, as you will have to shoot to score as an attacker, hit to pass as a midfielder or hit hard passes as a defender.
- Positioning – this skill is hard to train by yourself or with someone else, as it involves paying attention to your teammates and anticipating their moves.
- Passing – again, it depends on your position, as attackers, for instance, should focus on two versus one attack and even one touch passes.
- Flat stick tackling – it makes no difference what position you play, as everyone must be able to perform a flat stick tackle with patience to wait for the right time.
- Jabbing – this kind of tackle is suitable for any position and involves closing angles or causing problems to opponents by putting pressure on them.
- 3D skills – these skills involve lifting the ball in multiple ways while still having it under control, as it will confuse opponents and cause confusion when it comes to tackling you.
Apart from training on control, passing and skills, make sure you do not overlook conditioning. There are all kinds of exercises to perform, such as jumping rope, stick jumps, mountain climbing, burpees, squats, lunges and planks. They will add to your stamina and physical condition on the field.
Bottom line, creating your own field hockey training program is not difficult if you have the right goals – realistic, touchable and limited. Make sure the program matches your lifestyle and goes around your work and family time. Other than that, you need to keep track of it. You may not notice improvements right away, but a tracking journal will help and motivate you.
Just like you might have guessed already, many of these skills and exercises must be performed with someone else. Many others can also be performed by yourself – do it in front of a camera to watch yourself and figure what needs changing.