Time Management

In order to pursue International honours you will have to dedicate an increasing amount of time to hockey. This time will be taken up with matches, pitch training, physiological conditioning (gym work) and many other facets. The time required to fulfill all your hockey commitments will steadily increase as you progress through the age groups to senior international level. This time will require you to make choices, sometimes sacrificing time with family and friends, or more seriously, study or work time in order to fulfill the hockey demands placed upon you.

1. Time Management is about identifying the components that make up your life and organizing them to maximize the returns you achieve.

At the moment as a Start or Potential athlete the time required may not seem too great, parents and friends may provide the transport you need and Hockey may seem to fit nicely into life in general. However if you can spend a little time now getting into the good habit of consciously managing your time, you may find that you actually have a little more time for all the things that you want to do and also be able to do that little bit extra for your hockey that will stand you out above the rest.

2. Success is all about tiny percentages; managing your time effectively may just find you an extra hour here or there, 1/2 % of your week, but this could be the little bit extra that brings the success all international athletes desire.

Margins between success and failure.

Adrian Moorhouse won his gold medal by a margin of 0.01 seconds in 62 seconds. Mike McIntyre won his gold by 11 seconds after 16 hours of sailing and Graham Brookhouse his Bronze by 7 points in a total of 15,300. The womens rowing quad in Sydney won Silver by 4/2000th of a second. In each case the winning margin was less than 0.05%

3. Identify the areas that make up your life and then allocate the ideal amount of time that you would like to allocate to those areas and the actual time you spend. Any differences indicate areas that you need to consider changing.

The following exercise will give you an idea of the time that you spend in a given week. Download and fill in the table below with the number of hours you spend doing each of the things listed. Then take time to consider if this is the ideal amount of time you want to spend doing these things, make the changes!

The principles of time management are not to fill up every hour of every day but merely to ensure that the priorities you set for yourself are fulfilled. It is not wrong to have free time, as you progress, these demands will increase and it is a good idea to review your time on a regular basis in order to ensure that you fulfill the demands placed upon you.

4. Don’t try to fill up every hour of every day, we all need time for ourselves. Just balance the aspects that are important and necessary to help maximize your potential

Identify, Organise, Communicate. (Help)

1. Identify the teams you play for and get all the fixture dates and potential dates for those teams.
2. Get a diary and put these dates in it. This should highlight any clashes that exist, review this diary regularly to stay organized.
3. When a clash occurs communicate with the people concerned as early as possible to try to resolve the clash. You don’t want to end up playing more than is good for you!
4. If you either can’t make a decision, or are getting pressure from coaches, then you can contact the EHA – Stephen Barlow for help (01908 544611). He has a priority list for all players that can help in resolving out conflicts.

One issue you may need to contend with is the conflicting demands with respect to whom you are asked to play for. At any given time you may have matches and training for school/college/university/club/county and division/international with some being both indoor and outdoor this could mount up into an impossible playing schedule that burns you out very quickly.

Being an effective professional athlete is not just about how well you play but how well you look after yourself, there will be times when you cannot play for everyone who wants you. You need rest in order to maintain performance and so must balance the demands that are placed upon you. This again forms part of the time management that has already been highlighted. Early planning should allow you to plan your fixtures and training minimizing the clashes that could occur. Try to get playing schedules from your coaches as early as possible to avoid the stress of having to juggle too many commitments. Your objective must be to achieve your potential as an International athlete, not just make as many people happy as possible.

However, even with the best planning clashes will occur – what must you do when one does crop up? The Hockey Association has a priority list that should give some guidance as to which match you should play in given the choice. Unfortunately, there may be times when a coach or team manager may put pressure on you to play in a fixture that is not the priority, or you may want to play in a fixture that is not the priority – what then? Again, early communication with team management can often resolve this issue. However, if necessary, you can contact Stephen Barlow at the EHA who will support you in resolving issues over priority of playing commitments. Further discussions will then take place to sort out the conflict; the earlier it can be identified, the better for all concerned. Please do not ignore a clash of fixtures hoping that one may be cancelled, please speak to the relevant parties and get the problem resolved as early as possible.

It is obviously much harder if the conflict is across sports. Given that you are all talented athletes, it is conceivable that you may be participating in more than one sport or pastime. At some stage you will have to proritise what you do. Doing too much may limit your success in them all. In this day and age there are very few people who can claim to be international performers in more than one sporting discipline. If you are fortunate enough to have this problem please discuss it with the coaches and managers concerned, or the EHA. If you can do multiple sports, great, but try not to let any one sport suffer in an effort to participate in many. This programme is in place to make you the best you can, to be a success, and not accept mediocrity. If you get to international competition, to play for your country; even more if you get to compete at a World Cup, or an Olympic Games you will understand why I urge you to not accept mediocrity. It will be worth the sacrifices, I promise.

Friends and Family/General Lifestyle.

1. Support from family and friends is vital, let them know what you are doing so they can support you.
2. Be strong when they think they know best in order to do the things you have to in order to succeed.
3. Real support will understand some of the sacrifices you make and how sometimes you cant go out with them!
4. Do not forget that family and friends should be one of the time management categories you consider

In a majority of cases the support of friends and family will be invaluable as you pass through the ranks as a developing international athlete. They are the ones who want you to succeed almost as much as yourself.

Their support may be obvious in its bias towards you as the best player in the squad (in their eyes), or critical in however well you do. They may be the taxi service that gets you where you need to go, or provides the car that you scratch on the way to training! There will be times that you don’t want their advice, times that you just want to do things your way, but there will also be times when you need that shoulder for support, that sounding board to discuss things with, or just shout at! Whatever the case it is easier if we do not have to do everything on our own. Of course, it can be done that way and some people choose to do things that way, but it is good to be able to share feelings, good or bad along the way.

There are times that any athlete has to be hard, hard on others and hard on themselves. It is vital that the people who are close to us understand what we have to do. Communication is key. Parents and friends do not always know best – you know how much time you have. If you need to rest and cannot sit around and chat after a game, you must be hard enough to say so. As an athlete your first priority must be performance and you must try to identify all the facets that make up performance. This re-enforces the concept of organising your time to ensure that all your commitments are fulfilled, along with your potential.

One of the categories you could identify in the time management exercise is Family/Friends – how much time would you ideally like to spend with them in a given week and, can it be done? If it can’t because other things are a priority, then maybe it is better to communicate that rather than just trying to fit in too much. We all need the support of friends and family but a balance must be struck.

This balance requires sacrifice and, as you progress through the ranks, the issues of socializing more and personal time increase. A game on a Saturday may not stop you going out on a Friday but it may affect what you drink. A competition on the other side of the World may mean preparing by getting up hours earlier, or going to bed later than the normal world, but it could make a difference. All these are decisions that must be made, sacrificing social time, time with parents, a couple of drinks. Decision-making is another element that needs to be planned as you progress from Start through Potential to Senior Athlete status.